If you’ve never had a business coach before, you could be sitting there thinking “what does a business coach actually do?”

And hey, most of our team felt the same way before they started working with us. So here’s an article explaining what a business coach does, how it might benefit you, and also, why it wouldn’t.

The structure

Any good coaching programme has a clear structure. Without it, it’s just some random guy or girl turning up and asking you questions. Therefore it’s important to have a framework for a coaching model. As a coach, I want to be taking my coaching members somewhere. Where do I want to take them? Well, that’s down to them. After all, it’s their journey, not mine.

So let’s get some clarity on what that means.

We start a coaching programme with an annual strategy session that we at Action Coach call an “alignment”.

The Alignment

The annual strategy session lasts a full day and focuses on three key areas. The first is personal goals. Why do we start there? Because business should give you more life.

Personal Goals

We draw out lots of goals in different areas of that person’s life. We look at who they want to become and what skills, values, or beliefs they want to develop. What the cool things they want to do might be, such as the holidays they want to go on, the concerts they want to see and the challenges they want to tackle. We also look at what they want to have. What house do they want to live in? And what car do they want to drive? How do they want their retirement to look? And then finally we look at what they want to give and contribute. After all, we make a living by what we get and make a life by what we give.

Then we get clear on which of those goals is “the big one“. Which means the most? And which would you spend your life dedicated to?

Business Goals

Then it’s time to move on to the business goals. Where does the business need to be in order to give someone the life that they want to live? It’s important to look at the basics, what the turnover, profit, bank balance, and team would all need to look like. Then move on to what the business owner’s role should be in the business. Not everyone wants to be the CEO, nor do they want to be the technician. They might want to oversee marketing, management of the team, or even strategic decision-making.

The Projects

Once clear on where the business needs to be, it’s then time to look at the key strategies and projects that will help achieve that goal. At this point, get clear only on the project or the strategy. You don’t need to do all the detail at this stage (that’s what 90-day planning is for).

If for example, you wanted to double the turnover of the business in the next 12-months, the projects or headline strategies could be marketing (you’ve got to have more leads to double turnover). Then recruitment (you’ll need more people to serve all those extra customers). Maybe it would include building systems and processes so that the new team members were clear on how to do a great job. Finally, you might decide project four for the year might be about raising funds so that you can grow again the year after.

Once you have those three things, personal goals, business goals, and the projects to get you there, you have your annual strategy.

90-Day Planning

This is where it gets really interesting. Now that you have clarity on what your projects are for the year, 90-day planning is where you take the project for the quarter coming up and then drill into the detail. There are four different 90-day planning sessions throughout the year, one for each quarter and they sit on a different day entirely to the alignment. Basically, once you have your 90-day plan, there’s clarity on how to complete the projects from the alignment day.

Let’s say the project for the first quarter should be marketing as mentioned above. At a 90-day planning session, the first step is to look at what the desired result of that project is. That might be “have a marketing plan” or it could be numerical like “generate an extra 100 leads”. Once the result or the KPI is clear, it’s time to break the project down into milestones. What are the 3 milestones and big actions (or rocks as we call them) that need taking care of? In this example, it could be that rock 1 is to learn how to write a marketing plan by reading 5 books on the subject. Rock 2 could be to draft a marketing plan with the help of your team, coach, and other marketing experts. Finally, rock 3 might be to get feedback on the plan by testing it and revising it as needed.

Breaking It Down

Once a business is clear on the “rocks” or the milestones, the final step in a 90-day plan is to break those rocks down into weekly actions. What are the smaller tasks that need to be done each week to complete the rocks? For instance, the action for week 1 could be to order 4 books on marketing plans. The action for week 2 could be to finish reading the first book, and so on.

Once you’ve got the weekly actions for all 13 weeks in that quarter, your 90-day plan is complete. Now all that’s left to do is to take action on it.

The Rest Of The Programme

Once you’ve got all your planning complete it’s time to start working on the plan. There are 2 main roles that a coach has as you start to implement the 90-day goals.

