5 Questions You Should Ask
Before You Choose a Business Coach

You can watch this short 10 minute video or scroll down and read this blog in full. This is not a sales pitch why business owners should have a business coach but rather is an overview of the process you should go through in choosing a business coach.

In this 10 minute presentation I offer some thoughts and 5 questions any business owner should ask a prospective business coach before committing to a relationship.

Hi there, let me ask you a question? Have you ever even considered working with a business coach? And if you did, how did it unfold and turn out for you? Now, I am not going to try to sell you on the idea of business coaching – if you are watching this as a video or reading about it on my blog you probably already understand the benefits of coaching and what it can mean for your long term business success.

What I want to talk about is how you choose a coach. If you type ‘choosing a business coach’ in Google you will get over 60,000,000 results so where the heck do you start? Let me give you a couple thoughts and a few questions to ask to get you started.

My experience is most small business owners do not really understand what coaching is and is not. They often confuse coaching with consulting. Let me give you a quick overview of the differences. As an example let’s say you want to go on a nice day hike into the back country just outside your local city or town and you might even want to take a couple of your key staff with you. You could hire a consultant to help. For a fixed typically one time fee the consultant will put together an incredible day plan for you. They will give you an awesome map to follow and for every lookout or stop on the hike they will have detailed notes about what you are going to see.

On the other hand, the coach is going to ask you some questions to try to understand what is of most interest to you. They will also prepare pre hike instructions and maps and handouts. The difference is the coach will be your tour guide for the day. The coach will meet you at the trail head and start with an overview briefing of what you are going to do and see. The coach will do a quick safety check to make sure everyone has arrived properly dressed, with the right footwear and has the necessary supplies should you encounter challenges. When ready, the coach will lead you on the trail. When you get to a lookout or stop point the coach will describe what you are seeing, hand out the prepared info and answer all your questions. When you are ready you tell the coach where you want to go next and the day continues.

The next important thing to consider is that coaching should be seen as an investment. Every investment deserves a return on that investment or ROI and that is true of coaching. It is not always going to be financial but that is definitely one of the key performance indicators that is simpler to monitor and measure.

I am going to offer 5 questions you need to ask before you choose a coach and discuss each of them in a bit of detail.

Number 1. Can the coach clearly demonstrate how to double your net profits within a year or sooner? Many coaches will tell you what they can do but you need to take it further and get them to show you. Metaphorically, you should be from Missouri which is the SHOW ME state! As an example, I use what I call the Profit Equation Review. It is a simple spreadsheet that numerically demonstrates that by increasing 4 key metrics by as little as 10% over the course of a year or sooner and reducing 1 key metric by only 10% in that same year or less you can increase your NET PROFITS by over 100%. The KPIs we work to increase should all be readily available to every business owner mainly from their bookkeeper or sales or marketing leads. They include new leads generated, conversion rate, average annual revenue per customer and gross margin. The KPI we work to reduce is your fixed costs. In this graphic you can see how the numbers work but again this is just an example and you and your prospective coach need to work through this review with your numbers. As a follow on to this, the coach should be able to clearly explain what specific plans or processes or systems they would work with you to develop and implement to make this all happen for real for you.

Number 2. Does the coach work with a proven framework that has helped thousands of small business owners like you? What is common to all successful businesses large or small is that Systems Run the Business, People Run the Systems and the Owner Leads the People. Let me explain. If you are a parent of a teenager how easy was it to get them to keep their room clean? Remember when you were a teenager and you will probably smile at the thought of feeling harassed by your mom or dad on this. Yet that same teenage can work part time at a fast food restaurant and make a perfect burger or sandwich or whatever every single time. Why? Because the business owner and especially franchises spend massive amounts of time, effort and money to put in place systems that work and the training for their people to run those systems flawlessly.

The same is true for coaching. Does you coach use a proven system or framework that is easily explained and reviewed? My framework is called the 5 Steps to Freedom and has been successfully used to help thousands of small business owners globally for over 15 years. The 5 Steps framework breaks down into 22 Silver Bullets under the 3 categories of Time, Team and Money. Each Silver Bullet has a practical and methodical plan for discussion, implementation, execution, measuring and monitoring.

Number 3. Does the coach offer program options to fit your budget and needs or work with a ‘one size fits all take it or leave it’ approach? Not sure how you feel about this but I personally hate the one size fits all mentality that is highly pervasive in the marketplace. The other extreme is equally challenging – let me customize a program just for you! Price certainty with an associated value proposition is critical in the marketplace – just think about what you offer your clients and customers. You probably already know too few options can be limiting and too many can be confusing. In my case you only have to make 2 decisions. This first is whether you want to have Group or Personalized Coaching and if Personalized is your preferred method then you choose one of three packages. Across the board this gives you the flexibility to fit your objectives to your time and budget. Oh and one last thing on this – I do not ask for a contract with a locked in term with break fees, rather we have an agreement with an exit strategy for both of us if either decides it is just not working.

Number 4. Does the coach’s business background and experience instill confidence? For this one you are going to have to rely, to some extent, on your gut. What you are really looking for here is ‘can I work with this person because I believe they can help me get the success I am looking for?’ Some coaching programs use ‘pooled’ resources so you not even have the same coach every time you meet. Some coaches are highly educated but they have never actually owned or worked in a business. Some coaches suggest you should be coached by someone who is an expert in what you do but think about that for a minute. If you are a plumber or a therapist and already at the top of your game from that trade or profession do you really need to be told how to be a better plumber or therapist? Would you not rather have a coach with a broad range of business experience in various roles and responsibilities? A bit of grey hair, a few scars and the proverbial t-shirts to prove it are not a bad thing. 

Number 5. Does the coach offer a guarantee? This is a tough one but as a business owner you must have your own Unique Sales Proposition and Guarantee to differentiate yourself from your competitors and convert your leads into new customers or clients. If you should have a guarantee of some sort for your customers or clients, should you not expect the same from your coach or any vendor or supplier you pay? Any guarantee should be simple to understand and easy to trigger if needed. There will always be fine print but it should be fair and reasonable. For coaching the guarantee should be tied to measurable objective or outcomes and it should also be tied to some agreed upon timeline. The challenge for coaching is that the owner has a key role in the relationship and the results. Going back to my example of the differences between a consultant and a coach, the consultant really does not need too much involvement from the owner but coaching results are totally dependent on the owner on an ongoing basis. A good coach will review progress on a regularly scheduled basis and highlight where you are ahead or behind so there is no misunderstanding at any point in the process. It is sort of like the probationary period in a new job – a good boss will let you know how you are doing along the way so you can make adjustments as necessary and not wait until day 90 to find out that you have not met expectations.

So there are the 5 questions I recommend you ask or look for with any business coach you are looking at working with. If the coach is unable or unwilling to answer any or all of these questions or pivots to spin or fast talk or obfuscation, that should be a warning sign to you. Coaching has the potential to have a massive impact on the success of your business. This should not be about price – it should be about the results that are generated.

Finally, if you would like to have a conversation with me about coaching in your business feel free to reach out at your convenience. We start with a 15-20 minute business diagnostic call to give me an understanding of your business, what is working and where you would like to see improvements. If we both feel there is merit, we will book a 45-60 minute virtual call where I will show you how to find those improvements, complete your Profit Equation Review and look at your options. It is that simple. To book that 15 minute first call click on the link below!