Working with a Professional Coach Can Improve Your Business’s Growth

Professional coaches have become increasingly important in recent years, and businesses of all sizes understand why: They help make good leaders better leaders of their teams and companies. Interestingly, however, one of the most important impacts a business coach can have is in an organization’s valuation. Dr. Janine Nicole-Desai, founding business coach of Outside Partner, talks about how a business coach can help increase bottom line statistics and your company’s value and points to research to back it up. Dr. Desai also discusses at length who in a business can benefit most, as well as common issues that can be improved through the use of a professional coach.

Questions Answered For You

  • Is there a link between coaching and improving bottom line numbers?
  • Is there anything business owners can do to help them determine if hiring a professional coach is something that they should consider?
  • What are some of the most common issues that can be improved through coaching?
  • What are the long-term benefits of coaching?

Coaching is about raising awareness, looking at situations from all angles, and then finding solutions from within yourself.

- Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai

Key Takeaways

  • A coach will help you take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and review whether you are actually focused on the right things, and if you are, whether you are approaching them in the most effective way.
  • If coaching is offered as a remedial measure, it's often too late. The real benefits are generated when it's used proactively.
  • The right chemistry between the coach and the coachee is important to create the necessary level of openness to achieve the desired results.
  • When working with a coach, you need to define your overall objective and then spend time with your coach to agree on very specific goals upfront so that you can evaluate the benefits for yourself.

Read Full Interview

Jeff: Professional coaches are not just for athletes and sports teams. In fact, if you've ever wondered just how much a coach can make a difference to your bottom line and business valuation, well, then you've come to the right place.
From our studio in Southern California, with guest experts from across the country and around the world, this is "Deal Talk,” brought to you by Morgan & Westfield, nationwide leader in business sales and appraisals. Now, here's your host, Jeff Allen.

Jeff: Hello and welcome back to the web's number one content source for small business owners committed to building a business for eventual sale. Here on "Deal Talk" it's our mission to provide information and guidance from our growing list of trusted experts worldwide that you and all small business owners can use to help you build your bottom line and improve your company's value.
There are many varied perceptions out there about the value of a coach or coaching teams. One common perception is that coaches consult primarily with individuals to help them improve their individual performance. But my guest on this edition of "Deal Talk" is here to talk about business and how working with a coach can have a positive, enduring influence on your company's overall performance.
Joining me from her home office in the U.K. is Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai, professional business coach at the company she founded, Outside Partner. Dr. Desai, welcome to "Deal Talk," it's good to have you.
Dr. Janine: Thank you very much, Jeff. Thank you for inviting me to talk to you today.

Jeff: Well, it's my pleasure entirely. And if you don't mind, I'd like to call you Janine. Will that work for you?
Dr. Janine: Of course, thank you.

Being at the top for extended periods of time can be a very lonely place. And having somebody whose only reason for being there is for you to be as successful in your professional life and as relaxed in your personal time as you can, that's what many coachees value very highly.

Jeff: You have a very interesting story. And I thought maybe before we break into this conversation here, we get all serious here. But Outside Partner, the name stands out, Outside Partner. Tell us, you've got an interesting story about your company name.
Dr. Janine: Yes. I'm a very passionate ballroom dancer. Outside Partner is a position in ballroom dancing that allows one partner to move forward more freely. Ballroom dancers need to find their own equilibrium and coordination despite requiring continuous support through their partners to create the most impactful moves. In the Outside Partner position, the contact points are minimal. But they continue to be highly effective to complete the picture. And that's exactly what coaching is about and what I'm trying to do with my coaching approach.

Jeff: And obviously, you have a passion about ballroom dancing, something you're very accomplished at and then, of course, coaching. And so Outside Partner, through your company, you've managed to marry two ideologies or philosophies, or two passions that you have.
I thought that what we would do is we would start by talking to those entrepreneurs and our audience a little bit. So many of us and for so many important reasons are very narrowly focused on growing our businesses and improving our company's value at the same time. Can you talk to us, Janine, about a link, if any, between coaching and the improvement of bottom line numbers that in fact show your growth?
Dr. Janine: You talk about focus. And being focused is probably the best way to increase the value of your business. But when you're fully absorbed by something, it is also easy to ignore what's going on around you. So it's critical to also take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and review whether you are actually focused on the right things, and if you are, whether you are approaching them in the most effective way. And this is where coaching comes in.
By now, the benefits are very well researched and documented. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers is one of those widely quoted. PwC concluded mean ROIs of about seven times the original investment. And that's your bottom line impact. Other studies are going much, much higher than that.

