Last month, I was part of a BAM Global workshop led by IBEC Director, Bob Bush. Because the workshop topic was BAM coaching and consulting, I agreed to share some thoughts on why everyone needs a coach. Here is a few of my thoughts that day.
- Coaches see the big picture. We live in a complex world, and it is impossible for every business owner to know everything from supply chain, production, sales, marketing, HR etc. A good coach asks lots of questions seeking to understand the vision of the entrepreneur and the needs of the customer. Some years ago, an IBEC coach helped a business couple pivot away from their vision of making wedding dresses in India and selling them in North America. The coach knew how to test the idea considering elements of customer demand and perspectives, export-import laws, startup costs and much more. It was not long until the prospective owner pivoted their idea toward a tourism business which became profitable in three years. Coaches have experience and perspective which startup owners need.
- Coaches help to clarify objectives, values, strategy, and roles. A common question is “what do you mean by that?” Many times as the client attempts to clarify topics related to the Quadruple Bottom Line, they see the need to develop their thinking or their research or simply their articulation. It has been my experience that business owners with a background as a missionary tend to downplay profit, while those with business and/or entrepreneurial background, tend to be weak with disciple-making strategies. In IBEC’s experience, we have had two businesses (still in operation today), state that “if only I had had some coaching from the beginning, I could have saved a couple of years of stress and avoidable mistakes.”
- A coach can be a safe place to discuss tough issues and give accountability. A recent EIDO survey of the BAM movement revealed accountability as one of the top perceived needs of startup owners. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs are on their own and far away from investors or donors. Coaches may provide advice, counsel, and suggestions for hard issues in a way that is not intimidating or threatening. One time a spouse shared with me how her husband was consumed with the business and spent very little time with the family. I asked the husband, who was the owner, if he would like to talk about it and when he affirmed so, I was able to direct him to an accountability coach which helped him develop balance in his life.
- Coaches and consultants can be useful analysts and problem-solvers. Or they may know someone who is subject matter expert. Not all BAM owners have analytical skills and when combined with little experience, the operation can flounder. Even experienced and successful owners can face problems for which no answer is apparent. Once a business owner in Asia called me asking for help. He had an aging imported machine upon which he was dependent, and he could not find local help. I had met a mechanical engineer in the US Midwest and so I asked if he would consult with Sam in Asia. He agreed and about a month later, Sam emailed me saying that it took three skype calls and the problem was fixed.
- Coaches can support and encourage. I have often heard IBEC coaches say that after an hour or two on zoom with a foreign client, they weren’t sure what technical help they provided but the client assured them how encouraging they had been. There is nothing more empowering and supportive than when a coach encourages the client for what he has done or will do. IBEC’s Director, Bob Bush, coaches many businesses and gets high marks for his encouragement of the coachee. He prays with them in the moment of the call (if appropriate) and prays throughout the month.
For sure, everyone needs a coach.
Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures