Danielle at her laptop with a cup of coffee

Working with a business coach and why I’ve found it useful

This post has nothing to do with marketing, but a lot to do with work in general. Whether you have your own business or not, are self-employed or employed, it’s useful to hear others’ experiences when it comes to professional development. Which is why I’ve written this. 


Although I know it’s important to follow your own path, throughout my career I have found it both reassuring and insightful to hear how my peers and those I look up to choose to develop professionally and personally. Being someone who likes to practise what she preaches, I thought I’d share something I’ve found instrumental in my career so far – working with a business coach. 


Disclaimer: I am not a business coach and the aim of this post certainly isn’t to convince you to hiring one. I’m simply relaying my experiences in case it helps someone else like it has me.

So firstly, what is a business coach?

Google tells me a number of things:

  • “someone who provides a different perspective on the business”
  • “responsible for guiding and supporting leaders and managers within an organisation”
  • “aimed specifically at accelerating the success of the individual (and business)”
  • “combine real-world business experience with coaching skills like active listening and the ability to ask powerful questions”


Whilst I’d say all of the above are true, my own take on a business coach, if you find the right one, is this:


A trained professional who asks questions and offers perspectives which guide you to make better decisions in work. They are useful for people at any level and not just business-owners or exec teams. 


There is a distinct difference between coaching, mentoring and therapy/counselling. Indeed.com has a good article explaining this. The key differentiator in my opinion being coaching is based on you having the answers within and so asks questions to help develop the way you think. There are overlapping qualities of each, though.


It’s also important to note that you can work with a life coach, I’m talking specifically about business coaching here. Business coaching can help your personal life as a knock-on effect/overlap but focuses specifically on your profession. 

Why have I found working with a business coach useful?

I’ll cover a few reasons and how each has enabled me to grow my business and build a work style that I enjoy. 

Considering the bigger picture

It can be easy to get stuck in the day-to-day of a job. When a to-do list is long, ticking everything off feels like a mark of success. But if the tasks on there aren’t pushing you forward, getting you where you want to be, then it’s worth considering if they could be swapped out for something else. 

The questions I was asked in coaching gave me perspective. I was able to pick out the tasks I did because I felt I should, and those that were actually critical. That gave me more time to focus on things that a) grew my business, b) helped my clients in a more profound way and c) took me a step closer to where I wanted to be in life (not just financially, but in terms of how I felt, too).

Knowing when a job is good enough

If you fall into the perfectionist camp, this one’s for you. I was guilty of always going the extra mile, which sounds great but can be counter-productive. Coaching helped me understand the fine balance between quality work and efficiency. Some things are worth the added effort and some aren’t. A good example: 

  • It’s absolutely worth getting a clients’ brand strategy right, it has a direct impact on people’s impression of them.
  • Writing a best-in-class pitch, giving away lots of ideas before the paid work even starts = not so worth it.


Not everything has to be perfect and I’ve found that sometimes the un-polished version works better – people like the genuine feel. That said, don’t start publishing things littered with spelling mistakes (that will bug me!).

Building better working relationships

Understanding yourself and how you behave around others fosters a better way of working. In this sense, coaching encouraged me to do couple of things:


  1. I put myself in the other person’s shoes. Sometimes a short, snappy email is just a busy person trying to get a lot done. It doesn’t mean they’re annoyed or don’t value what you do.
  2. I set boundaries. ‘Setting out my stall’ in terms of the way I work best meant others had realistic expectations of me. It’s not a case of ‘I take my lunch at this time every day, so don’t ring me then’. It’s more like dedicating days to specific clients so I could focus on them rather than flitting between projects.

Reinvesting back into the business/yourself

Spending money on your professional development or your business for the first time gives you a bit of a buzz. It feels like a milestone in a career. Either financially, having the means to invest, or personally, finally allowing yourself to focus on you. 


It gives you a push to keep up the habit and I’ve found that re-investing a sensible amount back into my own self-improvement or business growth has helped me build a fulfilling work-life. 

Protecting work:life balance

In my experience, a good coach will help you get to a place where you value time out of work as much as in it. I wouldn’t say it’s wise to consider ‘free’ time as solely to switch off so you’re more efficient at work. Although, protecting my time off work, being strict about weekends off, and having enough holiday has led to a happier feeling at my desk. 


It gives you a push to keep up the habit and I’ve found that re-investing a sensible amount back into my own self-improvement or business growth has helped me build a fulfilling work-life. 

Staying in my own lane

Quite simply, coaching gave me the permission I didn’t know I needed to focus on my own path. It’s surprising what you can do when you hone in on your own version of success rather than what you think you should be doing, or copying someone else.


There are far more reasons I could cover. When I sat and thought about it, once I wrote one, another instantly popped into my head. I won’t risk sounding like I’m trying to sell it to you, though.

What might hold you back?

It can feel a bit self-indulgent to work on yourself if you’re accustomed to spending time giving to others or being part of a team. We’re generally told ‘good’ leaders think of others first. Whilst that’s true in parts, doing self-work and being happier in your job flows into how others feel around you, too. 


If it’s a case of ‘I don’t have the time’. I’ve also been in those shoes before. I found I was actually more productive when I spent time working on my professional development. I had more head-space to work on the big projects when I gave less of it to worry. 


I was lucky enough to be in a position to hire my own business coach for a period of time, I know not everyone is in that boat. Although I haven’t tried one, many coaches provide free taster sessions you might find useful. Another option if you are employed is to ask your employer if they will contribute. The UK Government also has some funded options. It’s worth a try!