When you’re wondering which avenue to take to help move your business forward, don’t try and do it all by yourself. Trying to take the whole world on your shoulders could end in disaster! Instead, get some help.

The question is, who from? It’s often tempting to ask a family member, friend or spouse. The problem with doing that is that they may well have some kind of personal agenda or emotional attachment to your wellbeing. Depending on who you speak to, the responses can vary considerably:

  • Friend – the usual response is something like, “What I would do if I was in your shoes…” Ask yourself if they have the same values, goals and objectives as you. They might not even run their own business or work in the same sector as you. Good friends tend to sympathise, which can then draw out a pity party focusing on the problems rather than the solutions.
  • Spouse – their focus tends to be on how your issue or idea will impact on your home and your family. Quite often, a spouse may be too risk averse, especially if you have children.
  • Parent – the main problem with asking your parents is that they are usually looking out for you and trying to protect you, however old you are! Again, as with your spouse, they may be too risk averse.
  • Business contacts – bear in mind that their experiences are probably quite different from yours. As with asking your friends, you’re more likely to receive an “If I were you…” response. Yet they’re not you. Being on the opposite spectrum to your spouse and parents, they may well suggest options that are too risky even for you.

With any of these groups, what happens next if you ignore their advice? How does that affect your relationships?

An Objective Ear

Ideally, you need to talk to someone who is completely objective and has no emotional attachment to you or your business. Better still, that person shouldn’t tell you what to do. Instead, they should be talking to you, asking questions, teasing out the details.

This deep questioning process helps to drill down to the core of the issue, where all the gems are hidden. All the right answers are within you! You just need help to mine them out. The skill is in the questioning – knowing what questions to ask. That is where an experienced coach will help.

Coach or Mentor?

There is a fundamental difference between a coach and a mentor:

  • Mentor – a mentor relationship is usually one that’s built on shared experiences, with the mentor having worked in your field or had relevant experience. That way, a mentor can offer advice and share information based on their experiences and those of others they know in the industry.
  • Coach – a coach might or might not have experience in your industry. They will ask questions rather than give advice, knowing that you have the answers hidden inside you. Finding those answers through this process is extremely empowering.

Just to Muddy the Water…

There is one other kind of coach – a sports coach. This person is different again, as they will look at what you’re doing wrong and show you how to fix it. I believe that this is more mentoring than ‘pure’ coaching. Let’s not confuse the issue and leave sports coaching out of this!

The other slight confusion comes from Consultants. They provide professional advice, direction and support to your business in the specific field of their consultancy, such as marketing or finance, and can be valuable mentors too.

What Happens in a Coaching Session?

Coaching is asking questions, listening and asking more questions. The art lies in listening to the answers, because that’s where the hidden gems lie. You may not even hear them yourself until I encourage them out of you, picking out the best bits from what are often throw-away comments.

Coaching is also watching for emotional reactions to certain words and phrases.

Although it’s really helpful to see you and your reactions to our conversation, telephone coaching is equally powerful in its results as you really have to listen. I’ve developed my listening skills so that I can hear your pauses, hear you thinking, pick up on your tone of voice. When you’re in front of a client, it’s easy to forget to do that! So the benefit of telephone coaching is that it can be far more focused.

A coaching session – whether in person, on Skype or on the phone – is not a friendly chat. It’s way more than that. It provides a very empowering experience for you, because you usually find the answers yourself.

If you would like to know more about how I could help you, through coaching or mentoring, why not start by connecting with me on LinkedIn? If we’re not already connected on LinkedIn, please connect with me by clicking here as I’ll be regularly sharing tips and information on LinkedIn from now on.

Better still, let’s meet up for a friendly chat over coffee and cake! Give me a call on 07766 004 964.