What is a Business Coach (And why every CEO should have one)

Vision & Strategy

It’s lonely being a CEO. You’re juggling the demands of your company, family and personal life, all while trying to maintain some semblance of sanity. You’re constantly pulled in 1000 directions.

Even if you’re close with your team, it’s hard to talk with them about some of the things you’re dealing with, and the questions you have.

That’s just one of the ways a great coach can help.

What is a business coach?

A business coach can provide you with guidance in several areas that are integral to running a successful business, such as team and leadership development, strategic planning and accountability.

Generally, business coaches are experienced entrepreneurs, CEOs or management consultants who have broad experience in running, building, and optimizing businesses.

Many business coaches are also leadership and executive coaches, there to listen and help you develop clarity, process issues and be more confident in your decision making.

If you’re looking to increase your company’s capability, streamline internal systems and processes, or develop a culture that fosters innovation, the skills of an experienced business coach can be invaluable.

Role of a business coach

A great business coach fills many roles for your business, including facilitator, teacher, advisor, mentor and coach.

A great business coach will listen, question, challenge, create clarity and hold you accountable. They will guide you (and your team) through the process of creating your plan, and then drive action.

In the end, their job is to help you (and your team) develop a plan for the business, and get aligned and clear so you can achieve your goals.

It’s not the role of a coach to create your plan – that’s what many consultants do. A good coach will guide you and your team through the process of creating your plan and hold you accountable to making it happen.

Business coach or business consultant?

Most coaches do not “do the work”; that’s the role of a business consultant (or strategic consultant). Consultants play an important part of developing your strategic plan.

Consider which elements you use a consultant for, as there’s the potential of it becoming the consultant’s plan instead of your team’s plan. This can cause a dramatic reduction in engagement and success of your plan.

Business coaches and your stage of growth

Like with any role, different coaches suit different size businesses. Small business owners have different needs than mid-sized businesses or enterprises.

No matter the size of the business, your coach should also facilitate the creation of your strategic plan (or growth roadmap). How they do this, and the additional services you should look for will vary by your stage of growth and desired outcomes.

For a small business or new leadership team, the role of mentor and advisory can be extremely important. Great coaches know how to balance coaching and teaching with being an advisor and mentor.

With mid-sized businesses, focus on developing the leadership team. The culture and leadership capability of that team becomes the core of the organization. Also, strong operational experience can help simplify and streamline processes so the business can scale more quickly.

Enterprises have different strategic planning needs. Many of the planning frameworks are designed to scale to large businesses, but there is significantly more depth required in the planning process.

At the same time, a coach can be leveraged to develop leadership throughout the company.

Frameworks and Toolsets

Most business coaches leverage existing frameworks for strategic planning and execution support. These frameworks ensure you build the right pieces to accelerate the growth of your business.

Some of the top frameworks include:

  • EOS
  • Scaling Up
  • 7 Attributes of Agile Growth
  • Action Coach
  • 3Hag (Metronome United)

While there are differences in the top frameworks, the best ones work well for most small and mid-sized businesses.

On top of the core frameworks, there’s dozens of great tools out there that can be used to bring your team together and create a great business. A good coach has a very large bag of tricks and can adapt to what your team needs to be successful.

Creating the right action is key

Are you stuck in a hamster wheel, running endlessly? One of the most important things a business coach does is create the right action.

This is the single most important thing you can do to grow your business and break free of endless firefighting mode.

Business coaches facilitate the process of creating your strategic plan, including the actions that come from it. At the same time, they guide your team to create a culture of accountability to drive the plans forward.

If the business coach’s process doesn’t creation action quickly, think twice.

What results can you expect?

Outcomes and results of business coaching engagements can vary based on the business and your team’s ability to execute.

Every year, Gravitas Impact Premium Coaches does a survey of engagements. The 2020 survey included the feedback from more than 120 small business and mid-sized business CEOs.

Revenue and Profit Margin Growth

Overall Company and CEO Impact

The results were very clear – having a business coach and advisor can have a significant impact on your organization.

Download the full Voice of the CEO Survey

Download: The Impact of Business Coaching 2021 Survey

How do you pick a business coach?

Picking the right coach for your business is an important decision. Consider your coach like any other team member

Some things to consider are:

  • Is there a cultural fit with your team?
  • How well do you connect with them? This is someone you will have to trust deeply.
  • Does their style work with you?
  • Will they challenge and support you appropriately?
  • What type of experience do they have?
  • Do they specialize in your industry, or just business in general?
  • Does their toolset scale with your growth goals?
  • Every business needs a coach, and so does every CEO.

Business coaches can help you develop leadership skills, facilitate the strategic planning process, drive action on your priorities and help you make decisions with confidence.

If you are ready to take your next step in building a great company, let’s chat.

Mike Knapp


Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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