Jeff: That's quite fascinating, very, very convincing figures indeed or so it seems. But it must be difficult to make a clear link to financial results. Is that correct, or am I just thinking that it might be difficult to make that link?
Dr. Janine: No, Jeff, that's right, absolutely. You have to be very clear about what you are aiming to achieve with coaching and then put measures around it. But by now, the impact of coaching has been studied so many times and in so many different contexts delivering similarly positive results so that you can have confidence in the bottom line impact of professional coaching.
Another valuable indicator is the direct feedback from executives who've actually done it. The most recent study that I've seen was published by the Chartered Institute of Personality Development (CIPD) in the U.K., and that was only a few weeks ago.
The CIPD is one of the most preeminent professional bodies conducting independent research into people and organization development globally. And their study concluded that 92% of coachees rate coaching as highly beneficial in delivering the results.
The reality is that there are a lot of variables at play in making a direct link between any business initiative and financial results. And there can be very valuable targets that are not directly quantifiable in dollar, pound, or Euro returns. But they still have a significant impact on the bottom line.
So I would recommend to measure return on expectations. Meaning, when you know why you want to do it you define your overall objective, and then you need to spend time with your coach to agree on very specific goals upfront so that you can in a very straightforward way evaluate the benefits for yourself.

Jeff: There's a very interesting statistic that you mentioned in the middle of your comments there. You talked about 92% of coachees rate coaching as highly beneficial. So that's over 9 out of 10. And you can't help but really wonder of those 92% of coachees rating coaching as being beneficial how many of those individuals may have had their doubts in the beginning, or may have not even considered getting the services of a professional coach to help them in improving their company's performance. It's really quite stunning when you think about it.
Dr. Janine: Yes. Actually, another very interesting statistic because only 9% of employees according to this same study are currently receiving coaching.

Jeff: Only 9%...
Dr. Janine: Yeah, 9% of employees enroll.

Jeff: That's fascinating. How do I know who if not me, how do I know who in my company would benefit from having a coach to work with? Is there a way that I can put together some evaluation process to help me determine which departments or aspects of my business could benefit most from coaching?
Dr. Janine: Everybody can benefit from coaching. So the question would be where you get the highest returns, and that usually takes you to the leadership roles, because they cast the longest shadow. For anyone with people management responsibility, you usually get a multiplying effect, as they often start to approach their line management job in a different way, and then over time, coaching techniques also transferred.
Then there are other critical positions in the business. Anyone who has a particular demanding target or a special challenge to navigate at the moment.

Jeff: Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai is the founder of Outside Partners. She's a professional business coach, and she comes to us today from the U.K. My name is Jeff Allen. You're listening to "Deal Talk," and we're once again glad to have you with us, everyone.
When you see a client for the very first time, what are some of the most common issues, Janine, that you find that can be improved through coaching?
Dr. Janine: Any themes relating to leadership are very common, and that could include shaping and executing business strategy, structure resourcing reviews, what to focus on and sticking to it, managing difficult relationships whether that be internally or externally, having those critical conversations.
There's a long list. More examples delivering positive change in self and others, and that covers a lot of coaching assignments. What is in particular demand at the moment are themes around overcoming obstacles and developing resilience. And that's because the demand and complexities of the business environment are constantly rising, be that due to new technologies, globalization, the political environment, etc.

Jeff: And I know that when you go into a situation, no matter how many you go into, every situation of every client is a little bit different, because every company is different, their needs, as a result, are completely different because we're talking about different personalities, different expectations, and different strengths and skill sets.
I'm under the assumption that many businesses also draw on coaches to tackle underperformance on very specific issues, very specific problems, before they become a real issue to the overall performance of the company. Tell us a little bit about that. Is that true? Are you often called in to just speak to certain types of problems, to help businesses overcome these piecemeal, a la carte-type issues?
Dr. Janine: Yes, again, Jeff, that's a good observation. Historically, lots of organizations have used coaches to tackle specific issues before they became derailers. But that is less and less the case. If coaching is offered as a remedial measure, it's often too late, and the real business benefits are generated when it's used proactively.
So today, coaching is seen more and more as an investment in the best people. I remember reading an article published in the Harvard Business Review calling having a coach a badge of honor. The same article suggests that there is no question that leaders today need constant coaching because of the ever-increasing complexities we just mentioned in the business environment.
Thinking specifically about your listeners, I would imagine that for many of them, coaching would be an investment in themselves. I understand many are self-made leaders with an exceptional commercial nose. Often, they've built their businesses to a size, but they may need to rethink, adjust their own style, and perhaps review ingrained personal or business practices.
Where do they get their inspiration from? How to know where to start? In the end, they're very smart, determined people. They could do it on their own. They probably could take anything on, but may find it much more enjoyable to have somebody to work with.
Being at the top for extended periods of time can be a very lonely place. And having somebody whose only reason for being there is for you to be as successful in your professional life and as relaxed in your personal time as you can, that's what many coachees value very highly.

Everybody can benefit from coaching. So, the question would be where you get the highest returns, and that usually takes you to the leadership roles, because they cast the longest shadow.

