For many people, the word “coach” brings up images of an overly energetic individual who will cheer you on from the sidelines. And if you perform poorly, well, let’s just say a coach can be quite scary.
When it comes to business coaching, that depiction could not be further from the truth.
Business coaching is increasingly gaining popularity for its immense benefits. According to Forbes, one in six entrepreneurs are turning to coaching to “become more professionally capable.” The Insititute of Coaching also reports that over 70 percent of people who received coaching benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills, while 86 percent of companies report that they recouped their investment on coaching and more.
Architects are no exception.
At Archibiz, we have seen an immense growth in architects seeking business coaching for their practice. Whether they are in the early stages of their practice, or a well-established firm seeking some more structure, business coaching has proven time and time again that it can dramatically improve a practice.
We sat down with Archibiz mentors, Ray Brown and Tim Smith, to learn more about their budding business coaching program for architects, and why so many are turning to it.
Archibiz: Let’s start with the basics. What is coaching and what does it look like?
Ray: Our coaching is more of a mixture between coaching and mentoring. We differentiate ourselves from consultants in that consultants come into a business and will fix a problem, whereas we consider ourselves as employees of that practice. We’re not there every day, but we have scheduled meetings during the month where we check in and discuss what’s going on. If something specific comes up, we know enough about the practice for the practice leaders to call us and we give them advice.
Tim: We start off with a discovery session, where we’ll chat with the owner(s) for 90 minutes to understand the full background. Sometimes, depending on the size of the firm, we’ll speak with the team as well. Then, we’ll ask owners to send us some documents, depending on what’s available. This can include financial reports for the last few years, internal documents, fee proposals – anything that will give us a clear view of the practice and where things are at. After that, we set up regular monthly meetings in the practice and get into it.
Archibiz: What are the main benefits of coaching for architects?
Ray: To start, it can be very lonely running a business. We’ll often hear architects tell us that they have nobody they can speak to, no one who knows the business or them well enough to give them proper advice. Business coaching provides that person to turn to. Someone who is 100% focused on you and the success of your business.
There are three main benefits that we provide:
Objectivity (We are not involved in the day-to-day of your practice nor are we shareholders with salaries on the line, allowing us to provide you with a truly unbiased opinion of what we think is the right business move.)
Knowledge and tools (We’ve done this all before and we’ve seen what works with architecture practices specifically, so we can skip you figuring that out for yourself and save you those scars.)
Dedicated time to tap into the first two (Each month, we sit down to talk strategy and work on the business, encouraging you to take that time away from the day-to-day of the practice.)
Archibiz: When is the right time to engage a coach?
Tim: There is no “right time” to engage a coach. It isn’t a tangible thing, such as when you make your first million dollars or hire five employees. It’s more about a mindset shift and having that self-awareness. A business owner has to come to the realization that they need help and are open to it, and then they can’t get it quickly enough. Some architects are doing quite well but they want to accelerate their practice, or they can see a better way of operating. Others might be in a lot of pain, struggling to make ends meet and finding themselves very frustrated.
Ray: There tends to be a classic thinking of, ‘I should be able to figure this out for myself.’ When hiring a business coach, there has to be some vulnerability. To be coachable, you need to be a “searcher” – someone who is curious and open to learning new ways of doing things. An owner has to move from the mindset of thinking that they know or should know everything, and accept that there are things they don’t know. Coaching will certainly flush that out. It’s shifting the mindset from ‘I’m going to be exposed’ with coaching to ‘This is going to uncover some amazing opportunities for me.’
Archibiz: Is there anything that business owners need to do before hiring a coach? Anything they shouldn’t do?
Tim: Many people think they need to have the house in order before hiring a coach, whether that’s having more money in the bank or organizing their financial reports. They feel that, before someone looks into their business, things need to be tidy. Sort of like if you were to clean your car before taking it to get detailed. The truth is, you actually don’t have to do anything before coaching. You just have to be ready and committed.
Ray: We always tell our clients that everything they have done up to now has been perfect. If there had been a better way to do it, they would’ve done it already. We’re here now to show them that better way.
Archibiz: How much work does it entail?
Tim: It requires much less work than people realize. It doesn’t take up any extra time – rather, it can save you time. With coaching, efficiency dramatically increases. The time you spend talking about the business, strategizing and making the right decisions will ultimately help you avoid the potential pitfalls in the future.
Ray: I often say that business is about learning the rules of the game. With mentoring, we can help you learn those rules much quicker so that your business operates more smoothly.
Archibiz: How do you know when to stop coaching?
Ray: You should stop coaching when it doesn’t feel right. If you’re not excited by the forthcoming coaching session, then don’t do it. More importantly, it’s important not to wait too long to hire a business coach and then expect a business coach to come in and fix your problems. We always tell new clients that we are not coming in to “fix” their business. The key phrase is “realizing potential.” You may be doing okay, but okay could be much better.
As we’ve seen with architecture practices in our community, getting the right clients is only part of the story. You need to have all trains running on track to be able to grow your business and develop as the owner of an architecture practice.
Business coaching can seem like a big undertaking at first, but it doesn’t have to be. In our experience, we’ve found that many architects find value from the very first discovery session.
At Archibiz, we offer business coaching and mentoring to architecture practice leaders who are looking to build profitable and impactful practices. To inquire about coaching, contact us directly by filling out this form, and we’ll find a time to chat about your needs and how Archibiz can help.