Coaching isn’t just for corporate executives. Entrepreneurs stand to benefit as well, whether it’s growing your leadership skills or learning how to sell your venture. Consider how premier athletes use coaches. Rather than being a remedial practice, coaching allows skilled athletes to reach breakthrough performance goals and become even better at their game. Think of coaching as an investment—for yourself and for your business.

Explore both sides of the coaching coin with two Atlanta professionals: Jodie Charlop, a professional coach, and Tricia Dempsey, founder and president of Agile, an IT staffing and consulting firm. Both Charlop and Dempsey have worked with professional coaches to enhance their leadership capabilities and to grow their businesses to the next level.

What is a professional coach?

These days, coaches come in many different “flavors”—business coaches, entrepreneur coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches and the list goes on. Don’t get too hung up on the labels, but understand that a professional coach is much different from a life coach, therapist, psychologist or career counselor.

It’s worth seeking out a coach who has experience working with entrepreneurs in startup or high-growth periods. “Entrepreneurs have different challenges,” says Charlop, “even entrepreneurs running big companies,” compared to leaders in corporate settings. Entrepreneur coaches can help you be laser focused on cash flow and customers.

A coach will not make your decisions or do your work for you. “Coaches lead you to water,” says Dempsey, “but they don’t make you drink.” Expect your coach to teach you new skills, advise on strategy or tactics, and push you to deeply examine your values and decisions. Are your decisions aligned with your values? Are you aware of the broader consequences of your decisions?

What benefits can a coach provide to entrepreneurs and other business leaders?

When done well, coaching can lead to tangible outcomes. Not only can coaches help with softer topics like emotional intelligence, but they can also be invaluable in guiding you through real business issues, including hiring plans, banking relationships, HR/employee relations, overall strategy planning, change management and the sale of your business.

Dempsey credits one of her coaches regarding the successful sale of her business. Not only was he honest with her up front that she needed more time and preparation, but he also helped her identify the specific steps to get where she needed to be. She followed his advice and was able to sell Agile on her terms.

Charlop has experienced the benefits of coaching from both sides. “People should have better lives,” she says. “We have more power than we think we do; we just don’t tap into it. I would never have made the courageous moves that I’ve made if I hadn’t had a coach. I would have justified staying in corporate America.”

What’s the difference between a coach, a consultant and a mentor?

There is often overlap between consultants, mentors and professional coaches. Consultants typically help you determine the best course of action, and they’ll even execute the plan for you. Mentors impart knowledge about how they’ve achieved success (probably in your same industry or in a similar situation), and hopefully, you can learn from their experience. Coaches, on the other hand, are adept at teaching you new skills and asking questions so that you arrive at your own conclusions.

How long should a coaching relationship last?

Enlist the help of a coach for as long as you need guidance and as long as they are providing value, probably six months to a year minimum. Don’t feel like you’re locked into a coach for life or even a long-term commitment. “Having different coaches for different things is a really important nuance about coaching,” says Dempsey. “I hire a coach to get from Point A to Point B. I’ve had the best luck when I had coaches for shorter periods of time. Needs change; things evolve. I look for depth on the topic I need at any given time.”

What’s the typical rate?

Coaching fees span a wide range, based on many factors. On average, you can expect to pay around $300 an hour for a professional coach.

How can entrepreneurs get started looking for a coach?

First, think about the areas where you need help. Then, Charlop and Dempsey suggest reaching out to your network. And you don’t have to rely on your own network- the Roam community can also be an invaluable resource that allows you to connect to the experience and expertise you need. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature some questions to help you vet your short list of coaches. It’s not enough to simply have a coach. You and your business will thrive when you have the right coach for you, so take the time to do your homework.

 

Jodie Charlop is a professional coach who helps clients transform from technically brilliant producers to powerful leaders by tackling blind spots that may be stealing their leadership power. With more than 25 years of experience in corporate and professional service settings, along with advanced study in psychology and human behavior, her coaching and consulting experience spans Fortune 500 and high-growth public companies, pre-IPO start-up ventures, government agencies, professional service firms, and educational institutions. Prior to her coaching career, Jodie held senior- and executive roles in professional services and technology firms in Atlanta and Silicon Valley. She successfully launched a professional development and career strategy coaching program for the Emory University Alumni Association and is co-creator of Emory Coach Chat. She has served executive education programs as a guest coach in the Emory University Goizueta Business School and as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. Today, Jodie teams up with her coaching and consulting peers at Exceleration Partners on leadership initiatives that integrate best practices and pioneering approaches. Catch Jodie for a coffee at Roam Dunwoody or reach out at connect@jodiecharlop.com or 404-378-6793.

In 2003, Tricia Dempsey founded Agile, an innovative IT staffing and consulting firm that speeds time to talent by matching great people to great opportunities, enabling clients to drive business results and create competitive advantage. Agile has consistently been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the US by Inc. Magazine, Staffing Industry Analysts, and the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Most recently, Agile has been recognized as a 2017 Best Staffing Firm To Work For by Staffing Industry Analysts. Agile is a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Employment Enterprises (NYSE: JOB), a specialty staffing services and solutions company with 14 locations across the United States. Agile is a values-driven organization committed to community involvement and charitable causes. Through Agile on the Green, the firm’s annual golf tournament, Agile has raised more than $320,000 for Komen for the Cure – Greater Atlanta Affiliate. For more information, visit www.gotoagile.com or call 678-722-8200.

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