What is Business Coaching?

People often don’t really know what exactly a business coach is or what a business coach does. To further add to the confusion, there is a difference between coaching and consulting. Since I I do both with my clients, for ease of reading, I’m just going to use ‘coaching’ as the catch all term. If you want to understand the difference you can click here. If you’re hiring me, know that you get double!

The best analogy is to use the example of a sport coach.

A coach has experience with the game. Your coach studies the game, most of the time have played the game, they love the game and find it consumes their thoughts, interests, and activities. Coaches are often obsessed with the game. The coach brings a fresh perspective and body of experience to help players improve both individually and as a cohesive team.

The coach has often been an athlete in the sport which greatly helps when teaching players. There’s a deeper level of understanding, respect, and “relatability”. When a coach is pushing a player and says, “I know it’s hard, now get after it and run it again” the experience of ‘having been there’ commands respect. Players are more willing to ‘run it again’ and work harder.

This is the difference between a business coach who has been in the trenches and run their own business and a coach who has only just gone to school and studied business.

A good coach focuses on the development of the technical skills needed to play the game and knows the physical strengths and weaknesses of each player. The coach can see what skills a player is naturally gifted in and works to further develop those skills. A good coach also identifies the places where skills need shoring up and then lays out a plan for that development.

Superior coaches know that in addition to physical skills, there is a mental part to the game. S/he also has to understand what is inside the head of each player. What are the mental strengths and weaknesses of the players? What is the plan for harnessing those strengths and working on the stumbling blocks? Coaches are most effective when they can tap into, harness, and work on motivations, insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses of individual players.

A skilled coach sees the smaller details and then creates a plan for development, training, and practice to move the team toward accomplishing that big picture goal of winning the playoffs.

The most sought-after coaches have skill with seeing these individual needs and details and then also are able to tie that development to the big picture goal (I.E. winning the playoffs).  There is specific skill and strategic thinking required to connect the two with a clearly laid out a plan.

The coach always keeps the big picture end goal in mind and knows that there are many, many mini goals and steps along the journey that need to be accomplished. It’s a journey.

A business coach works much the same way.

If you re-read the paragraphs above and replace ‘the game’ with ‘business’, players or team with staff or owner, you’ll have a pretty great idea of what a business coach is!

How Can Your Company Benefit from Business Coaching?

In much the same way that athletes benefit from a coach’s experience, insight, and knowledge, business owners reap similar benefits from hiring a business coach.

Your business coach helps you to define and see the big picture goals and then can help you prioritize, plan, and execute a winning strategy to accomplish those goals. A coach helps you keep your sanity.

People begin businesses because they are passionate about a product or service. They have a desire to do something better, be of service, or share a product with people. Entrepreneurs come to me most often for two reasons.

1) They have an idea but can’t see how to get that idea in motion (they need help creating a plan and understanding what steps need to be taken to get there).

2) Their business is growing to the point that they cannot do all of the things solo or with their current team. It has become overwhelming. Their passion initially to start a company was about the product or service, not about training employees, customer experience, service, scaling, or customer acquisition.

A business coach is a great benefit for an owner who wants to grow, scale, not work 24/7, and make sure that their mission and purpose is being executed well when they’re not at the company.

Like a basketball coach, your business coach can see the big picture goals, the strengths and weaknesses of each employee and how they can be best utilized with the goals of the business, or the team.

A business coach has an ability to get a Birdseye view of your company, and can then help instruct and guide, inspire, teach, train, and help with growth.

It is always helpful to have an experienced, trusted, third party person who can see your business and give you honest feedback and guidance that’s untainted. (Think about selling something that you have attached sentimental value to. You add that sentimental value to the item, but the buyer has no sentimental stuff attached to it. They don’t want to pay your price! This happens all of the time in Real Estate, even at garage sales! People attach monetary value to things where there should be none. Your coach can give honest input that’s untainted by sentiment.)

Your coach is passionate about business, eats, breathes, lives, and loves business. Your business coach is a mentor, confidant, supporter, planner, encourager, pusher, and visionary.

