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What Does a Business Coach Do?


Running a business can feel lonely. The buck stops at the top, and every decision rests on your shoulders. It’s inappropriate to ask your subordinates for advice or support, so who are you supposed to turn to when you need guidance?

An experienced mentor is perhaps the most valuable resource available to business owners. Hiring a business coach can help CEOs get the personalized guidance they need to make the difficult choices necessary to create a successful company.

There are a few self-regulating groups like International Coach Federation and the International Association of Coaching that certify coaches. These certifications are indicative of formal training and adherence to a code of ethics. However, there isn’t a licensing requirement to become a coach and many great coaches aren’t certified. At TAB, all our Facilitator / Coaches are certified through a combination of onsite and e-learning. TAB Facilitator / Coaches walk the talk with access to online hotlines, yearly courses, advanced trainings and workshops and a robust Learning Management System.

What is a business coach?

Business coaches are typically expert entrepreneurs or executives who know how to grow successful businesses. They share that experience to help other business owners reach their goals.

Hiring a business coach is like having a highly experienced partner in your corner. They provide personalized advice that can help you navigate the rough terrain of running a business. That may include things like defining goals, crafting strategies for growth, or devising a plan for reviving a struggling brand.

There are a few self-regulating groups like International Coach Federation and the International Association of Coaching that certify coaches. These certifications are indicative of formal training and adherence to a code of ethics. However, there isn’t a licensing requirement to become a coach and many great coaches aren’t certified.

Business coach vs. consultant
In general, a business coach will help an executive focus on where their business is now, where they want it to be, and how to bridge that gap. It’s less about giving advice, and more about asking questions that empower the CEO to come to his or her own understanding.

A business consultant or strategist, on the other hand, is about delivering practical, tactical solutions. They share knowledge, give advice, and create plans.

Where business coaches assist and guide, consultants may do some of the heavy lifting on behalf of their clients.

Coaching and mentoring can also sometimes be confused. Both roles bring years of experience to the table. The biggest difference is that a mentor focuses on advising, while a coach will assist the owner in goal planning and keep them accountable so that they achieve success.
What does a coach do?
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A business coach helps business owners clarify the vision of their business and how it fits in with their personal goals. This allows the owner to understand the impact that reaching those goals will have on their life. If a business objective is not linked to the owner’s plans and aspirations, they are unlikely to passionately pursue it or, therefore, ever achieve it.

After clarifying the business owner’s vision, a business coach will assist in prioritizing the various goals. They can help owners see which items are just tasks and which are long-term objectives. From there, they may work together to determine which strategies will create the desired results.

Busy executives are so close to their businesses that they may fail to see the forest for the trees. As an outside observer, a business coach can more objectively see a company’s internal and external issues. They can help an owner better understand what may need to change, and can guide owners in craft an actionable plan to create desired results.

The coach will also lead the client in creating key performance indicators (KPIs), or metrics by which you can measure success. KPIs allow a coach to track their client’s progress, which is something a business owner might avoid if they are on their own.

Accountability is a critical component of business coaching. A business coach typically meets with a client regularly, either weekly or monthly, to check in on commitments made during previous coaching sessions.

Again, a coach isn’t a consultant who will do the work for you. Instead, they will keep you focused on the end result and remind you why it’s important. They’ll motivate you to keep your commitments, act as a sounding board, and hold up a mirror to help you see your personal and professional blind spots.
Hard vs. soft skills
Phil S. July 30th image
A business coach will most likely focus on helping a business owner develop their soft skills, such as communication, flexibility, leadership, problem solving, and time management.

Hard skills, on the other hand, are quantifiable technical competencies. These include things like language or technology proficiency. These are the types of skills you usually learn in school, in a certification program, or on the job.

This distinction between hard and soft skills is important as it relates to coaching. Excelling at soft skills is what sets leaders apart from doers. A business owner may be weak at soft skills, however, if they started as an employee and never learned how to manage and lead.

Working with a coach to improve your soft skills will help you step fully into the CEO role. Rather than working in your business, like an employee, you’ll learn to work on it, like the visionary CEO.

Why hire a coach?

Do you feel something’s keeping your company from reaching its full potential? If so, it may be time for business coach. Here are three telltale signs you would benefit from coaching:

You frequently wish you could delegate things to someone, but you’re not sure who.
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You regularly think, “If I just had the answer to this question, I’d be more successful.”
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You believe your company could do more and be better, but you’re not sure how.
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Learn more about hiring a business coach with our eBook

Benefits of business coaching

What makes coaching worth the investment of time, energy, and money? There are many benefits of business coaching, but here are six of the most important reasons to enlist outside help.

