Choosing a Business Coach: Weeding Out the Hucksters

Updated on September 2nd, 2016

Sometimes, we need a business tune-up and some accountability. As freelancers, we can tend to be isolated and to lack much-needed perspective. Family and friends may be even more subjective than we are, and it can be helpful to bring in outside help like a business coach to analyze our business practices and make recommendations.

However, if you spend any time on social media, you know that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of coaches in your industry alone. It’s hard to tell the difference between good marketing and actual experience and value. Some people decide to be “coaches” and can build up their social media and web presence with legitimate-looking content without any verifiable life experience.

How do you know which coach is going to help you, and which one is going to waste your time and your money?

Make Sure That the Coach Has Had Success in Your Industry or a Related Industry Prior to Starting a Coaching Career

A good coach needs more than a personable manner and skilled communication. A trustworthy coach will also have demonstrated success in your field or in a closely related field prior to coaching. Even better, a truly dependable coach may even have current success in your industry, and is adept at managing a busy career while coaching select protégés.

Trust Word-Of-Mouth Testimonials

Ask around in your network (consider expanding your network by attending industry conferences) to find out if any of your successful colleagues have used a coach. Many people do not spontaneously advertise that they built their business with assistance, but if asked, they will give the name of their coach. By getting references, you can build an accurate picture of this coach’s success in working with people in your industry.

Find a Coach Whose Strengths Match Your Weaknesses

Once you have pre-vetted a coach through your network and are confident that they are legitimate, you need to analyze the strengths of this individual. The goal is to match yourself up with someone who will challenge you and help you grow in areas that are not your strong suit. Do not pick someone who will only validate your existing talents and skills.

Develop Your Own Goals for Your Business, and Pick a Coach Who Specializes in Helping People Reach Those Goals

Do you want a big business or a small business? Do you want to offer pre-built, non-interactive programs online or do you want to interact with clients in person? Do you want hundreds, thousands, or millions of low-price-point customers, or do you want 20 high-ticket clients? Choose a coach who has had demonstrated success in developing businesses that are like the one you want to build.

Pick a Coach Whose Philosophy and Methodology Inspire Respect and Admiration

Even though you should pick a consultant whose strengths will even out your weaknesses, don’t pick a confrontational jerk or an “opposites person” (someone who needs to nitpick every quality of your business). A great coach uses positivity, big thinking, and industry skills to help you reach your goals. His or her methods should sync with your principles and values, and you should feel comfortable interacting with this person.

A coach can help you to dramatically turn your business around, but you want to ensure that you are working with the right person!

William Lipovsky

William Lipovsky

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. He began investing when he was 10 years old. His financial works have been published on Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and many others.

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