15 February 2013

Business coaching: Where's the evidence?

The concept of "business coaching" has become increasingly popular in recent years, mirroring the growth in other forms of coaching such as personal training.

It seems that more people than ever before are seeking ongoing tips and guidance on how to succeed in their business ventures - but Bernadette Crompton, herself a business coach, was surprised to discover she could find little evidence-based research available in the field.

So she set out to complete a PhD, with her research focusing on how business coaching works and how it can be improved.

Dr Crompton's research has sought to build knowledge in a number of aspects of business coaching, including the focus of individual sessions, levels of satisfaction enjoyed by clients, and the importance of clients' own confidence levels in the process.

The research has culminated in the development of an empirically based model of business coaching.

According to Dr Crompton, who has just graduated from RMIT University, the research has given her a greater understanding of the coaching needs of entrepreneurs and people running small to medium sized business enterprises.

While satisfied with the results of her research, she admits the research process did not come easily at times.

"It was a mixture of curiosity and excitement, but also feeling overwhelmed and in doubt at times," she said.

And the feeling now? "A sense of accomplishment."

Dr Crompton plans to continue working as a business coach, and to teach entrepreneurship. With some follow-up research, a book may even be in the pipeline.

Armed with the benefits of her research and ongoing business experience, Dr Crompton appears ready to pass on the benefits of her own hard-won education journey.

In the process, more small enterprises may soon be on their way to becoming bigger and healthier ones.

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