Coaching is a tough business. Whether coaching a ten-year-old to play soccer or a fifty-year-old on ways to improve their business, it’s a constant balancing act between providing honest (sometime painful) feedback and cheering on the most recent development.
I do love coaching my clients. I love it when a business owner that I coach achieves a new level of success, lands a big client, expands to a new office, or launches a new marketing campaign. My clients’ successes make me feel joyful and excited. When they watch their business grow, they feel like a proud parent, and I get to be the proud aunt.
My coaching clients rely on me to share ideas, tools, and experiences to help them improve their business model and execution. Sometimes all they need is for me to be a sounding board – a safe place to share ideas and know that I will provide them with honest and thoughtful feedback.
I like challenging my clients. They know I won’t ever say something is a great idea unless I honestly believe that it is. They also know that I will warn them when I see that they are taking steps down the wrong path.
But the most important thing I have learned from being a coach is how important it is to have a coach. It would be impossible for me to be as successful as I am without having people around me that I trust to coach me. Yes, I am a coach with a coach.
Last week, I was reminded just how important my team is to me – how their expertise and feedback are absolutely critical to keeping me focused and on the right path for my business. We were having our weekly meeting discussing a marketing plan that is under development. I had been doing some research online and found another business that I was really impressed with. They promoted a message very similar to mine, with results-driven marketing materials and spot-on branding. I was impressed. And I also felt downtrodden. Why should I bother creating my new marketing program if someone has already done such a good job at creating one?
When I verbalized this fear to my team, I was met with immediate feedback that really helped me see it from a different perspective. Specifically, my coaches said to me, “Nancy, don’t be ridiculous! Is there only one taxi company or one doctor in the world? There’s plenty of opportunity!”
Can you imagine if someone had an idea for a better way to run a taxi company but then told themselves not to do it because there already was a taxi company? That’s the situation that www.uber.com faced. But they went forward with their idea and changed the whole model for how we think about getting a ride! Remembering their example drove home the point that my team had made and got me back on track for my marketing plan.
(I was further encouraged on this topic by Seth Godin’s recent blog post entitled “Of Course it’s been done before”. You can read it here.)
There are two great business lessons to learn from this.
First is that getting input and feedback on business ideas and initiatives is critical to the success of your business. Finding a coach you can trust to truly partner with you in your endeavors is one of the best investments that you can make. A coach needs to be qualified, reliable, accessible, and willing to get involved with you.
The second lesson is that there will never be a shortage of ideas. The most successful businesses don’t necessarily stem from the most brilliant or unique idea; they rise to dominate their markets because someone made the effort to take the idea and make it reality. Coming up with an idea is fairly straightforward. Implementing it is the challenging part, and, ultimately, the only part that matters. Make sure you have a great coach to help you along that path.