Samantha is a visionary she is highly professional and gently demands perfection. She is wonderful at taking an overwhelming task and breaking it down into manageable pieces

Cheri Rogers

Founder, Desta Girl

What Does a Business Coach Do?

A business coach does much the same work as a sports coach.

A business coach studies business, is passionate about business, an advocate for business, and understands the need for development of people to achieve business goals.

In much the same way as a sports coach, your business coach identifies where you and your team are strong and also where things need shoring up.

Your business coach takes time to understand your personal needs and goals and also the needs and goals within your business.

For example, in order to get the fullest picture, first I sit with the owner and have them self-identify their strengths, weaknesses, and goals.

Next, I conduct some confidential employee interviews to gauge the accuracy of the owner’s interpretation of things.

Then I look at the business from a customer perspective and see if these perspectives are aligning with the owner’s goals and perceptions.

After this diligence period I then report back to the owner and create a plan of attack to accomplish the owner’s goals, help with growth in needed areas, and assist with training and document creation along the way.

I look at things ranging from employee training, processes, customer experience, and communication etc.

The benefits of professional coaching are many. In a study conducted by the Institute of Coaching (an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School), they reported that:

“80% of people who received coaching report increased self-confidence. . .

Over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills

86% of companies report that they recouped their investment on coaching and more.”

Institute of Coaching

Affiliate of Harvard Medical School

Ways Your Business Could Thrive with the Help of a Coach

Depending on the needs of the owner and the strengths and weaknesses of the owner, a good coach can help in a number of different areas!

Employee Training

Often times employee training is one of the most needed areas within a business. I have not worked with any owner that didn’t either need or want assistance with employee training. It’s understandable! Employee management and training is a big, complicated, ever moving, ever-changing, ever evolving part of business!

Employee training is also one of the most challenging parts of running a business. It’s a natural place for a business coach to step in and help strengthen the team.

After learning and understanding what the owners core vision and goals are, it’s my job to see if that vision and those expectations are being communicated and trained effectively and efficiently. I work with the owner to help them create training systems and also sometimes step in to conduct trainings and workshops for staff.

I cannot stress the importance of this part of business. I think many owners shy away from employee training simply because they do not know what to do! They get frustrated with people because they don’t “get it“ or they seem to lack work ethic or motivation or owners think that abdicating the throne and letting their employees work without direction is the way to go. It’s not. Abdication always equals disaster.

This part of business should be a core priority for all owners. Without it there is a giant dropping of the ball. Your employees interact with the customers. Your employees represent YOU when you’re not around. Your employees are the face of your business.

Samantha Irwin is very innovative, efficient, and excellent in her work as a business consultant. She is easy to work with and her ability to help you hone your businesses goals is second to none.

Samantha has brought much strength to me as a business owner and writer when my businesses were growing so fast I was nearly drowning with all its the new demands. 

She is especially skilled at coming beside your employees and coaching them to better represent your businesses core values that helps to increase your bottom line.

Katrina McAlexander

Owner, The Grateful Farmer Inc.

Examples of Employee Trainings I’ve Conducted

  • Skills for communicating with teammates
  • How to show appreciation for others
  • Identifying their own language of appreciation
  • How to Exceed Customer Expectations
  • Fixing mistakes and empowering staff to take initiative when doing so
  • Non-verbal communication awareness and improvement
  • Creating a “team” feel – why it’s important to success
  • How to increase tips
  • Understanding employee power in the financial growth of your company
  • Understanding employee power to influence community/society
  • Skills training for hard customer service scenarios

Owners wouldn’t dream of having a logo designer design, choose, and then print the logo on signage without ever looking at it and having a say in the design. However, this seems standard practice when it comes to employees.

Owners often hire and then employ the ‘wing and a prayer’ or ‘head in the sand’ method of leadership. Believe me, it doesn’t work well. Tackling this part of business is a great thing for your coach to help with!

With one business I worked with there was an employee who had a very strong personality. This employee began to step in and make decisions about marketing, about how to run the operations, and even leading other fellow staff.  Even customers begin to think that the employee owned a business and that the owner was staff. When the owner came to me for help it was to figure out how to shift the dynamics and step into leadership. She had an amazing and clear vision for her business, but the gregarious pushy employee was stepping into the leadership role too much. She knew she let it happen but didn’t know how to correct it.

As a business coach I was able to help the owner. We didn’t need her to morph into a type of leader that she was not. We weren’t trying to transform her to Tony Robbins!

She’s the type of leader that so many of us wish we had. She’s quick to uplift others, provide training and incentives, she keeps a beautiful space for staff to work, is generous and kind. She’s a quiet leader, preferring to give others the spotlight.

She utilized me as her coach to help find her voice and create training systems for her staff that reflected her vision and leadership. I conducted some trainings as well for staff and together she’s back at the helm, guiding her business.

As her coach I could see how she could use her own personality, pushing her comfort boundaries a bit, to take the lead in employee training and guidance. She and her staff are amazing. They’ve created a business that, when you walk in as a customer, you can feel the cohesiveness of the team.

Goal Achievement

Goal achievement is a fun part of being a business coach. I am personally so motivated by goal setting and goal achievement that its contagious! Your coach can help you to specifically define your goals.

Often owners I work with are at a point where their business is growing, and they are feeling overwhelmed and out of control. We work together to get “back to the basics”, to reign things in, to remember that passion the owner once had, and to look forward and create some new goals that excite and motivate!

Samantha Irwin

Owner, Kaizen Business Coaching and Consulting

After defining the goals, we narrow focus, created some task lists and deadlines to keep on track.

By helping owners create clear, defined, specific, measurable goals, we create a long-term vision that I use to break up into five-year, one year, quarterly, monthly, and even weekly steps towards achievement.

One client called me a ‘most polite whip cracking coach’ they’d had. We get so much done! It’s amazing what can be accomplished with that accountability partner piece that you have in your coach.

Team Building

Team building is another area in which a business coach can help you move your business forward.

I like to begin my relationship with a business owner by having private interviews with employees. Because they’re confidential and private, I’m able to get some very straightforward information about strengths and weaknesses in the organization that employees tend not to communicate to their boss. They may not communicate them for one reason or another, possibly they had an experience with a vindictive boss and are gun shy now. Maybe the boss or manager hasn’t created a space and time where they are receptive and welcome feedback. There are many reasons why staff might not be 100% transparent with their boss.

For more on the topic of leadership this is a great read!

Work Happysmile What Great Bosses Know by Jill Geisler

Click HERE

Amazon Associates page.

After collecting these insights, I identify holes (and strengths) in training, communication, and support. We then work to strengthen the places that need it and continue to celebrate the things that are working well.

It is sometimes my role, as coach, to conduct team building trainings. Always I want the focus on my team building trainings to assist staff in both personal and professional growth and connection. I feel it would be a waste of time and money to, on a Friday, hold a ‘rah rah’ ‘feel good’ workshop only to have staff return to the same problems Monday morning.

Team building needs to be inserted into the DNA of management and into the culture of the workplace. It can be nurtured by a coach and for longevity sake, needs to be part of company culture.

When we start to work together and understand more deeply the needs and goals of one another (management/owners and staff), we then create programs, activities, policies and procedures etc. to help with team building.

Image of Book cover for Work Happy by Jill Geisler

Doing these things result in higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rate, greater customer engagement, and increased customer satisfaction. Those are all boons for business growth and profitability! Owners gotta love that…

Sales and Productivity

Probably 95% of the people I work with, staff and owners, rail against describing any part of their job as “sales”. They view ‘sales’ as slimy.

In fact, if you are in a business that must have customers to survive, you are indeed in sales.

Most of the time staff incorrectly confuses ‘sales’ with ‘service’. It’s very rewarding to help employees understand how they have incredible influence to enhance the Customer Experience.

In order to enhance the Customer Experience, it takes time and training to help the employee have a full understanding about products and services that the business offers. It takes time and training for staff to understand the incredible power they have – not only on the financial success or failure of the business, but on the very trajectory of the customer’s day.

Sales vs. Service - Local Staff Show's How it's Done

For an excellent example of an employee WIN click HERE to watch the YouTube video and use for your staff training!

As I train employees to understand the value that they bring to the table especially regarding the Customer Experience, amazing things happen:

  • their self-esteem rises
    • Employees move from punching the clock to feeling like a very valuable addition to the workplace
      • Productivity is increased
        • people move with a purpose
      • the work environment is more alive and focused on the customer
    • staff are challenged to grow and learn about the customer and the company
      • job satisfaction is improved

This is music to the ears of any manager.

Sales and productivity are completely wrapped up in employees understanding of their purpose of their work.

When people understand how they have such power to add value to the Customer Experience, they move from feeling like they are pushing something to understanding how they are helping customers.

It’s magic when this happens. It’s so much fun for everyone!

Samantha exudes superb business acumen and understanding of the importance of keeping loyal customers; not to mention she makes learning fun and entertaining!

 Her webinars, private consulting business, public speaking engagements and classes focus on teaching and coaching owners and employees on how to strengthen customer relationships and service in order to build and maintain strong, sustainable businesses. 

Her witty and humorous approach and support to achieving long lasting business success is not to be missed!”

Charlotte Arnold

Business Owners and Improved Work-Life Balance

Oh what business owner is not overwhelmed! Running a business is hard. Most owners that I know are so passionate about what they do that they don’t often leave their work at work. They are constantly worrying about this, that, or the other thing

Hiring a coach can help bring clarity to work life balance. Your coach helps with goal setting and priorities, management and team training, creating policies and procedures, time management, etc. All of these things assist in taking some responsibility off of an owner’s shoulders.

The goal is to hire and train people to run your business when you’re not there in a way that allows you to relax and unplug, to work on vision and planning, to tame your overwhelm.

Your employees are representing you when you are not at your business. They are representing your mission, values, and vision.

In order for you as an owner to feel confident that you can indeed unplug when not at work, this cannot be left to chance. This is where a business coach can help greatly.

It’s important for owners, who carry the lion’s share of the burden, to be able to unplug, to be able to have space to plan, to dream, to have a creative space to come up with ideas to grow their business.

An excellent read for busy people!

Click the pic. to take you there.

What are the Keys to a Successful Business Coaching Strategy?

I believe the keys to developing a coaching strategy that is successful are multi fold.

A successful strategy is one that involves much question asking and listening. I have to know YOUR priorities and pain points first before I can assist.

I like to be very clear with expectations and keep things written down.

A successful coaching strategy involves a lot of communication. It’s a relationship! And as such, it will have its ups and downs. There is always push and pull when there is growth.

A successful strategy is one where both the coach and the client know that there will be bumps and agree to hang in there and work out the kinks together. There always needs to be the understanding that the coach and the client are on the same team.

The relationship also has to be grounded in trust. My clients need to be able to trust that I’ve got their best interests at heart. They need to be confident that they can open up their wounds and I won’t pour salt on them; that together we’ll work on healing and growing.

Lastly the client should understand that a coach is not the end all

Conclusion

I love business. I’ve always been interested in, and passionate about the impact businesses have on society. Businesses are these mini-armies, ready to deploy all sorts of great stuff to the world!

I naturally see big picture goals and the steps needed to get there. It’s so incredibly fun and rewarding to help energize, motivate, and sometimes breathe life into owners who are growing.

Because I was/am a business owner I identify with many of the struggles that entrepreneurs have and am able to guide people through those struggles and growth.

Kaizen, the name of my business, means ‘continual improvement’. This is my philosophy for both my personal and professional life. There’s so much to learn, so much to do, so much positive impact to create!

As a business owner you are in a uniquely powerful position to have tremendous positive impact on peoples lives and in society. I know it. I can see it.

If you are ready to take the next step in your growth, send me and email and let’s see if we’re a fit!

Profile Picture of Samantha Irwin

Samantha works with business owners helping to ‘tame the overwhelm’, assisting with customer acquisition & retention, employee training & retention, and honing your Customer Experience so it kicks butt.

She conducts workshops and training in hospitality, Customer Experience, and creating a culture in the workplace that inspires and motivates employees and customers.

Contact me to help you grow your business!

info@kaizen.zone
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