Business Coaching is a field that combines the role of a business consultant, a mentor, and a performance coach.
The field has been growing over the past few years with business coaching franchises emerging. Growth has been spurred in part by the popularity of a sister-field: Life Coaching.
Business coaches can play many different roles and in some cases multiple roles.
1) Sounding Board - When a business coach acts as a sounding board, they challenge the business owner or executive by asking challenging questions and forcing the individual to think through their ideas and decisions more carefully and thoroughly. By acting as the "devil's advocate", the business coach helps to prevent insular thinking or group think.
The principal domain expertise comes from the individual or company. The coach provides and facilitates a more rigorously challenging decision making process.
2) Leadership Coach - Many business coaches and executive coaches focus primarily on improving an individuals leadership skills. They coach the individual on public speaking, conflict resolution, communication skills, and variety of "people" skills needed to execute a particular business strategy.
Leadership coaches are particularly effective when a business strategy or plan has already been set but the business leader is having difficulty getting staff members to execute that strategy effectively.
3) Curriculum-Based Coach - A curriculum-based coach works primarily by helping an individual or company implement a particular business methodology. The individual coach may or may not have direct personal experience with a particular issue, but is able to rely on previously designed program or curriculum designed by a more experience individual.
Curriculum-based coaches are effective when a company is lacking a specific business process (e.g., business planning, performance reviews, financial controls and management).
4) Strategic Adviser - A strategic coach helps individuals and companies make more effective decisions around business direction. Typical decisions include entering/withdrawing from a market, deciding on new revenue streams, re-positioning a company's market position, and other issues related to navigate a competitive market place more effectively.
A strategic adviser is most useful when a business faces a significant marketplace obstacle or opportunity - one that requires a high stakes decision to navigate effectively.
Victor Cheng is a business coach and strategic adviser to owners of small and medium size businesses