How to Hire a Great Business Coach

by | Mar 29, 2016 | 7 comments

Note: We’ve recently updated and expanded this article.  You can read the updated article at Hiring a Business Coach

We’ve included additional sections, such as:

  • Introduction
  • What is a Business Coach?
  • What Benefits Can You Receive From Coaching?
  • How is Coaching Structured?
  • How Much Does Coaching Cost?
  • Reasons People Aren’t Successful with Coaching
  • When Should You Hire a Coach?
  • How to Hire the Right Coach
  • Coaching FAQ


Should you hire a business coach?

Well, that depends.

Some people might rave about business coaching (especially if they are trying to sell you coaching).

Some people might steer you away complete (especially if they have been burned by coaches in the past).

So what should you do?

How do you determine if a coach would help you?

And if you decide to hire one, how do you find the right one?

Well, read on and we will help you sort through all of these questions.

But before we begin, why should you trust anything that we say?

Well, first off, we are business coaches (yes, that means we could be biased).

Secondly, we have coaches ourselves (meaning we practice what we preach).

Third, we have been burned by bad coaches in the past, costing us $10,000+ (let’s help you avoid that).

With that brief introduction, let’s dive in.

What Exactly is a Coach (or Business Coach)?

In short, a coach is someone who works with you to help you bring out the best in you. They typically will work with you on a 1-1 basis (although group coaching does exist), and have the following focuses:

  • Help you define your goals and work toward achieving them
  • Assists you in leveraging your strengths and solving your problems/challenges
  • Focuses on supporting behavioral growth through support and accountability
  • Occurs over time, focused on long-term & sustainable results
  • Not industry-specific, can span various context

So from the bullet points above, a coach is somewhat generic. A coach is someone that focuses on the individual, and through 1-1 work and relationship building, helps that person grow and become more successful.

These characteristics are the same across coaching practices, whether someone is a business coach, life coach, sports coach, etc. The difference is simply the context that the person is looking for that growth in.

Is everyone a coach?


And that’s not a bad thing.

But if you don’t understand the difference between a coach and some other functions (ex. a mentor, consultant, etc.), then you can get yourself into some trouble.

We use the following model to explain the different roles and capabilities of people who are often lumped under the title of “coach”.

Business Coaching Roles

Accountability Partner (The Supporter): A person who “supports it”. This person is there to keep you accountable to make sure you do the things you said you would do. Often times being an accountability partner is a two-way street, where each person holds the other accountable.

Mastermind Group (The Achievers): A small group of people who “achieves it”. A mastermind group is typically 3-6 people who meet periodically to help each other brainstorm, learn, provide/give feedback and work together to help everyone be more successful.

Practitioner (The Doer): A person who has “done it”. This is the person, such as the entrepreneur, who has started and grown a successful business.

Trainer (The Teacher): A person who can “teach it”. This person may not have done what they are teaching, but they have the skills and know how to provide the right information, at the right time, taught in the right way so that the students can learn and be able to implement the knowledge.

Coach (The Puller): A person who “pulls it”. This person is not the expert, but has the skills to be able to extract the objectives of the client and use that knowledge to guide the direction of growth and success.

Consultant (The Expert): A person who “knows it”. This person is the expert and they use their opinions and expertise to guide the client towards success.

Mentor (The Guide): A person who “guides it”. This person has experience and is likely a practitioner.

Now even though we place “Business Mastery” in the middle, that is not necessarily to say that you need all of those roles to master your business, or even that having those roles guarantees it. But the reason that it is there because often times the more of those roles you have in place, the more likely you are to master your business and have success.

So now with the basic model defined, let’s discuss why “coaching” can fail and determine how you can avoid it.

4 Reasons People Are Not Successful With Coaching


1. They Don’t Know What Coaching Is

Many people don’t differentiate coaches and other roles in the way that we described above. They assume that coaches are all of those things, when more often than not a coach is really one or two of those.

As a result, they may do one of the following two things:

1 – They hire the wrong type of coach

2 – They expect something that the coach can’t deliver

For example, let’s say an entrepreneur has a business that is growing, but they don’t know how to begin outsourcing some of their tasks and hiring on help. They may want an expert in hiring and growing a team (likely a consultant), but they might hire someone who asks them questions and only helps them gain clarity on what they need (such as a coach).

So they hired the wrong person and had expectations that were beyond what the person they hired was able to deliver.

2. They Don’t Know Their Objectives

Building off of #1, many people who don’t find success with coaching aren’t clear on what they want to achieve before they hire a coach. They may hire a coach because someone tells them that they need one to be successful, but they don’t spend the time to think about the end result that they are looking for.

As a result, they spend time and money, only to be disappointed that their expectations were not met.  A coach can definitely help a person clarify their objectives, as long as that is part of what they expect as part of coaching.

