A great business coach brings a wealth of knowledge to the table in the form of industry expertise, a new insight and strategies to improve an enterprise. But while all these are prerequisites for getting a job done, the real assets of the person selected to work closely with a business may come down to something deeper and more intrinsic.

Commonly known as the soft skills, these are traits that not only help a coach get to the root of business issues but assist in supporting proprietors in helping them make the necessary change. Here are five common (soft) skills essential to great coaching.


We’re not just talking about hearing what a proprietor says but listening to the way they say it and the parts they omit. A coach’s skill lies in eliciting essential information that even the business owner may not know they need to impart. It’s about hearing what they have to say and asking the right questions to get to the nuts and bolts of the business operation, its challenges and successes.


From observing the demeanor of staff to the body language of the owner, so much information is gathered by watching a business in action and from analysing the way a proprietor talks about their enterprise.

Great business coaches will see beyond the words, plans and ideas to ascertain what’s really going on in a business and help define and tackle the issues.


Small business is a big gig, where the responsibility for the welfare of others rests squarely upon a business owner’s shoulders. Understanding that pressure and the challenges of different industries goes a long way to comprehending the issues that a business may face.

It’s also imperative to understand the personal restraints that may be holding a business back like cash flow, fear of the next big step or past issues with staff. Call it empathy, call it understanding but to place yourself in that owner’s shoes reveals everything about a business and the challenges it may face.


Assisting an entrepreneur is not a dictatorship where what the coach says goes, although their advice should be welcomed. It’s about working with business owners to get to their desired destination using tools, methodologies and strategies at hand. These should be adapted depending on the circumstances and, together, conclusions are reached and goals are set.


No strategy is impervious to change, and no coach should be arrogant in their approach.  Any methods that are implemented should be re-evaluated to ascertain their success and altered where necessary. This ensures the professional growth not only of the business, but the coach as well.

Every coach should seek feedback from their clients, just as they recommend proprietors seek the feedback and recommendations of clientele. This allows for new skills to be acquired and new techniques for the mentor and their mentees.