Boost confidence
The support of a great coach, who gives you encouragement and space to work out challenges on your own, will boost your confidence. It can help you handle conflict, crises, and challenges with greater ease.
Gain perspective
We don’t know what we don’t know. With a fresh set of eyes, and vast experience, a coach can help you see and mitigate your blind spots. They can ask questions that challenge you to think critically and creatively, and also act as a sounding board for your ideas.
Leave the comfort zone
It’s easy to fall into the “we’ve always done it this way” trap. A business coach can push you to try new things, but also help you weigh the risk vs. rewards of a new challenge.
Improve leadership
Most coaches will offer insights and exercises around personality and leadership styles. By assessing your strengths and weaknesses, you can delegate certain tasks and stay in your zone of genius—all of which will make you a better and more strategic leader.
Skyrocket productivity

Doing what you do best, and helping your team do the same, increases efficiency and morale. That’s a recipe for massive productivity gains. Plus, a coach will also hold you accountable for the goals you set, which increases the likelihood you’ll meet them.

Make more money

A good coach will help you clarify your goals, craft a solid strategy, identify which actions are most likely to increase profits, and hold you accountable for implementation. That usually adds up to more money in the bank.

Hiring a business coach

The qualities people value most in a business coach, according to a Small Business Pulse Survey by The Alternative Board, include insight, coaching style and philosophy, character and integrity, areas of expertise, experience, and trust.

Respondents to the survey also expect coaches to ask the right questions, focus on measurable change, conduct a thorough business assessment, and tackle the tough issues.

How do you find a coach who meets all of those criteria? After asking peers for referrals, research your top candidates to review their experience, credentials, and testimonials. Doing short interviews with your favorites is the surest way to find the person with whom you have the best chemistry.


When you chat with potential coaches, a few questions to ask them include:

  • Who is your ideal coaching client?
  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • What is your definition of success?
  • When have you failed and how did you handle it?
  • What are the biggest challenges you’ve helped clients tackle?
  • What measurable results have you helped your clients achieve?
  • What do you do best? What don’t you do well?
Dig into our pulse survey findings around The Value of Business Coaching

A Company Growth Example

When Doug Hohener of CreativeWorks Marketing found himself needing to grow his business beyond a one-man show, he knew he was heading into uncharted territory. As a young entrepreneur, the thought of hiring employees and moving into an office space was anxiety-inducing.

Hohener needed advice, so he joined The Alternative Board. It gave him the opportunity to work with a business coach:

“One thing I’ve learned is that change is part of growth,” he says. “It makes us all nervous. But if things stay the same, nothing will happen.”

Working with a business coach, and having a peer advisory board, at that critical moment transformed Hohener’s business.

“Without TAB, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he says. “I joined TAB at a time where I was either going to go back to consulting or jump in with two feet and go for it. I’ve never looked back.”

CreativeWorks Marketing has grown into a full-range and award-winning marketing agency. The company has also gone from a one-man shop to a team comprised of researchers, strategic thinkers, creative directors, account executives, digital media specialists, media buyers, graphic designers, web developers, and video production professionals.

TAB Business Coaching

TAB Business Coaching and business growth strategies provides a trusted advisor you can count on to help you increase business performance, work through business opportunities and challenges, as well as achieve greater success.

During your initial business coaching session, you and your coach will identify the areas of your business that are most in need of attention and focus. You’ll also determine the key business opportunity or challenge you’ll take into your first business advisory board meeting.

Going forward, your business coaching sessions will focus on your progress toward achieving those action items that you, your business coach, and your TAB board have determined are the key steps toward achieving your overall strategic vision.

TAB Business Coaching will make you focused with more balance—and what feels like more time in your schedule—to sit back and soak up the rewards of success. The result of your ongoing business coaching sessions is the freedom to truly live the personal and professional life you desire.

Get our TAB Business Coaching Deep Dive


Many business owners credit their success stories in part to having a great business coach. Whether you are in the business start-up phase or have run your business for decades, you can benefit from coaching. With the right advisor in your corner, you’ll get the clarity, strategy, and accountability needed to take your business from where it is today to where you want it to be in the future.

Want additional insight? Reach out to one of our experts today to discuss your unique needs.
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