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Wendy Buckingham  /  Creator, Life Coaching Professionally

How To Become A Small Business Coach 

Page Summary

Adding the skill of small business coach to your life coaching is a niche that is both rewarding and lucrative. Read on to learn what it takes to become a coach for small business, how it works and the three things clients will most likely need from you.

FYI: I may receive commissions at no cost to you. Please see my affiliate disclosure for more.

The starting point can be similar to that of life coaching and make all the difference to a successful result. Too many business consultants, while excellent at business planning, etc., do not have the life coaching skills to ask deep questions to get to the root of a challenge and help the client to set authentic goals. 

Female mall business coach with male client

So as a small business coach as well as a life coach, you are coaching the person running the show, rather than running the show itself. This will often be about coaching them to improve staff and supplier relationships, time issues, and learning the art of delegation.

Yet if you are considering adding small business coaching to your skills, ideally you will have some business experience, or at the very least, done some training specific to this type of client so you have a credible understanding of the issues facing clients.

When it gets down to helping the client with implementing issues such as planning, recruitment, marketing, succession or systems the coaching can tip over into mentoring and consulting. So obviously you need to have the skills and business education or experience to honestly serve the client.

The difference between business coaching, mentoring and consulting

When you offer coaching for small business you need to make sure both you and the client understand the differences, parameters and boundaries and have a written agreement on what you can and cannot deliver.

As a coach for a business owner you will facilitate the client in their confidence and ability to run the operation and cope with the day to day challenges, staff issues and business relationships. You may often find yourself working with them on business related family issues and work life balance. 

As a mentor you may draw on your own business knowledge and/or experience to assess and advise on what needs to be done with the business itself.

As a consultant you may give specific advice and help with implementation of strategies and planning.

Three Things Your Business Coaching Client May Want

You may decide to be a generalist small business coach or specialise in one particular area such as...

1. Small business start-up coaching

Often people who have been employed for many years want to embrace the perceived freedom of running their own show. They may come to you wanting clarity on identifying the best business opportunity.  You may even need to use your life coaching skills to help them get clear that, indeed, this is really the best path for them. And then how to research the viability of what they have in mind. 

As a small business startup coach you will help them with planning their business goals in both long and short term. You will also coach them to identify the resources they will need. My new book Mastering The Art of Goals Coaching is a great resource for this.

If you have the necessary skill or experience you can blend into mentoring or consulting and help with a business plan or at least review and comment on what they have prepared.

2. Business Growth

The small business owner may know he is ready for expansion and growth to a new level such as taking on staff, succession or even moving to bigger premises but is in overwhelm sorting out his or her priorities and planning actions.

This client needs help identifying where to start and what to delegate or outsource? They may also need help with making hard staff decisions.

As their coach you can guide the them through the process of first acknowledging how far the business has come to build their confidence. Then move on to identifying what needs to be done, setting new goals, developing plans and actions.

3. Stagnation

Maybe the business has been going for a few years and has gone "stale" or is no longer inspiring or as profitable as it should be.

Light bulb containing small business coaching ideas

If this is the case you may be called in to help get the business back on track.  

The owner may want the you to help them in the process of discovering the underlying reasons for the problems and then putting solutions in place.

This could involve such things as guiding the client through a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) or again coaching them in the possibilities and advantages of delegation and outsourcing. 

It could also be about reviewing the goals, vision and mission of the company, ramping up the website and updating the marketing strategies.

And your coaching may even involve helping the client decide whether they actually want to continue with the business. Does it still inspire them, or is it time move on to something new or make some major changes. 

Online Small Business Coaching

These days it is quite possible to do small business coaching for clients who are not in your city or state and without ever having physically visited  the business.   

Your intake conversation and questions with the business owner will reveal what the challenges are and you can be sent any relevant plans, job descriptions, work/life balance and so on for discussion.

The limitation is that you don't get a chance to actually see the premises or meet the owner and staff and pick up on any issues that may not have considered as being important.

Having said that, below is an example of what can be achieved with a business owner who is not local and is coached by phone,  Zoom, or some other platform.  This testimonial is from a client of mine was in another state and we never met and I never visited.

"When I started coaching with Wendy felt overwhelmed and bogged down in my business.  With her guidance, I was able to step back from the stress points see there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I got clarity about where I and my business were going and now that is well on track to being achieved.I am now much more positive and have the ability to look a lot further ahead than just the day to day issues. As a life coach Wendy was the catalyst for my being able to make these changes. Paul F. Queensland

You can read the story of this client's actual coaching journey as well as other small business case studies in the link at the bottom of this page.

 Tools To Enhance Your Small Business Coaching

Banner for the Coaching Tools Small Business Toolkit for coaches wanting to specialise as a small business coach. Features many non-specific documents and a young woman with a briefcase.

31 separate products included

This Small Business Coaching Toolkit is a huge time saver. It contains 31 forms and exercises to choose from for a client including:

  • visioning and strategy tools
  • exercises to set goals, take action and track progress
  • worksheets to increase productivity and personal effectiveness
  • forms to help our harried business owners de-stress and create more balance.

If your interest is in coaching small business owners, this is for you.  Discover more...

It's worth knowing that as well as templates for business coaching which you can personally adapt and brand for your coaching practice The Coaching Tools Company has templates and forms for everything from a Welcome Pack to helpful aids for Life, Career and Time Management.

If you don't want the full kits, many of items can be purchased separately.

I hope this has given you some clarity and clues to help you on your journey as a small business coach.

Finally I must emphasise again that, if you are thinking of having small business coaching as your niche, I believe you ideally need to have had some actual hands-on experience owning or managing  or working in a business - or at least have training and small business coach certification.

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Created and written by Wendy Buckingham, Class One Productions P/L. Sydney

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