3. They Hire the Wrong Person

Building off of the previous two reasons, the third reason that coaching may not be successful is that the wrong person is hired.

This may be because the person does not really know what results they are looking for.

It could also be because the person who their objectives, but hired the wrong type of person (ex. a coach when they needed a consultant).

Hiring the wrong person may also mean that their style isn’t a fit. You need to be able to connect with and trust the person that you are working with.

4. They Are Not Committed

It takes work to grow, change and be successful.

And it doesn’t just happen.

It takes work from the coaches’ perspective, but also from the client perspective.

This means allocating resources (ex. time and money), as well as being open to change and taking action.

What Are Some Common Combinations That Often Work Well Together?


Accountability Partner/Mastermind

Accountability Partner & Mastermind

This is a common combination and is typically a great starting place, especially for people that may be bootstrapping.

You can find accountability partners in a lot of places.

-They may be friends who have a similar mindset.
-They may be people you meet at conferences.
-They may be people you find online in forums or Facebook groups where people hang out (ex. like our Facebook group for entrepreneurs).

Once you have an accountability partner, often time a mastermind can form once you have a few accountability partners at the same level.

The benefits of this type of a model are:
– They are typically free. (Sometimes there may be a small fee to help keep people committed)
– They are people that are at your level and understand what you are going through.
– It is a low barrier of entry and a way to get started or continue growing your business.


Practitioner & Consultant

This is another common pattern that often works out well.

Since a practitioner is someone who had actually done it, then typically then can double as a consultant and can help other people do it.

You can find practitioners in several of places:

-You can reach out to the owners of businesses that are at a place you would like your business to get to
-You can meet these people at events where they congregate, whether it be a conference, online forum or a local business meeting
-In some cases, you may seek out a consultant instead. When taking this approach, be sure to vet their background and experience, as this is what you are hiring them for.

Once you have found a practitioner, they may actually decide to mentor you for free. Otherwise, they may already do some consulting, or you can work out an agreement for them to do consulting with you.

The benefits of this type of a model are:
– You are getting an expert, one who has done what you want to do.
– You can see the actual results that they have achieved.
– They are likely at a level ahead of you and should help get you to that next level faster


Coach & Consultant

This is the final patterns that we have seen work out well.

Coaches are those people who help you get clarity around your goals and help you determine how to get there, but they may or may not be an expert in actually executing. That is where a consultant comes in. When you find a coach that can both help you gain clarity, plus has the expertise to take action or show you how to take action, that can be powerful.

You can find coaches in several of places:

-You could reach out to your network, or extended network and see if anyone can refer you to a coach.
-You can search online, whether through Google or forums where coaches gather.
-You can reach out to people who you admire and are where you want to be and see if they will coach you.

When you find a coach, that is a great first step. Interview a few coaches and make sure they can show you success they have had in the past and are a good personality fit. The benefit to finding a coach who doubles as an expert in what you are doing the following:

– They can ask you the tough questions (like coaches), but also are experts can either implement or help you implement the solution.
– A pure consultant may not be able to help you establish the goals, but a coach/consultant can help you both with clarity and execution.

With that said, if you are going to go this route, be aware that a coach/consultant may switch back and forth between roles pretty quick. In one moment, they may be asking a question, and in the next, they may be telling you an answer or how to achieve something. Be aware if you don’t want them telling you solutions, you may just want a coach (and not a coach/consultant) or be clear on what you are looking for when you work with them.

These are 3 of the most common combinations that we see often that tend to work, but there are other combinations that work as well.

So now that you know some of the reasons that coaching fails, as well as come common roles that tend to work, let’s discuss how can you improve your odds of success if you are looking to hire a coach?

7 Ways to Maximize the Chances of Success with Coaching


1. Be Clear on Your Objectives

Before entering into a relationship, be clear on what you want to achieve.

This will help make sure you understand what you want, and it will help you evaluate the people that you interview to help you decide if they can help you achieve your goals.  A coach can help you clarify, but you want to have a going in position to start from.

2. Hire the Right Role

Once you know your objectives, review the list of roles above and identify what type of person you need.

Are you really looking for a coach, or something else? Maybe you need a trainer to teach you a skill, or a consultant to bring their expertise evaluate and help you improve an area of your business.

3. Hire the Right Fit

Once you know the role you need, seek out at least 3 people in that role and interview them.

Most people will offer an introductory meeting or call to discuss your objectives and see if it is a good fit.

You want to interview at least 3 people so that you have options, can compare/contrast them and select the best option that will work for you.

In addition to just looking at whether they can help you achieve your objective, be sure that you have good chemistry and will be able to work together.

