Within our Female Entrepreneurship series, we have looked at Why Women Don’t Seek Investment and The Rise of the Female Side Hustle, and today we are talking to you about Coaching and Mentoring and why it is important for growing your business.
What does a Coach or Mentor do?
Coaches and mentors usually meet with you, face to face over Skype/telephone once a month (sometimes more, sometimes less) and help you to work through your business goals to grow your business. Sometimes they are industry specific and have usually ran their own business and use that extensive knowledge to help others.
As business owners we often spend the majority of our time working ‘in‘ the business, not ‘on‘ the business; firefighting and service implementation can take up most of your week, so by making you accountable for specific actions to be performed by a certain date forces you to keep on track of your growth.
Life as a small business owner can be isolating! Even when you have staff, you don’t necessarily want to share your worries and challenges with them.
Like many entrepreneurs, you probably have tonnes of creative ideas and one of the hardest things about running a business is being able to focus your attention on the tasks that will make a difference to your growth. How do you know which of your ideas is going to make you the most money? What if you’ve forgotten to consider a glaringly obvious pitfall? A second opinion from someone with more experience than you have, to sense check your vision can be incredibly validating and helps to beat off those nagging feelings of uncertainty that hold us all back from making big decisions!
How do I choose a Coach or Mentor?
There are a great many business coaches and mentors out there – not all of them are good! We would advise asking other people who they have used personally (be mindful that some entrepreneurs who attend certain networking groups get Brownie Points for recommending their fellow members, and haven’t necessarily experienced their work first hand – so always ask if they have used that person as a coach!)
A good coach should listen more than talk, they should offer suggestions and opinions, but they shouldn’t tell you what decisions to make in your business.
Personality fit is also important; it is a long term relationship and you have to get along well and like each other. Sometimes, through no fault of the mentor or mentee it isn’t a good fit, and that’s okay.
How will I know if they’re a good fit for me?
Coaches will usually have a one-off discovery meeting to get to know your business, and for you to get to know how they operate.
In this meeting they will try and get an understanding of your goals and challenges, and try to identify the pain points where solutions and changes can be made.
Some questions you may want to ask your prospective coach:
- When can I contact you? How do you want to be contacted? (some are happy with Text / Whatsapp, other’s prefer calls and emails during office hours only)
- Have you mentored any other businesses with the same challenges that I have?
- What experience do you have in the sector that I operate in?
- How will we record actions and progress?
Business owners who embrace coaching and mentoring have a much greater chance of success (and survival!) as shown in a number of evidence based studies. Often they are well-connected from their many years in business and can make introductions to potential investors and sources of funding, and even prospective clients too!