With experience as founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies and a venture investor in startups that became public companies, I cast a critical eye towards consultants and coaches. Now, as a Master Certified Coach, I encourage my clients, especially small businesses, to be strategic about the use of these resources. So, here’s my take on the when, what, and how of engaging a business coach.


When’s a good time to hire a business coach?

While a business coach can be very helpful at any stage, there are several critical points at which coaching can be especially valuable to a small business’ success.

  • When the business is first starting to identify key factors for success and to decide whether or not to pursue the business. Like a rocket ship, a new business is much easier to get on a successful trajectory before it is launched than to chase it after it’s off course.
  • When the company faces major new growth opportunities or changes in stage of development from a founder-led organization to a larger professionally managed firm. This requires a significant shift in how the business leader exercises direction and engages employees.
  • When you are looking for investors or opportunities to gain some liquidity from your business, you’ll benefit from a thoughtful outside perspective of someone who is entirely in your corner.


What services should you seek in a reliable coach?

Talented business coaches provide help in multiple areas. Some of the areas include

  • Confidential sounding board
  • Helpful guide to expand your network of resources
  • Practical ways to boost your growth and profits, and
  • Guidance on how to keep your business in alignment with what’s important to you.


How do you find and choose a coach?

You’ll want someone with a proven record of helping others succeed and is a fit with you. Here are some steps:

  • Gain word-of-mouth referrals from trusted business colleagues and service providers like your accountant or attorney.
  • Interview several coaches to see who has the right combination of skills and chemistry to work most effectively with you. I always encourage my clients to have multiple options on important issues, including who is their coach. When you have choices, you have the power to make better decisions.
  • Be clear about what you want and be open to surprising insights. Remember, a coach can be especially valuable in helping you navigate circumstances you haven’t encountered before and see opportunities you might be missing.


Enjoy the experience of a trusted resource to help you be your best.