It seems that the world of Business Coaching is exploding just like Social Media Experts so I’ve put together 6 Key Questions to ask your Business Coach before you hire him/her:
1. How long have you been a coach/consultant full-time? You want to know how long this person has made a living for himself/herself as a business consultant or coach. While the old business paradigm is melting and new innovative ways of doing business online are emerging, the fundamentals of business, i.e., PROFIT are still relevant. Understanding how well someone has made a living for themselves as a coach will tell you volumes about how successful they have been in their profession. What industries have they coached in? What level? Executive/CEO or managerial? Small businesses, entrepreneurs, start-up and non-profits? What size of businesses have they coached? A $30,000 dollar a year company is a lot different than a 3 million dollar a year company.
2. Will you please provide me with your past and current references? I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprise how many people don’t call on references. Testimonials are good, but you really should talk to someone who has been coached by this person bestowing their expertise. You also want to know how long the person being coached has been in business. In addition, you want to gauge how profitable they are. Now, this information will be a little hard to extract since most companies are private and won’t release that data. What they are more likely to tell you is how much revenue or sales they generated in one year. The problem with that is revenue only tells you one side of the story. An entrepreneur may have generated 2 million dollars in sales last year. However, if their expenses and overhead were 2.1 million, then they lost money. So, you need to do your due diligence and get creative in extracting that information. You may ask, “What’s your industry’s average profit margin and how profitable has your business been in relation to industry standards since you hired your Business Coach?”
3. How well do you understand technology and systems? There is no way getting around having a successful business today without the advice of an expert on key technologies and systems. Technology and systems are essential to business in today’s digital world. So, when hiring a business coach, make sure they know what they are talking about when it comes to advising you on what technologies and systems are best for your type of business. They don’t necessarily need to be the person implementing the systems and technologies, but they should at least be able to point you in the right direction to experts who can. Miss this question and you will certainly go down a deep rabbit hole of frustration and wasted time and money.
4. Will I be working with you or one of your “Trainers?” With the hyper-growth of the coaching business, many consultants are hiring trainers to help them with their clients. There is nothing wrong with that at all. You just need to be clear on who you will be working with. If it is one of their “trainers” then you will want to do your due diligence on that person as well. In addition, some coaching companies offer membership sites and group coaching. You will want to know how available and accessible the coach will be in those programs.
5. Are you in alignment with my values? Here is an example: Let’s say you are a “Green” business and you value the triple bottom line model, also known as the 3 P’s. Planet, People, Profit. So, would you hire a coach who has an over-excessive lavish lifestyle when you are clearly aware that mass consumption is bad for the environment? Surround yourself with mentors, teachers, trainers, and coaches who are in alignment with your values.
6. Am I clear on the expectations between us? Having unclear and vague expectations is a recipe for the dreaded two D’s: DISASTER and DRAMA! Don’t ever assume anything. If you are not clear on the contractual agreement or offering, then be sure to ask before you buy. Please don’t buy into a coaching program only to find out that you can’t get out as smoothly as you got in. Any business coach worth their salt will not make it difficult for you to leave the program. It should be an easy-in, easy-out model. You definitely will want to read the fine print. In addition, some coaching companies make an offer where you have access to a lot of coaching material for a nominal fee and 30 or so days later that fee increases substantially. It is a marketing tactic that is used to get you to try before you fully commit. They charge your credit card a low fee to get you started with the hope that you will find value and stick around. The fee then increases after 30 or so days and your credit card gets automatically charged every month. I am not knocking these campaigns, I just want you to understand the marketing strategy behind these tactics.
Here is a bonus tip on hiring a business coach/consultant. It is one that is unfortunately oftentimes overlooked: Listen to your intuition and instincts. Your inner voice is your guidance, your compass. It’s there for a reason, so get quiet and listen to it. If the coach resonates with you, then go for it!
This is not an exhaustive list of Questions and Tips, so if you have some insight on hiring a business coach/consultant, please feel free to add more on the comments below!
Brenda Tello-Horton is co-owner of Hware, an online business training and software company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org