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What Every Entrepreneur Ought to Know About Hiring a Business Coach

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 29/10/2015 Prema Srinivasan

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If you're an entrepreneur, at some point or another, you may consider hiring a business coach to help you build or grow your business. You've probably heard a lot of great stories of how business coaches have helped their clients through numerous blocks to reach great levels of success. But you've probably also heard some horror stories of unsuspecting entrepreneurs who pay their last five grand to a coach who ends up being incompetent and ineffective. So how do you navigate the world of business coaches out there to pick one that can actually help you?
Let's start by clarifying what coaching actually is. Coaching is a process to help a client achieve certain results using certain strategies, which means that the buyer is part of the product. Unlike buying something off-the-shelf, a service that involves the clients' buy-in for the transformation to occur is relying on what the client brings to the table. Think of it as similar to the profession of teaching. Teachers work with all different types of students from those who are gifted in particular areas to students who struggle with certain subjects. The same is true with a coach. From the outside, it's hard to tell how much of the end result is a due to a coach's abilities and expertise and how much of it has to do with the client's efforts and synthesis and assimilation from the coaching process. In addition, some clients come in at much higher levels of business experience and expertise than others.
The question most people want answered when they are looking to hire a coach is whether a particular coach can help them get from point A to point B. Since coaching does depend on the client as well, the only way that question can be answered is by getting on a discovery call and for both the coach and client to determine whether their working together will help the client go from point A to B. Now even if it appears that way at the beginning, circumstances can change and one or both parties may not be able to make that happen. To top it off, there are numerous circumstances outside of both peoples' control that could also influence outcomes.
The most important thing then is to determine whether there are tested processes and strategies that can be applied in any number of scenarios to yield better outcomes than what the client has achieved on their own. It is true that there are coaches as well as clients who are not a good fit for the process. There are coaches who over-promise and under-deliver or are just not great at what they do. There are also clients who project their ability to do things at a much greater level than they are willing or able to do.
The combination of an ineffective coach with an unmotivated client is going to lead to undesired results. Conversely, the most effective coach paired with a highly motivated client can yield incredible results. An effective coach working with an unmotivated client may be able to help the client make some progress from where they are. An ineffective coach with a motivated client probably can't do much harm and the end result may be mostly to the credit of the client.
When you are evaluating coaches, be honest about your own ability to take action and synthesize information. Remember the old adage, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink." Equally importantly though, if you are a motivated client who has high expectations, remember the saying "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
What does this mean? If you're a client looking for a business coach, don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know what questions to ask, here are a few. What areas of business do you help with: marketing, branding, strategy, social media, public speaking, accounting, legal, etc.? Do you help with mindset, money blocks, and non-traditional business areas (topics not covered in a typical MBA program)? What else do you offer? What are your credentials? What business experience do you have? What is your experience with coaching? What makes you different from other business coaches?
Aside from just listening to the answers, pay attention to how you feel when you're speaking with a potential coach. Be honest with the coach you are speaking with about whether you are checking out programs offered by other coaches as well. Be courteous and let the coaches you've talked to know if you won't be purchasing their program. Coaches work with many people and may save a spot for you in their schedule if they think you are interested in working with them. If you don't think they are the right fit or if you don't want to pursue coaching at this time, let them know. If you feel comfortable and confident while you are on the discovery call and you know that working together can help you achieve those otherwise elusive goals, you are on your way to making an investment that could help you take your business to levels you wouldn't have been able to do on your own.
Coaches know that discovery calls are the best way for a coach and client to determine whether they can create results together. Don't let bad discovery call experiences (with coaches who've tried to strong-arm you into buying something you don't want or are not ready for) keep you from working with coaches that are genuine and do great work. There are effective and ineffective people in every profession. If you had a bad experience with one dentist, it doesn't mean that you should never go to a dentist again. The same is true with a coach.
Don't deny yourself the chance at getting the help and accountability you need out of fear of working with the wrong coach. Do your homework. Good coaches allow you to ask questions and make the decision that feels right for you because they need you to take responsibility throughout the entire process. If you need to read lots of content, see testimonials, or check out a coach's website multiple times to learn about their programs even before you schedule a discovery call, that's fine. You need to do what works for you. You'll know when something feels right and when it doesn't. Learn to trust your gut. Business coaching is a tool. If used properly, it can help you build a very successful business.
Prema Srinivasan helps service-based entrepreneurs find their profitable niche by assisting them to identify the intersection of their passions, skills, and market demand. With an MBA and over 15 years of experience in marketing and business strategy, Prema helps her clients create powerful strategies for success.


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