If you’re in the process of starting a business or trying to improve the current state of a business, you’ll probably seek the help of a professional business coach. These professionals can go by many different names: coach, guru, consultant, maybe even wizard. No matter what they call themselves, you need to be able to tell the difference between someone that is going to help your business and someone who is going to waste your time, money, and possibly do some damage to your business.
We’re living in a new age of DIYers, self-made and self-taught experts, and those who might look the part but have nothing more to offer than a facade. That being the case, we’re going to dive into a few signs to look out for that will help you separate the real experts from the phonies.
“My Way or the Highway” Solutions
A good coach will listen to your pain points and craft solutions that best fit your situation and your resources because while they may be the expert, they still work for you. If a business coach is persistent in forcing you into a box of solutions that fit their limitations more than they fit your needs, that would be a sign to walk away and continue your search. This is not to discredit specialists, but rather to ensure that you’re working with someone who has the solutions that best fit your pain points. A simple way to put it is: the more experienced and prepared expert will have a larger toolbox than the rookie who swears by their 1-3 tools for every problem.
Smoke and Mirrors and Manifestations
Many of us are well aware that having the right mindset and attitude is extremely important, but it isn’t the end all be all. Be cautious when encountering coaches and gurus who rely on quotes, motivational smartphone backgrounds, and good vibes to make your business more successful; these individuals are most likely hypemen/hypewomen disguised as business experts. While being in the right headspace and having trust in your intuition are very valuable, you must not forget to have a viable plan to execute and optimize.
The Surprise Money Pit
The saying goes,” You have to spend money to make money”, and while this is true to some extent, a true expert will know that there are plenty of practical and popular ways to level up your business without making heavy withdrawals from the bank. Some business coaches will tell you to rely heavily (or exclusively) on advertising, influencer marketing, cutting prices, or maybe even a new product management software that costs a pretty penny for features that you don’t need or could recreate in-house. This is where you’ll want to consult your CFO/finance person and probably your marketing team to see what you can afford and if any of these solutions are unnecessary. If possible, find a coach with experience working with both corporations and small businesses; they will often have inexpensive or free solutions that yield similar or better results.
There you have it, three red flags to watch out for when choosing and working with business coaches. While these aren’t the only red flags to watch, they are definitely big ones that can make or break the relationship between your business and a business coach. Also, it never hurts to get second opinions from other vetted experts (shameless Copper & Vine plug)!