For both of my business i have started i have had a business coach. The first one was a coach that offered her services for free so i would give her a testimonial. This was great as I didn't have much money to start with and she was a great help in setting goals and looking at ideas as to what my business was about. The second business I started we was investing lots of money so we employed a business strategist. I am so glad we did this, he got right into the nitty gritty about why we were starting the business, what our goals were, how we were going to market ourselves and pushed us to be even better. The benefit of a business coach or even a mentor is that they can look at things from a different perspective. We can often get stuck in our business and cant see the wood for the trees. they open things up and get you to see the unknown. I personally think a business coach is very important.
I'm a bit biased on this answer :) but perhaps this will illustrate how important it is - I have several specialist coaches of my own! Even a coach needs a coach...
By definition you can't see your own blind spots. Everyone needs someone to help, even if it just to hold up a mirror.
Next time you have a idea for your business then ask yourself this one question - "Who can I share this with; without having it get out and will assist to build it into a Great idea".
The answer to the question is a question of yourself and that question is easy.
I've never used one but I have a mentor, does that count?
I believe the answer is yes for a couple of reasons.
A small business usually means that you are often working in the business for a significant portion of your time and this usually means you do not have as much time to look at the business from the outside, looking in. The second reason is there are so many individual distractions in life and having the right mindset is extremely important for success.
A good coach can assist you achieve both of these
Future growth may also mean further personal development is required.
As a business coach, marketer, artist and entrepreneur I have a couple of coaches.
I receive amazing ROI from all of them.
Some of the things that I think about are...
1. Not the cost of a coach, but the cost of my inaction - I value momentum and speed.
2. Not the cost of a coach, but the cost of me 'not seeing something' because I am so tied up in the day to day of some of my activities.
3. Not the cost of the coach, but the value in the networks they bring to the table that I would never have accessed without them.
At times, I play with ideas to see if they have legs, once I am serious about them a coach is not a luxury but a necessity
As to using a coach to stop someone 'pinching' my idea - I like to come from an abundance mentality - ideas are everywhere once you start looking - it is the hard work and execution of the ideas that sets you a part and that matters.