Do I need to be a certified coach to take the BCTA courses?

No, you don’t need to be a certified coach to take the courses. The courses are geared toward both certified and non-certified coaches. However you do need to have had some amount of foundational coach training. The BCTA courses are “advanced” coaching courses, which means that we will not be covering the basics of coaching techniques and processes.

There are multiple ways that you are able to gain this foundational coach training – check out the International Coach Federation website for a listing of coaching schools, and there are many coaching books and resources you can tap into to help you learn this foundational level of coaching skills and knowledge.

Do I need to be a business expert or have an MBA to be a business coach?

No, you don’t need to be a business expert or have an MBA to be a business coach. But you do need to have an understanding of the business world. The BCTA courses are designed to provide you with that foundational level of business knowledge, in addition to the business coaching techniques and tools. BCTA students come from all walks of life – some from business but most from other fields. The online self-paced portion of the BCTA courses are designed to equip you with the information, terminology and understanding that you’ll need to start your business coaching journey.

It’s important to make a distinction between a Business Consultant and a Business Coach. Consultants are typically hired for their expertise in a specific area, and are expected to troubleshoot and solve specific problems using their extensive knowledge and deep expertise. They provide expert advice and direction, and respond to challenging questions or situations.

As a Business Coach, you job is not to provide solutions for your clients’ challenges. To be an effective Business Coach, you don’t need answers. You need the right questions.

By asking the right questions, you help your clients find the best answer for themselves and their businesses. Most critically, this requires that you understand the general business environment and appreciate the typical challenges and situations facing business of that size. The foundation for masterful business coaching has several necessary components:

  • Establishing credibility and quickly developing a professional relationship based on mutual respect and trust
  • Listening carefully to your clients and understanding their goals, dreams and needs
  • Employing proven communication and coaching skills and techniques to convey understanding and support while asking powerful open-ended questions
  • Knowing enough about the general business environment and terminology for your questions to be appropriate, relevant and thought-provoking.
Can I be an effective Business Coach if I haven’t really set up my own business?

Effectively handling the business and operational aspects of your company not only shows your commitment to your work and livelihood, it also helps you to better connect with your clients thanks you your shared experiences.

While your coaching business will look different from a larger company, the need for business professionalism and credibility is just as great. As a Business Coach and a business owner, you need to “walk the talk” when it comes to setting up your professional service firm.

After all, would you go to a dentist with bad teeth, hire an accountant who didn’t manage his/her own firm well, or hire a contractor whose offices were in disrepair? Of course not!

If you need some guidance and resources to help you get your business set up correctly, check out “The Business of Coaching” – the business start-up book recommended or required by multiple coaching schools.

Is corporate coaching the same as business coaching?

Although they are related, they are very different types of coaching. The world of a corporate employee can be very different than the world of a small to mid-tier business. Often, in the corporate environment, much of an employee’s energy is spent on trying to be visible in the large crowd of employees, positioning herself in relationship to other employees, vying for coveted promotions and projects, while also trying to do a good job and grow as a leader. Corporate employees typically have positions that are fairly limited in scope – they work within a single role in a single function. In contrast, a hallmark of the small and mid-tier firms is the “wearing multiple hats in multiple functions” type of role, where there is less focus on trying to “rise above the crowd” and more focus on effectively managing multiple (usually competing) priorities, maintaining high productivity but not burning out, creating processes on the fly, thinking quickly and getting into action on the right thing at the right time.

Is training really needed for business coaching? Can’t a good coach train anyone, anywhere, anytime?

You may have heard that a good coach can work anywhere, anytime, with any person. And that is true, to an extent. A trained coach can provide some level of value in a single coaching session with little or no understanding of the client’s environment or circumstances. But ongoing clients want ongoing value, and the feeling that you “get” them and understand their situation. That’s possible only if you have a good grasp of their environment.  Imagine if you were asked to coach a famous fashion designer. Wouldn’t you want to know something about the fashion industry – what the environment is like, what are the key stress points, what’s the lingo / terminology, where to start when coaching this famous designer, etc? The same logic applies to business coaching. If you have many years of experience in different aspects of business, you probably already have the necessary knowledge and understanding to be of ongoing value to your business clients. However, if you don’t have that level of experience, your clients will be disappointed or, they may not hire you or follow up after a sample session. You need to have the tools, techniques and knowledge about the business world to establish your credibility and provide ongoing value to your clients.

What is “SMB” and why should I be interested in it?

The term “SMB” stands for “small and mid-sized businesses.” It’s a vital part of any economy and makes up the largest volume of businesses in any country.

The business world is a broad spectrum – ranging from 1-person start-ups to giant corporations, in both for-profit and not-for-profit forms. In general there are 4 main phases or categories of business growth:

  • Small businesses, typically less than 500 employees
  • Mid-sized businesses, typically 501 – 2500 employees, often regional in coverage
  • Large businesses (usually corporations), 2500- 10,000 employees, often national in coverage
  • Multi-national corporations, over 10,000 employees with presence in multiple countries

When we think of businesses, we often think of the large corporations that seem to dominate the business landscape. However, it’s the SMB sector that accounts for over 99.8% of all business entities. In fact, all of the large corporations we might admire (or abhor) started as small businesses and were able to successfully navigate their way to becoming giant multi-national firms. So the SMB landscape of today is the source of the giant companies of tomorrow.