The first is accountability.

A good coach will keep you on track. So often, a business owner can become caught up in the day-to-day distractions of running a business. When you’ve got a session with your coach coming up, it just triggers that reminder to start working “on” the business (and the plan) rather than working in it (by being the technician, like a hairdresser cutting hair).

It’s also a coach’s role to challenge you if you’re not completing your weekly actions and goals. If you have the best plan in the world, but you’re not taking any steps toward completing it, nothing is going to happen. So your coach is there to help you with your priorities.

The second major role of a coach is to make sure you’re getting lots of education.

For most of your projects, you’re going to have to learn some new skills. Your coach might teach you themselves, they might encourage you to read or listen to the right books. They might even have videos and digital education that can help you if that’s a preferred method of learning for you.

If a coach is holding you accountable to completing the actions and making sure you’ve got the education and knowledge to complete them well, then the coach has got a very strong framework to help you succeed.

What else does a coach do?

Different coaches have different styles. But to give you an idea here are some of the extra things that you might get from a coaching programme.

  • A strong network – Some coaching programmes really encourage, and even purposefully structure the building of new relationships. It can be great to have a network of business owners that you can lean on for advice. They might support you when things are tough and you may even make new life-long friendships.
  • Emotional support – Most coaches have really strong bonds with their clients. There are plenty of times when a business owner might have things going on personally, or have problems in the business that are affecting their mindset. A great coach will always be there to support you emotionally when times are tough.
  • Lots of different strategies – Whether they come from the coach or from the other business owners in the group, you can be sure that you’ll learn lots of new strategies to grow your business on a coaching programme.
  • And much more – There’s so much more. Coaching isn’t usually just a B2B professional service. It can get really personal and you’ll find there are so many more benefits than just hitting your 90-day goals.

Does it work?

So that’s the structure of a coaching programme. The next question that pops up is, does it work?

When people have no understanding of what coaching is or how it works, it would be pretty easy to get confused and ask “how does a coach actually help?”

Once you’ve read an article like this and have a bit more understanding, people start to see pretty clearly. A coach will help you make a decision about where you want to go. They’ll give you the education and strategies to help you get there (most business owners without a business coach have no business knowledge or education whatsoever). Finally, the coach will hold you accountable to take the action on the goal until you hit the target.

When you look at it like that, how could it now work?

Well, there are things that can cause business coaching to flop.

The two big ones

The first reason that would mean coaching wouldn’t work is if the coach doesn’t follow the framework mentioned above (set goals, educate them and then hold the business owner accountable to complete actions towards the goals).

The second is if the person being coached simply doesn’t turn up to the sessions or complete the actions (that’s when you can expect a call from your coach).

Both parties have a responsibility to make sure the programme works. When both parties take ownership, magic happens.

What does a business coach teach?

This is one of the most important principles to understand about coaching. Most business owners set up in an industry that they previously worked in, had years of experience with, and where they had lots of training. Once they leave employment and set up their own business, they’ve just started a new profession completely. They have just become a business owner.

They may have spent years learning how to do “the job” or be the “technician”. Once they start the new profession of “business ownership” how many years do they spend studying for their new job?

The average business owner has spent exactly 0 years learning how to be great at business.

That’s exactly what a business coach will teach you.

They’ll teach you all things business, and that list includes:

  • Planning
  • Business Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • How to build systems and processes
  • Management and Leadership
  • Recruitment
  • Finance
  • and much more.

What does a business coach charge?

There is no “norm” in the business coaching industry. There are free “government-funded” coaching programmes, and then there’s Tony Robbins who charges £1 million per year for 12 sessions. To get a good feel for the differences, you can read our article on the differences between a paid and free coaching programme, or you can check out our own prices for a gauge of what you can expect to pay.

And there you have it, that’s what a business coach does.

If you have any questions or don’t understand part of the article, feel free to get in touch and ask us anything. You know us well enough by now to know that you’ll get an honest review.