Business coaching has roots that go back to the Greek philosopher Socrates. The “Socratic Method” of using questions to help others think clearly remains a staple of modern-day coaching. As business became more mechanized and complex in the 20th century, interest grew in learning the “secrets” of business success. Researchers and authors such as Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie found success in popular self-help books that became the springboard for countless business success authors that followed. In the 1980s, Sir John Whitmore in the UK was a pioneer in executive coaching methods and processes that helped formulate leadership development and organizational change. These coaching methods spread rapidly to Australia and New Zealand, where franchise coaching organizations grew up before spreading back to the UK and eventually the United States.
In the 1990s, training organizations for coaching refined their approach, helping to separate “coaching” from the popular “consulting” approach, which tended to be solution-oriented, or prescriptive. It was commonly said that consulting was the approach that “gave a man a fish,” while coaching’s purpose was to “teach a man to fish.” Business coaching continued to be refined in the first decade of the 21st century, as coaches emphasized communication and interpersonal skills to help develop people and teams. At this time, business coaching also led and taught “big company” strategic planning methods in small and mid-sized businesses. Business coaching or advising expertise began to be offered by other professional services businesses, such as accounting firms. Recently, although many accounting firms tend to provide only financially oriented advising, more are beginning to offer services that span all functional areas that business leaders themselves must juggle to make their business successful.
Today, skepticism about business coaching is fading, as more business owners find value in having a coach. Although we live in a time where every resource one could want can be found online, there is value in having the perspective of another experienced human as well as the encouragement, or “kick in the rump” to do something with the knowledge gained. It is, after all, actions that get results. But these actions are not one size fits all. Rather, these actions must fit with the culture, values, workforces, and markets of each business.
There are many ways to express the benefits of business coaching. Still, one that we think is particularly inclusive comes from www.allbusiness.com in a survey of entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council, and resulted in the following nine benefits of business coaching:
- Building Confidence – Helping you to better deal with major situations, opportunities, or conflicts.
- Understanding How to Work with Different Types of People – Understanding yourself leads to improvement in leadership, team building, and sales.
- Helping You See the Forest for the Trees – An objective point of view can unleash a completely new thought process that was hidden by day-to-day details of the business.
- Combating Unconscious Incompetence – We don’t know what we don’t know. Uncovering blind spots improves our leadership competence.
- Asking the Right Questions – Good questions from a coach challenge you to think critically about your business and brings new perspective and insight.
- Prioritizing Risks – Coaches help triage the myriad of issues you face and help you decide which ones to tackle and which to set aside until later.
- Employee Retention – Employees want to feel progress in their organization, and coaching helps with improved teamwork and the feeling of working for a winner.
- Experienced Financial Planning – Instead of the typical “hockey stick” growth plan, a coach brings realism and practicality to budgeting and business plans.
- Building a Great Team – Your business can’t grow if you need to do everything yourself. Encouraging the right organization of people around you is a huge asset.
Just as business coaching has evolved, Vesta has also transformed into an advisory firm that offers much more than standard accounting services. Ask us how our services have expanded into the analysis, strategy, and planning arenas to provide full support to all aspects of your business, including business coaching. We’d be happy to explore with you what benefits a coach could bring to your organization.