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Ask SCORE - Coach can help you in business

August 10, 2008|By BOB POOR Local SCORE education director

Q: As a small-business owner, I hear a lot these days about the benefits of having a business coach. Can you give us a few guidelines on finding the "right" business coach?

A: Great athletes nearly always credit their coaches for instilling the discipline necessary to achieve a goal, offering helpful tips to improve their skills and providing encouragement during difficult times. Likewise, an entrepreneur can benefit from the wisdom and insights of an experienced business coach. Finding this unique individual might be easier than you think.

· Define what you need help doing - A business coach can assist with things as specific as making a sales presentation or as broad as developing a long-term growth plan for your business. Determine the areas in which you need the most help and make a commitment to find a qualified expert.

· Get an objective perspective - Entrepreneurs count on friends and family members for many things, but don't expect honest criticism to be among them. Your business coach should be someone who is fair, reasonable and interested in your success, but also willing to tell the truth, even if it is not something you want to hear.

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· Find a compatible comfort level - Personalities don't always click. You might find that a highly recommended coach is difficult to work with or doesn't understand things from your perspective. Your coach should be someone who earns your trust and confidence, not someone who talks you into following his or her advice.

· Where to find it - If you have visited www.score.org, you are already well on your way to finding the business coach for your specific needs. With 389 chapters across the country, you are never far from where you can receive free, one-on-one counseling from volunteer experts who have done it all.

· Take advantage of technology - You don't even need to leave your home or office to work with a SCORE business coach. Just go to SCORE's Web site, select "Ask SCORE" and identify the business area for which you would like some coaching. By browsing through the rsums of the listed coaches, you're sure to find one with the expertise and skills you are looking for. An e-mail to that coach is all it takes to launch a rewarding relationship that will benefit you and your small business.

Prefer a local coach or coaches? Call the Hagerstown SCORE chapter at 301-739-2015 or go to www.scorehagerstown.org for details. Ask about our low-cost business seminars, as well.

Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column. Questions may be e-mailed to him at r.poor@myactv.net or by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column. The Ask SCORE column appears every second Sunday of the month.

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