What Does a Business Coach Do?
A new business coach will bring process, experience and expertise to business owners. Excellent business coaching gets business leaders to their goals faster.
An interview with MONKHOUSE & COMPANY founder and business coach, Dominic Monkhouse.
Why hire a great business coach?
In our first meeting, I ask business owners, ‘Why are you here today? Why do you think you need business coaching? What makes a great business coach for you?’ Invariably, they’re facing a challenge. Often, they’re leading the largest company they’ve ever run. Sometimes a managing director is having a crisis of confidence over what they need to do next. Interested to understand the impact of executive coaching. There are plenty of questions. ‘How do I go faster?’ ‘Do I need to change direction?’ ‘How do I de-risk this?’ ‘How do I build a strong culture?’ They’ve got a tactical road map and a rough notion that they want to double their business in the next three years (or even faster). They all believe that culture plays an integral part in their business success.
How are you different from other business coaches?
Client CEOs, MDs and great business owners in the United Kingdom tell me they choose me because I’ve been a Managing Director like them. Unlike many other business coaches, I’ve been there, and I’ve run a good business (six in fact), and I am still a small business owner. In hiring a business coach, my clients want to learn from someone with experience of the same journey who has used the ScalingUp® tools to fast track business growth in real-life situations. A business coach can only take as far as they have been themselves. I can offer personal anecdotes, benchmarks and sanity checks based on my experience and expertise, and I’m not invested in the outcome, so I feel able to share the brutal truth when needed.
My business coaching clients tell me they are looking for a true strategic partner. I help them find clarity of direction and support them as they turn strategy into great business growth.
It fascinates me how the process unfolds. Often, I’ll start the day with a new client, and I’m surprised where we end up. I am not doing life coaching, so we work through a proven business growth process using tried and tested tools that I use all day, every day. And I’m by their side, helping them walk through it. As an unbiased outsider, I take a step back and inject the realism that allows them to arrive at the answer they need – it’s their answer that’s unique to them.
When hiring a business coach how do you select the correct executive coaching process?
If you’re picking a business coaching business, you need to make sure they have a proven methodology. Mine is research-based. I describe myself as a scientific rationalist business coach. Any recommendations I give have to be based on some sort of empirical evidence. Methods will be well tested and refined before I use them. I draw on the work of leading business authors such as Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni and Verne Harnish. Plus the results of studies such as Google’s Project Aristotle that defined the importance of psychological safety in high performing teams. I’m an avid reader with a deep passion for my subject, getting through at least two business books and as many podcasts every week. After all, if you want to be the best in the world at something, you need a business coach who matches your long term ambition.
See for yourself how these tools could impact you and your business. Attend the next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop with other business owners and learn together.
What do you look for in a CEO, MD or business owner?
I look for this in my business coaching clients; down-to-earth, no bullshit CEOs and small business owners who are humble enough to understand there’s always more to learn. Leaders who want to grow faster. They typically already have a successful business and want to continue the effort of building a great place to work. My sweet spot is CEOs and business owners with whom I share a common world view and are fun to be around. We will be spending a lot of time together, making demands on one another, that’s hard if we don’t like each other.
What are the best business coaching tools for scaling up a business?
Over the years, there are certain tools that I’ve returned to again and again. They’re the ones I used to grow the last three businesses where I was Managing Director. At their heart are Verne Harnish’s ScalingUp 2.0 and Rockefeller Habits business coaching tool but I’m always evaluating new ones if I feel they plug a gap and add value to strategic planning.
We pull in some tools from EOS, though I find this simple framework is more useful to business owners of smaller firms without leadership teams. Patrick Lencioni has created books and tools I love and we use the Five Dysfunctions of a Team framework with every client. I am also a certified Gallup business coach and have a further business coaching accreditation from Metronome United for their 3HAG methodology.
If you’re based in the United kingdom come and see for yourself how these tools could impact you and your business. Attend the next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop.
