Crisafulli Business Coaching

UK business coach

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The leaders of small companies are confident, talented and hard-working. They are high achievers with a positive outlook on life. However, the top of a company can be a lonely place without the support and advice of people who understand the issues business leaders face on a daily basis. The head of a company will have built a viable business, but the next upward steps may be eluding them, and sometimes the bigger picture can be lost in a host of smaller issues.

A good business coach will offer a broad range of support to their clients, challenging them to bring about change and helping them to focus on the most important factors which will take their business to the next level.

What is a business coach?

An experienced business coach is a seasoned professional who helps business leaders achieve the best outcomes for their companies. They will be an expert in the fundamentals of running a business. Often, they will have held senior positions in business, or have successfully grown their own companies, and are now in a position to share their experience with others.

What do business coaches provide?

Precisely what a coach provides will be tailored to the needs of their client. It may relate to specific business activities or to personal training and development, but more usually it will have a wider scope than, say, the work of a consultant.

A good business coach will have a deep knowledge of the key components of a business. They will be able to assess the client’s vision and values, business strategy, financial management, sales and marketing, people operations and business systems and processes. Clients will benefit from the coach’s knowledge and experience in helping to identify the business’s strengths and weaknesses, in setting achievable goals and in creating realistic plans to deliver them. The coach will follow-up with the client to track progress, holding them accountable for the commitments they have made.

Equally, they can help senior people step outside their day-to-day operations and think objectively and creatively about how to grow their business. An experienced coach is able to act as a mentor to the business leader, offering encouragement and boosting their self-confidence. They may help the client improve their life skills through personal development in areas such as people and communication skills or time management.

What should I look for in a business coach?

Decide the coaching skill set you need

Like managers themselves, business coaches come with a variety of skills, so it is important to choose one who best fits your needs. This means that before engaging a coach you need to decide what you want from them in order to maximise your chances of getting the right person.

Coaches use a wide range of well-established management and coaching techniques, each coach specialising in some more than others. Their coaching directory entries, LinkedIn profiles and personal websites usually indicate the ones they use. You may have a preference for certain techniques, but in making your choice remember that the best results often come from being outside your comfort zone.

Ideally, your coach should have a good professional qualification in coaching. Examples of relevant qualifications are given later.

Go for experience

The more experienced your coach is the better. Have they ‘been there, done that’ in the areas you need them for? Is there evidence of a proven track record and positive testimonials?

An experienced coach is likely to have a network of connections to other sources which could be of value to you.

The potential to build a strong relationship

To get the best from your coach you will need to develop a strong relationship with them, which means setting aside time in your busy day to collaborate closely with them.

You will need to trust your coach with confidential information about your business or your personal development, so you must be able to build a rapport with them. This is especially important in the case of mentoring, which involves a longer-term relationship.

You may be able to try out up-front how well a coach fits, because some offer a free initial session or host free events.

Who should hire a business coach?

Companies of any size may use business coaches, but they are often used by smaller companies with between 5 and 50 employees, where the coach’s skillset may not be available internally.

Typically, they will coach or mentor managers, executives and business owners/entrepreneurs, but sometimes more junior employees may be coached. Coaching and mentoring are normally on a one-to-one basis, usually directed at senior decision-makers. They involve a much deeper interaction between coach and client than, say, a classroom training course.

It is crucial that the people being coached are prepared to commit fully to the learning process. Two aspects are particularly important:

Mindset

The nature of business coaching is to introduce change to an organisation, so the people being coached must be receptive to new ideas and different ways of working. The coach will likely challenge them quite strongly about their work, and not all the feedback will be easy to hear. This does not end with the coaching – a good business coach will try to instil an on-going mindset of continuous improvement.

Time

Clearly the learning process may take time, not just for the coaching itself but for the practice that is needed to gain familiarity and skills associated with new approaches.

Is a business coach worth it?

There is evidence based on research by various industry bodies, such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF), that coaching improves overall performance of both individuals and their companies. This is supported by the many testimonials found on the websites of business coaches.

As with all professional services, the fees for business coaches vary according to seniority and experience. The costs can build up to significant amounts over time, especially for executive coaching. For this reason, the people to be coached should be ones who can benefit most and who are able to make the commitments needed.

In addition, the client should define what they expect to achieve from the coaching and set hard criteria against which its success can be measured. In the words of the famous acronym, goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

How do I find a business coach in the UK?

The Credentialed Coach Finder provides details of over 380 UK based business coaches by UK region. All the coaches it lists have one of the three levels of certification offered by the ICF, as described in the next section.

The Business Coach Directory currently lists 25 UK based small business coaches and their qualifications, together with a brief description of their approach to their work and any areas of specialisation.

Of course, now that virtual meetings are an established norm of business life it is not essential to use a UK based coach, and most will offer virtual coaching. This opens up a larger range of coaches, for example those from the USA. On the other hand, some clients may feel that a close business relationship with their coach would require face to face meetings at least some of the time.

Coaching qualifications

There is a wide range of professional qualifications to look for when hiring a business coach. Prominent ones relevant to the UK are listed below.

EMyth

‘EMyth’ refers to a book written by small business guru Michael E. Gerber. He argued that the common belief that businesses are started by entrepreneurs is a myth, because mostly they are started by technicians. His key point was that many businesses fail because technical knowledge alone does not guarantee the founders will be able to build a successful business.

The EMyth organisation certifies independent business coaches around the world. An important feature of their approach is to ensure that a business is built around systems which work successfully without being dependent on particular individuals.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF)

ICF is a worldwide organisation for professional coaches that oversees education, certification and standards. It has a large branch in the UK.

They offer three levels of certification (known as credentials) aligned with rising levels of coaching experience and expertise, from the Associate Certified Coach (ACC), to the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and, the highest level, the Master Certified Coach (MCC).

British School of Coaching (BSC)

The BSC provides UK qualifications accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) for various levels of experience in coaching and mentoring.

The professional levels to be attained approximate to the UK Government’s National Qualification Framework Level 3 (e.g. A level), Level 5 (e.g. HND) and Level 7 (e.g. master’s degree).

BCF Group

Similarly to the BSC, the BCF Group (formerly the Business Coaching Foundation) offer coaching and mentoring courses accredited by the ILM at Levels 5 and 7.

The Coaching Academy

The Coaching Academy offers a range of coaching qualifications including a Small Business Coaching Diploma.

Final thoughts

We have seen that business coaching is well established in the UK, with a wide range of practitioners to meet the needs of small businesses. They are supported by industry bodies maintaining high standards and offering a range of professional qualifications.

Evidence suggests that coaching is a useful tool in growing the business, provided that those being coached can commit the necessary time and embrace change.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised here in more detail or enquire about any aspect of business coaching, Jim Crisafulli of Crisafulli Business Coaching would be happy to chat with you.

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