Table of Content
Chapter 5 – Conclusion and Recommendations
In this chapter, I will link the findings and analysis found in chapter four to my recommendations. A total of six recommendations are explained, followed by a suggested timeframe and any barriers to implementation are noted. A concluding paragraph closes the chapter.
1 – Advocate for the democratization of small business coaching.
Bring awareness of the needs of small business owners to have access to coaching, including resource constraints, psychographics, hopes and dreams to inspire coaches to consider charging less so that all who seek coaching can afford it. Consider using Artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool to support the coaching. Awareness can emerge from a collective of current small business coaches, economic development agencies, NGO’s, the ICF and/or others concerned with the cause. Activities to include the development of social media awareness campaigns.
Timeframe: 6 – 12 months.
Barriers: Coaches may not agree with lowering fees and continue to ignore this market. AI could replace the coach.
2- Develop an ICF Small Business Community of Practice
To create awareness of the needs of small business owners for coaching, and to develop some social capital for the idea of being a small business coach, an ICF Small business community of practice would be an ideal incubator to move the cause forward. Members could be from the 3% of ICF coaches who already identify as a small business coach. A first step could start with a Social Media group as a means to gather interest. The approval of small business coaching would be enhanced if the ICF created space for dialogue on the subject.
Timeframe: 6 -18 months.
Barriers: Resources many may not be available and interest from ICF coaches in the newly formed community could be low.
3- Compose a market definition of small business coaching.
Studies show that there is confusion in the market on exactly what a small business coach is and does (Clegg et al., 2005). Together with existing ICF credentialed small business coaches, in an ICF organized focus group, craft a specific definition for the purpose of reducing ambiguity in the market. The definition can be based off the existing ICF core competencies that “explicitly explains what coaching is and is not and describes the process to the client and relevant stakeholders.” (ICF, 2020)
Timeframe: 6-12 months
Not agreeing on a definition.
Lack of interest in the idea.
A continued biases that business coaching is consulting and not in alignment with ICF core competencies.
4 – Increase the awareness of the need to support small business owners through coaching.
Coaches may not be aware that ninety plus percent of all businesses are considered a small business (OECD, 2023) and a great market for them to further develop and grow their own practice. Coaches themselves may be coaching CEO’s who are considered a small business owner. coaches can tap into this market and contribute to the growth and success of small businesses while enhancing their own professional opportunities.
Timeframe: 3 to 12 months
Barriers: No risk
5 – Increase the Number of Credentialed Small Business Coaches
Coaches working with CEO’s, physicians, clergy, and non-profits may not be aware that they are coaching a person who by definition runs a small business. By the ICF including professional development on the topic of small business coaching at conferences, chapter meetings and social media they can significantly contribute to a greater understanding of the small business coaching market and start to build greater capacity within the ICF coaching community.
Timeframe: Immediately and ongoing
Barriers: Again, with the ICF being a member driven organization, there may not be an interest by members to
participate in the training.
6 – Promote Professional Development in Small Business Coaching
Address the discrepancy between the number of credentialed coaches and those specifically focused on supporting small business owners. Encourage more coaches to specialize in small business coaching by highlighting the importance of small businesses in society and the market demand for specialized coaching services.
Timeframe: 6 – 18 months
Barriers: Without interest and direction from their members, the ICF would have no interest or authority to pursue this recommendation. Current statistics highlight a lack of interest in this market which might be hard to change.
To further democratize the small business coaching, making coaching more accessible, it will take a collaborative and considerate approach. This includes creating a dedication community of practice, establishing a clear market definition, increasing awareness of the needs of small business owners, and promoting professional development within the ICF community of coaches.
The International Coaching Federation, driven by the needs and interests of its members, plays a vital role in this process. Together access to coaching will increase, providing support for small business owners who are currently in an underserved market.