The essential qualities you need and nothing else.
There comes a point in your entrepreneurial journey where you realize that in order to move forward, you need the support of a business coach. You want that extra support, that sounding board, and the advice of someone who has been there before to help you make faster progress on your goals.
But what are the qualities that are important to look for when you’re searching for a business coach?
Here are the top three things that make the biggest difference in whether or not the person you work with can help you grow your business:
1. They have experience in business or marketing.
It’s best to work with someone who has already done what you want to do and also has some business or marketing experience of their own.
Of course, being a great coach is a pre-requisite, but if you are truly going to learn from this person, you want them to know what they’re talking about when it comes to business and marketing. You don’t want to work with someone who hasn’t “walked the talk” and who doesn’t know much about how to market or grow a business.
This could either come from them having worked in the industry, but they could also have successfully launched their own coaching business and then worked with clients to help them do the same. As long as they are a few steps ahead of where you are and can show that through client testimonials, you should feel good knowing they can help you do the same.
And ideally, the person you work with has broad experience vs. just being an expert in one thing. If they only know what worked for them or how to teach one strategy, that may be fine when you’re just starting out, but it will become harder to work with them when you need a more personalized or advanced strategy.
Because business is such an individual thing, it’s not always possible to replicate someone else’s success because there are many factors at play, like: who they know, the size of their audience, timing, their charisma, sales experience, etc.
2. They’re trained and certified in coaching.
While this isn’t mandatory, I’m going to wager a guess that if you’re investing a good amount of money in business coaching, you want to work with someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to coaching so you can get a good return on your investment.
There is a big difference between someone teaching you what they know about a particular marketing or sales strategy and coaching you to find out what works best for you and your business.
Lots of coaches out there fall into the first category. What they are really doing is just acting as educators or teachers. And that is fine if you want to learn a particular strategy they use.
But to get the full benefit of working with a coach, you need to work with someone who is trained and certified as a coach. That way, they will help you make your own decisions about what you might want to do instead of just following their process.
The drawback I see from working with someone who isn’t trained is that while their strategy may work for a good percentage of their audience, it may not work for you. And if that happens, you’ll be stuck looking for another coach.
I say this because it’s happened to me in the past. I paid good money for a business coach to teach me a strategy that I just didn’t feel aligned with. And so I wasted a lot of time, energy, and money on something I didn’t want to pursue going forward. And I didn’t realize I wasn’t aligned with their strategy until I started trying to implement it.
Ideally, the coach you work with has both marketing or business expertise AND coaching skills so you can have the best of both worlds.
When I work with clients, I lead with my coaching skills, but I also draw upon over 15 years of marketing experience in helping them craft marketing strategies that work for them. If I didn’t have this marketing experience, it would be harder for me to brainstorm with them because I wouldn’t have enough experience to feel comfortable suggesting anything.
And I lean on my marketing expertise to help my clients find strategies that are custom to them and their business instead of focusing on just one strategy for all of my clients. That means they feel more aligned with their strategy and they tend to implement it more easily so they get better results.
Finally, your coach shouldn’t just tell you what they think you should do. Instead, they should guide you in finding your own answers. In my opinion, the best coaches help their clients learn how to become more empowered to make their own decisions vs. relying on a coach for the foreseeable future. And that skill comes with proper training.
3. They care about your business and your success.
There are people out there who just want to make money and will accept any old client to help them grow. But the coach you want to work with is the one who actually cares about what you’re creating and wants to help you get there.
If someone is personally invested in your business, you’ll know this by the type of questions they ask and how they respond when you tell them what you’re trying to create in your business. They won’t just talk about themselves the whole time you’re on a call with them. You’ll also know this when you start working with them because they’ll go the extra mile to help you.
This is the reason I like to work with purpose-driven service-based business owners because I know they’ve started their business to make a difference in the world and I really connect with that. I want to support business owners that I believe in and the coach you end up working with should do the same.