Hiring a coach could be the best thing you ever do for your business. We should know — we’ve doubled our revenue year after year at Growth Tools in large part due to the coaches we’ve hired, including:
- A sales coach.
- A project management coach.
- A webinar coach.
- A CEO coach.
Hiring the right business coach feels like passing “Go” in Monopoly. You make more money without working any harder than you did before.
Because you don’t have to figure out your next step. You have someone there to tell you what you need to do and how to do it. You spend less time on random tactics that might not work and more time executing.
Still, hiring a coach can be a gamble. If you hire the wrong person, you’re left with more problems … and a lighter wallet.
How do you make sure to hire the right person?
That’s what this blog is all about. We’ll show you:
- Step #1: How to describe the problem you’re facing so you know exactly what you need from a potential coach.
- Step #2: How to define the end result you want using the “Magic Wand Test” to make your goals crystal clear for potential coaches.
- Step #3: Where and how to find business coaches — we’ll explain where to look and why you can get creative with your outreach.
- Step #4: How to evaluate potential coaches using a simple four-step process to ensure you’ll get results and enjoy working together.
“Business coaching” is vague. This process helps you determine what kind of business coach you need so you get specific, reliable help for the exact problems you’re facing in your business.
Step #1: Identify Your Problem
First, ask yourself, “What is the problem I want to solve?”
The question seems simple, but it’s where we see most people stumble when they’re looking for business coaching.
That’s because the first problem you think of is rarely the underlying problem you need to fix.
It’s not specific enough.
For example, if your sales start to dip, most people would think to hire a sales coach. But “sales” can mean a lot of things. A sales coach can help you:
- Improve CRM adoption.
- Rewrite your sales scripts.
- Be more consistent with outreach efforts.
The list goes on.
For example, we hired someone for GrowthTools to help us overcome a specific sales objection. Then we were able to improve our close rates by 5x in just 12 months.
How do you get those same results? Start with the “Five Whys.”
The Five Whys is a method of getting to the root of any problem by asking “Why?” a grand total of — you guessed it — five times.
This will help you move beyond the obvious, surface-level problem and on to the real issue. Not only is that key to solving the issue, but it helps you know which coaching niche to turn to for help.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your problem is, “My course sales are in a slump this quarter.”
Start with the first why: “Why is that?”
The answer could be something like “Webinar sign-ups are down, so I’m not getting in front of people.”
Well, why’s that?
See how that need evolved? At the beginning, you might have thought you’d need a “course sales coach” or “course marketing coach.” By the end, you know you need someone specifically to help you with Facebook Ads creative and targeting.
Step #2: Define the End Result
Now that you know what problem you need to solve, you also need to define your desired end result. This result statement will be your guide as you look for coaches and evaluate their methods.
One way to do this is to use the “Magic Wand Exercise.”
Here’s how it works.
Imagine you have a magic wand and can fast forward 90 days after you hire your coach. What would you like your end result to look like? Write out a bullet point list of what you imagine (business goals, what you do and don’t want to try, and so forth).
Your list could look something like this:
- I’ll have a clear business growth plan.
- I’ll be 100% confident in the execution of it.
- Our revenue will increase by 10%.
- I’ll feel good about the team we have to execute it.
- Everyone on the team has a clear understanding of what they need to do to contribute.
- And so on.
Keep going until you have 10 to 15 bullet points detailing what your specific result will look like 90 days from now. Here’s what I came up with a few years ago to find a fitness coach:
You can even copy the exact prompts from my doc for your own use:
- My #1 goal for [time period]:
- My current situation:
- What I’m looking for:
When you have your desired result outlined, you’re ready to start looking for a new coach.
Step #3: Find Potential Coaches
After completing Step 1 and 2, you should know the skill set and coaching style you’re looking for in an online business coach.
Now let’s talk about the three types of people who could coach you. We’ll talk more about how and where to find them in the next section. They are:
People Who Market Themselves as Coaches
Official coaches are usually the easiest people on this list to find. This includes anyone who has experience as a coach and calls themselves a coach.
