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The Clarity Journal

Tactics, Tools, and Truth for Creative Entrepreneurs

3 Questions to Consider Before You Hire a Business Coach

Once I transitioned all of my social media accounts to be business accounts, it didn’t take long for the ads to start rolling in. Each and every day I see ads for business coaches, consultants, and so-called “gurus” that are making big promises to me about what they can do for my business.

Even though I am a business coach and consultant, I’m also a business owner who is constantly on the lookout for products and people that can help me grow and improve my own business. In a world where it feels like everyone is trying to sell you something, it can be hard to know how to make good decisions, especially when it comes to hiring outside help.

Obviously, the purpose of this post isn’t to discourage you from hiring a business coach. On the contrary, I’m a huge believer that business owners should get the help that they need. But, if you want to get the most out of working with a coach or consultant, it’s important for you to approach the process in a thoughtful way. Here are three questions to ask before hiring a coach or consultant.

Do you know what you want to accomplish? 

Before you ever hire anyone to advise you in your business, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish from working with that person. I’m not saying you need to have a 10-point plan, and a coach can help you bring greater definition and clarity to your objectives. But you have to come to the table with a basic understanding of what you want to get out of the process. 

There are a few good reasons for this. First of all, having clear objectives assists you in understanding if the consultant or coach is actually qualified to help you. Not everyone has the same expertise, and you need to make sure that your coach’s skill set lines up with your issues and goals.

Understanding what you want to accomplish also helps you get the best possible work out of the person you have hired. For example, last year I hired a designer to build my website, and she did an amazing job. But I never had a website before, and because of that I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted out of the site. I didn’t know how I was going to use it or, more importantly, how I wanted users to interact with it. Even though my designer’s work was excellent, I know that if I had come into the project with clearer objectives, her work would have been even better.

When you are initiating a collaboration with an outside advisor, make sure you are clear on what you want to accomplish.

Are you ready to make changes?  

If something isn’t working in your business or if you want to improve your results, you will need to change what you are doing. Working with a business coach and being unwilling to make changes is like hiring a personal trainer and then refusing to do the workouts. 

For example, I have worked with numerous business owners who are stuck working with clients who are too small to be financially viable. Yet many of them aren’t ready to take the scary-but-necessary step of putting contract minimums in place, and they definitely aren’t ready to “break up with” existing clients.

Take “founder’s syndrome” as another common example. Most small business owners intuitively understand that scaling your business requires you to let go of things, to delegate, and to loosen the tight grip of control that you have had on your business. You have to transition from being the doer-of-all-the-things to being a leader and developer of people. Even though business owners know this, they struggle to trust their teams and delegate control of their business to other people.

Change, even good change, is uncomfortable. Before you hire a business coach, you need to ask yourself whether you are ready to roll up your sleeves and do the uncomfortable work of changing the status quo.

Are your expectations realistic? 

When you finally bring in an outsider to help you with your business, it can be a kind of emotional high. You feel relieved. You feel like you are taking positive steps forward. You feel hopeful that things are changing for the better. 

In short, it’s easy for people to feel like hiring a coach is going make all of their problems go away.

Being a small business owner is hard. Making decisions is hard. Changing the way you do business is hard. Getting the results you want is going to be hard. There are no magic bullets, one-size-fits-all solutions, or tips/tricks/hacks that can change these fundamental facts. If someone is making huge claims like “10x your results” or “get 50,000 email subscribers in 2 days” you need to back away slowly from that person. As the adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Don’t place unrealistic expectations on what your business coach or consultant is going to accomplish for you; they can’t make all of your problems go away. Your coach can be a strong partner to help bear your burdens, enable you to work smarter, and catalyze your efforts so that you progress faster than you otherwise would. Your results may not be miraculous, but they will be meaningful and real.

Engaged Client + Qualified Coach = A Real Game Changer 

If you understand what you want to accomplish, and are ready get to work making positive changes in your business, then working with a qualified coach can be a game-changer. I wouldn’t be doing this work if I didn’t believe that, and I see evidence of it every day when I’m working with my clients. 


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