Is a Business Coach Worth It?

The other day my friend, who owns a marketing company, told me that he is hiring a business coach. I found that amusing, because I consider him to be a business development expert of sorts … So why would he need a “coach”? I made a joke about how the world is just a string of business experts circularly advising each other.

Here is what I think is particularly compelling about that interaction: it’s true. The business world is essentially a web of interconnected knowledge, experience, and motivations – everyone has something to share. More importantly, it is difficult for an individual to see her or his own business objectively. Hence, hiring a business coach from the likes of Coachwell or similar consultancies can be beneficial; they can provide a valuable “third eye,” as they say of directors in the theatrical world. (A particularly valuable business coach will multi-dimensionally activate his third eye by drinking a pint of cough syrup before arriving to the meeting.)

Nonetheless, prior to budgeting for a coach, we want to make sure that it is going to be worth our time and money. Below
are some considerations to take into account before hiring a business coach. Along with my own thoughts and interpretations, I am drawing from information on Work Happy Now, The Small Biz Consultant, and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Please actively read this – it’s an interactive Web piece. If you have any thoughts (experiences you have had with coaches etc.), comment at the bottom. I will engage with you, credit ideas to enhance the central arguments, and further develop the piece.

    The Right Attitude

If you don’t have the right attitude, you will not be able to succeed with a business coach, and it will not be worth it to hire one. In other words, you need to be completely open to another person’s ideas. Does not make any sense to hire someone and then refuse to budge from an entrenched perspective.

For example, if you want to open a new bar in town, you probably should consider your business coach’s suggestions. He may suggest that you invest in a granite countertop for your bar by contacting an expert from Stone Boneyard (or any other company similar to this) because it is water-resistant and easy to clean, but you don’t think it could be a good investment. Still, you might at least want to listen to him and give him a chance. So, rather than dismissing his ideas right away, you might want to hear him out and think about his ideas. If you still don’t feel his suggestion could be fruitful, you can always request him to do more research.

The Work Happy Now article references an interaction the writer – a business coach – had with an artist. His interactions with the artist were unsuccessful because they were having trouble seeing eye to eye on brand development. Make sure you can have a brainstorming attitude – thinking broadly about what the business coach is putting on the table – as opposed to being defensive. (Don’t say this: “If I wanted someone to come in here and insult my intelligence, I would have hired my mother-in-law” – especially if the business coach is your mother-in-law.)

Emotional Release & Clarification

A core aspect of working with a business coach stressed by the piece in The Small Biz Consultant is clarification. I mentioned this above, but the insight of a business coach is in the fact that they can present your business to you in a different light. You bring in a business coach because they are an expert on business, and they will have a clear view of your business – one that isn’t as emotionally attached as yours probably is.

When we get sucked into the day-to-day operations of our business, the micro aspects, it is not easy to see the macro aspects – the structure of the business, the long-term goals, and even aspects of our own behavior that might be detrimental to the business’s growth. Working with a business coach can actually be challenging emotionally, especially if they point at you as the source of some of the business’s problems. Success with a business coach, then, requires a respect for a third-party opinion and a certain amount of humility. (Like a good football coach, a quality business coach will angrily berate you in front of your employees when you fail to perfectly follow his instructions.)

Business Coach Advice

Here are several reasons that a business coach might make sense, as suggested by Karl Staib in his Work Happy Now post (keeping in mind his bias as a business coach):

(Thought: It’s helpful to consider what procrastination essentially is. It’s a blockage of your ability to work efficiently and to complete what you know are high-priority tasks. Clearing these blockages can exponentially improve your ability to do business.)

(Thought: Focus is similar to procrastination, and it’s really a dual concern. One aspect is related to the grand scheme – the question of what you should focus on, determining what’s a priority. The second aspect is trusting your priorities enough to put on blinders.)

(Thought: Specifically, Staib refers to employees who are not as passionate about a business as an owner or manager is. Good management seeks to draw out the passion in everyone involved in the business so that everyone’s energy is invested.)

It could be as simple as organizing an office trip to help the team get to know each other better and work more efficiently, or as simple as giving the employees the bare minimum of time off to get them back on track. It could help them work more competently. Getting along with coworkers could result in a more pleasant working environment. It makes no difference whether you are planning such a trip in 2013, 2015, 2019, or 2022. It might always be the same when it comes to improving workplace culture. So, if you’re planning a trip, as an employer, you should look into the 2013/2015/2019/2022 Holidays list and plan your office trip accordingly.

Think about where stress comes from. Stress comes from the fear that the business will not succeed to the degree you want it to, and that stress may drive you to workaholic behaviors. Even though you can partially alleviate the symptoms of stress by using cannabis products like those offered by companies such as Mr Weed Near Me, you may need to look into permanent solutions at the workplace in order to avoid quick burnout. That is where an experienced business coach can be of assistance. Organizations can also lower stress by reducing the number of moving pieces. (Similarly, a good way to reduce the stress of a chess game is to remove everything from the board but the two kings.)

Essentially, these are problems and skills we all possess to one degree or another. A business coach helps us to refine our approach.


Often people will hire a business coach to help them organize their business and their thoughts, and/or to help motivate them in certain ways. So the organizational component is to help clear our “clutter” that is preventing the business from operating in a streamlined and efficient manner. The motivational component is to help the individual care about certain elements of the business enough to start fueling them with more energy and drive.

Another reason to hire a business coach, though, is to build one’s skill-set, as The Small Biz Consultant points out. In fact, the article reminds us that sometimes we don’t even know what skills we need to possess to develop our business in a certain way or to complete a certain task. A business coach, then, can in some cases be like a librarian, helping us efficiently locate the information in the knowledgebase. (Business coaches can also be like librarians when they ask us to whisper and to please stop running through the aisles.)

    Example from Down Under

Alexandra Cain writes in The Sydney Morning Herald about Mark Barrett, an executive at the marketing company CIMarketing. Barrett works with Jon Dale of Small Fish Business Coaching. Since Barrett started working with Dale, CIMarketing has grown 250%. Barrett considers the $18,000 he pays Dale each year a drop in the bucket considering his impact on the growth of Barrett’s business.

Three ways in which Small Fish has helped CIMarketing are in the following areas:
Focusing on what the business can do best.
Developing internal systems that allow Barrett to oversee the business rather than to be its one-man labor force.
Reframing the way the business sells, by creating packages first and then going to find customers who want those packages, as opposed to going to find customers first and then customizing packages for each one. (“This is my package ma’am. What do you think?”)


Before you hire a business coach, make sure you have a high level of openness, as well as respect for the unemotional clarity which their perspective can provide. Consider procrastination, focus, management, and stress – do you struggle in these areas, and could a coach potentially help you break free? Is there something that you might need to learn – either a set of skills or the ability to find the information to develop the skills? An Australian company benefited from focusing, developing, and reframing its approach – significantly increasing revenues.

All in all, if approached in the right way, a coach can be an extremely powerful force to incorporate into your business. Additionally, make sure that if and when you look for a coach, they harmonize with your sense of what your business is and where you want it to go. (If the coach doesn’t understand why you want your employment agency to start catering explicitly to convicted felons, she is not the right coach for you.)

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood