The entrepreneurs I have worked with are all-singing, all-dancing people trained to multitask and channel their energy in several different directions. Their business is their “child,” so they will always do whatever they can – and sometimes more – to make a success of their business. They are usually self-made people who teach themselves, learn on their own, have a try and take risks.
More often than not, entrepreneurs want their coach to help them make their business grow financially. However, business growth is but the end objective they reach when using professional coaching. Before getting there, coaching helps enterprisers climb the absolutely necessary intermediate stepping stones that lead to the end goal. Coaching helps them build or clarify their vision, strategy and key steps, follow up in real time what they have put on paper, and witness how things are being put into practice, transformed and made to happen right before their eyes.
In the coaching process, entrepreneurs learn to step back and see things from a new perspective, take a look at the competition and notice what is not working properly in their own business, how to reinvest in relationships, how to help their staff to develop and perform. This is especially true for family businesses, where commitment to the business is even stronger as personal relationships overlap with professional ones. Coaching proves extremely useful to them because it provides the support they need to observe more accurately how the various roles intertwine and function.
What I have dealt with most commonly as a coach are the regret and remorse that entrepreneurs tend to project on themselves when they review a decision they have made at some point. “Had I known, back then…” or “If I had done this then…” are recurrent thoughts, with entrepreneurs. When self-reflecting independently, they seldom realise that the decision they made really was the most adequate at that time, because based on the resources and knowledge available to them in that context. Being aware of this implies taking into account all the opportunities, considering them with detachment and sometimes making decisions which, painful as they may be, are accepted and regarded as the best for that moment. This is the kind of awareness entrepreneurs can reach through coaching.
Consequently, coaching is tailored to address the entrepreneurs’ specific needs and challenges. When, nevertheless, enterprisers allow themselves more flexibility and take decisions on their own that they can put into practice right away, their direct involvement with the business may cause difficulties which are harder to sort out precisely because the entrepreneurs are usually at the centre of it all. Being so pivotal to what they are doing, they might find it difficult to keep a clear view of the big picture, and so they risk neglecting those around them, failing to give them the support they need to grow very fast or very well – or, alternately, enough leeway to manage their own responsibilities independently.
Just as in other areas, coaching in business is, above all, focused on particular results, the need to get those results as fast as possible, and the specifics of each entrepreneur’s business. For example, enterprisers have much more freedom to change things than managers in multinationals, especially if they are positive that the change is indispensable to the success of their business. What streamlines significantly their ability to embrace change is the fact that they don’t need to wait for a whole system to move along with them, or for the multi-level approvals usually required in multinational or international organisations.
Few entrepreneurs resort to coaches, though, as it is usually harder for them to find out that there are such professionals who can help them achieve the results they pursue. Why? Because, unlike for people in multinationals, who are provided with the most efficient development plans supported by considerable budget allocations, for entrepreneurs there is no popular large-scale precedent as to how coaching can be useful to entrepreneurial business. Most of the times entrepreneurs have no one to inform them about the most up-to-date development options and tools, whereas in organisational environments there is normally a history of success for coaching programs.
Even so, once they have discovered the benefits of coaching, entrepreneurs are willing to invest in coaching programs, and turn out to be some of the most passionate and dedicated people a coach can work with. And so their determination and their passion lead them to attain the exceptional results they aim at.