So you’ve come to the point in your business where you’re realise you need a business coach. Maybe you’re still in the early startup stage and need help to launch, or perhaps you’re several years in and have lost your way (or your mojo). Getting help may be the best thing you do for your business. A good coach can help to push you outside your comfort zone, or provide the external perspective (or first hand knowledge) you need. But with so many options available, how do you choose a business coach who’s right for YOU?
First things first. Ask yourself: what is my desired outcome or goal from working together? Many people make the mistake of looking for a coach before they get clear on what they actually want to achieve. However, it’s impossible to pick someone who can support you in getting where you want to go if you don’t actually know where that is! Understanding your needs and goals will help you evaluate whether someone is a good fit.
Here are a few of the most important factors to take into account.
Before you go any further, you will need to decide whether you need a coach, mentor, or consultant. Each of these has a different approach, and takes a different role in supporting your business.
- Coach: This is the term you see used most often. A business coach offers guidance and support, and focuses on giving you the tools you need to achieve your specific goal (or set of goals) over a set timeframe. Coaches draw the answers from their clients through a thought-provoking process, inspiring confidence and helping them to find clarity and a way forward.
- Mentor: Mentorship is a supportive, guiding relationship that is more general and often longer term. It may also not be an official working relationship. A mentor will often look at all areas of business and personal growth.
- Consultant: A business consultant offers industry or technical expertise to help you execute specific goals over a set timeframe. A consultant shows you the ‘how to’, often drawing on their own direct experience, and gives you the answers to resolving specific challenges using their own knowledge and expertise.
Although I use all of these skill sets, my primary approach in working with my clients is consultancy-led.
EXPERTISE & EXPERIENCE
Whichever approach your coach takes to working with you, it’s important to ask questions about their background and knowledge. What qualifications and experience do they have? If they are taking a consultancy approach especially, find out if they have they achieved similar goals to those you are aiming for in their own business and for their clients. What specific skill sets or industry knowledge do they need to ‘get’ your business? What are their credentials?
It’s also key to ask whether they invest in ongoing training and self-improvement. The business world of today is ever-changing, and a good coach will keep up with new developments and adapt their approach as needed.
Finally, be sure to talk to previous clients. Do you know anyone who has worked with them? Be sure to ask for testimonials or – even better – get on a call and discuss their experience. What results have they seen?
Your coach is only half of the equation. You also have to ensure that you are the right fit for them, and that you’re ready to do the work. Some of the questions you should discuss are:
- What is the financial investment needed? How large is your budget and can you afford their payment plan?
- What is the personal investment? Do you have the time and desire to implement changes and put them into action? Can you commit to doing the work required?
- Are you ready to risk failure? Investment in a business coach usually comes at the point of change and is required to successfully move forward.
- How will it work? Think about your preferred delivery method (in person, by video call, by telephone, messaging apps, etc.). Are they able to offer their services in a way that will fit into your preferences and availability?
Finally, it’s important to remember that you should have a good connection with the person you choose to work with. Coaching can be an incredibly fruitful process, but it can also be difficult and require you to ask and answer hard questions. Making that journey with someone you like and trust makes it all a lot easier – and more fun!
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Top image: Ilaria Petrucci