People Who Aren’t Coaches but Have Real Life Experience That Can Help You
Maybe you’ve heard of a business leader in a specific area. This could be an author, speaker, or course creator. If they have the experience you need, you can reach out to them and ask for help.
Want to create an email list of 10,000 subscribers? Find someone who has done it and ask them to coach you.
Keep in mind that these types of people will be harder to get because they’re not actively offering coaching services. You may have to be more consistent in your outreach before you hear a response. Don’t spam your potential coach, but send a couple of polite emails.
Bonus points if you build a relationship with your coaching target before you actually need the coach. Then when you have an ask, you’ll have a much better chance of receiving a response.
Resources Like a Blog, Book, or Course
If you want a coach but can’t afford one right now, we’d still recommend going through the entire process outlined in this article.
- You may find a coach that’s more affordable than you thought.
- You’ll better understand your goals and problems when you’re done.
- You’ll know who to contact once you can afford a coach.
- You may find helpful resources such as a blog, course, or eBook that you can use in the meantime.
Even if you can’t afford to pay a coach, it’s okay to use free resources or courses to take your business to the next level. You can even just study someone’s success and reverse engineer it for your own business.
Just know that you won’t get the same accountability or personalized guidance that a coach will give you.
Here’s What to Avoid When You’re Looking for a Coach
Knowing what to avoid when you’re looking for a coach is almost as important as knowing what to look for.
If you’re looking for one-on-one coaching time, a “mastermind” or group coaching can’t replace the undivided attention of an experienced coach for a few hours a month. There’s nothing wrong with either as long as they’re used correctly. In fact, we’ve used them both, and we currently offer a mastermind in addition to coaching for all of our clients.
A mastermind is not a substitute for one-on-one guidance and personalized attention.
Repeat after me:
Group coaching programs …
Are not a substitute …
For personalized, one-on-one coaching sessions.
It’s become a trend in the past few years to add “coaching” (aka, a twice-per-month video call with 20 other people) to a $997 course to 2x or 3x the price. Unfortunately, the success rates of these programs don’t increase by the same amount.
A course is self guided, even with group coaching included. You have to figure out action steps on your own and adapt the course instructions to your business. You’ll get input when it fits on the group-coaching call, but in our experience, this isn’t enough to make clients consistently successful. If you want the highest success rates, one-on-one coaching has no comparison.
In fact, that’s why we pivoted two years ago from an online course that earned us millions of dollars to one-on-one coaching. Even though courses are more profitable, coaching produces better success rates for our clients (which we track because we think it’s cool).
So if you’re thinking about purchasing a course that includes group coaching, ask yourself, “If the group coaching weren’t included, would I still purchase this course at this price?”
If yes, go for it.
If the answer is no, or the coaching is a premium upsell, go ahead and pass.
In general, masterminds are great.
In fact, I’ve been in a mastermind group for five years with a group of peers. Going through life with people who understand what you’re doing and can rally around you is powerful. You get to learn from your peers and be inspired by what they’re working on.
But it’s not the same as having someone there to guide you every step of the way.
Together, coaching and a mastermind form the ultimate combo. You get the support and serendipity of improving alongside other people like you, and the accountability and guidance that only a coach can provide.
If you think a mastermind plus coaching setup sounds awesome, check out our latest program. Access coaches who led launches worth more than $1MM in revenue, all while meeting with a group of motivated peers who execute alongside you.
Where Should You Look for Coaches?
Where should you look for a good business coach?
The short answer: Almost anywhere.
The longer answer: Get creative.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Your Network
Your network is one of the first places to look for a coach. Ask people you respect for referrals. Bonus points if you know a successful business leader who’s a step or two ahead in a similar journey to yours. Ask them if they can recommend a coach who helped them when they were in your position.
2. People You Follow
This can mean people you follow on social media, authors you read regularly, or thought leaders in general. Don’t overthink it. If you know of someone who has the experience and expertise you need, add them to your list. You never know if they’ll respond to your request with a “Yes,” or at least some helpful advice.