What is business coaching?
A great business coach will take any client business through three key areas; vision, strategy and execution. They will be able to evidence the tools and their client’s success with these three pillars of business growth.
Firstly, for a successful business, you need a strong cultural foundation, your vision. As a business owner, what sort of company are you trying to build? So here we start with the basics. What are your firm’s core purpose, core values and BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? We uncover the founder’s story, reinvent the myth or find the crosshairs of business logic and vocation. Then develop a vision for twenty years out.
Secondly, its strategy. The strategy is where many businesses coaches can’t help. They have no experience in setting strategy and dont have the tools to help the client. Who is your core customer, and what problem of theirs are you solving? From Jim Collins, we ask ourselves, What are we going to be the best in the world at? How are we going to do that? How does our position in the market sit with your competitors? The outcome is that you will develop a unique and differentiated long term strategy?
Thirdly, execution planning. How do you put in the right rhythms and communication cadence for success?
A company can’t outperform its leadership team
The cultural foundation is at the heart of everything. You need to start with your core purpose – why does your business exist? We want to know why each member of the senior leadership team thinks they are here. There needs to be alignment between the purpose of the executive team and the purpose of the company. To uncover this I use the one-page personal plan (OPPP) tool. Expectations must be in sync. From this, you get clarity over what you’re trying to achieve in the next three years. This is the overarching context. A company can’t be better than its leadership team so we have to start here. And, an integral part of my coaching is leadership development which runs in parallel with the evolution of strategy. As a business coach, I help small business owners and CEOs meld his or her senior leadership team into a high performing executive team.
How do you get clear on strategy?
Few businesses have a really clear understanding of where their revenue growth is going to come from. There’s a general sense of frustration because they can see how hard everyone is working but they’re not making progress. Growth doesn’t happen by chance. Salespeople will never be effective without a clear strategy.
I use a series of strategic tools and exercises to get really clear on core customer, their unique problem and how my client can fix it. It’s about identifying who will buy from them at maximum profit. All of this through the lens of being the best in the world for these customers. We might end up with brand promises and guarantees and create an action plan to build a company fly-wheel. Whatever we choose, the new strategy will inform all future sales and marketing and clients find this incredibly liberating. I see eyes shining around the room – it’s a great moment!
Do you have a track record?
Rather than comment on my track record offering business coaching services, it is best to hear what a current client has to say about working with us.
Working with Dominic has caused us to become much more focused on working on the business rather than in the business. However, it is no walk in the park and requires an unrelenting pursuit of continuous improvement and being held to account. We have begun to see a direct impact on the business as a result of the rhythms that he has taught us to implement. His style is a coaching one and is deeply relational and therefore learnings become more entrenched and easily actioned with his support. Dominic has a wealth of knowledge which seems to tumble out in fluid conversations, enhancing the experience even more and to such an extent that I have learnt the diligence to quickly take notes so as to not miss the moment of added learning.
Etch and BigRadical
Execution planning – what does that involve?
It’s about clarity – this time around objectives and key results. The strategy will have shown what systems need to be created in the business. These could be revenue, recruitment, product development… every business is different. We work out which we need to fix first and which ones are missing and need to be introduced. And then we do quarterly planning. I help businesses work out their key metrics and support them to find the right rhythm around meetings, communication and reporting. We may introduce NPS® (Net Promoter Score), lagging and leading indicators, functional accountability, revenue per head… whatever is needed to bring lasting momentum to execution.
See for yourself how these tools could impact you and your business. Attend the next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop.
Why did you become a coach?
When I started business coaching, I saw it as a stop-gap – I thought I’d go back to a ‘proper’ job later. Seeing life coaching all around me impacted my opinion, coaching felt ‘soft’. It was a lifestyle decision. My girls were little, and I wanted to be around to see them grow. But I’ve realised I love coaching. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It gives me real personal joy. I’ve always wanted my legacy to come from the impact I’ve created in businesses. This desire for impact drove me to lead three companies through exponential growth. But I can have a much more significant impact through coaching. I can help my clients create way more amazing jobs in great places to work in the next five years than I could on my own. More jobs, better working cultures, greater economic impact – the sky’s the limit.
