3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Business Coach

You’re ready to scale.

You have a great business. You invested your time and energy in selecting the right company name, creating your brand and figuring out how to deliver a quality product or service — while making money.

You’re beginning to see the fruit of your labor, but now you need figure out how to grow.

You have a plan, but it’s all in your head. You know its time to stop doing the work and start being the owner. That probably means hiring (more) people, building out systems and processes or adopting technology to make it all work.

You’ve proven your business model and now you’re ready to scale . . . but where do you start?

Start with a business coach.

A business coach is an expert who knows how to grow successful businesses. Working with a business coach can help you adopt a more strategic approach to your business growth, uncover the root cause of barriers that might be in your way and shorten the time it takes to get to the next level.

Here’s the deal though . . . Not every coach is right for you.

Coaches are people — and people have different personalities, motivation styles and ways of working. And frankly, we’re not cheap. Even if we were free, your time is worth money. You don’t want to waste your time going in the wrong direction.

If you’re considering hiring a business coach, you need to select someone you vibe with. You want someone who makes it easy for you to share the real dirt (that deep down shit that makes you uncomfortable), but who will also kick your ass — in a healthy way, of course.

How do you know if its a good fit?

The best way to find that out is to ask questions. Here are three critical questions you should ask up front when hiring a business coach to find out if its a good fit.

1. What’s your background?

This one isn’t about finding someone with the alphabet behind their name. When it comes to helping you get to the next evolution of your business, you should be listening for a coach who has had some skin in the game; My friend Zach calls this a player-coach.

  • In addition to earning degrees or certificates, has she actually run a business herself? If she has yet to walk in your shoes as a business owner, I say keep looking.
  • As a follow up, also ask your prospective coach to talk about a time or two, when she fucked up. If she can’t or won’t laugh about early mistakes and share how she overcame them, it’s probably not a good fit.

2. How quickly will I see results?

This is a bit of a trick question. You see, coaches are not consultants. Coaching is more about asking rather than telling. And that takes time.

Since she is not the person doing the work, its up to you how quickly your business shifts into gear. It all depends on how coachable YOU are. If your prospective coach guarantees you’ll be a changed person in a defined time frame (Poof, you’re healed!), I’d run for the hills.

  • She should however, be able to explain the process by which she will help facilitate change. Listen for an approach that includes discovery of who you are and what makes you tick BEFORE diving into problem solving.
  • It is also up to you to complete assignments between coaching sessions. Still, you need some way of engaging with your coach outside of coaching sessions. Does she offer office hours for questions if you get stuck? Does she send e-mails or other communication to keep your commitments top of mind?

3. Can you share references of other business owners whom you’ve helped?

“The proof is in the pudding”. I don’t know where that saying came from, but its applicable here. Do your homework by reading LinkedIn recommendations or reaching out to past coaching clients.

  • Ask about the relationship: Was the coach on time for sessions? Did she take time to learn about them as a person (family, lifestyle etc.) AND their business? Was she easy to learn from?
  • Look for evidence: Ask what changed for them as a result of the work they did with the coach? Did revenue or profit increase? Are they better positioned now to work ON the business? Were her recommendations sustainable?

Seat at the Table

Practical strategies and real world advice to help you start, build and grow a profitable and sustainable business.