When Should You Hire a Business Coach?

A coach, mentor, trainer, or consultant might be the catalyst you need to take your business to the next level. As high-achieving women entrepreneurs, it’s oddly challenging to ask for help, no less receive it. So how do you know when it’s time to bring in outside help?

  • When you feel like your head is heavier than your car
  • When you’re anxious, confused, or lost
  • When you’re stuck and running in circles
  • When you’re drowning in busy-ness
  • When you’ve done everything right but aren’t getting results

In short: Now. Now is the best time to recruit a mentor or coach. As they say, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Every year you wait to hire adequate help for your business is lost income. I can speak from experience: Early on in my career, I spent a year trying to figure things out on my own, because I can, because I was proud. I’ll show you what I’m capable of! Ugh, how misguided of me. Had I hired a coach sooner, I would have made an extra $118,000.

So how do you choose the right person, the experienced guide who will witness your innermost fears and hold you accountable to your dreams? The first step is knowing what type of help you need. The differences between coaches, mentors, trainers, and consultants are subtle but important.

Imagine you need to get to a store by bike, but you don’t know how to ride a bike.

  • A coach will champion you to find your own way of riding that bike and getting to the store. They’ll ride their own bike alongside you until you figure it out. They’re excellent at getting you unstuck and moving forward. A pure coach, however, might never have been to the store before, so you’ll be figuring it all out together.
  • A mentor will tell you what to do because they’ve done it before you. They’ll put you on the bike, ride in front of you so you can watch, replicate, and follow. They’re excellent at leading you through the shortcuts directly to the store. A pure mentor, however, might not know what to do if you fall off the bike and refuse to get back on.
  • A trainer will show you how to get on, peddle, let you try for a while, adjust your riding technique, and teach you master riding techniques, until you get it just right. They’re excellent at getting you ready to leave the nest. However, a pure trainer will only stand by the curb while watching you ride to the store on your own.
  • A consultant will tell you to go away — they’ll ride the bike themselves, go to the store for you, and deliver your goodies to your front door. They’re excellent at taking things off your plate. We love them! With a pure consultant, however, you still don’t know how to ride the bike yourself and where the store is located.

Your business situation might call for one or a combination of these important supporters. Your business may even need someone who is a combination of a coach/mentor or mentor/trainer. So how do you choose the right person? I recommend that you speak with three potential candidates and ask yourself the following questions — then choose the best match:

1. Do you resonate with the candidate? Do you feel like they’ll understand you so that you can learn, absorb, and implement lessons from this person?
2. Do you like them? So many women underestimate this valuable clue! It’s easy to look for glitz, glam, titles, and accolades in a candidate. But if you don’t like this person, it doesn’t matter how many awesome tips they have — you won’t trust them and you won’t follow through. It’s a fact.
3. Are they qualified? A coach needs to  be certified; a mentor needs to walk the talk; a trainer needs to have experience; and a consultant needs to have a portfolio. Make sure the candidate is well-equipped to support you.
4. Do your values line up? Ask your candidate to list their top five values. Are they similar to yours? Go for gold and hire someone who has at least four out of five of those values.
5. Are they healthy? Is the candidate a millionaire but super stressed, obese, and hasn’t taken a vacation in six years? Is that the path you want to follow? Take a holistic approach to your selection process.
6. Are their relationships happy and healthy? Again, you might not want to emulate a millionaire who never spends time with family and friends.
7. Do you like their voice? You’ll likely be conducting sessions over the phone, so you need to like the person’s voice! I hired an Irish coach once, but I couldn’t understand him half the time. Hire someone who you like conversing with.
8. Are you choosing this person for the right reason? Never make the decision out of lack of money or fear of running out of money. What you focus on expands. The more you focus on a money worry, the more that worry expands. If you want business success badly enough, take 10 steps back and make space for money to come into your life. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

I once invested $6,700 in a mentor to tell me what to do. As naturally creative, resourceful, and whole as I am, I just needed someone who had walked the path I want to walk to tell me what to do. I was sick and tired of trial and error. It was the scariest investment I ever made. What if I don’t make that money back? What if I can’t fulfill what she’s telling me to do? What if I succeed but at the expense of my health and love life? What if? What if? What if?

Well, you know what? I’m still using what my $6,700 mentor taught me and have reaped $40,000 from that investment. So go out, interview three candidates, and stop leaking your earning potential.

Tina Chen is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.

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