Finding the right business coach can be a challenging thing for many small business owners. Sometimes it seems like every person you meet at a networking event tells you they are, in fact, a business coach and that of course they can help you to transform your business. Perhaps it’s a trendy profession, a cool thing to be and do, something people think is easy even?
Let me tell you that being a business coach, while one of the best roles I have ever had the privilege of holding, is far from glamorous or easy. It is a role that I take on with great commitment and focus.
My clients are incredibly important to me and I take my “job” teaching and helping them with their business growth, very seriously. I’m totally about making business fun, learning so you can empower yourself, marketing, measuring, sharing and growing. In fact I am all about thriving in business and where ever possible #makingbusinesseasier!
Back in December 2013 I wrote a short list of 10 Questions To Ask When Hiring Your Business Coach and now, over 4 years later, I am re-visiting these questions with some guidelines as to why these questions are important.
1. What sorts of clients do you work with?
When it comes to a business coach you want to get a clear understanding of who they work with so you can ensure that they have experience and interest in working with business models and types like the one you have in place. I’m always cautious of a “business coach” who can’t clearly articulate their ideal client. One of the core things the right business coach should be able to do is help you with the basics of marketing and business growth.
If they aren’t sure who they serve that concerns me. Dive in with more detailed questioning and ask about the clients they have worked with so you can see if you can get a sense of any trends, passions or excitement they have about particular types of businesses, business models, people or industries.
For me, it has evolved to be about service businesses and teaching, mentoring and guiding them with specific business growth and marketing strategies designed to highlight their expertise and help them to become the “go to” peeps in their industry! An added aspect of my offering is the investment I make with clients to identify ways to make leading their business easier, and then guidance to implement and measure strategies to that effect.
I’m also able to identify my ideal clients by their attributes rather than demographic specifics like age, location and disposable income. For some businesses this information is critical to communicating effectively with ideal clients. Not so much for me. I work best with people who have big dreams and ideas for themselves and their business, value my expertise and guidance, take action and put in the effort to reap the rewards.
2. Can you tell me about a client you’re working with right now? What sort of business are they in, why did they hire you and what have they achieved since starting with you?
This is a great question to ask because it gives you an insight into many things. How interested they are in sharing the story can tell you a lot. Listen carefully and tune in for examples of the types of things they have supported clients with and the outcomes achieved.
I talk about my clients – past and present – a lot! Why? Because I adore them and I am super proud of every step they take to creating and leading the type of business they want.
I am careful of confidentiality of course, but often times there is nothing wrong with sharing a story to demonstrate how a client achieved something and where relevant including a little about the business. I find a majority of my clients tell people they are working with me, so revealing who the business is I am referring to is often not an issue.
3. How long have you been coaching?
In a world where the term “coach” is used far and wide and where there is limited “regulation” or “standards” within the industry this is a question I am always keen to hear the answer to. A new coach could well be super qualified to support you, but it’s always good to get a sense of how long someone has been doing what they are doing.
If you are serious about finding the right business coach then this is a great question to ask if you’re limited for time or don’t want to ask all 10.
This questions is definitely a pre-cursor to the next one!
4. What did you do before you started coaching?
In line with how long someone has been a coach, I would want to know what else they have done. Someones previous professional life and the experience they have gathered can actually be an asset to the experience you have with them.
My first career was in nursing. As a Registered Nurse (long time ago now!) I was able to learn and hone skills I use every day now in my business. Communication skills, working with people in stressful or emotional situations to give you a couple of examples.
What did the coach you’re looking to work with do previously? Always good to know!
5. What sort of training have you done?
Probably one of the questions I most look forward to hearing the answer to. Why? Well, as I pointed out in question 3, the term coach is used broadly by people to describe working with other people.
The reality is, that coaching is a process and as the coaching industry evolves and (hopefully) becomes more regulated, more and more consumers will begin to understand more about the nature of coaching and what to expect.
An untrained coach just doesn’t sit well with me. Yep, it’s my thing, but it’s a point for you to consider. Jiust to give you something else to think about. Last I looked, the most common form of coaching training in Australia was a Certificate IV or Dimploma of Life Coaching. To add business coaching it was a module or two.
If I’m truly after a business coach (and the right business coach for me) I’d be looking for someone with business qualifications and proven expertise, as well as coaching training!
Think about the support you are investing in and be clear about what you need your coach to have to create the environment for a successful experience.
6. What kind of professional development do you do and are you a member of any professional organisations or groups?
I see this question as a kind of credibility and professionalism check. Understanding the type of additional training your prospective coach does and who they spend their time with is another way to better understand what’s import to them.
What they value can certainly influence your experience with them.
7. Do you have a coach? If yes what do they help you with?
I have always been someone who looks for evidence that others believe in what they do. I want to know someone believes in their profession.
The way your coach talks about their experience working with their own coach could also give you insights into their style and values.
It’s a long time since I worked with a generalist business coach. For a while now I have worked with very specialist coaches and business educators to support me with specific areas of my business.
For example I have worked with a book writing coach, self publishing coach, money mindset coach, productivity coach, minset coach and copywriting coach in the past four years in my business.
8. My biggest goal for the next 6-12 months is… What can you offer to help me achieve that?
Set your potential coach a test. Rather than asking “how can you help me?” and keeping the question broad, share a specific goal with them and see how they respond.
If you like what they suggest and they freely offer some guidance, then can you picture yourself working with and learning from them?
I personally like to ask business owners the first part of this question as it gives me insight into what they want to achieve. I rarely get asked by the people I talk to how I could help them achieve the goal they just describe.
Sometimes I tell them some of the things I’d suggest.
9. What 3 words would your clients use to describe you?
I love asking this question of my clients, as well as people I am considering hiring to work with me for different reasons. This can give you an insight into what someone values and some of the unique things that makes them who they are.
If someone were to ask me this question I’d say things like creative, supportive, a teacher, curious, considerate, thorough, approachable, smart, conscientious. Yes, more than three so it’d depend on the day I’m asked, but these would definitely be the common responses. (reading back over the list it looks a bit like some of my school reports! haha)
What would your coach say?
10. Can you tell me about your favourite client right now (confidentially of course) and why they stand out?
When I ask this question I’m listening in for how invested in a client’s journey my prospective coach is. Personally, I want someone I work with to believe in me and be invested in what I’m working on and aiming to achieve.
Think about what you are looking for, or need from your coach and see if their answer to this question and the ones listed above fit with where you’re at and what you are looking for. It is totally worth the investment to find the right business coach, so stay focused, get clear on what you need and believe the right business coach is out there for you and your business.
Thanks for reading this article! If you have a comment or question, please add it below.
If you’d like to talk to me about your business and the support you’re looking for to achieve your business growth goals then I’d love to chat. You can book a time with me here.
I wish you the greatest effortlessness in your business and hope to see you come back to read more or tune into one of my many podcast episodes and until next time I also wish you all the best on your quest to find the right business coach.