What is coaching and is it the same as mentorship? We’re glad you asked. Mentorship is a relationship built over time, focused on achieving long-term growth (learn more here). Coaching is short-term and is focused on a specific goal or objective.
When to seek coaching
If you’ve identified a specific area where you need support and know you would benefit from the perspective or know-how of an expert in that area, you might be ready for a coach.
Seek a coach that has proven experience and a successful track record in the specific area in which you’re seeking support.
How to find a coach
Coaches are all around you, be it an experienced entrepreneur, a business coach for hire, or a subject matter expert working in areas that align with your idea and venture.
Identifying the right coaches for you is a long-term strategy. Be intentional about building a community of support. The best way to do this is to engage in your local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Attend events, programs, and workshops to make connections and share your needs. Your coach could be in the room, or someone might be able to connect you with the right person.
Building relationships takes time, but the connections you make will be a valuable asset at each stage of your entrepreneurial journey.
Not sure where to get started?
- Connect with local entrepreneurship support organizations in your area. Search online for other active entreprneurship orgnaizations near you. In Greater Phoenix, Arizona, the #yesPHX community and the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute events page are good places to start.
- HUUB and Local First Arizona offer coaching and technical assistance opportunities, depending on your location in Arizona.
- Visit the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches site and search for an accredited business coach in your area.
How to be coached
- Come Prepared: it’s important to have an end goal in mind for your coaching experience and to share that goal with your coach. Know what you hope to achieve and this will guide the conversation.
- Set Expectations: to make the most of your coaching sessions, align your expectations. Consider aligning on areas such as your urgent needs, how frequently you’d like to communicate, and how in-depth your coach’s feedback will be. Also consider talking with your coach about how you plan to incorporate their feedback and recommendations. If you’re only looking for feedback on a specific element of your entrepreneurial journey, be upfront that you’re not accepting feedback on other areas.
- Ask Specific Questions: coaches help you to address a specific challenge you’re facing or to achieve a specific goal. The questions you ask your coach should be in alignment with these goals. We’ve included a list of questions below to help you kick start your relationship with your coach.
- Know Your Coach: be sure to research your coach’s background and have a sense of their areas of expertise. This background will help guide the specific questions you ask.
- Contextualize Feedback: your coach’s experience won’t be your experience. It’s important to draw parallels and make connections between your experience and your coach’s experience, rather than assuming your experiences will be the same.
Best practices when being coached
- Follow-up with your coach on how you’ve applied their advice and feedback, and share the results. This helps your coach refine their approach and feel valued and motivated to continue investing in the relationship.
- Don’t be afraid to drive the conversation. Ensuring your success is what motivates your coach. Be sure you’re getting what you need from the relationship and speaking up if the conversation is off track.
- Clarify something when you need to by repeating back what you understood/heard. Be sure you take time to digest and understand the conversation and the feedback your coach provides.
Questions to kickstart your relationship with your coach
- What’s your experience with _________?
- Can you provide feedback on _________?
- Can you connect me with _________?
- Is there a resource you can recommend for _________?
This article from Guider further breaks down the differences between coaching and mentoring, and shares great tips on what to expect from a coach. 3 minute read
This Forbes article provides best practices in preparing for your coaching experience. 5 minute read
It takes a team! This resource was created for humans, by humans. A huge thanks to all of the humans that made this possible, including:
Content: Courtney Huynh
Editorial: Ed Storck, Marissa Scragg, Nyasha Stone Sheppard