Jeff: It just seems to me that the longer that we're in a position, the longer that we are ensconced in perhaps a situation where our judgment is clouded or our judgment or our mindset is so narrowly focused. We don't always have the luxury of being able to have this 50,000-foot elevated view of what's going on.
My next question before we go to the break then, Janine, how can we be certain whether hiring a coach would actually create the kind of change that can drive improved, measurable results?
Dr. Janine: The Harvard Business Review study I quoted earlier came to another key conclusion. Those executives who have a fierce desire to learn and grow, they get the best results. And if they are partnered with a quality coach, that's a powerful combination.
The critical ingredient for me is the right chemistry between the coach and the coachee. This is hugely important to create the necessary level of openness, and balance support and challenge to achieve the desired results. Of course, we coaches, we are no magicians. In the end, taking action and sticking to commitments come down to the individual.
Let me give you an example from the world of sports. I don't know whether you happen to be into tennis, Jeff. Novak Djokovic, for example, he's had a series of great coaches, and not long ago changed to Boris Becker. This has refreshed his approach successfully again and helped him move into the next phase of his game. But in the end, it's not Becker, it is Djokovic who has to go out there and do the job. And even the number one doesn't win every time.
Coaching is about raising awareness, looking at situations from all angles, and then finding solutions from within yourself. A quality coach not only facilitates that process but then also encourages you to take responsibility for action and holds you to account to your commitments. Committing to a coaching program is about stretching yourself and doing a bit more every time.

Jeff: Excellent points. And I enjoyed your example of using Novak Djokovic, too, in your story and relating just how important using a coach is. Such as Boris Becker and his particular situation have been so key to his continued success.
My name is Jeff Allen, and we are going to come back with special guest today Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai of Outside Partner talking about how impactful having a professional business coach can be to you and your business, your company and why when "Deal Talk" resumes after this.
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Jeff: "Deal Talk" is the show, my name is Jeff Allen talking today with Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai. She is a professional business coach from Outside Partner in the U.K. Dr. Desai, once again, I appreciate having you on this program, wondering if you might have there with you an example of a real-life story that you'd be willing to share with our audience or case study showing just how important coaching can be in creating real results in the improvement of businesses.
Dr. Janine: Well, Jeff, there's a variety of case studies and lots of them are published. It really depends on what situations your listeners are facing at any particular time to choose the most interesting scenario.
But let me give you an example of somebody I worked with recently that may resonate in the context of the broader theme of increasing the value of a business. It is one of those examples that really shows you can just be too close to the issues and make assumptions. And often it is the questions that may appear naive and very basic at first which deliver the best results.
In this case, a general manager of a business just ahead of 40 million turnover, so that's in pounds, in dollars that's just under 60 million, I suppose, has been running the business quite successfully for many years. And successfully in this case meant the business has always been profitable and showing some top line growth. But the margin started to be increasingly under pressure as competition was heating up and growth flattened.
This general manager probably started moaning and cursing the competition before he decided he needed to do things differently. In this case, it was coaching that made him step back and go through the most fundamental questions articulating his thoughts aloud, questioning himself aloud. And then in turn, that made him ask very different types of analyses from his team.
And looking at the numbers differently, they, as a team, realized that they had always been very volume-focused and never really analyzed the profitability of every single piece of business they took on. And over time, they gave more and more margin away trying to keep some long-standing customers. And even lost money on a series of contracts without any contribution benefit.
He only then realized that he had always taken for granted that the wider team was sufficiently commercially aware, but for all intents and purposes as a team, they had become what can only be described as busy fools. There was never sufficient time to think about it more and to think things through.
And with these new insights, he initiated a big profitability drive in the business, geared everybody up to drop any profitable contracts almost with immediate effect, as much as that was possible, even if that meant a short-term revenue drop. And the time gained could then be channeled into replacing that business profitably, and also better looking after their existing still profitable clients, keeping them from considering other competitive offers.
It all comes back to the point of proactivity we touched on earlier, how much value could've been created much sooner if that level of reflection had been part of general business practice rather than something which only happened as a result of pressure?

Jeff: Which begs the question, does this not suggest that coaching should happen internally, inside the company as part of day-to-day business interactions on a regular and frequent basis?
Dr. Janine: Absolutely. Many progressive organizations are now spending time to build coaching cultures, making a big difference to their businesses, the key benefits around improved communication, clarity of expectation, and drive to improve.
The role of an external coach is different and complementary. Very often, businesses don't yet have the capability to coach internally and may need somebody to help them in developing it. But even if they do, a professional coach offers an external perspective. They're not involved in internal politics, and there's no confidentiality or sensitivity barrier. And therefore, external coaches can challenge in a very different way. They work with you as a partner and are not there to judge you or evaluate your performance in any way.