3. Online Search
Use a search engine like Google or a site such as LinkedIn and do a simple search for “[insert your need here] coach.” This could be “executive coach,” “marketing coach,” or “public speaking coach,” to name just a few examples. Keep your searches broad, then dive into the search results to get more specific.
4. More Creative Methods
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Some people have found success meeting local business coaches. Others find a coach through blog content they’ve written (check out our online coaching program for coaches and course creators here 🙂). You could even host a podcast and interview 20 potential experts on the topic and hire the best one (we know someone who actually did this).
You don’t have to spend that much effort, but the point is that you don’t have to stick to “traditional” methods to find the right coach.
Step #4: Evaluate Potential Coaches
However you find potential coaches, you still have to filter candidates until you find the one that’s right for you.
To do that, ask yourself four questions about each potential coach:
Let’s walk through each question.
1. Have They Done It Before?
By “it,” we mean “coached other people and helped them get great results,” if you’re talking about a full-time coach. “It” can also mean business experience, aka, “used a repeatable process to get the result you want.”
2. Do They Have a Method?
What’s the number one thing that separates a pro from an amateur? Hint: It’s not years of experience. People can do something for years without being great at what they do. Or, they might not have the coaching skills they need to help other people do it.
Great coaches have a process.
Pro sports players come up with strict workout regimen and pre-game rituals that they use before every event. Professional designers follow a rigorous process to create consistently great designs.
It’s the same way with a coach.
If they’ve taken the time to break down business success into a step-by-step process, it’ll be much easier for you to follow. And if it’s battle tested, it’ll have a much better chance of working for you.
An ideal scenario could look something like this: You visit the website of a prospective hiring coach. Right away, you see text that says, “Hey, are you having trouble hiring someone? If so, we have a three-step process that guarantees you’ll hire an A-level fit almost every time. Here’s the process … ” followed by an explanation.
Usually, finding the coach’s process isn’t that direct and obvious. Sometimes you’ll see “Here’s how we work together,” or a simpler “Our process,” with fewer details.
If you want to know more, just ask. Most good coaches are excited to share their process in detail.
Just make sure you “get” the process relatively quickly. You might not understand all the details, but you should have a basic understanding of how the process works. You should be able to picture it working for you, too.
3. Do They Have Verifiable Proof?
Look for proof that the process works, and that it works for people like you. Start by reading testimonials, then follow up by asking to talk with real clients.
Ask the clients how they liked the experience of working with the coach, if they reached the goals they set, and how they’d rate the coach’s expertise. Talk to two or three previous clients to make sure the results are consistent, not just one-off wins.
4. Do You Like the Person and Want to Work with Them?
If the prospective coach passes all three of the first criteria, congratulations! Now it’s time for the final step: The gut check. Do you want to work with this coach? Do you enjoy talking to them?
Also keep their coaching process in mind. Do they help with mindset? Or are they giving you action steps to complete?
It’s normal to have a meeting during the sales process to see if you’d be a good match. See if you enjoy the conversation and want to continue. Then make your decision.
Choose the Best Business Coach for You
If you want to find a great coach, you need to put in the work up front to define your problem and end goal in detail. Let’s review our roadmap:
- Get really clear on your problem (remember, this is the most important step!).
- Get really clear on the end result you want to achieve.
- Find a handful of potential coaches.
- Evaluate each one.
Remember how we said a blog can help you progress if you don’t have a coach? And remember how the best coaches have a method to produce real, consistent results?
Consider this blog your coach for finding a coach. Follow the method above, and you can find a great coach in 30 days or less — if you put in the work.
Looking for a Marketing Coach?
If you are:
- A course creator
- A coach or consultant
- An agency owner
… and you want to grow your business beyond six figures, let’s talk. Our marketing coaching program gives you a step-by-step marketing plan to grow your business. You’ll follow proven marketing strategies that we’ve tested on ourselves and hundreds of other small business owners, all while getting personalized feedback on your progress.