There is a season for everything. There is the right time and the right place. I don't know if hiring a business coach is a good idea for you, and I have no idea if you need a leadership advisor or a practice consultant. I can't say that a perspective partner is really what you need.
I am warning you now, this is going to be tongue-in-cheek. Sarcasm with a smile. I want you to be prepared. I hope we can both laugh a little when you are done. Here are some simple tests to find out if a business advisor would be a bad idea for you:
You Love Chaos
If you like feeling disorganized and overwhelmed by the amount of chaos in your business life, then hiring a business coach is not for you. Maybe you are one of those rare leaders who can keep up with the demands of running a business, managing employees, and dealing with customers ... all the while running your own system for self-management that keeps everything in order. Some people are awesome at creating orderly systems and sticking to them every day. Are you one of those people?
If you're someone who literally thrives in the vortex of challenges that come with running a business, then you may not need any help. I have met some people who use overload as their favorite motivator. Their families may never see them, but they seem to always get the job done. It is normal for most owners to occasionally feel overwhelmed and disorganized, but this may not be you. Who needs a business plan?!? You've got this.
You Have No Time to Work ON the Business
Business advisors can help you to find new ways to manage your time and prioritize your tasks so that you can stay organized and focused on the most important aspects of your business. But this may not be what you want. You may have decided that you do not need to work ON the business at all. If so, a business advisor is not for you.
That's right. A great business advisor is not going to do the work for you. They will do the work with you. What kind of work? Well, it usually begins by taking a step back and looking over the whole business, establishing a sense of long term direction, and setting some solid goals for the year. It may begin with assessing relationships and leadership within the business and auditing present work systems. Usually, every leader who hires a business coach will want to learn how to examine and improve his or her own process of solving problems and making decisions. The difficulty is that you will have to take your hands of the wheel a little while every month, every week, and maybe even a little bit every day if you are going to maximize hiring an independent advisor to help you overcome the challenges you are presently facing. This may not be for you. You may have decided that you do not need to work ON the business at all.
You See Everything from Every Angle
If you can see the unseen factors that affect your operations, then you may not need to hire a business advisor in order to run your business effectively. Those who can perceive the unseen details of their business operations are exempt from the necessity of hiring an advisor. Why? Because a good advisor's primary role is to help you see what you can't see already. They will help you approach problems differently. They can help you see people differently. They can even help you develop new skills for problem solving with your team that will move you light years ahead. This, however, is obviously a waste of time if you have seen it all already and know exactly what to do. If you literally know what you don't know, then hiring an advisor would be absurd.
Your Communication Skills are 100%
If you're always perfectly understood, there's a good chance that you don't need a business advisor. If you actively listen to your team and have a perfect grasp of the team dynamics, then odds are that you are an excellent communicator. A business advisor is not a necessity in order to operate a successful business, especially if your communication skills are world-class and no one on your team is ever confused. If you are the kind of person who communicates with clarity and authority, to the point where loose ends are the least of your concerns, then hiring an advisor would be a waste of not only your time, but your advisor's time as well.
Your Whole Team Supports Perfect Client Experience
If your team is always able to produce at 100%, then you do not need the help of a professional perspective partner. Most businesses need a playbook in order to build better client experience to make their business thrive. Usually they want to discover any gap or misstep in client experience so they can avoid costly losses. Designing a system to support their clients is not only beneficial for the team atmosphere, but it can also sponsor strategic growth toward better and better clients. But, if you have a flawless client experience strategy and you execute it without fail, then hiring someone to help you with your CX playbook would be a waste of time. If you don't see improving your client experience as a requirement, then just keep moving. You're doing great!
Your Client List is Dominated by Ideal Clients
Ok, let's be honest. If the last time you did a client segmentation review in your CRM, you discovered that you were well over 50% ideal clients--and the rest were still pretty awesome--then hiring someone to help you focus your practice may be completely unnecessary. Many advisory-based practices have to work hard to fine-tune their value proposition, especially if they have been in the business over five years. Some also find that learning how to better locate and authentically engage new ideal clients takes some creative thinking, some out-of-the-box ideas. This may not be you.
If your whole team goes out into the world and does a stellar job of advocating for the very center of your firm's value-magic, then you are already swarming with ideal clients. If your client base is advocating so powerfully with their friends and family that you are literally turning away perfect new clients for your business because you just don't have time ... then hiring an advisor to help you grow your ideal client segment would create more problems than it would solve.
