Think about this before hiring a business coach

October 21, 2015 | Business, Coaching


How Can I Find a Business Coach Who’s Right for Me?

Knowing how to find a business coach can be the easy part; finding one who’s a good fit for you may take some time. Your first step might be to sort through the directories available at the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches, where you can search for business coaches by location and the types of skill sets you’re looking to improve.
You could also ask your colleagues and friends on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter for their personal recommendations for a business coach. Elster found his business coach after posting comments on The Hacker News, a website he often frequents.

How much money Is This Going to Cost Me?

As you might guess, the cost of a business coach ranges depending on a number of factors, including their level of expertise, their specialties and their location. Lohrbeer says the coaches he spoke with charged anywhere from $50 an hour to $5,000 a month.

“The coach I worked with used package pricing,” says Michael Murphy, owner of Web design and development company Erion Media Inc. in Rochester, New York. I chose the least expensive one with a three-month commitment for another $1,500 per month.”.

That, Murphy later concluded, was too expensive for him. In hindsight, this was really unrealistic, since Web development projects can be complex, time consuming and long term. Managing and getting three to more projects each month on my own is next to impossible.”.

You can find affordable coaching, says Kurt Elster, who owns Ethercycle, a digital development agency in Chicago. “There are ways to get coaching without breaking the bank,” says Elster, who regularly works with a coach. “Many coaches have information products ranging from free, like blogs, to books and video courses.

Elster’s coach, however, doesn’t come cheap. Elster’s been paying $2,000 a month for about four hours of coaching and says it’s been worth it.

Finding a bargain isn’t hard if you hunt for it. Kevin Caron, a sculptor in Phoenix, pays his business coach, who’s a retired nonprofit executive, just $150 a month for a two-hour in-person meeting or phone consultation.
“I’m probably the last kind of business owner in the world anyone would expect to have a business coach,” Caron admits. “But I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.” Caron’s been working with her since 2005.
Caron’s business manager, Mary Westheimer, says of the $150 Caron pays for a two-hour meeting, “I suspect this is very inexpensive, but she’s retired and money isn’t a huge motivator for her.”.

What Kind of Advice Will I Get?

“I find my coach to be an invaluable resource who provides me with straightforward advice on how to grow and sustain my business,” says Sean Horrigan, owner of PR Guy, a Boston-based PR firm. “He helps me stay focused and map out strategies to help me reach my short- and long-term business goals.
“The trick,” Horrigan adds, “is to find the right coach who’s not only a cheerleader but a trusted business advisor.”.

A good business coach can help you expand your horizons and grow your business in ways you may not be able to do on your own. “As a business owner, you can fall into the trap of an echo chamber, only focusing on the things you know and the way you know to do them,” says Jessica Flynn, owner of PR firm Red Sky Public Relations in Boise, Idaho. As the owner of the business, I don’t have a boss to hold my feet to the fire.

Not all business owners are happy with their coaching experience. Murphy, who paid $1,500 for his initial four-hour session and prepaid an additional $1,500 for the first month of coaching, quickly soured on the experience.
In Murphy’s case, the coach he hired simply wasn’t a good match. “He spoke at a workshop given by a colleague of mine and came very highly recommended from them,” Murphy says. “I’ll admit he wooed me with some back of the napkin calculations based on numbers I gave him for my business.”.

After Murphy hired him, he soon realized they weren’t a good fit. “In hindsight, my coach seems more comfortable working with larger companies that grow revenue through volume and add personnel to handle that volume,” says Murphy, who– at least for the foreseeable future– wants to work solo and find fewer clients whom he can work with on an ongoing, consultative basis.

“That was pretty much the opposite of the coach’s plan,” Murphy adds, who was disappointed that the coach he hired didn’t seem to understand his business or his goals, and that he spent $3,000 before he was able to cut the coach loose.

Can I Get My Money Back if the Advice Is Bad?

Probably not. Advice, even it’s coming from someone with business experience and knowledge, is ephemeral and so subjective that your opinion of the “bad” advice you got from your coach is just that– your opinion. Unlike when you’re compelled to return a rancid burrito or a faulty printer, it’s hard to fault a coach for not giving you back your money for the time they spent consulting with you.

Still, you may find that the business coach you’ve hired will compromise if things don’t work out. Murphy, who didn’t use his coach beyond the initial four-hour session, lost the $1,500 he prepaid for the first month of a three-month session, but despite signing a contract, the coach released him from it and he was able to get out of paying for the last two months of the contract without any apparent hard feelings.

Despite his own experience, Murphy isn’t anti-coaching– he’s quick to say he believes business coaches can be a big help, and he knows a local graphic designer who says she’s had phenomenal success with her coach. I ‘d also be looking for a much better fit as far as the types of companies they’ve worked with before and whether those companies’ industry and culture are similar to my own.”.

How Much Time Will I Need to Spend With the Coach?

While every coach and each situation is different, you should be ready to invest as much time as it takes to get the results you’re seeking. Whether you have a one-hour, weekly in-person session or your coach is on call throughout the month, you must set aside time to meet, then do any follow-up work required. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your money.

Think about This Before Employing a Business Coach. The right coach can help your business grow in unexpected ways.

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