4. Dive into Their Track Record

People should be able to offer you examples of results that they have received in the past and/or clients that they have worked with.

Take some time to verify their claims and even follow-up with past clients. Someone who can’t provide this is much riskier than someone who can.

5. Establish Coaching in Chunks

Effective coaching takes time and although you can see some results from an individual session, most results will come over a period of time.

When working with a coach, establish a time period for the coaching to occur. For example, 3 month or 6 months periods are usually the sweet spot for maximizing coaches.

If you go too short, you may get some quick wins but won’t maximize the value.

If you go too long, you may become too dependant on your coach (instead of standing on your own) and the value of your results begin to taper off. It may also allow your coach or the relationship to plateau.

So by establishing the right timeframe for you, setting objectives and tracking towards those objectives, you will be able to maximize your investment in coaching.

6. Embrace Coaching & Be Honest

It is important that going into coaching that you are “coachable”.
Being coachable means the following:

– you trust the process (as Marcus Lemonis from “The Profit” says)
– you are willing to accept feedback and alternate perspectives
– you understand that you may need to change your behavior or mentality to achieve your desired results
– you understand the need to continue to grow and realize that what got you to your current point is likely not what is needed to get you to the next point

If you are not coachable, you will hit a plateau. That means you will not be able to break through to the next level.

1 year of experience repeated 20 times does not equal 20 years of experience. It equals 1 year of experience, repeated 20 times.

You will repeat your actions, and you will get the same results. You will stop getting better, no matter how hard you try or how many times you do it.

As Albert Einstein once said… “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”.

So when you reach out for help, first do yourself and the people you are reaching out to a favor… take a second and make sure you are coachable.

If you don’t, you will waste both your time and their time, and likely your money if you are paying for coaching.

That is not to say that a coach/consultant is always right, but if someone is further along than you or at the level that you want to be at, they got there because of some reasons.

Respect their experience and opinion. Respect that you don’t know it all and need to be open to feedback.

And realize that you may need to take and implement some of the feedback, and after evaluating, some feedback may not be relevant to your situation.

7. Commit & Take Action

All of the prior discussion doesn’t really matter if you are not committed. When you hire a coach (or another role), much of the result comes from your commitment level and the action that you take.

So before entering into a relationship, be sure to clear off your schedule and make sure that you can commit to taking action.

If you can’t commit, then maybe it is not the right time for coaching, or maybe you need to evaluate why you can’t commit.

Remember that coaching is an investment in you, your business and your life.

Done successfully, and it can significantly improve all three areas.

Done poorly and it will cost you time, money and likely cause stress and additional frustration. This will negatively affect all three areas.

Are You Interested in Business Coaching?

If you are still reading, then you are likely curious about business coaching and potentially looking to hire a coach.

We only work with a few clients at a time but would love the opportunity to chat with you to see if we could help you and your business grow.

Click here to book your free discovery call with us. During this call, we will take some time to understand your needs and determine if we believe we are a good fit for working together.

Why Work With Us?


1. Experience

We fall into many of the categories above.

Practitioners – We have started and run multiple businesses (some successful, some failed). You can see the current businesses that we own here (Real Estate Investing, Retail Wine & Liquor Store, Various Websites & Entrepreneur/Small Business Coaching). So we know a thing or two about starting and growing businesses.

Trainers – We have trained hundreds of people and teams. These trainings have been with our employees, in person at other companies and online.

Coaches – We have coached hundreds of people. In many cases these are entrepreneurs, but in other cases, these are leaders and managers in an organization, as well as the front line employees.  We’ve worked with single-person startups all the way to Fortune 500 companies and everything in between.

Additionally, we often coach couples. Whether the couples work on the business together, or if one spouse is the entrepreneur, starting a business can take a toll on your life and relationship. We’ve been there and can work 1-1 or together to help you.

Consultants – I wouldn’t say that we are experts, but we have a lot of experience with building businesses (in general), as well as with some of the industries that we are either working in or have consulted in. We pair our formal education with our real world experience to help identify & solve problems, as well as putting mechanisms in place to allow sustainability, even after our consulting relationship ends.

2. Proven Track Record

We’ve worked with a variety of entrepreneurs and leaders, from one person shops to Fortune 500 companies, although we prefer to work with entrepreneurs.

You can see the success (and failures) in our businesses, and we are more than happy to provide references to past entrepreneurs that we have helped.

3. Commitment

One of the benefits that we receive from having multiple streams of income is the freedom that it allows us. We don’t enter into a coaching relationship lightly, and only choose to work with people who we know we can help be successful.

We will work with you 1-1. We will not sell you on coaching, only to hand you over to one of our assistants once you sign the contract.

We have a passion for seeing entrepreneurs succeed, both in business and in life. And we will do whatever we can to help you.

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