Why do entrepreneurs need coaching?
With the constant influx of decision-making and responsibilities entrepreneurs (and business owners) manage everyday, we are bound to feel overwhelmed. In addition to our daily workload of service or product production, we are inundated with dealings with customers, staff and vendors via phone calls, emails, meetings, online and social media communication. It’s needless to say but many entrepreneurs often are under a great deal of stress.
According to Forbes.com, “Sleep difficulties, irritability and changes in weight are just a few symptoms that can also be associated with depression. Entrepreneurs may mask depressive symptoms by working longer hours, or they may mistake their depressive symptoms with stress, which can cause symptoms to get worse.”
Many business owners are turning to professional help for stress and time management … no, not a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist, but a business coach or professional coach. According to a recent Business Pulse Survey, 81% of entrepreneurs have seen a positive impact on their business from coaching.
What is a business or professional coach?
According to the International Coaching Federation, “ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The coach’s responsibility is to: Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve; Encourage client self-discovery; Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies; and Hold the client responsible and accountable. This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.”
As you also may be wondering and it was my first question, what is the difference between a coach and a counselor? According to several sources and my business coach, the difference falls in the timeline of your life. Counseling looks into and deals with issues in your past, while Coaching only focuses on the issues in the present time to make a productive future in one’s life. Although that is not their focus, the past and behavioral issues do tend to come up in 36% of the clients, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Why do so many entrepreneurs turn to coaching and with what benefits?
“Entrepreneurs have struggled silently. There’s a sense that they can’t talk about it, that it’s a weakness.” Business owners are “vulnerable to the dark side of obsession,” suggest researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. (Inc.com)
Any business owners knows the highs and lows of running a business, the triumph of a successful bid or completion of a large project, but also the downside of financial, staff or client issues. The above study showed a link between excessive entrepreneurial passion and signs of clinical obsession or even manic disorders, which include symptoms of distress, anxiety, agitation, sleep disorders, exhaustion, loneliness, and withdrawal socially. Any of this sounding familiar? If so, then you may understand why so many of us turn to coaching.
At times, as business owners we are always attempting to put our best foot forward with whomever we have dealings with, including our team members. Thus, we have very few outlets to honestly, openly and confidentially express our concerns and fears, as well as our hopes. When we keep things to ourselves, we allow our minds to play tricks on us. Simply talking about our anxieties with a professional coach has the surprising effect of reducing it, not to mention the tips and strategies they will use to help us avoid pitfalls in the future.
Accountability is another huge asset of coaching, as entrepreneurs tends to put off the tasks that are the most difficult. Coaches see through our excuses, and push us onward with targeted goals that have definite deadlines. On the other hand, we may push ourselves too hard, ignoring the time we need for rest, relaxation, brainstorming, exercise and family time … that work/life balance we always hear about. As Sheryl Sandberg so famously denounced, “there is no such thing a work/life balance”, consequently more women these days are giving up on the idea and just making the best of their 50-60 hour work week. Business and life coaches can help us see the need for balance and help us ‘schedule’ in the time we need for essential life activities, like spending time with family and friends, relaxation, eating well, sleeping and downtime.
And according to the ICF, a large percentage are seeing a return on their investment working with coaches:
- 70% see improved work performance
- 57% see improved time management
- 80% see improved self-confidence
- 67% see improved work/life balance.
How coaching has helped me.
I started using a business coach rather by accident, meeting her and getting to know her over the years through various networking events, and then learning more about her services as she became one of my clients. In turn, my curiosity and interest was piqued. So I gave it a try, incidentally during a very stressful time as we were moving out our temporary lodging and then moving into our newly built home, including another move of my home office. The year previous was one of transition with the move, with added family responsibilities, and with the reallocation of my professional time and vested interests. Hence, I was in desperate need for that sounding board in an open and honest space.
My coach went over my schedule to discover gaps with time-wasters, as well as areas I needed to concentrate more fully on my business goals, marketing and creative thinking (for example, my blog). Work/Life balance was also addressed, although that is a continual struggle and I anticipate will be until I retire, but even so, I see improvements. She showed me strategies for time-mapping, so I can make the most of my day and reserve days of the week for meetings and other days for work in office, as it’s a struggle of mine to cohesively switch between the two without breaking my rhythm. The two months I’ve worked with her have been some of my highest grossing as well as having more than the usual time for family, friends and settling into our new home.
Although I’m continually making adjustments to improve productivity, she has taught me skills and methods to use in various situations, thus there are long-term results. Would I recommend coaching to fellow entrepreneurs? Most definitely.
Email me for local coach recommendations.