7 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Business Coach

Business coaching is something most first time entrepreneurs and business owners could benefit from. The problem however, is that most of them don’t know how to go about hiring a coach, and they often end up spending a fortune on canned coaching programs that don’t offer them any real value. So, how can you as a business owner avoid this pitfall? Well, here are 7 things that you should consider before you hire a business coach.

Besides coaching, have they run any other successful business?

A good coach should be able to draw from their own experiences, not just from theoretical concepts learnt in school or read about in a book. Unless they’ve personally been in the trenches of the corporate world, they may not be able to give you practical advice. Also, if the only successful business they have ever run is a coaching business, that isn’t enough. Anyone can dish out business advice based on theories and anecdotes, but it takes real world experience to truly understand what works and what doesn’t. You should only consider hiring a business coach who has had at least five or more years of experience working with successful companies.

What qualifications do they have?

The business coaching profession in most countries is unregulated, which means that there is no minimum academic requirement or qualification for one to become a coach. If you want to hire a coach, it’s up to you to look up their academic qualifications and professional credentials and to decide whether they are good enough. Even though academic achievement is not a conclusive indicator of someone’s prowess when it comes to coaching, it’s still an important consideration that you shouldn’t overlook. An ideal coach should at least have a degree in business (or a related field), and if possible, some form of certification from a professional body.

Do they have experience with companies like yours?

It’s important to ensure that your coach’s experience is relevant to your particular industry. You may be able to find an industry-specific coach (this term refers to coaches who only specialize in one particular industry). However, industry-specific coaches aren’t that common (with the exception of those in fields such as real estate), and even then, the advice they give you will be the same as what they tell all your competitors. The best you can hope for in most cases is a coach who has a wide breadth of experience in many different industries including yours and is able to channel that experience to your benefit.

Did past clients find the coach’s input useful?

A good business coach is one whose methods have been tried and tested in a corporate environment, and the only way for you to know that for sure is by finding out how beneficial other clients have found the coaching to be. Many business coaches provide client testimonials on their websites. These testimonials can be useful if you are trying to get a general picture of the coach’s business acumen, but you shouldn’t rely too much on them because they could be cherry-picked. Instead, do some due diligence— get in touch with some of the coach’s past clients, and try to get an honest opinion from them as to whether they benefited from the investment.

What mistakes have they made in business?

A good business coach owns their mistakes and draws lessons from them. Don’t expect to find a coach who has had 100% success in every venture that they’ve ever started. Failure makes for valuable experience, and a coach who has had their fair share of failure in the past may be able to offer insights that could prevent you from making the same costly mistakes. However, be wary of coaches who have had strings of failed enterprises— perennial failure could mean that a person lacks the humility to learn from mistakes.

Do they tailor your coaching to your specific business needs?

The main problem that entrepreneurs deal with when working with business coaches is that they are often put through generic programs that are of no real benefit, leaving many people feeling burnt by the experience. Look at the program your prospective coach is offering. Is it unique? Is it tailored to the needs of your business? Does it offer real insights, or is it just a bunch of platitudes that add no value to your business? Don’t settle for a canned program. Instead, take your time to find a coach who has the experience and expertise to pinpoint the problem that is ailing your business, and to craft a solution that is both ingenious and highly effective.

Do they share your values?

Finally, make sure that the coach you hire shares your values. You cannot have a beneficial relationship with your business coach if the two of you disagree on fundamental values. Where your business is concerned, your definition of success and that of your coach must be similar. This is a close, confidential relationship and it needs to feel right, you need to be able to trust them implicitly. To find a coach who shares your values, you need to trust your instincts. If a coach’s rhetoric rubs you the wrong way, or something just doesn’t seem quite right to you, don’t hire them.