Should You Work With a Business Coach or With a Mentor?
I'd like to offer you something to think about if you are considering a business coach to help you with your business. It’s something I learned by trying out several coaches when I owned my remodeling business. What I learned was that there are completely different reasons and purposes for working with a business coach versus a mentor.
I definitely wish I knew this before I hired my first coach!
A few considerations about choosing a coach for your construction business
Many coaches can help a variety of business types in different industries. For example I worked with a business coach many years back who had never owned or worked in a remodeling business, but that guy sure knew how to help me assess and improve my marketing. With his help we accomplished my goal of changing my business’ customer and job types so I could increase my margins. On the other hand I worked with another coach to help me with improving my business’ financial system. He was a smart guy, and knew his accounting, but I eventually figured out he had no exposure or experience with how a small construction business needs to do accurate job costing. After a lot of lost time and money I found a new coach to work with who had remodeling industry experience and the difference was night and day.
One more consideration when choosing a coach is his or her past experience and level of success. Unfortunately there are many coaches who became coaches after their own businesses failed or after they got let go by the business they worked for due to their poor performance. Some of them may have learned from their mistakes and can still be good coaches. However I suggest that someone who had a successful business and or a successful business leadership history is already a proven entity.
Maybe what you actually need is a mentor
If you want help with your business systems and performance a coach is probably your best solution. The right coach will be supportive and motivational. However if it is you, the person, who needs help, a mentor might be a better option to work with.
First, a mentor should be someone who has already done and was successful at what you are trying to do with your business. Because the mentor has already personally experienced similar challenges and rose above them, the mentor already knows what you are and will be going through. A mentor understands and knows how to anticipate the real emotional impacts the business owner will experience. Having been a contractor as well, a construction industry mentor will probably have the exact experiences needed to help you.
Second, the right mentor will be empathetic, not sympathetic. By that I mean the mentor will not take on your problems for you, rather he or she will help you wrap your head around what you need to think about and do so you can solve them yourself. And, the right mentor will help you anticipate the emotional and personal challenges you might experience making the changes. One example might be helping you figure out how to appropriately tell a long term employee you have to let him go for poor performance, without hurting his feelings more than needed and or triggering a law suit. Another might be how to diplomatically deal with an irate client after your roofing sub’s tarp blew off in a thunderstorm last night and ruined every ceiling in the house (happened to me). Essentially, it’s the mentor’s role is to socialize the mentee into his or her role and help avoid learning from the lumberyard school of hard knocks.
If you’re looking for help from an expert I suggest you consider which would work better for you and your business, a coach or a mentor, before you decide on how to go forward.
One last thought: Maybe you want both in one person
Also, consider that there are some out there who can serve both purposes, at the same time. I recommend you consider a coach who also has real life and successful experience as a construction business owner. A mentor can warn you in advance about what it will be like to live through and implement the changes you want to make, while at the same time help you with actually creating and implementing new ways of doing business. By working with one person who can help you in both areas, the odds for success are much higher, the results will likely happen faster, and you can avoid a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what is happening and how you feel about things.
Hope that helps!