Jeff: Very important indeed, because you've got somebody that you're talking about bringing into your company who has no biases. There are no axes to grind. They don't know you. They are trying to get to understand where the weaknesses are to help you overcome your challenges, to think differently, and to do some different things that will help get you from point A to point B.
Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai is the founder of Outside Partner. She is a professional business coach joining us from the United Kingdom today on "Deal Talk," and we're so happy to have her with us. Janine, is there anything that our business owners or listeners can do right now to help them determine if hiring a professional coach is in fact something that they should consider?
Dr. Janine: Yes, they could just have a go and perhaps ask themselves some coaching questions. Examples could be, do I take sufficient time to reflect on what the biggest levers are to drive my business forward? Do I have enough challenge around me? How sure on a scale from 1 to 10 am I that people speak their mind around me? Does my leadership team give sufficient time to coach people? Do we actually know how to do it? What are the critical roles in my business who have a particular challenge on their hands at the moment, and are we doing enough to support them? Who are the people I really don't want to lose, and do I invest in their ongoing development? What is our main business priority at the moment, and how do we align everybody to it? And then finally, what type of business organization do I want to leave behind when I eventually hand over?
These are just a few examples of questions that might lead your listeners to consider hiring a professional coach.

Jeff: We're all interested in added value. And I'm wondering just how much staying power the coaching that I will be provided will provide me with as I move on through the years well after my business is done and I've long since retired. Tell us about any benefits that we might see from coaching that will continue to influence us long after we've left our companies perhaps.
Dr. Janine: Managing transition is another very common area of coaching at various stages of people's lives. Typical crossroads are which job to take, which business to go after, when to retire, what to do next. Letting go is hard to do for many people, and the coach is great to help you think these questions through and prepare for the transition after retirement.
Goodness, it depends whether you are looking to take on a new challenge straight away in a completely different field perhaps. But the techniques that you would've learned whilst undergoing coaching yourself, you're doing coaching for a significant time and trying different approaches, they will always stay with you.

Jeff: So as we begin to wind things down here on this edition of "Deal Talk," Janine, tell us, how do we find a good coach? And I ask that question because from our interactions, there are so many folks out there who have decided to make consulting or coaching their life's work after they've gone on to do some other things. But you're someone who is focused in this area. This is your business. This is what you do. And you've had a chance to talk to and consult with many businesses, many individuals and professionals. And so I know that you can help us cut through the clutter and make some important decisions here. How do we find that coach that we need?
Dr. Janine: Yes, of course, I also base my experience on 20 years of work on the corporate side.

Jeff: And that's so key, that's important.
Dr. Janine: ...for coaches and what I would've looked for. And of course, word of mouth is always a good start, or somebody you've come across and feel you would like to work with that person. A quality coach is likely to have complete and substantial accredited training with a reputable academic or coaching provider, and have a good amount of life experience.
A good coach does not need to understand your business nor your sector. Actually, that can be counterproductive. But you need to be able to respect your coach for who they are and what they've done. In the world of coaching, there are many different schools of thought and approaches. I would suggest that you are very open in your exploratory conversation about what works for you and what doesn't. And the rest is about chemistry.
Some shared interests and common values will help the relationship initially. But please, please, don't look for somebody like you. Feel-good chats are unlikely to lead to meaningful personal change. A rich conversation comes through diverse perspectives and adding different angles. And that is the main purpose of your coach. On the other side, you should enjoy having a conversation with your coach and be able to trust him or her quite quickly.
For coaching to work, openness is vital. And you must allow your coach to challenge you, challenge you quite hard. Look for somebody where you would find that easy to do.

Of course, we coaches, we are no magicians. In the end, taking action and sticking to commitments come down to the individual.

Jeff: Dr. Desai, if there are those individuals who would like to get in touch with you, how can they reach out to you, connect with you, and talk to you about their particular situation with the possibility of obtaining your services as a business coach?
Dr. Janine: That's very easy to do. Look up the Outside Partner website on, and you can get in touch very easily by email via that website.

Jeff: Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai, we have really enjoyed our time with you today. And I want to thank you so much for making time in your schedule to join us today on "Deal Talk" to share your perspective, your insights, and why coaching can benefit your business, your business's bottom line, and your ultimate value. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Janine: It has been wonderful, Jeff. Thank you very much.

Jeff: Dr. Janine-Nicole Desai, business coach and founder of Outside Partner joining us from the United Kingdom today., it is the only one of the four channels online where you can not only hear this show, but you can download the complete show notes. There is a summary there and also a PDF file with all of the comments. Everything that you hear us say right here on this program you can download in text form to whatever device that you're using there and you can share it with others.
Don't forget that "Deal Talk" is brought to you by Morgan & Westfield, the nationwide leader in business sales and appraisals. Learn more at or by calling 888-693-7834. I'm Jeff Allen, until next time, here's to your success.
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