Guess What? You May Not Even Realize You Need a Business Coach.

I just finished a big task.  It took a lot of energy and mental toughness to complete.

In order to participate in a small group Coaching Day that will be spent “brainstorming the next evolution” of my business, I had to fill out a questionnaire. 18 questions aimed at the heart of my business.  On top of telling my life and business stories highlighting “turning points, challenges, struggles, and proud moments,” I had to answer questions about:

  • My goals for the next 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year;
  • My marketing plans;
  • Issues holding me back from making progress;
  • What am I “tolerating” in my business; and
  • What I want to improve, achieve, master, or change about my business.

It took me 2 solid days to meditate on and answer these questions honestly and completely.  It was a draining endeavor.  I can only imagine what my hour on the “hot seat” is going to be like.

And I can’t wait.  I have made a personal commitment to take in what I hear and not get defensive.  I know that it’s time to take an honest look at my business and make solid plans for the future.  I say “bring it on!”

Have you ever hired a business coach or participated in a day like this?  If not, I highly recommend it.

Before I started IP made simple, I hired a business coach.

I was struggling to make my traditional law firm work for me and wasn’t quite sure where I was falling down and what I could do to change things.

A coach is part business advisor, part therapist.

My coach, Ed, started the process by asking me “simple” questions like “What’s your vision for IP made simple?” and “who would benefit from such a service?”   The kind of questions that should be easy to answer but way more complex than you thought at first blush.

As we drilled down into my business and my own feelings, thoughts, and aspirations over the course of several months, Ed would make simple suggestions and comments.  One day during our discussion, he made a matter of fact statement.  “You’re product would be perfect for start-ups.”

At the time I had my sights set on bigger fish.  My answer: “Well, yes, but no.”  I then proceeded to list all of the reasons why it wouldn’t work, it’s a bad idea, and it’s definitely not what I want to do.

But the truth is he was right. I had tunnel vision.

I had preconceived notions of what I wanted my business to be, and darn it, I was going to make it happen MY way.

Ed gently showed me the flaws in my plan.  How MY plan and my actions actually interfered with what I said I REALLY wanted.  He helped me see things that I couldn’t.

When I launched IP made simple last year I felt as if startups and entrepreneurs had been my target market all along.  My plans and actions meshed perfectly with my beliefs and business goals.

I worked with Ed for about a year until the point that our meetings were more me reporting in than him giving advice.  Today, I continue to use some of the techniques that he taught me to grow and tweak as necessary.

I have also found other ways to get coaching and advice.  I hang out with entrepreneurs in the community.  I have two friends who are working to build their businesses and we regularly report our progress and ask each other for guidance when we need help.  I belong to 2 monthly mastermind groups.

Sometimes we solos work too much in our own heads.   Our plans and schemes are rarely subject to serious scrutiny.

When things aren’t working, there’s no one but us to come up with solutions (or even recognize there’s a problem!)

It’s difficult to solve the problems that we ourselves created.  We can be so convinced of our rightness that we fail to see what we really need to do.

We don’t bring perspective to the conversation.  To the contrary, when change is most necessary, we typically answer with resistance, denial, fear, and guilt.

The worst things you can do as a solo is sit in your office by yourself all the time and think the same thoughts.   You don’t have all the answers that you need to move your business forward.

Using coaches has helped me see that there’s a better, easier way to handle the difficulties that this business throws at me, one that is more likely to yield real solutions.  It just takes some gentle feedback and criticism to show where and how I can do better.

Do you think that maybe you’re doing things in your business that don’t feel right?  Maybe there’s an area that you’re struggling to figure out, like marketing or practice management.  Is it time to bring in an outside perspective to move things forward?

Maybe you should consider hiring a coach.  It’s made a world of difference for me.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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2 comments on “Guess What? You May Not Even Realize You Need a Business Coach.

  • Kelly:

    As someone who has been coaching attorneys for more than a dozen years, I want to thank you for a great article. Clearly, you put in the work and Ed had the wonderful combination of inquisitiveness and insights that transformed your world. That’s what a great coach is supposed to do.

    On another note, I love your company description: “an intellectual property boutique dedicated to helping innovative companies realize the potential of their intellectual assets.” What a fantastic encapsulation of not only what you do but what you love to do. Nicely done.

    • Thank you for your comment, Chris. I’m a lawyer who know what she stands for thanks to the help of my coach.

      Lawyers have to understand that they don’t have all the answers. They might need help figuring things out, and coaching really is a great way to get yourself to where you want to go.

      Keep up the good work that you do.

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