The cultural element of this is a real driver for me. Many business coaches take clients through a purpose and values exercise, but their approach is theoretical. The difference with me is I bring an operational framework that will ensure that purpose and values come to life and deliver cultural transformation. Deciding the core values and purpose is the easy bit. Making them valuable to the business is harder. I know through direct experience of business coaching how to embed them.
What’s your personal ambition?
I want to be best in the world at what I do, which is coaching the CEOs and leadership teams of technology firms. I’ve picked a niche and I constantly develop and fine-tune it, searching for better and faster results for clients.
That’s why we invested in the Management Lab here at Foundry Farm. When I get clients off-site, we get more work done. Leadership teams are more engaged and it’s a better experience. Yes, it’s cheaper for clients as they don’t have to pay for a venue. But it’s not just about that. When I do pre-survey work with leadership teams, they often say they’d work better if they spent more time together as a team. The Management Lab gives them that opportunity, two days every quarter. Teams get more in sync. The complete change of environment really works. They step away, there’s no tech at the table and there’s a complete focus. (Also, it’s a beautiful, rural setting with amazing food!)
How else do you support your clients as a business coach?
I often get involved in executive coaching – this develops naturally as part of my service. The one to one coaching sessions are particularly rewarding. I bring a fresh perspective along with a candid, no-bullshit approach. This is strengths-based. Here’s a great example. I was coaching someone the other day and asked him which was his weakest relationship on the leadership team. Once we’d named this individual, we discussed why this was so and how it impacted the rest of the team. It turned out that my client was strategic and the other person very tactical. I suggested that instead of nit-picking over her approach, he helped her create a better strategy. He’d never looked at it in that way. Having an external perspective can really help in these situations.
Sometimes I help with senior hires or act as a sounding board over issues that have cropped up. It can be lonely at the top. If you’re backed by private equity or venture capital, the chairman generally supports the investor. So I support the CEO. Often we work on scenario planning. Maybe this is for a board meeting or a major strategic pitch to a key customer.
What’s your business coaching engagement model?
CEOs and business owners bring their leadership teams down to the farm every quarter. Additionally, I support them with monthly coaching sessions remotely and happily dive in if an issue crops up. I offer several guarantees.
Short Pay – If you are not delighted with the value provided associated with any quarter, you can pay the amount that you feel you’ve received as value to your company.
Mutual 90-Day Out – At any time within the first 90 days after our Kickoff Workshop, clients can walk if not delighted with the outcomes. Equally, we can opt-out within the first 90 days if not fully satisfied with the client’s commitment to the process.
Unlimited learning – I can’t make you learn, but we promise never to leave you short of development opportunities. We run a client bookclub and provide the client’s leadership team with unlimited reading in hardcopy, audiobook and ebook.
How should potential clients measure investment?
If the question is ‘How much does it cost?‘ there is a separate article on this question.
One of my clients is looking to grow by £25m in the next 12 months. They’ve worked out the value equation and decided I’m a good investment. If you’re considering hiring me, my time should be a multiplier. You should be able to see clearly how you’ll get a 3-10X return on your money. Do you believe that the growth will be easier to achieve if you hire me? It’s not about where you are today, it’s about how different this business will be in three years’ time if you implement my business coaching advice. If you wanted to add £10m over the next 3 years, would you pay 10% of the increase in profitability? Another client told me they’d tried to grow by hiring expensive salespeople and that didn’t work. Put in this context, my costs are way less expensive and far more productive. What is business coaching? Its an investment in growth and it shouldn’t look expensive.
See for yourself how these tools could impact you and your business. Attend the next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop.