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Training for Longevity

Whether your business is struggling or you want to increase the level of profitability, a mentor or business coach can dramatically increase your odds of succeeding long-term.

Michele Chiappetta
February 28, 2020

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 400,000 new businesses will launch this year. But statistics from groups such as SCORE and the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that one in five businesses will fail in their first year, one in about three will fail in their second year, and one in two will close their doors by year five.

Those numbers may sound depressing, especially if you’re among the people who own a small business or are planning to start one. But there’s a solution that can help you avoid the pitfalls and keep going. Getting a little help by finding yourself a mentor or business coach can dramatically increase your odds of succeeding long-term.

What exactly is a business coach? Margo Bush, owner of small business coaching and consulting firm Don’t Do Business Alone, says, “We help move the needle for business owners so that the actions they’re taking, and the principles that they’re doing, will create revenue and increase their profits.”

A passionate believer in helping entrepreneurs achieve their goals, Bush knows firsthand how much a mentor can help business owners succeed. “I didn’t come from a family of successful business owners, so I didn’t see what successful business looked like,” she says.

Over the years, Bush has successfully run several businesses, spurred by entrepreneurial vision. Her drive to excel has always been strong, but when she turned to a mentor for business coaching, she found herself stepping up to a higher, more productive level in business. And now, she wants to share what she has learned to help other business owners move past the days of living hand to mouth and struggling to make payroll.

“People who have small businesses are passionate about something they do,” Bush says. “Maybe they had a hobby and turned it into a business, or they lost their job and needed to start their own. They created businesses because they knew that it was better for their families.” The problem, for many, is that they operate under the assumption, “If I build it, they will come.” But often, that’s not the case, and many business owners don’t know where they are missing it.

“It begins to be a cycle that they work hard,” Bush says. “I know because I was a business owner who did the very same thing before I got real principles and real education about how to do business. It’s not rocket science, but it is principles that you must put into practice as a business owner to create the kind of money that you want to create.”

This is where finding an experienced mentor or business coach can make a difference. Mentors and coaches can help business owners by taking in the big picture, seeing what’s missing, identifying wasted efforts, and retargeting toward what will work better.

“There are practical principles that create results,” says Bush. “It’s like a bowl of water. Just tapping the water, it’s going to ripple out. But it doesn’t create a splash. What we’re looking for in business is to create a splash, because when you have an overflow, everybody’s blessed. If you slap the top of the water, what’s going to happen? It’s the reaction to an action. So, I make all of our business owners evaluate the actions they’re taking.”

So, how do you recognize a good coach? First of all, find a coach who has created a great business. “No. 1, have they been successful? Ask them,” says Bush. “I was struggling in one of my businesses years and years ago. I could have quit, but I didn’t, because if I closed, and I couldn’t make it happen, how could I teach somebody else how to make it happen?”

Another sign of a good coach is that they understand the psychology of people. This is an essential tool in the business owner’s toolkit, something that can help you have smooth, productive interactions with employees, customers, and vendors. And if your coach understands your personality, they can better coach you in ways that work specifically for you.

If you opt in to coaching, be sure to get the most out of it by being open to the process. “They need to come with an open mind, and it’s even better if they come with an open slate,” says Bush. “Coaching and mentorship in business are about changing the way that we think about how to do business and then doing the principles and creating the kind of business that is thriving.”

Whether your business is struggling or you simply want to rise to a higher level of success, a good coach can help. And there are many places you can go to find a mentor. There are coaching companies, such as Don’t Do Business Alone. There are incubators such as 36 Degrees North, which offers monthly classes in business topics. Organizations like SCORE offer to set businesses up with mentors. And with groups on Facebook and LinkedIn dedicated to helping business owners, you can also connect online to fellow entrepreneurs and share insights.