Getting to Grips with Business Coaching

Philip Ashforth

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Phil Ashforth of Synergy Coaching argues the case for using a Business Coach.

The first thing that many business owners will ask is, “What is a Business Coach?" and the second, “Why would I need one?"

When you ask most people, they will rightly associate coaching with sports, athletics or football. It has only really been in the last thirty years or so that coaching as a profession has really developed into a serious industry, and that the world of business has fully adopted coaching alongside many other business support functions.

Often, businesses fear approaching business coaches due to concerns over competence, (there is no formal regulation in the UK currently) and the costs involved, which can vary greatly between companies.

That said, there are some excellent training and private accreditation companies for coach’s, that come with stringent standards and ethical codes of conduct. It is well worth checking an individual coach’s qualifications and experience before appointing and obviously, checking on costs at an early stage.

A Business Coach is usually a very experienced person within business, but does not necessarily have a specific industry expertise within each clients’ sector. This is how coaching mainly differs from mentoring or consultancy.

Essentially, a coach will assist in the setting of challenging goals in certain ‘topic’ areas and ensuring that agreed actions are prioritised and taken by all members of the team to achieve these goals.

A coach will also often have many strategies that can be offered to companies, these allow for structured processes to be created, and regular reviews and measurement to be applied.

Business Coaching can be effective, when compared with traditional training and consultancy as it is real-time, it is a living partnership that allows the business owner to have full ownership of decisions, to constantly reinforce successful behaviours and practises until they become engrained habits.

One of the main complaints amongst business owners is that they simply do not have the time to work on their businesses, this can be defined as taking quality thinking time over the ‘bigger picture’ elements that can move the business forward. Far too much time is often spent on day to day tasks, meetings, travel and dealing with interruptions.

The recognition that the business is not getting this vital attention, leads to stress and personal frustration, multiply this to the directors and senior managers of an organisation and the effect on the whole workforce can become obviously de-motivational over a period of time, reflected in a potential decline in performance.

A Business Coach will work closely with a client to identify areas of possibility and improvement, but it is the client who ultimately decides on, and takes full ownership of the solution. This can seem unusual, but the reason is, that it is much more likely that actions will be taken, if the client has, albeit with careful coaching, originated the solution for themselves. This forms the basis of most coaching relationships.

Business Coaching is now a part of many organisations’ strategy to ensure many individual business areas are progressing to a structured plan that takes into account personal motivational drivers and a holistic view of the business overall.

As the world’s second highest growth sector after IT, according to the UK Coaching Academy, it looks as if Business Coaching is a profession that is here to stay and can add a tremendous amount of value to most businesses if they partner with a reputable coaching organisation.

Phil Ashforth is Managing Director of Apple Creative Design, a design agency offering graphic design for print and web based in Preston, UK. The agency also provides marketing consultancy to complement their range design services - Look at his work on


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