By T.J. Porter, WCI Contributor
If you’re planning to open your own practice or if you already run a business, it can be a scary time in your life. After all, you’re responsible for running your new business and making all of the decisions. If you’re looking for someone who can help you start your medical practice or who can help you grow your already existing one, you might consider hiring a business coach.
Here's what you need to know.
What Is a Business Coach?
A business coach is a professional, often one who is experienced in owning and running businesses, who can serve as a helping hand, mentor, and educator for business owners and leaders.
They’re much like coaches for sports. Where a basketball coach can teach players fundamental skills for playing the game, business coaches can teach business owners fundamental skills for running a business. Once you establish your company and get it up and running, a business coach can help you expand.
What Does a Business Coach Do?
Business coaches aim to help people start and grow their businesses. Each coach will have a different approach, but common tasks that a business coach does include:
- Meeting with business owners to keep them motivated to start or grow
- Offering advice on business planning or new strategies
- Helping business owners define their long-term goals
- Identifying business owner’s strengths and weaknesses and helping them strengthen their weak points and emphasize strong ones
- Helping business owners come up with business plans and guiding them toward important goals
- Helping business owners analyze failures and successes and identify what went right or wrong
What Can a Business Coach Help With?
A business coach can help business owners or physicians in almost any phase of running a company or practice.
If you haven’t yet started your company, a business coach can help you identify everything you need to get going They can analyze your business plan, help you set goals, and tell you about common pitfalls to avoid.
If you already own a company, your coach can help you think about ways to expand, improve your operations, and help you improve your own skills in running a business.
Life Coach vs. Business Coach
In a way, physician life coaches and business coaches are similar. They both provide you with help reaching your ultimate goals.
However, life coaches tend to focus more on goals related to your general happiness and self-actualization—such as finding a purpose, achieving happiness, or dealing with relationship issues—or if they're dealing with burnout, the coach works on finding strategies to keep a doc fulfilled and happy so that they can continue on toward reaching financial independence. Business coaches instead focus on the goals of your company and you as the owner of that business.
Many people find fulfillment in their work and people tend to work better when they’re happy, so there is a significant overlap between these two roles. However, if your focus is on business success, a business coach is the better choice.
Why Is Business Coaching Important?
Business coaching is important for a few reasons.
One is that you as a physician might not have much business experience. A business coach will have decades of experience and will be intimately familiar with what it takes to start a company and help it succeed. They can be a helping hand as you start a practice and help you avoid common mistakes. Business coaches also know how to grow a company.
They also serve as a second set of eyes. When you try something new and see the result, you might have an idea of why it succeeded or failed. Your coach may have a less biased point of view, or they can simply be a second opinion that can help you identify important lessons from business successes or failures.
Do I Need a Business Coach?
You do not necessarily need a business coach if you’re planning to start or already own your own business. However, a business coach can still be a valuable thing to have. In the long run, they can pay for themselves by helping you save money or expand more quickly than you would have without coaching.
How Much Is a Business Coach?
Like many other subsets of coaches used by physicians, business coaching can be expensive. According to the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, most charge between $200-$300 per hour. But coaching costs can rise well beyond that. We know some physicians who are paying as much as $60,000 a year for their life coach and some business coaching programs that charge $150,000 to as much as $1 million per year.
Are Business Coaches Worth It?
While it can vary from company to company, overall, business coaching appears to be worth the investment. According to a report from American University, business coaching can increase performance across all levels of a business.
Ultimately, this translates into better goal attainment, higher employee satisfaction and retention, and increased revenue.
Many docs who use coaches of some sort say it is worth the expense, but there is obviously a huge psychological incentive to not feel like you are wasting your money after such a significant purchase.
What to Expect from a Business Coach
Your coach should serve as a helping hand who can guide you through difficult situations. They should also be there to answer questions and to teach you new skills for running your company.
You should also expect them to accurately identify your strengths and weaknesses and to explain them to you. They should be there to help you work on your weakness and to polish your strengths.
One essential task for a business coach is to help with both setting goals and creating plans to achieve those goals.
What to Look for in a Business Coach
When looking for a business coach, look for some of these characteristics:
- Good communication skills
- Experience in business or with successful business clients
- A willingness to listen to your goals, plans, and concerns
- Strong preparation for each coaching session
- Strong analytical skills
- A drive to help people succeed
Is a Business Coach Tax Deductible?
In general, a business coach is tax-deductible. The fees you pay are a business expense, because the coach is providing a service for your business.
However, some business coaches may also offer some life-coaching services or advice for things other than your business. If you hire someone who does more than pure business coaching, the waters can get murky. If you’re interested in both life coaching and business coaching, hiring two separate coaches may make it easier to make the business coaching tax-deductible.
How to Find the Right Business Coach
Finding the right business coach can be incredibly difficult. You need to find someone who has the skills necessary to be a good coach and one who is familiar with the medical industry and who meshes well with your personality.
One of the best places to find a good coach is through your network. Talk to other people you know who run their own businesses and see if they’ve worked with coaches in the past. A good reference from a colleague can be a good way to find a high-quality coach.
If you can’t find a good referral through your network, you can search for one online. Try to find one with experience that aligns with your business goals. Set up a short meeting before you hire them to make sure your personalities align and ask about their coaching style to make sure it’s one that will work for you.
A good business coaching relationship can last for years, so finding the right coach is essential. When you’re looking, don’t be afraid to reach out to multiple coaches to make sure you find the perfect fit.
If you’re a physician who’s feeling burned out, The White Coat Investor can help. With our Burnout Proof MD program, we can assist you in getting back to the place, mentally and physically, that will allow you to be at your best and to make sure you continue forward with your financial plan. End the struggle and remember why you wanted to be a doctor with Burnout Proof MD.
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