Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry: How to Choose a Coach

I often see small business owners in private groups, asking what steps they should take when hiring a coach or joining a mastermind group. Because I’ve just undertaken that very step, and because I’ve been burned in the past, and because I offer these services, so I know how I want my clients to feel, I thought I’d share my thoughts.   

I want to start this post by saying I am an absolute advocate of Coaching, Mentoring and Masterminds. I offer them because I believe in them. When you are in the right one, they are like gold in your life and your business. However, take the time to choose the right one; you’ll know when you strike gold.  

1) Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry.  

You know what I mean, I’m sure you’ve been there. You’re hungry but there’s nothing in the house, so you go to the supermarket. When you arrive home to unpack your shopping, you find all sorts of goodies in the bags that you simply wouldn’t buy if you went shopping straight after lunch, right?!  

So it is with choosing a coach, start making steps towards choosing your valuable support system before you need it. That is before you are too hungry.   

When I first took a coach into my business, I was new to the self-employed adventure and feeling massively overwhelmed. I was just realising how little my successful corporate career had prepared me for starting my own business. I was vulnerable. I was perfect lead fodder. I ended up in a coaching programme, as the result of following a lead magnet value ladder (I know this now but didn’t recognise it then) and it was not the right programme, or the right coach, for me. I’d taken this big step and made what felt like a huge investment, and although I’d negotiated a special guarantee it was denied when I called upon it.   

Tip: Start looking before you are desperate. 

If you know you are feeling a little vulnerable, get support from a fellow business owner you trust before you commit. It’s always helpful to share your thoughts and hear them coming back to you.   

2) Not all coaches are the same.   

I’m not just talking about whether they suit you or are qualified, each coach has his or her specialism. If what you want is outside of that specialism they may be a great coach, but not a great coach for YOU. When I chose my first coach, I chose him because I liked him. I explained my concern that his process and my requirements were possibly out of sync, but he persuaded me to come on board anyway.   

Tip: Know what you want and look for a coach who is a specialist in that area.   

3) Do your research.  

Don’t be side-tracked from your outcome by clever sales spiel or pretty websites. I’m so easily swayed when I’m shopping, and I am easily encouraged to buy the next bright shiny object!  

Look beyond the website or sales page. Only the best stuff is going to go on there! Search and find some independent, ie. not on their sites, comments.   

Tip: If you think you’ve found your ‘coach’ leave it for a day or two. See how it settles, then research some more if your gut feeling isn’t comfortable. 

4) Don’t be rushed or persuaded. 

There is always another offer, or another bonus, on another day. Scarcity is an authentic sales tool when it’s genuine scarcity, but it’s often used to simply rush your decision making. You are going to spending thousands, not hundreds, for a year of support so take your time and make sure you feel comfortable in your head and your heart.   

Tip: If you are in doubt, dig a bit deeper into yourself and the coach, you shouldn’t need persuading. 

5) Make sure you’re coachable. 

What me? Yes, You!   

Not everyone is coachable. I have a friend who on the one hand, wants to be coached; but on the other, really doesn’t. She rarely follows through because she probably wants business counselling. Someone to just to listen but not hold her accountable.   

So what’s the difference? There are loads of definitions and all interchangeable. So, check with the coach you are working with how they work and how they describe their style.   

Coaching – In its pure form, is about great questioning that allows the client to find their solutions, with accountability and follow up to help. The dictionary definition is, to give (someone) professional advice on how to attain their goals.  

Mentoring – An experienced and trusted adviser who provides informal teaching and support. Someone who has been there before you, and is now where you want to be or has something you want to experience.   

Consultant – A person who provides expert advice professionally, and usually leaves you to implement yourself.   

Counsellor – A person trained to give guidance on personal, or psychological, problems with talk therapy allowing for just that: the client to talk.   

The Google dictionary definitions are in bold with supplementary comments by me 😊  

Tip: Take some time to understand the coaching style of the coach and your preferred style to make sure they are a match.   

The dictionary definitions all look pretty much the same, don’t they? So don’t be swayed by titles, look for outcomes that match yours.   

6) Understand the return you are looking for; both return on investment and return on time.   

What do I mean by this? Well, I’m going to be investing both time and money, the small business owners’ 2 greatest resources, into the programme.   

Regarding TIME – I’ve been in programmes that are just too overwhelming to maintain, and I’ve been in those that appear not to care once they have your money.   

Regarding MONEY – Understand what you are prepared to invest financially and what you expect your return to be from the programme, increased sales or increased productivity. Then compare that to the financial investment and expected financial return.   

Tip: Take time to prepare before you speak to anyone. But don’t be too rigid as you are speaking to people, make note of what appeals to you and what doesn’t and keep adjusting your requirements throughout the process.   

7) So, what did I do?  

First, I recognised that I felt burned and ‘sold to’ in previous encounters. 

I didn’t ‘do’ anything with that information, but I knew it was likely to make a difference to my decision making. So, I filed away the awareness and discussed my shortlist with my partner, who’s run his own business for over 20 years and knows me pretty well.   

Second, I mapped out what I wanted from a coach.   

They need to specialise in at least one or more than one of my three goals to end of 2010: broadcasting my voice, setting up marketing funnels/email automation and reaching my first financial goal.   

To include face to face meetings, 1-2-1 or in groups.  

Access to the coach directly, as well as the group.  

Small group, less than ten people.  

Access to sales and marketing templates and swipe files, that I can deploy quickly. 

On-going relationship potential, ie. not just a 30-day or 90-day programme.  

Third, I went through the coaches and people whose free groups I’d joined, or free content I’d consumed, to investigate what their next level offering was and how that aligned to what I needed.   

Fourth, I spoke to my short-listed coaches individually, explaining what I wanted and asking what they had that most closely resembled it.   

I noticed that even doing that helped me further identify what I needed, and noted that some of the programmes were too long and some too short.   

Fifth, I looked at what I wanted to achieve financially and whether I could see their programme giving a return inline with that expectation.   

From nowhere really, I decided that my coach should cost me no more than 10% of my turnover target. This is not based on anything except it felt comfortable to me. The point is to understand the ROI you want.    

Finally, I made my choice based on 3 criteria:   

  1. How I felt when I spoke to them, some of them didn’t speak to me directly but only via an assistant. 
  2. How close their offer was to what I felt I needed and wanted to achieve. 
  3. The cost of their programme and whether my actions could multiply that return by ten. 

Having made my choice, I’ve started! Interestingly, what I’m looking for closely follows what I offer. I guess I am my ideal client! You can check out my services, and freebies, here

I hope this has helped you. If you’re looking for a business or efficiency coach, I have a free assessment you can do; which could lead to a free discussion with me if you like what you experience. If you have thirty minutes to spare, take a look and see what you learn about yourself and me!   

Taking care of your time  

Sharyn with a Why  

Business Efficiency Coach AKA Master Time Bender 😉 🕰️ 

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