Entrepreneurs seem to be falling out of love with business coaching: Phil Fraser

Up until recently I offered my services as a Business Sounding Board to SME business owners. Having travelled the full ‘launch, build, scale, exit’ business journey, I felt that other business owners, still in the trenches, would seek out and benefit from my experience.

Such a helping hand was something I craved when I was in the midst of ‘the battle’.

However in the last couple of weeks I’ve spoken to a number of fellow business coaches and mentors and they are all saying the same thing; it’s tough going out there and SME owners are not buying coaching (or at least not to the same degree).

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So I ask myself ‘have business owners fallen out of love with having a paid coach and if so why?’

Phil Fraser shares his expert insightPhil Fraser shares his expert insight
Phil Fraser shares his expert insight

Let’s start with a basic truth.

Coaching for business owners is not something ingrained in the UK SME business culture like it is in the US.

So as a start point those offering paid coaching or mentoring are perhaps offering a service that’s not seen as ‘the norm’.

I have four thoughts as to why SME business owners are shunning paid for support;

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My first thought is that we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis. This not only affects individuals but businesses too. So when budgets are getting squeezed and belt-tightening is taking place, ‘luxuries’ or non-necessary costs are cut. I believe paid coaching is perhaps falling into that category.

My second thought is that the whole paid business coaching market suffers from a lack of really top quality operators. It’s too easy for anyone to offer themselves as a coach with no real value add for clients, but far too much promise that can’t be delivered. And it is this that then means those that have in the past bought ultimately poor service, share their experience with fellow business owners, putting them off meaning they don’t buy.

Thirdly, and this to a degree is the fault of business coaches and mentors, it is often unclear where the value of coaching adds pounds, shillings and pence to the bottom line.

Much of business is now driven by our access to so much data; ‘if we do X we can see Y on the bottom line’. That isn’t how coaching works. Developing your skills and abilities as a business owner won’t draw a straight line to profit.

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Such development might be in how you motivate and relate to your staff, it might be a clearer strategy, it might be where you focus your time…. and many other things.

But evaluating such improvements is virtually impossible from a data sense. It has to be incumbent on the business coaches and mentors to explain and explore this when ‘selling’ their services. And that may in turn increase ‘purchase’.

My final thought is that there is now a myriad of free coaching/mentoring content, podcasts, blogs, interviews etc online. Why pay for guidance and advice when its freely available online?

It’s easier than ever to learn for free. The question of course is whether such content matches the effectiveness of dedicated personal one-to-one support and development.

Do you have a paid coach or mentor? And if not what’s your reason why not?

Phil Fraser is the host of Leeds Business Podcast (www.leedsbusinesspodcast.com)

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