4 Things Every Tech Startup Needs to Know About The Coaching Industry
MAR 24, 2017 14:25 PM
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4 Things Every Tech Startup Needs to Know About The Coaching Industry

By Anna Johansson

Knowledge on any subject is widely available to those who wish to learn. However, just gathering knowledge from other people doesn’t guarantee results in business. Results come from applying what you know in specific ways. And, if you’re a tech startup with dreams of being acquired by a top tech company, you need to get results.

Whenever you’re aiming for a level of success you haven’t yet achieved, it can help to have an experienced mentor, like a business coach, to teach you how.

A business coach is a mentor with personal experience

Tech startups hire coaches to help them make good business decisions and to learn proven strategies they can use to achieve a higher level of success. But having a coach is about more than just learning ways to make money. It’s about reworking your business from the inside out to generate a higher level of long-term success.

A business coach should have a proven track record of success in business prior to and independently of their coaching programs. Generating millions of dollars in revenue from coaching clients on how to run a business doesn’t automatically qualify someone to be a business coach. If the only source of their successful revenue comes from their coaching business, and they have no prior personal experience in business, they might just be a clever entrepreneur.

In the last few years, it seems like just about everyone is adding coaching services to their resume and charging $500/month or more for just a few phone calls. Many of them are legit, but some aren’t.

Here are four things you need to know about the coaching industry to help you select an experienced business coach who can get you real results:

1. Good coaches teach strategies from personal experience

Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” And that’s what good business coaches do—they involve their clients in what they’re teaching by helping them implement specific strategies so the client can learn from direct experience.

But sometimes coaches teach other people’s strategies that have been proven successful, but they’ve never personally used. It may not seem like a big deal but if your coach is only teaching you strategies they’ve never used, they won’t be able to help when you encounter situations that require personal experience to navigate through.

Tech startups face unique challenges

One of the biggest challenges tech startups face is the pressure to adapt to rapid change that basically forces quick decisions to beat the competition to solutions. It’s the nature of the industry.

Andrew Van Noy of Warp 9 says, “If a company isn’t nimble enough, or cannot execute fast enough on an idea, the window of opportunity for your product or service may very well close before it is ready for the market.” And on the flip side, Van Noy expands by saying that being the first to find a solution doesn’t guarantee success. Trailblazing new solutions can come with its own set of challenges. Sometimes another company can swoop in and capitalize on the idea first.

Tech startups need to know when to let go – but do their coaches?

Sometimes projects fail, and that’s okay. It’s completely normal. And one of the biggest challenges faced by tech companies is the tendency to let a project linger rather than accept failure. But it’s far worse to let a project hang as an incompletion than it is to accept failure and move along.

This presents a particular difficulty for tech startups working with a coach if the coach has no experience in the tech industry.

When a coach has no personal experience, they won’t know when it’s time to accept failure and move on. That coach will likely tend to encourage the startup to continue with the project long past its time.

Hiring a coach without personal experience is like being lost in the jungle with a guide who knows how to read a map but has never been in the jungle. They can give you directions to get back home, but they won’t be able to help you navigate the environment without getting eaten, stung, or sick from eating the wrong plants.                                                                                                

Business coaches with experience are the best mentors

When your coach has first-hand experience with what they teach, you get more than just knowledge and strategies. You get an entire package of wisdom that comes from years of experience. Take Sam Ovens, for example. After experiencing a couple of failed businesses with a personal loss of over $10,000, he turned his mistakes into wisdom and is now a millionaire consultant for consultants running a global e-learning business.

First-hand experience makes coaches adept at problem solving and also accurately projecting the future to see what’s coming – and that’s where results come from.

2. Coaching is an $11 billion industry

According to IBISworld market research, coaching is an $11 billion industry with a 2.6 percent annual growth. The explosion of online coaching programs is largely responsible for this growth, making it easier for existing coaches to expand and new coaches to enter the market.

E-coaching can be just as effective as coaching in person. But the risk with taking on a virtual coach is that many of them are not business coaches, but clever entrepreneurs whose success is self-referencing. In other words, they may generate millions of dollars, but it all comes from their coaching business. This makes them great for marketing and sales, but they can’t necessarily help you with business strategies.

4. Client results are the best indicator of a good coach

It’s easy to automatically base your perception of success on how much money your coach makes. And while revenue can be an indicator of some kind of success, when it comes to coaches you need to know exactly how they earn their revenue.

Before hiring a coach, you should be looking at the results they get for their clients, not for themselves. Does the coach help clients generate an increase in revenue or help improve customer support relations? Does the coach teach strategies that cut costs, increase staff morale, and improve internal systems, products or services? If you’re a tech startup, how many tech startups has the coach partnered with, and can you talk with them to find out how that coach may have played a role in their success?

With the high fees charged by most coaches, you should be getting the expertise you’re paying for. Look for any measurable outcomes they helped their clients achieve.

Always qualify your business coach

Most coaches require potential clients to submit an application to qualify prior to accepting them as a client. You should be qualifying your coaches as well during your consultation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the results they’ve achieved for their clients and what you can expect.

The best business coaches will be honest about what outcomes you can expect in a realistic amount of time. Ask the hard questions and don’t feel obligated to commit to a coach you’re not completely sure about.

Listen to your intuition and you’ll make the right decision.

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