Working with a business coach is a smart move at any stage of your entrepreneurial life. But how do you choose a coach who’s an ideal fit for what you do and who you are?
We’ll admit it can be a challenge.
There are many business coaches out there providing a variety of services. And it’s easy to lose track of what your needs are when combing through the different offerings and coaching credentials.
But if you’re currently in pursuit of the perfect coach and feeling overwhelmed, then you’re in the right place.
We’ve enlisted the help of four of the world’s top female business coaches to give you some hot tips on what you must keep front and centre when looking for a coach to call your own.
Knowing what you want beyond “stratospheric success” is the first step in picking the perfect business coach for you, says Michelle Ward, a New York-based coach who has helped hundreds of female entrepreneurs to launch and build their creative businesses over the years.
Better known as the When I Grow Up Coach, Ward suggests asking yourself whether you want someone to tell you what to do or someone who will help you work it out on your own.
“It’s not that one is bad and the other is good”, she says. “It’s just the difference between a business coach and a business consultant. A consultant will make recommendations based on their own experience and a coach will ask you clarifying questions to help you figure it out on your own.”
Being clear on this requirement from the get-go will ensure you side-step any future confusion or frustration.
Heather Legge, business performance coach, founder of Envision Success Inc., and author of Lead with Moxie, agrees. “After 14 years of coaching, I’ve learned that one of the most important steps in looking for the right coach is to understand what you, as the client, really wants to see happen as a result of the coaching engagement,” she says.
“Too often, a potential client hasn’t given this enough thought. Partly this is because newbies to coaching often assume their coach has all the answers, but there is no substitute for thinking this through and identifying a way to measure success.”
Once you’re sure that coaching rather than consulting is what you’re scouting for, the next step is to check your possible coach’s experience. Anyone can talk the talk but you should always look for a coach who can walk the walk too.
“When looking for a business coach don’t just do your due diligence on whether you like the person. This is important and you definitely should get on with them but what’s more important is if the coach has actually been where you are,” advises the straight-talking Lisa Johnson. “I think this is less important for life coaches but for business coaches, theory is definitely not the same as having been there, done it and overcome the issues.”
A multi-six-figure business coach and keynote speaker, UK-based Johnson ran her own wedding planning business before launching as a successful coach. With two businesses under her belt, she’s completely clued in to feeling the fear and not having the foggiest idea if she should do it anyway – just like many of her clients.
“A business coach,” she states, “should have run their own business – controversial I know – but if they haven’t made a success of it themselves then why would they be able to help you make a success of yours?
“In an unregulated industry, knowing that someone has already done it would be the first thing that I’d look for”.
Area of focus
Alongside experience, area of focus is an important indication of whether the coach you’re sweet on is a suitable match for you.
For example, Johnson is a top female business coach with a focus on helping clients build consistent passive income.
Heather Legge, on the other hand, is a business performance coach and training specialist whose expertise in leadership communication has resulted in her being able to include major businesses such as First National Bank, Salvation Army, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, Farmers Insurance, and Nebraska Real Estate to her roll-call of clients.
Both suggest checking out whether the coach’s primary focus lines up with your hoped-for outcome.
For example, does the coach in question mainly work with fledgeling entrepreneurs or those who’ve had skin in the game for a while and are looking to move to the next level?
Are they focused on specific areas of business such as systems implementation or relationship building?
Scope out the type of clients they’ve worked with suggests Legge and see what the focus was on and what results were expected. After that, if you’re still unclear, ask.
“No coach is great at everything so they should be able to present one or a few areas of focus”, Legge claims.
And if your would-be coach says they’re good at every type of coaching? “Keep looking”, is her advice.
Of course, even with all the above said, a good fitting coach still needs to be someone you gel with and who’s on the same page as you.
For that reason, Melitta Campbell, business coach and best-selling author of The Power of Why, recommends that your possible coach, “Is someone who inspires you, shares your personal values and who believes in your vision – or better still, someone who believes you have a bigger vision within you”.
Campbell, who works with female entrepreneurs across the UK and in her adopted country of Switzerland says, “Listen carefully to their methods and suggestions before jumping in. While any form of growth requires that your coach push you outside your comfort zone – and this will inevitably feel uncomfortable at times – you want to avoid working with someone who will push you to work in ways that feel out of alignment with your personal standards and values. You don’t want to grow into someone else, you want to grow into your best version of you.”
Ward, whose own path led her from the world of theatre to the even more creative world of coaching, agrees. She suggests that even before you hop on a consultation call with a new coach, to go through their website to see whether what – and how – they write sits well with you.
“You should get a great sense of whether you’d be a good match from the coach’s website copy and design, and the articles or blog posts they’ve written. It all boils down to whether you feel that you speak the same language, and whether you trust them to get you where you need to go”.
You need to feel comfortable with your prospective coach, she adds because “believe me, you’ll be disclosing some personal stuff during the time you work together!”
If you need help in finding the right business coach, contact me. I’ll point you in the right direction depending on your type of business and what stage you’re at.