Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether becoming a professional coach, and a business coach in particular, is the right career path for you.
In this fiercely competitive business landscape, a bold entrepreneur looks for any means to gain an edge. One of the ways they can do that is by hiring a business coach. This is a type of professional coach who helps business leaders grow and develop, thereby improving the effectiveness of the whole company.
So it’s no wonder that business coaching is booming. As Russ Alan Prince, president of R.A. Prince & Associates, claims in his Forbes article: “Without question, the demand for business coaching is extensive and growing very quickly. The opportunities for high-caliber business coaches of all stripes are probably better than ever.”
Business coaching: Is this the career for you?
It’s a career path with a bright future, and one that offers a large degree of independence. But is it a career that you personally would be well suited to?
Professional coaching in general is a burgeoning industry, but business coaching is a specific type of coaching, with specific goals. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether coaching, and business coaching in particular, is the career path for you.
1. Do you enjoy helping others succeed?
Career satisfaction is always a priority; and in the coaching career, satisfaction is derived from helping others succeed. Professional coaches know they’re not going to be the ones in the limelight, and they’re fine with that. It’s fulfilling to watch others grow and develop with your support, and as a business coach, you’ll be working with the future leaders of the business world.
2. Are you a people person?
While professional coaches are not counsellors, they do require some of the same skills. These include excellent communication skills, high emotional intelligence, and the ability to listen without distraction.
The difference is that the counsellor uses these skills to help clients achieve optimal mental and emotional wellbeing, while the coach uses them to help the client set and accomplish goals. In the case of a business coach, these goals are professional rather than personal in nature.
3. Do you have a mind for business?
As a business coach, you’re uniquely positioned on the border line between two industries: commerce and counselling. As such, you need to be willing to advance your knowledge and understanding of both of these disciplines.
Remember that the goal of the business coach is to help the client improve business-oriented skills, such as time management, management techniques, marketing and strategy. It’s not to help them sort out their personal life. That is the purview of the life coach.
As Clay Clark writes: “Although there is value in hiring therapists, psychologists and life coaches, that is not what business coaching is about. Instead, it’s about helping real business owners grow real businesses as a result of discovering breakthroughs and implementing proven best-practice systems and processes.”
Many business coaches will have some level of training in management, marketing or commerce; or perhaps they’ll have pursued a career in the business world before transitioning to a coaching career. Certain educational programmes, such as SACAP’s Bachelor of Applied Social Science Degree with majors in Psychology and Business Management, are designed to equip you with the skills you need to operate effectively in the fields of both business and psychology.
4. Are you willing to let the client be in the driving seat?
As a coach, your job is not to provide clients with the answers to all their questions, but rather to help them find those answers for themselves. YOU should be the one asking the questions, but the trick is to ask the right questions.
As Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership says: “Coaches don’t provide answers, they ask great questions. Good coaching questions help you find your own answers”.
Asking the right coaching questions means you encourage the client to find the solutions to their own problems, developing their problem-solving skills in the process.
5. Are you willing to hold the client accountable?
As a business coach, you need to be able to offer feedback, and challenge the client where appropriate. There’s no point helping the client determine their business objectives if you’re not going to push them to achieve those goals.
At the same time, you need to prepare yourself for the frustration of dealing with clients who, for whatever reason, don’t always pursue the goals that they set for themselves. In an article for Forbes, Clay Clark, founder of the business coaching platform Thrive15.com, writes that many of his clients “get stuck on something emotional — they’re unwilling to fire a family member, they refuse to use a day planner or they just can’t find the motivation to get up before 7am”.
6. Are you able to be present?
The International Coach Federation describes coaching presence as the ability “to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.” The coaching relationship is built on trust and authenticity. For the benefit of your client, you need to be able to exude a sense of self-confidence and focus.
You don’t need to have all the answers in order to have coaching presence; it is something that can be developed, and you will learn to cultivate your coaching presence as part of your training. Self-awareness is key to developing your coaching presence, and the practice of mindfulness can also be of significant benefit.
Becoming a business coach
If you want to be a business coach, the first step is to acquire the necessary training. Karolyne Williams, former Head of Coaching at SACAP, says: “The marketplace is wiser these days and seeks to separate the well-trained and experienced coaches from the fly-by-nights. They do this – at least initially – by looking at the coach training received.”
SACAP offers a range of coaching courses, all of which are International Coach Federation (ICF) accredited and COMENSA aligned. Studying coaching at SACAP can help prepare you for a coaching career by developing the required skills and methods. For more information, enquire now.