For the sake of this article, I’ve used “coach” to broadly describe any coach who helps with business or brand strategy and have shared examples of other professionals, service providers and consultants who are not coaches to illustrate points related to identifying whether a reader needs coaching.

I’ve heard coaches say, “Coaches need coaches,” or “She wants people to pay her, but she doesn’t want to pay for someone to coach her.” For that reason, I’ve always felt a little weird about many coaches. Although very qualified and bringing about results for many people, it felt like the going compliant was that people felt they were getting only friendgirl advice that wasn’t worth paying for, coaches weren’t all they were cracked up to be and that coaches themselves promoted the “you needed a coach” idea to make sure they kept a stream of unexperienced entrepreneurs filing in line to pay them.

That is until I started to think really clearly about the very different reasons all of the above is true and all the reasons it isn’t.

Myth: Coaches need coaches.

Why it’s true: There is always someone above us that knows more. There is always someone who can help us where we can’t see the way.

Why it’s false: Every coach doesn’t necessarily need to engage a coach or consultant they don’t want to work with or one that doesn’t deliver the results they need. Every person proclaiming that someone needs to work with them specifically doesn’t understand that everything or everyone ain’t for everybody.

Myth: She wants people to pay her but doesn’t want to pay someone for their knowledge

Why it’s true: Many people only find value in their time and hard-earned knowledge. They minimize another persons value.

Why it’s false: Many people also may not get how a particular coach could help them, especially if the social proof of the coach is minimal or not displayed prominently, or if the sales call fell flat. They may need time and convincing since some people are not impulse buyers and need a bit more. Additionally, after the sales call or following a coach for sometime, the potential client may already know everything the coach does and may need help in an entirely different field to grow their business. For example, although I can’t ever say I know everything, it will be really hard to convince me that I need a social media coach.

Now that those things are out of the way, there is a basic thing that’s happening today that may be making coaching seem like it has no value. There are so many coaches and with no licensing or educational requirements, you may get someone who can help you or you may not. Also there is so much information that is available that the typical client can easily search and find the information they need. The bar is being raised because information that was once limited to MBA’s is abundant.

On the flip side, what many who are trying to go it alone are finding (speaking from experience here) is that it’s not a matter of available knowledge here. There is only so much information that a blog or a webinar geared toward a wide audience can do for your specific business. For example, if I tell you in a class that you should be blogging and that each post should contain SEO keywords and that these should be natural and included in your H2 headings, you can go do it. But the person who already does this is going to look my class content, think it’s wack and walk away. They may need someone who can very specifically look at why their posts or site isn’t ranking and did deeper to give them very specific guidance around site speed or technical aspects of SEO in order to really bring them value. They need expertise geared towards their unique circumstance. On top of that, they may not even know what they need or how to Google the information to fix it.

The specific help they need could definitely come from a coach. However, it could also come from a SCORE mentor or a friend. But the problem coaches are seeing is people coming TO THEM and expecting the information be free because of it readily being available online or because they could go to SCORE or a friend (I hate when someone audaciously says, “Oh, I could just go to SCORE.” WHY DIDN’T YOU?!) What the client may fail to understand is SCORE is government funded so it’s not without cost. It’s just someone else is paying. With the friend who is delivering value based on a relationship that they have with the person, there is still some exchange of value.  The expectation absolutely can not be that because the information is available elsewhere without charge, that it’s outright a coaches job to educate for free.

So it is obvious from requests for information and signing up for coaches offers that people need coaching. They need some kind of specialized information that can help move them from one way of operating into a more successful way of being.  If you are that person, a coach who has experience with your problems can help you and should be compensated the same way as you pay a wholesaler for inventory, or a pilot to fly you across the country although you could technically “drive yourself”.

So how can you find someone that get you where you want to go?

How You Can Pick A Good Coach

As mentioned before coaches come a dime a dozen. But so do shoes and restaurants and you still manage to find the one that is FOR you. Before finding a coach you need to determine:

What you really need? If you need more customers, branding may not be the help you need. Perhaps marketing, advertising or sales is the problem. So think about the source of the problem you have and be aware of what components affect it. Don’t hire a marketing coach for a supply chain issue.

What kind of business do you have and what customers do you serve? It is helpful if your coach has experience in your business and industry. I once needed to help my aunt sell timber and land. The consultant I reached out to specialized in selling land with timber on it. He gave precise information on exactly what to do. The same is true for your business. Although there are coaches that can help a wide range of clients, if they either have been in the industry themselves or have helped people in the industry, they would have a better handle on how to guide you through the things that affect your business.

Another example: I had a client who wanted to blog to help her grow her entertainment career. I could help her grow her blog, but I couldn’t walk her through how to leverage that to book more acting gigs. She needed a talent agent or some other expert to help her there.

What is the value of having this problem solved and how much can you pay to fix it? The other day, I was talking to one of my mentors and he said that he paid a nice chunk for a CPA. Then he said, “But he saved me thousands of dollars at tax time.” That “chunk” was worth is. In another conversation, a consumer electronics CEO told me he paid $25K for his CPA but the value to him was that he wanted to prepare his business for IPO or acquisition. $25K in exchange for millions or billions makes perfect sense.

When you are looking at hiring a coach, you have to what’s at risk, how much each client or product is worth to you, and the lifetime value of those clients or products. If your consultant can help you reach more clients, sell more products, or lower your cost to increase your profit margins over the lifetime of your business, you can start to see things in terms of how much it costs you NOT to have them help you. Word of caution, success is hard to guarantee so it is important for you to know how to quantify performance and success. Then ask a coach to share whether they can at least educate you or put you on the right path to meet your goals. The accountant, for example, can not make sure the exec will get acquired, but she can put him on the path so he is ready when and if a buyout offer comes up and her fee will be well-earned.

Are you committed to the outcome? Coaching can only do so much. At times, I have been completely uncoachable. I’d get information and I’d find every excuse not to do what I was supposed to do. So I also could spot it in clients who found it hard to complete homework or who had mental blocks that wouldn’t see why I’d asked them to do an assignment in the first place. In order to be successful with any coach, you have to do your piece. You have to trust the process and do the work. When you are identifying the best person for you, find out what kind of work you must commit too in order to move you forward. Each style is different, but most of the people that have helped me required me to do some sort of reading, research, planning, exercise or SOMETHING so that I wasn’t just listening and not taking action even if that action was having a service provider do something for me to help me do my coaching homework. Find someone who can put some fire under your butt and hold you accountable.

All Coaching Doesn’t Have To Look The Same For It To Be Successful

Some coaches coach you one-on-one, some do group coaching, some do masterminds, some send you a workbook and make you work through it. Coaching is a very individualized thing and so their style and your response to it will differ. For this reason, you should court your coach to see if their style will work for you.

And still, you may or may not get the results you wanted. Although, I’m not sure if Marie Forleo considers herself a coach, but her program works great for some people and others complain that they lost money on it. The truth is that business depends on so many outside features beyond knowledge, skill or a great product. A business exactly like yours can do something and not have the same success. I see Lyft not having the same success as UBER so I think being honest and understanding the risk will save many of us from feeling jilted if coaching doesn’t have typical results.

There are absolutely ways you can limit risks but they can’t absolutely be eliminated. So it’s worth it to be clear on what you need, be committed to changing your outcome, and finding a coach who is qualified to move you toward your goal.

Already have a coach or have you worked with on in the past? Tell me your experience and share any advice you have for those in the market for one.

Need coaching from a marketing director? Reach out to me via the contact page and we can see if I’m the girl for you.