Practice Management Blog

Should You Get a Business Coach?

Want a better work-life balance?
Looking for better control over your business?
Got a goal to grow your practice this year?
Don’t know how to use your time and energy for maximum productivity and benefit?
Not sure which business ideas to run with and which to park?
Trying to work out how to prioritise your marketing efforts?
Feeling consistently overwhelmed and worried about the health of your practice?
Ready to take a new step in the business, but want a sounding board?

Phew, that’s a long list of possible improvements that you could make in your practice.

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any (or possibly all!) of these questions, maybe take it as a sign that you could benefit from a business coach.

There’s no getting around it: owning a private practice has its ups and downs. There are days when you feel like a productivity hero and others where you just run around putting out fires.

A business coach can turn it all around. With a fresh pair of eyes, years of management experience and a more objective standpoint, you can learn to see the wood for the trees and make some much-needed changes to the way you run your practice.

Does business coaching work?

It does, and you can get amazing results. But it’s not for everyone.

Business coaching has been proven to work when:

  • The client is willing to grow (and change if necessary);
  • There is a gap between where they are and where they want to be.

If you’re willing to put aside valuable time and money to work with a business coach; they can help you solve problems that you can’t see your way around, increase your productivity and profitability, and design an effective plan of action.

What does a business coach do?

A business coach for private practice owners will help develop and hone the skills you already have. They’ll help you refine the purpose of your practice and motivate you to make the necessary changes that will move you closer to where you want to be.

At the end of the day, they will help you develop a plan of action, and support you as you go about implementing it.

Specifically, a business coach will:

  • Focus on you as the owner and leader of the practice;
  • Help you find your own answers to challenges and roadblocks that you experience in running your practice.

How can a business coach help you level up your practice?

It’s a long list, but these are the most important areas to think about. They can help you:

1. Work out what you want

The first step is to work out what you want for yourself and your business. A business coach can help you unravel what you actually want to do, rather than what you think you should be doing. Establishing those overarching goals will make it easier to consistently make the right choices as you work towards attaining them.

Natasha Ace who works with private health practitioners in the US, UK and Australia has a unique perspective:

“I don’t think anyone should do anything! If you’re feeling pressure to do anything ask yourself why you’re doing it. If you use the words ‘should or someone else is doing it’ I encourage you to rethink doing it.

My recommendation is to use a coach to help you find clarity, bounce ideas off of, help you push your comfort zones, or to make you think about why / how you’re doing things. Don’t just hire one because you think they will take you to a million dollars. Fact is, you still have to do the work. You likely already have most of the knowledge that you need, you just need the space to action it!

Can a coach help you make money and grow, yes, of course – but it’s so much more than that.”

Natasha Ace, Private Practice Coach, Private Practice Alliance

A business coach has business acumen, where you might not. They will be very comfortable writing up business plans and marketing strategies to help you refine a vision for your practice. Where you would otherwise get distracted, be likely to go off on a tangent or simply procrastinate, they can break down the process into actionable steps and keep your eye on the prize.

2. Get a fresh perspective

The saying ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ springs to mind here. Many practice owners are so involved in the day-to-day activities of running a practice, that it’s close to impossible to press pause, take a step back, and look at the big picture. At Power Diary, we work hard to balance working on vs working in the business, and it’s the same for practice owners.

The concept of ‘working on your business’ means developing goals, systems and strategies that allow you to analyse the performance of your practice and make the changes needed for improvement. A business coach will help you set aside and prioritise this time, making it easier to stick to the plan.

A business coach also offers objectivity. They don’t have an agenda (except to see you succeed), and they can act as a sounding board as you talk through your options. Often, during these sessions, you’ll discover other options you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. And the best part is, you’ll get honest, constructive advice, without stepping on anyone’s toes.

Cathy Love, an allied health business coach, puts it like this:

“Our clients tell us that having a business coach helps them accelerate their business management and team leadership capability and confidence to create a business that serves them the time, money and joy they desire. With a specialist co-pilot on-hand they have access to industry insights, a sounding board and respectful accountability to ensure that they know and do the best business activities that will make the biggest difference for them personally, their teams and clients.

