Business coaching runs a lot like an advanced driver training course. The coach sits in the passenger seat offering direction, business advice and feedback as needed, but it’s the business owner behind the wheel. As the driver of their business, they are the one who ultimately decides what to do with the input from their coach.
If you’ve searched online for business coaching (and you probably have since you’re reading this!), you’ll notice that there’s a lot of emphasis placed on what makes a good business mentor. Very few people ever stop to wonder if they have what it takes to be a good mentee.
Across our team of business coaches, we’ve delivered over 30,000 one-to-one coaching sessions to business owners from a variety of industries, from volume manufacturing to bespoke home automation, so we have a lot of insight in this field. From that insight, we’ve identified the 7 attributes that the most successful business owners we coach have in common. These attributes are what enables them to get the most out of coaching and get the best results for their business.
The 7 qualities of the most successful mentees
1: A good mentee shows up ready to rock ‘n’ roll
They expect to get a lot of out their coaching session. A good coach will have done a lot of preparation for your meeting, so the good mentees respect the coaching time. They do their homework, they complete any agreed tasks and they are prepared in advance with questions, comments or ideas.
Business coaching isn’t just about what happens during the sessions. It’s what you do in the time between meetings that will really take your business to the next level.
2: They know what they want from their business coaching experience
An experienced business coach will be really skilled at gathering the right information (and ignoring the useless noise) and then zooming out to see the big picture of your business and what areas need attention. This does, however, rely on the business owner being able to talk about what isn’t working and having a clear idea of what they want to achieve. Good mentees have specific goals or knotty business problems they want to work through.
Pro tip: You’ll grow much faster if you’ve taken the time to understand where you are at and where you want to go.
3: They can take the heat
A business coach isn’t a cheerleader – their role is to help you take active measures to grow your business. That means there’s no room for sugar-coating the truth. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll receive plenty of encouragement when needed, but the best work is done when your business mentor can be open and honest with you about what needs to change in your business. You need to be willing to receive criticism and feedback.
You may not always agree (especially at first) with ideas and strategies that are new to you. That’s OK. You always get to decide what you implement. But you should ensure that you are making that decision from a rational place. If your ego is getting involved, it might be standing in the way of your progress. If you stay in your comfort zone, then you might end up not making the very changes that would help you reach your goals. A lot of the success of your business coaching will depend upon your ability to get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable.
4: They have self-insight
Business coaching is a process of transformation. As you and your business go through some pretty big changes, you must constantly check-in with yourself: are you still committed to the coaching relationship and process? How could you become an even better mentee? Business owners who understand their role in the coach/client relationship and how that might shift over time seem to be the ones whose businesses really soar.
5: They’re open to learning
If you go into business coaching with a fixed mindset, you may not get the experience you were hoping for. The fact is, as a business mentor, I’ve learned that most business owners come to us not knowing what they don’t know – otherwise they wouldn’t need a coach. An open mind and hunger to learn is a business owner’s greatest asset – it suggests a resilience and flexibility that will set you apart in the business world.
6: They take ownership of their results
The input provided by your business coach is only effective if you act on it. At the end of the day, reaching your goals is your responsibility – your coach can’t do the work for you. If you aren’t seeing the results you expected (and this may sound a little harsh) the first place to look is often in the mirror. Ask yourself: did you miss an opportunity? Did you allow yourself to get distracted by working in your business instead of on your business? Hold yourself accountable. When you become a true leader in your business, the buck has to stop with you.
7: They’re in it for the long-haul
Results won’t always be immediate. While some business growth strategies have an effect in the short term, others will require some patience. Take SEO management for example – that can take months to kick in. You’ll need to be prepared to give business coaching a real chance – at least 12 months – before deciding whether it’s working for you and your business.
Have you got what it takes?
A lot goes into forming a successful business coach/business owner relationship. Trust, rapport, honesty, respect – all these things must go both ways for your coaching experience to have the most impact. A top business coach will show up with the experience, credentials and approach to get you where you want to go. When you, as the mentee, also bring the right attitude and mentorable qualities to the table, that’s destined to be a match made in business heaven.