4 Characteristics of Great Business Coaches

Jacob Aldridge Business Coach Profile Photo

My business coach profile photo

Having been a business coach since 2006, I’m often asked by business owners and potential coaches to define what makes a business coach or a business coaching company great. In my observation and experience, great business coaching that delivers great business results will excel in four characteristics.

1. Business

Business coaches need to understand and love business. Experience in running or managing their own successful business ensures a coach will appreciate your day-to-day factors while addressing the bigger picture. Loving business means they will continue to focus on the business, its vision and its strategy.

This focus on business means that through all the different coaching forms – from whole of business strategy to specific projects, sales coaching or executive coaching – the business’ agenda is paramount.

A great coach will support the specific needs of key individuals within an organisation, and respect any confidentiality. However, they won’t push the individual’s agenda into situations that conflict with the business’s needs.

2. Coaching AND Consulting

“Pure” coaching, in business or other fields like Life Coaching or Executive Coaching, acts on the belief that ALL of the answers lie within the client. I don’t believe that for a second.

Especially in Business Coaching, many successful business owners are great at what they do – but don’t know what they don’t know about actually growing and running a business. They are best supported by a hybrid model, a combination of Coaching (to transfer skills) and Consulting (to bring new ideas and answers, if required).

Think of it as a golf coach who not only observes and coaches you on the driving range, but also walks the course with you when you play AND steps in to make that bunker shot on the 8th or clutch putt on the 16th.

3. Frameworks


This is me having fun with the Shirlaws Stages Framework, at my team’s office opening in 2007

Coaching is about more than just the coach, and their experience. Sustainable coaching results means successfully transferring business capability, and this can only be achieved by using business frameworks that define an area of concern and reliably work to address it.

A framework is a business tool, usually shown as a diagram, which rapidly explains options and promotes discussion within a company. It will demonstrate different choices and outcomes, while also helping align a business or a partnership to a common purpose. A consistent coaching organisation will use multiple frameworks which can be replicated, educating individuals within a business on how to apply that framework independently for results over time.

Importantly, frameworks are best tailored to the various areas of a business. Much like many different tools are required when constructing a house, so too different frameworks are required when building a business – the same tools won’t necessarily achieve similar successes when applied to areas as varied as Marketing, Sales, Succession or Valuation.

4. Team


Boys from the Thames Valley – my coaching team when I lived in the UK

The final key to great coaching is leveraging the skills of multiple coaches to support the client. Many ‘business coaches’ operate as sole traders or independent franchisees, restricting the work they deliver to only their own experience.

Team coaching has multiple client benefits. A business can choose a coach with specific project experience. They can match personalities, with the owner, key executives or staff members. The team connection also provides trust and confidence, knowing your coach continues to learn from and discuss strategy with their local team, and through their personal, ongoing connection with their own business nationally and globally.

When I was starting my business coaching business, I found only one company that successfully ticked all 4 of these characteristics which is why I was a Licensed Shirlaws coach in Australia and internationally for many years.

It’s also a big part of why, in 2016 I opted against ‘doing my own thing’ like so many other ‘coaches’ and instead merged my practice in with businessDEPOT. Still today, these 4 characteristics are a key filter in designing our Strategic Advisory business – including the decision to work with a whole Collective of specialists, rather than believing we’re perfect enough to do it all ourselves.

Looking for a great business coach? Contact me, and I will be delighted to make a personal introduction to the best I know.

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