Business can be lonely, you don’t know what you don’t know and you are always a bit worried that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Partnering with an allied health business coach solves these problems and sets you up to learn the HOW of business and enjoy the associated respect, reputation and rewards.”

Cathy Love, Allied Health Business Coach, Occupational Therapist, Speaker, Author, Nacre Consulting

3. Take a new direction

We all have a tendency to stick with what works, even if we’re pretty sure that there’s a better way to do things. As humans, we’re creatures of habit which makes us resistant to change even if those changes are small.

Processing your ideas with a business coach might give you the confidence and resolve to try something new, or to make changes to systems that are no longer optimal. Your coach can also provide alternatives and different approaches based on their experience of working with other business owners just like you.

4. Get ruthless about systems and structures

You know that the systems and structures you put into place in your practice will set you up for long-term growth and success. And, in the short-term, they’ll prevent a good few headaches. But because they’re not urgent, they often get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.

A business mentor will change all that. They’ll up the urgency to ‘mission-critical’, provide you with some of the resources you need to get it done (such as software that can streamline and automate processes), and motivate you to get systems, policies and processes in place once and for all.

Laura Forlani, owner of Your Mind Matters, spoke to us about the difference that a mentor has made to her practice, both in terms of growth and daily management:

“Get a business mentor – someone that you can talk to about how to run the business side of things. This is really essential because if you don’t have structures, policies and frameworks in place, it will collapse.”

Laura Forlani, Your Mind Matters

5. Approach your finances with confidence

You don’t need a finance degree to keep your books in order, but if you don’t have the business skills necessary for running a practice, you may tend to shy away from the number crunching. This is a critical mistake and may even cost you your practice.

Your business coach will help you stay accountable, even when it gets uncomfortable. They can help you set up a financial plan, strategise for future growth, and ensure that you’re as profitable as possible. They will help you work out whether you need to delegate so that you can focus on your strengths, hire a new team member to manage your bookkeeping or even relook how clients settle their accounts.

Interestingly, most of the studies done on the effectiveness of business coaching in a corporate setting found that the ROI of a business coach was often upwards of 5 times the initial investment. That’s a good sign for health practice owners, because if a business-minded person can benefit from business coaching, how much more so can a healthcare individual.

6. Take shortcuts

No, we don’t mean doing half a job, we mean that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Taking shortcuts means taking the easy way out because it’s the best way out. Business coaches know what works and what doesn’t, you don’t have to make the mistakes yourself. Owning and running a private practice is more than enough of a challenge, why wouldn’t you take advantage of a service that makes it just that little bit easier?

As Gerda, a successful private practice success coach, shares:

“I’m often asked by other practice owners: ‘Gerda, if you could go back in time, what is it that you would do differently in your private practice?’. My answer has always remained the same….. If I had to start my practice all over from day one, the first thing I would do differently is to get myself a Business Coach, because hiring my first Business Coach changed everything.

The thing is, you don’t know what you don’t know, even if you think you know. The beauty of a Business Coach is that they come in and can give you a non-biased, no-BS assessment of where your practice is at. Based on this, they can give you a plan appropriate for your level of private practice development, followed by the necessary tools required to implement your plan. Last but not least is the important element of accountability, as without implementation the plan and tools themselves will make zero difference.

In essence, the most precious gift you can give yourself as a practice owner is the gift of a Business Coach.”

Gerda Muller, Owner of Psych Professionals and Private Practice Success

7. Free up headspace and release new energy

When you feel confident about the trajectory of your practice, and in control of the day-to-day activities, you’ll have a lot more sustainable energy. It will mean that you don’t live for the weekends or spend your free time dreaming about your next holiday.

According to a study by ICF (International Coach Federation), of the executives surveyed about the impact of business coaching:

  • 70% felt their work performance improved;
  • 80% built self-confidence;
  • 67% saw an improvement in work-life balance.

Feeling productive and motivated, free from many of the concerns and worries that fill your head, will set you up for a happier, more fulfilled life.

