The business trend for 2014 is to hire an uncomfortable friend in the form of a business coach. A business coach is not a nice to have – it’s a business growth necessity. It’s possible to survive without a coach but it’s difficult to thrive. What business people don’t realise is the increased profit returns from the guidance of a retained business coach far out way their monthly cost.

When talk turns to business coaching, many business owners have the perception that it’s only for businesses that are struggling or failing. This is a common misconception and couldn’t be further from the truth and here’s why.

A coach can see the wood as well as the trees. They see your business from the outside in and are trained to put business, marketing and sales systems in place which, in our experience, most business owners are not trained in. They listen, make you focus on the game, make you run more laps than you feel like running, tell it to you like it really is and give you ideas you hadn’t thought of. A coach is an educator, a marketing manager, sales director, training co-ordinator, partner, confidant, mentor, and as mentioned earlier, your uncomfortable friend. In the relationship, you are the player and it’s up to you to take the field. The business coach will push you, cajole you, help you be there for you and even do some things with you but realise you have to do the work. In the end only you can be accountable for your success.

When we think about coaching and who benefits from investing in it, a good starting place is to think sports and why Olympiads, who are arguably at the top of their game, invest in and value their coach. Even though they are champions in their field, they recognise three key things that we in the business world can learn from:

1. It’s not failures who look to a coach, it’s those who show the most promise and the greatest commitment to being a winner.

Eric Schmidt of Google and JP Garnier of Glaxo SmithKline have coaches and they already run two of the most successful companies globally. In the sporting world, if investing in a coach was about being weak and failing, why would Tiger Woods and Roger Federer bother to maintain full time coaches? But they do and what they all have in common is a recognition and appreciation of a number of following truths:

  • You don’t need to be sick to get better
  • Your coach doesn’t need to be an expert in your industry or sport to make you one.
  • Our sustained A-game is only possible with an outsider perspective because even   the best have blind spots and miss other possibly better ways of doing things.
  • Even top performer has their off-days and setbacks and a bouncing board with accountability is what gets them through.

2. Being great at something does not mean that you are good at everything and that’s okay.

The brutal truth is that market conditions for businesses have shifted and developing responsiveness to this is non-negotiable if business owners are to successfully go to the next level or be around next year. Getting help with re-strategising, re-prioritising, refocusing, introducing new techniques and investing resources differently to ensure this is done well is not about some sort of admittance “we’ve failed” or “we’ve done something wrong”, it’s about good business. And it works. Studies have shown that coached companies outperform non-coached companies over the life of the business seven-fold. And these sorts of successes are the reason why coaching is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world today.

3. Winning turns the cost of hours spent on getting good at what you do, being disciplined, sweating and sacrificing into a worthwhile investment.

Any top level sportsman will attest to hours spent honing, training, rehearsing and investing in their craft often involving great personal sacrifice. But if you were to ask Pete Sampras, Patrick Lambie or Chad le Clos if it was worth it – the answer would be a resounding yes. Likewise business owners who want to build resilient businesses, especially in tough economic times, need to be investment rather than cost-minded. It’s not about what’s put in but what you get out of it that counts. When it comes to coaching, an experienced, accredited Business Coach with reputable association; a demonstrable track record of helping others to be successful and guaranteed results is undoubtedly able to influence and improve your game often quite dramatically. They are able to provide perspective, accountability, companionship, quality advice, be a bouncing board and ask the hard questions that often need to be asked in order for you to successfully build your dream. The laps that they make you run to get fiscally fit and to build entrepreneurial muscle are so worth it in the end.