Here’s what I’ve heard:
“I paid this woman tons of money (like, thousands of dollars) because she promised all the bells and whistles I needed to succeed in my business.”
“I hired a business coach last year for $6,000 and I’m not sure what I’m walking away with.”
“You were the only coach I spoke with who clearly defined the results I would get by working with you.”
Have you had an experience like this? Or another one that left you feeling like you invested in a business coach only to walk away wondering how you just spent that money -- and your time?
In the last six months, I’ve literally heard some variation on this statement at least ten times. And every time, I feel so sorry that this person was promised the kitchen sink and got something totally different.
The good news first: There are A LOT of business coaches out there and thus your options are unlimited.
The other news: You need to know what questions to ask and what you’re looking for before signing up and making the investment.
By spending time upfront and exploring your options to land on the right fit, your coaching experience and level of success will be much more positive.
Here are 8 questions you can ask the prospective business coach - or yourself - as you consider options and determine the best fit.
1 | (FOR YOU): What are your goals? Knowing what you want to achieve will help you align with the right business coach. Let’s say your goal is to launch a new business. You would want to seek out a startup coach - not someone whose specialty is taking businesses to 7-figures. Or, if your goal is to create a marketing strategy for your business, you would want to hire a business coach with experience and expertise in branding, marketing, sales funnels, etc. rather than someone whose focus is finances and bookkeeping.
2 | (FOR COACH): Have you started a business? In my opinion, the greatest indicator of knowledge and expertise is experience. So if your potential business coach hasn’t actually started or run a business (aside from the one she just started as a business coach) and experienced success with said business, well… I would hesitate.
3 | (FOR YOU): In what stage of business do they specialize? In essence, business coaches are human, so they can’t do it all. Anyone who claims to know all-things-business and serve all-kinds-of-clients is… let’s just say, being less than honest with themselves. So, ask for information about the stage of businesses in which they specialize, or gathering this information by checking out their website. Is she a startup business coach? Business coach for growth-seeking companies ready to level-up? Focused on businesses looking for funding? Stage matters.
4 | (FOR COACH): What is your experience coaching people in your industry? Again, business coaches cannot be all things to all people (or businesses), so take a moment to explore what she knows about your particular industry. Someone who knows and understands current affairs and best practices in your industry will be better suited to guiding you as you navigate growth.
5 | (FOR COACH): Do you work with a Coach, or have you in the past? Many of us female entrepreneurs are growth-minded and type A. (You?) We don’t settle in, relax on the couch, and announce that “we’ve arrived.” A business coach who works with her own coach is clearly focused on continued growth; she’s a knowledge seeker, and she aims to stay current with the latest best practices and tools in the industry. THIS is the kind of coach I would want to work with.
6 | (FOR COACH): Who is your Ideal Client? What drives this business coach in her work? Who does she enjoy working with and serving? Has she actually done the work to focus on an ideal client or is she casting a wide net? If the latter is true, she may not have the skills and tools to help you hone in on your own target audience and ideal client. And that’s a red flag.
7 | (FOR COACH): What is your availability for questions and clarification between scheduled meetings and after our work together has wrapped up? I recently heard from a woman who shared that her former business coach is nowhere to be found. She invested $6,000 into their work together and the coach hasn’t once responded to emails or calls since the program ended. This client walked away feeling like their work together was completely transactional and like she was deceived.
I am so committed to my clients’ success that I do my very best to be available between sessions, as well as after our formal work together has ended. Why? Because my business is about relationships, and I care about my clients as friends. And when I fully invest in their success, my heart is full and my clients are happy. Whether or not we’re on the clock.
8 | (FOR COACH): What will I achieve working with you? Ask the coach about her process and what you will walk away with from your work together. How will your business look different? How will she help you reach your goals? Does she talk specifics or in generalities? Does she have a process or roadmap for helping you solve the challenges or struggles you’re facing? If this business coach cannot provide a well-constructed plan for your work together, she may not be the right fit.
And, a BONUS: Ask to speak with two to three current or former clients to confirm your instincts after you’ve done the legwork.
Talk to clients. Read reviews. Ask direct questions. Whatever you do, take the time now - upfront - to find out if this coach practices what she preaches and if she's the right fit for YOUR needs.
Are there other questions you think would be helpful as you navigate options and choose a business coach? Share them in the comments!