GOAT, (Greatest of All Time). This old expression was recently revitalized because of Simone Biles’ dominance in the world of gymnastics. We hear the expression tagged to other great athletes like Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan.
Have you ever asked yourself, “How did these exceptional athletes become the GOAT in their sport?” They have extraordinary skill, focus, and dedication. However, they all share one other common trait that is often overlooked.
Every one of them acquired the help of a coach, to refine their skills from good to exceptional. Professional athletes accepted coaching as a logical and necessary part of becoming extraordinary and advancing in their field.
When we look at business leaders, especially individual entrepreneurs, we experience a very different reaction to the idea of acquiring the help of a coach. Recently we asked over a hundred small and medium-sized business owners if they had ever utilized a business coach. With very few exceptions, the response was an overwhelming NO.
When we asked why they had not utilized a business coach, we received comments such as ’Waste of time… I’ll give up control… ‘I know more about my business than any coach I know… ‘what if I spend a lot of money and get nothing for it… ‘It would be embarrassing to hire a coach to run my business… ‘How can a coach help improve my business when they know nothing about it?
The Role of the Coach
Looking back over these conversations it is obvious that business owners often misunderstand the role of the coach. Tiger Woods has never had a coach that could beat him in a round of golf. Tom Brady has never had a passing coach with his talent or accuracy. Simone Biles has never had a floor events coach with her skill set. The role of the coach has never been to be better than the professional business owner or athlete. The coach’s role is to help refine and sharpen the skills the business owner already possesses.
If business owners want to take their businesses to the next level, then they need to think like professional athletes. Acquiring the help of a business coach is a recognition of success and not an admission of failure. Recognizing the value of a coach is a demonstration of confidence and control. True failure is allowing fear and doubt to limit one’s professional development.
Overcoming the intangible fears that a business owner has about hiring a coach can be challenging. Once you get past the jargon, three mental barriers represent the bulk of the problem: fear of losing control, fear that asking for help represents failure, and fear that business colleagues will think less of you.
To overcome these concerns, you cannot simply ignore them or brush them aside. If you do, they will remain as background noise in your brain and be fodder for more insecurity and anxiety. The best approach is to observe these fears without self-judgment and then address them head-on.
Loss of Control
If concerns about the loss of control are an issue, then ask yourself how you would lose control. You own the company; the role of a coach is to grow your professional expertise while expanding your business control. Real coaches ask you questions and empower you; they don’t direct or control you. The coach is your resource, not the other way around.
Perception of Failure or Incompetence
If your issue is fear that acquiring a coach could represent failure, then start with the question, ‘Why? Why would acquiring the help of a business coach represent failure? The fact that you have nurtured and developed a functioning enterprise demonstrates success, not failure. Your desire to take your enterprise to the next level represents advanced business acumen. And you are in good company with many other elite business leaders (Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey to name a few) who attest to the power of a business coach.
If you have self-doubt that other business colleagues will think less of you for acquiring a business coach, then ask yourself two questions: 1) “Who would do so or care?”; 2) “Do you care if an ill-informed business associate has this opinion?” Imagining that someone would think less of you is probably a projection of your doubt; it’s unlikely that anyone will care. Hiring a coach demonstrates foresight to help you address every business owner’s concerns. Your reputation will probably benefit from the decision.
Cost and Risk
When a business owner does consider acquiring the services of a coach, the one quantifiable concern is cost vs. measurable results. The easy way to reconcile this balance is to acquire the services of a business coach who will provide a written ROI guarantee of success. The challenge is finding a coaching service that will provide such an agreement. If you do a little online research, you will quickly learn that written coaching guarantees are rarely offered.
In theory and practice, the avoidance of guaranteeing success does not make sense. Many parameters of a business — be it manufacturing, retail, service, or professional practice — are easily measurable. They include business structure, product/service to be provided, method of delivery, cost of goods/service, marketplace awareness/visibility, pricing, overhead costs, revenue generation, and resulting profit or loss.
The value of the business coach is to help the business owner refine and sharpen each aspect of the business. This refinement and continual improvement differentiate an extraordinary business from an ordinary one. Improvement of these business elements, along with ones that are harder to quantify like employee satisfaction, will lead directly or indirectly to improved revenue and profitability of the business itself.
We can define important aspects of a business and use the resulting growth of revenue and profitability as meaningful tools of measurement. So why don’t business coaches offer a written guarantee of success?
The Written Guarantee
When we talk to business coaches about the idea of providing clients with a written guarantee, we hear statements such as… ‘I cannot depend on my clients to do what I recommend… ‘Many of the improvements I help clients make are not quantifiable… ‘My clients would look for ways to avoid paying me… ‘There is no way to define the boundaries of a guarantee… ‘What if their business became obsolete or another pandemic ruined their business?
Typically, the reasons for not providing a coaching performance guarantee are about the behavior of the client and not the coach. In reality, not providing a performance guarantee is an issue with the coach. It is easy to establish goals and measurements. It is easy to establish performance expectations for both the business owner and the coach; financial measurements provide the parameters for success. And it is not difficult to construct a guarantee around these parameters and the business owner’s activity to achieve them. Business coaches might avoid performance guarantees because they are uncertain of their ability to empower the business owner. Some coaches do not have the coaching business experience and knowledge to confidently coach a business owner. Some coaches simply do not understand the key factors that drive profitability in a business. In some cases, a business coach might understand revenue drivers but lacks the experience to advance the right business strategies needed to improve profitability. It is easy to hang out a shingle as a business coach. It’s harder to bring true value to the coaching engagement and business owner.
If you are a business owner looking to become the “GOAT” in your marketplace, getting a solid business coach who provides a written ROI guarantee of success is a major step in the right direction.
Contributed by Jack Gruber