What stage of your practice can benefit most from a business coach?

Right up front, we mentioned that you have to be in the right place to benefit from business coaching, but what about your practice?

According to Clinic Mastery, there are essentially four stages where a coach can really make a difference (although you can still benefit even if your practice doesn’t fit into any of them).

The most common stages are:

1. Launching

This is the 0 to 12 months stage of your practice where a coach can help you use your time productively as you can avoid common mistakes and fast track your growth.

2. Thriving

If your private practice is growing quickly, a business coach can help you create consistency and structure as you work to build and retain a high performing team. They’ll help you develop systems and give leadership insights in order to foster continued growth.

3. Surviving

If your practice is losing momentum, and you don’t know where to focus your efforts, a business coach can offer motivation and direction. They’ll help you distil your vision and mission, align your team with your objectives and take advantage of opportunities.

4. Bottlenecking

This is where your practice is too dependent on you. A business coach will offer a strategic perspective that will allow you to automate receptive tasks, delegate to team members and eliminate unnecessary admin.

How do you choose a business coach?

Step 1 – Work out what you need

It may be a case of strategising with someone, processing your thoughts and working out what holds you back. But it might be that you need some hand-holding when it comes to implementing the changes you need for your practice.

When you have a clear idea of what you need, you’ll be better equipped to choose a business coach who can fulfil that role.

Step 2 – Choose a format that works for you

When we talk about coaching, your first thought might be an in-person coach who comes to your business. But that might not be the best fit for you. There are so many different options available, from programs and memberships to group coaching, online one-on-one sessions, mastermind groups and an array of support and service options.

Your budget and time constraints might have an impact on what you choose, with one-on-one sessions typically being the most expensive, and membership websites the most cost-effective. Keep in mind that there may be a trade-off if you go for a cheaper option. If you struggle with procrastination because you’re a perfectionist, you may need some in-person accountability. But for others, a group session, where you can hear from other practice owners about what’s working for them and what isn’t, may be the most effective.

Step 3 – Review the coaching options

You can spread the net wide here. Browse our Partner Directory or ask other practice owners for recommendations, and investigate the different formats for a coaching solution that resonates with you. A quick Google will also offer up results, and many coaches are active on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok.

Step 4 – Get to know the coaches on your shortlist

Before your sign up, you can get to know the coach by:

  • Emailing them with questions about the process;
  • Going through their podcasts, blog, video and other content;
  • Finding a pattern, what are they passionate about and how they approach their work;
  • Reviewing their knowledge and experience;
  • Taking advantage of a free consultation.

Many coaches niche down and focus on a few areas such as business strategy, marketing, finances and efficiency so you’ll need to find one that meets your needs.

By the time you make a decision, you should know:

  • Whether they have experience in the areas you’re most interested in;
  • If they provide you with specific resources;
  • What is included in the service package (such as the duration and number of sessions, as well as ongoing support);
  • How the coaching sessions are structured and what they cover;
  • What results you can expect and how you can measure your progress.

How do you get the most out of the process?

Before you even start looking for a business coach, work through your business plan, identify your goals and timelines, review your finances and list out all the challenges that you’re struggling to overcome.

From there you can write down the areas where a coach could help. This might include specific questions about certain processes, but it could also include open-ended questions that can be used to initiate discussions.

With some of your goals written down and a clearer idea of what you want to achieve with your coach, you can then review what different coaches offer and whether their offering is a good match for you.

A business coach that is a good fit for your practice and your needs can be your shortcut to success. It’s the ideal way to benefit from someone else’s experience in a way that is practical and applicable to your situation.

In many cases, they function as an accelerator. While you might be able to figure it out yourself, it takes time to find the right solution, and you might lack the confidence to go through with the action points.

They can also give you the motivation to keep going, guide you to take the next step and keep you on-track when challenges crop up.

But it’s not a magic pill.

Hiring a coach is only the first step in your growth journey. They can help you with motivation, accountability, identify what’s holding you back and much more, but you still need to do the hard work for yourself; taking the learnings on board and applying them to your practice.

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