Our hubbix founder, Lisa Wight, who has spent years working with small businesses, shares her top five tips for any business coaches who want to specialise in helping small businesses.

SMEs make up 97% of the business population, with the other 3% being big conglomerates. They might be the biggest chunk of the pie chart, but small businesses are run in a completely different way to big conglomerates. Business coaches who come out of a corporate position and start to coach small businesses need to understand how small businesses run and the environment they’re working in, because it’s worlds apart from the corporate world. Unless you actually have experience of running a small business, it can result in miscommunication and misunderstandings.

So if you’re going to work with small business owners, make sure you know what to expect. If you’re not quite sure, here are my top five tips.

1. Understand the need to wear many hats
A small business owner typically has to deal with everything in that business, from finance to sales to marketing. Their time gets really split. And what makes this worse is that they’re not necessarily the right person to be doing everything because that’s not their skill set. They just have no choice.

The problem I’ve found with a lot of small business owners is that they seem to believe that in order to take a hat off, they need to employ a full time expert. It doesn’t always immediately occur to them that they can get strategic level support on a monthly basis. Whatever the task, paying for an hour or so with someone who knows what they’re talking about can help to steer the ship in a much better direction. This is a journey that every business owner has to go through. As a business coach you need to be there to help them through that journey.

2. Realise that cashflow is tight
When you’re coaching a small business owner, you need to be able to understand that they don’t have the cash to do everything that they should be doing. They have to prioritise. And if they don’t prioritise properly and spend their money wisely, it’s inevitable that they’ll go out of business. Running out of cash is one of the biggest reasons why businesses close down.

When you’re dealing with a conglomerate, they will have big budgets. While it may not be unlimited, they will have more scope to try things. A small business doesn’t have a few £1000 to spend on different social media platforms to work out which is most productive. They need to be very choosy, and they need good advice to help them make those important decisions.

3. Settle for done rather than perfect
When it’s your business and your baby, it’s understandable that you want it all to be perfect. But perfect takes time. It’s also very easy to fall into the procrastination trap by tweaking your website and your social media banners, playing around until you tell yourself its flawless. But all the time you’re doing this, you’re not running the business and you’re losing revenue.

As a business coach, you need to ensure that your clients prioritise their actions. They have to deal with the reality of how not everything needs to be perfect. The truth is that done is usually more profitable than perfect anyway.

4. Enlighten them on the dark art that is marketing
Through my experience, I’ve found that most small business owners don’t know about marketing. That means, for example, they don’t understand about customer pain points or the customer journey. A vital part of your role as business coach is to educate clients as to why those things are important. Integrating them into the business is a big challenge, but it is one that you have to take on because their business won’t be successful if they’re not covering those basic points.

If it helps, you can use a system such as hubbix which is set up to cover all of the main areas of business, including marketing. Business coaches can’t be experts in every area of business, so that’s why I designed hubbix to help.

5. Stop your clients being too emotional with their decisions
Quite understandably, a lot of business owners are emotionally tied to their business. It’s their livelihood after all. But when they’re making high level decisions based on their emotions rather than objectivity that is going to cause problems. That means another responsibility of being a small business coach is the ability to coach your clients into thinking more objectively. Tracking data is a great way to do this, and then make decisions based on the data rather than how you feel about things.

I’ve met a lot of business owners who use Facebook because they enjoy being on there. However, if the facts show that Facebook isn’t generating leads, that’s the only thing that matters. Everything else becomes a waste of time. It’s your job to encourage that new way of thinking.

My Advice
While you can go on a course to learn about business coaching, please remember that theory is completely different to dealing with the day to day reality of running a business. The theory will explore the things that should be done to ensure a successful business plan or a successful marketing strategy. But when you start working with a small business owner, you realise that their time is spread very, very thinly, and they’re doing roles that they have no knowledge of or experience in.

This means that the performance in the business is going to be reduced and restricted. That is just the reality of being a small business owner. For a while they will have to limp along and do the best that they can do. Everyone’s experience will be different, and everyone’s capability will be different. You need to take it as it comes and support your clients in the way they personally need it.

Luckily, hubbix can help with all of that. It’s been built based on the realities of working with small business owners, and it’s there to support business coaches with all the areas of business that their clients will face.

Find out more about how our questions and action plans could transform your client sessions, reducing your admin time and allowing you more flexibility to help the clients you want to help.