I view the SMB sector as the “heart” of an economy – if those businesses aren’t doing well, the overall economy won’t do well. It’s impossible for an economy to prosper and thrive if the SMB sector isn’t healthy. The impact that this sector has on the economy is undeniable:

“Small businesses have led our comeback from the downturn. For 15 straight quarters, small firms have contributed to employment growth – accounting for as much as 80 percent of job gains in any given quarter.” (SBA website, 12/9/14)

Here are some surprising facts about small businesses in the US:

  • There are over 28 million small businesses
  • Over 50% of the working population is employed by a small business
  • Over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995 have come from small business
  • Over 543,000 new businesses start each month
  • But only half of those small businesses last 5 years or longer

Clearly, there are a lot of small and mid-sized businesses all around us! And they need good coaches to ensure that they are successful, reach their goals and continue to grow.

Wouldn’t you like to be one of those coaches and have a direct impact on a business AND on the economy of your country?

Why should I be interested in the nonprofit sector?

If the SMB sector is the “heart” of a country’s economy and society, then nonprofit sector is its “soul.” I believe that you can’t have a thriving and prosperous society without a strong nonprofit sector that provides the necessary services, support and development of the people.

Nonprofits are found in the arts, education, environment, health, human services, civil rights, social action and advocacy, religious organizations and international development and aid. They range from your local homeless shelter or thrift store, to huge foundations like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($37billion) or the Ford Foundation ($11 billion).

Contrary to what you might think, the term “nonprofit” doesn’t mean that the organization can’t make a profit on its goods or services, or that it can’t pay reasonable compensation to its employees. The term “nonprofit” (or not-for-profit, if you prefer) means that the organization is prohibited from distributing profit to individuals who have control of the firm, such as officers, directors or members. Nonprofit organizations are required to devote any profits to the continuing operation of the organization or to distribute it to noncontrolling persons (ie non-employees).

Here’s some interesting information about nonprofits in the US:

  • There are over 1.4 million nonprofits (as of 2013)
  • In 2012, nonprofits reported over $2 trillion in total revenue
  • In 2010, nonprofits accounted for over 9.2% of all US wages and salaries

There are nonprofit organizations in every city or region. Typically, the dedicated people who manage these organizations don’t have a business or leadership background – they’re there because they are committed to the organization’s mission and vision. Most nonprofit executives and managers are eager for coaching (and can really benefit from it)! By assisting a nonprofit, you’re helping not only the nonprofit, but your entire community as well. You could make a big impact as a Nonprofit Coach!

Why have you combined SMB and nonprofit in one school?

At first glance, you might wonder why BCTA has curriculums in both SMB and nonprofit coaching. They might seem like very different niches.

But, in fact, they have a lot of similarities and perfectly complement each other.

Here are some of the characteristics that they in common:

  • Fast paced, fluid (ie. highly changeable) environment. Every day is different and brings a different challenge.
  • Most employees – from the top executives to the individual contributors – wear multiple hats and have a wide range of responsibilities, typically crossing functional boundaries.
  • More often than not, those multiple hats and responsibilities have competing priorities and aggressive timelines.
  • There are never enough hours in the day and never enough hands to complete the work – the to-do lists can feel never-ending and overwhelming.
  • In many organizations, they have not yet established robust processes or procedures for how to get work done. So even though every penny and every minute counts, they are often less efficient and productive than their big-business counterparts.
  • In general, executives, managers and employees of either an SMB or a nonprofit really believe in their product or mission. It’s not just a job for them – it’s a crusade. Because of this, they are susceptible to overwork, exhaustion, and an inability to say “no.”
  • Both types of organizations have to spend a lot of effort and time focused on getting funding – for SMBs that’s investors of various types and for nonprofits, it’s foundations, donors and grants.
  • All nonprofits, and many SMBs, have Boards of Directors or Boards of Advisors to work with and keep happy. In addition, they have to keep an eye out for good recruits to their Boards and bring new Board members up to speed.
  • Both organizations, on top of everything else, have to stay very tuned into what their ‘customers’ need and want. The organizations must stay on top of changes in their marketplace and be nimble enough to change as needed.
  • Changes in the economic landscape impact SMBs and nonprofits first. Larger companies may have some extra financial ‘cushion’ that they can fall back on, but smaller organizations feel the pain right away. This means that they have to be flexible enough to ramp up or ramp down as the economy shifts.

However, they have some big differences as well. Below are a few:

  • SMBs are profit oriented, whereas nonprofits are mission oriented. This creates differences in how decisions are made, priorities are determined, strategies are developed, and resources utilized. This difference also makes for very different organizational cultures.
  • Nonprofits have the extra challenge of relying heavily on volunteers to keep operations and programs underway. Leading and managing volunteers is very different (and more challenging) than leading and managing employees.

I bet you’re starting to get the picture. SMBs and nonprofits aren’t so different than you may have imagined. In fact, they’re more like siblings than strangers.