For entrepreneurs, it can get lonely at the top.
“You have limited resources in terms of mentoring or a board of directors,” said Drew Pizzo, president and owner of Collection 18, a fashion accessories business in New York’s Garment District that has 55 employees.
That’s why he and many others turned to business coaching, which fills that void and offers regular meetings with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who serve as a sounding board. The results have helped Pizzo boost revenues threefold —from $15 million to $45 million.
With business owners facing one of the toughest economies in decades, one way to bolster the bottom line is to use a professional coach to help reprioritize and identify areas where money or talent is being wasted.
Dan Sullivan, co-founder of Strategic Coach Inc., Toronto, Canada, said the company has worked with more than 13,000 entrepreneurs at quarterly workshops, which in some cases have led to once-a-month study groups like the one Debra Schatzki attends with other entrepreneurs in New York.
Schatzki, president of BPP Wealth LLP, a Manhattan financial planning firm, said the coaching program helped her make more money and attract more clients. She now runs the wealth management department of Weiser LLP, a big accounting firm, as an independent contractor while maintaining her entrepreneurial status.
“Having a qualified coach is important and I know that my income is way more than it would have ever been because of the coaching,” Schatzki said. “Just being accountable to what I say I’m going to do is key. Also, coaching helps to deal with issues that come up quickly.”
Coaching tries to teach entrepreneurs how to focus on what creates the most value for their clients or customers by showing them how to build new habits and strengthen their teams, Sullivan said. It also teaches them how to take time away from their businesses so they don’t burn out.
Pizzo said he built his organization based on based on Strategic Coach’s concept of a “unique ability team,” which teaches entrepreneurs to concentrate on what they have a passion for and hire others to cover weaker areas.
Stan Doobin, owner of Harvard Maintenance Inc., a Manhattan cleaning company with several thousand employees nationwide, credits this philosophy with helping him expand his business into 27 states.
“Many other coaches and books tell you to work on your weaknesses. We learn to find people excellent at our weaknesses, because you’re never going to be able to succeed dealing with your weaknesses,” Doobin said.
Entrepreneurs are known to be involved in every aspect of business. Another lesson has been learning how to let go. “I took off 23 consecutive days without checking email or calling the office, and when I got back everything was fine,” said Doobin.
Getting a Mentor
Before you hire a coach, ask yourself
1. Could I take advice from this person?
2. What kind of coach do I need?
3. What results do I want?
4. How’s their track record?
5. What is their methodology?