Peter Boolkah and Jon Neill

Member Article

What makes a good business coach?

Article written by Jon Neil, founder and former managing director of Sportsafe UK. He lives in Essex with his family.

Business Coaching has received negative press during the pandemic. Some business owners have reported a lack of value for money from business coaches while others say they feel as if they have been scammed. The problem is that business coaches are not regulated and anyone can set up as one. No training or qualifications are needed. The number of business coaches operating has increased by 115% and the Guardian reports that the sector is forecast to reach £8.4bn this year.

It is important to offer a counter balance though. Choosing the right business coach can be money well spent. I have worked with Peter Boolkah for 13 years. I started my company Sportsafe UK in 1997 from my garden shed, simply as a way to pay my mortgage. The company provided schools with sports equipment safety testing. It grew very fast and suddenly we had contracts with local authorities all over the UK. I was working 7 days a week 52 weeks a year and it was taking it’s toll on my young family. Inadvertently I’d created a business which only functioned if I was present and managing it. I needed help and advice on how to change this situation.

Good business coaches can help to transform companies. Initially Peter helped me to set out a 3 year plan for Sportsafe UK. He educated me on how to put together a real team of people to help take the company forward. In 3 years, Sportsafe UK went from 6 staff to 110. This freed me up to work on business development. When I started with a business coach the company had 6 local authority contracts, 9 years later we had over 130. We went from being a local company servicing around 4,000 schools to being a worldwide company operating in Dubai and Saudi Arabia with over 20,000 schools. That is my experience of business coaching but it is not everyones experience.

How do you choose a good business coach? Do your research and find out their experience, does it match what you need? My coach was an expert in upscaling and growing companies. In 1997 I had a turnover of £55,000 and I sold it for 8 million pounds in 2017. A smaller business or sole trader may need a different type of coach. Look at the types and sizes of businesses the coach has worked with. Make sure they understand your industry and business. Read their testimonials and get in touch with the businesses they’ve helped. Interview their previous clients with a list of questions. Often a coach will have an online and social media presence, do your homework and follow them to see what they are doing. Many business coaches will have podcasts where they share tips for growing your business. By listening you can find out if they might be a good fit for your business.

Make sure your personalities complement each other. A good business coach will assess your personality and work out what type of communication you need to be proactive and address issues within your company. Business coaches are not there to make decisions for you. Business coaching sessions often consist of working through plans and strategies. For example, my recruitment strategies weren’t working. I needed people with good telephone skills. Staff we hired from face to face interviews didn’t work out. Peter suggested we interview over the phone. I started getting the right staff for the job and it cut my recruitment time in half. Simple things like that started my growth off.

Check out how many coaching training hours they have clocked up. For example my coach has done over 200 hours of training this year alone and over 35,000 hours of coaching training throughout his coaching career. The ICF has some good advice and says that an entry level coach should do 100 hours of actual coaching practice, plus 60 hours of training.

There are business coach scams out there but if you do your due diligence and choose the right one it can be money well spent.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Lucy Hood .

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