Maybe it's true that in order to coach business owners, you don't need to know how to run a business yourself. Maybe it's true that you don't have to understand balance sheets, turnover ratios, or acceptable ROI in their industry to coach business owners in you target market. It's possible that you don't have to know how the dozens of management tools they use regularly work, what they represent, and how they identify problems and opportunities. But to be credible, so they'll hire you in the first place, and pay you for your services, you sure do! A little bit of knowledge will give you the confidence it takes to call on successful business owners - so you can speak with them as a peer. Business terminology is how they frame their conversations. You will need to be able to "talk the talk" or you'll probably lose out to someone, probably without your skill and sensitivity, who can.
In 2001 we surveyed our newsletter readers, over 20,000 business owners, senior level managers of privately owned companies and the trade association executives who support them. They told us unequivocally that what they are looking for in a business coach is someone who understands the world in which they do business. They don't expect them to understand enough to be able to run the business, but they do want to be able to have an intelligent conversation with them about how things work. And they don't want to have to pay them while they learn. By 2002 I had interviewed dozens of business coaches. I wrote an article interviewing Dave Buck president of Coachville asking business coaches around the world what the believed business were looking for in a coach.
There answers proved to be quite illuminating. Those successful coaches who said that "you don't need to know anything about business to coach business owners" were people who already did know about business. They could not pretend they did not have the skills and knowledge they already have. So, if a you do not know much about business - how can you learn enough to survive long enough to be accepted by a niche market? Entrepreneurs know intuitively that business reality means to consistently bring in more than goes out. If you can't help them do that, what possible value are you to them? But if you can you will be a hero and have as many clients as you can handle.
It is that simple. Not only that, you must you have a value proposition that offers understandable specific bankable results. I had an idea. How about if we create an interactive text with strategies and tools and a process for discussing them among the members of the business? What about was an interactive resource that business owners and their advisors could reconfigure on the fly to address any question, challenge, or opportunity that comes along. Earlier this year it occurred to me that if I was going to reach 500,000 business owners and the professionals who serve them we could just give it away.
Simple as that. I would convert it to HTML, put it on our web site and let the search engines and word of mouth do the rest. And so I did. It is available in the nav bar of our web site. You may think I am wrong, that you don't have to know anything about business to coach business owners.
Or you may think that there must be a catch, so you won't even check it out. Or you are too lazy or not really committed to being financially successful in the first place. I learned a long time ago that all I can do is the best I can. I published it and am giving it away. Whatever you or anyone else does or doesn't do with it is not my concern.
If you are serious about doing good, helping others AND making money serving business owners you can, between now and your next client meeting. become well acquainted with business tactics and strategies, at least well enough to convince them of your commitment to learn what's important to them. The more familiar you become with the range of materials the more prepared you are to manage your own business, discuss business issues with prospects and clients. And the more likely you will be to spot opportunities where your services will add value to your clients.
Wayne Messick is sharing the secrets of his success, Click here for Doing It Right, cutting edge strategies for coaching business owners is available at no cost.