Beware the bad business coach

SmartCompany /

Finding and hiring the right coach is no easy business. Here’s how to find the best person to help you.

Beware the bad business coach

Isn’t it interesting how quickly business coaching has become a part of the business horizon? Ten years ago there were none; now they are everywhere.

I was very lucky to find a master when I started the direct selling business Pola Cosmetics. He gave me confidence and courage and taught me how to sell, which in that business was the key to success.

The idea makes so much sense, for both coach and coached – so many baby boomers with so much experience potentially leaving business and upcoming entrepreneurs looking for advice. But beware the bad business coach.

I keep running into all sorts of people who declare they are business coaches but who do not seem to be able to produce any qualifications for the job.

Here is what I want in a business coach:

Sound business experience. It seems obvious but check the credentials and, more importantly, that experience should demonstrate successful results. Business coaching is not like sports coaching because business is a lot more complicated. It is not enough for a coach to have simply done a business or coaching course. Nothing in business compares with on-the-ground experience.

It is useful but not essential if there are synergies in your business and your coach’s business success area. I coach people in businesses ranging from heavy manufacturing to architecture but I have been fortunate to have had personal experience in a wide range of business.

The business coach should be a clear communicator and fully understand your issues. Assess your coach’s capacity at your introductory meeting by asking lots of questions about his or her business success and experience, including their worst business mistake. If your would-be coach can’t remember one find someone else: there is no one in business who has not made mistakes.

You should like and trust your business coach and therefore be able to discuss any challenge; be wary about choosing a coach you simply meet at a cocktail party. But even if you have huge trust you should sign a confidentiality agreement so that he or she won’t set up in competition with you.

The business coach should be able to prove success with other clients. Ask for references and results.

Make sure your coach is always accessible (but does not charge by the minute) and be prepared to pay. I have always liked the expression: If you think education is expensive you should try ignorance!

Find out how your coach keeps up to date with business knowledge: how widely read … SmartCompany, etc, etc.

I would be really interested to hear about your experiences with a business coach; how it really helped you and your business. And send in names of any coaches you can recommend.


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