You Have an Amazing Amount of Personal Margin
Finally, (and I am sure you are glad this is over;)) if you are running your firm and also enjoying a perfectly balanced home, family, and play rhythm, then advisory help will do very little to help you. Some business owners really struggle in the area of work/life balance. They are achievers by nature and often have difficulty knowing when to "turn it off" and go home. But this is not you.
Many have grown businesses well beyond the size of the work they first started. The new people, the new burdens, and the amount of new problems can be overwhelming for many successful business owners. That said, you may be one of the few who have held fast to your work/life balance. You may have preserved so much personal margin that you always have the right amount of time for your spouse, children, and the recreational adventures you need to stay healthy. If this is you, cheers! And let me know sometime how you did it. I may need to take notes, or hire you for myself.
Please Tell Me You Are Still Smiling
I do hope that I have helped you laugh at yourself just a little bit. It is good for us. Even though this article was written as playful satire, it may have caused you to back up and think for just a minute about what outside, independent advisory help is actually for. I may have saved you some time (and money) by making sure that when you do hire a business advisor you can measure his or her contribution.
This is a solid article from Forbes on the proven benefits of a business coach. If you realized during this read that an advisor might be a help to you, let me give you a few simple encouragements so you know what to do next:
Step 1. How To Find An Advisor
Choosing a business advisor does not have to be complicated. Most people just don't know where to begin. I have two tips for you on this front:
- Reach out to some fellow leaders in your space and ask if they have had great or not so great experiences with business coaches or practice coaches. Other small business owners may be the perfect place to start. Whether you are a new business owner or a seasoned veteran, one of your business goals has to become seeking out good counsel.
- Call me, and let's chat about what you are trying to achieve. I don't have anything to sell you, but what we might learn in just a few minutes could set you on a new course. If I am not the guy, I probably know who he or she is, and I will be happy to make an introduction. I enjoy helping connect great people. I am an expert at helping people choose better advisors when they need to. My phone number is 719-633-25OneFive.
Step 2. The Relational Resume
If you are a business owner, then you have no time to waste poking around the advisory world as though you were searching for a new item on Amazon. If you can't get a personal referral to a coach, I would advise that you hold off until you can. Upgrading business strategy may be important to achieve success, but who you choose may be as important as the skills they bring. You need the right consultant who can deliver the best advice in a way you and your team can receive it. If you don't get a direct referral, then you must dig into their relational resume. Who do they know? Who likes them? What kind of people do they attract? This is more important than their list of certifications.
I have one challenge for you in this arena: write out a paragraph on a coach or mentor you have admired. Write down why you admire them. Write out one more paragraph on a teacher or mentor that you did not get along with. Write out why. Put these bits on an index card and use them to measure potential advisors on your very first meeting. Trust your first instincts on this one. Focus on the person, not just the deliverable.
Step 3. The Experience Resume
When you are getting to know a potential advisor, go ahead and tell them what you are trying to conquer and see how they respond. Do they speak generously, or do they seem to be withholding? Do they offer experience-based stories and solutions, or do they seem to refer to a template of some kind? You don't need a super-genius. You need someone who gets you and who has been there before.
I am more likely to trust people who have made mistakes. I like to ask leaders and coaches about their worst decisions both to test and see if they are humble and to find out if they have lived long enough to have made some solid mistakes.
This is your first step in finding out if they have a proven track record. In order for them to be a good consultant for you, they don't need to be experienced in your exact industry. But they do need to have had similar experiences. A business consultant should have some experience in running a business. A business advisor who is going to be a sounding board for you, bringing their own experience to the table, needs to have received new ideas and good advice from other mentors in their journey. You can discover this with just a few questions. This article from Entrepreneur would position me as more of a strategic coach. I wonder who would serve you best.
Thank you for reading this article and taking a little time to laugh, or at least feel as if you are not alone in the challenging work of business leadership. I do not want you to be alone in your struggles. I want you to succeed. I get up every day looking for ways to serve my clients and my colleagues. If I have the chance to meet you one day, you will find that I will try to be helpful for you as well.
Would the Ideal Client Experience framework help your business grow? I don't know. Take this quick, anonymous survey and find out.
Want to join a select group of leaders working on these issues together? There could be a free webinar on the horizon.