I was an energy efficiency engineer for most of my professional career. When I entered a building, my wife would catch me looking at the lights in the building to see if they were using efficient lights. After selling my engineering firm six years ago, I’ve been a business coach. Within five minutes after meeting a business owner, we’re talking about ways they can grow their business. It’s hard for me not to be passionate about my profession and other’s businesses. In both my engineering and business coaching work, I’ve been the outside expert looking at someone else’s problems. Frankly, it’s easy to see what others can do to improve their facility for energy efficiency or their business for growth and profitability.
What is NOT easy is seeing your own problems clearly and then solving those problems without an outside perspective. As I grew my engineering business over 16-years, I paid over $500,000 for consultants. Some made a positive difference in my business while educating me in the finer points. I also hired some duds that cost me a lot of money and offered little help. The RIGHT business coach can cost you very little money and revolutionize your business.
The Business Owner’s Challenge
Here’s your challenge as a business owner. It’s not as easy for you to see how you can benefit from a relationship with the “right” business coach. You want to succeed in your business. You’ve tried several different tactics that haven’t worked out the way you wanted. You’ve tried to pay for help in the past only to see your bank account balance drop. You’re doubtful you can ever find the help you need at an affordable price.
There are three questions that most small business owners ask when they seek help from a business coach:
These are understandable questions, but they won’t result in you finding the business coach who will ultimately help you become a successful business owner. Let’s cover each question and see how you can transform these questions into ones that WILL ultimately help you find the right business coach.
Does this coach know how to grow my business?
Let’s cover this first question… “Does this coach know how to grow MY business?” Implied in this question is a sense of knowledge and experience that will directly apply to your business. While there are several smart business coaches who exist in the world, there’s not ONE who can KNOW how to grow YOUR business.
Let’s unravel this question a little further. Let’s say you want to grow a successful business that writes inscriptions on birthday cards. Of all the businesses in the world, less than 1% of the population has experience writing sayings for birthday cards. It’s likely that 0.1% of that population is now coaching small business owners. This means that when you search on Google for business coaches who help birthday sayings businesses, you come up empty.
I do believe that business experience is a must for any business coach. Just don’t look for experience in your specific marketplace. If you find a coach who has this experience, it’s a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that they understand your industry. The curse is that they have the same limiting beliefs that others, including you have with your industry.
The only person who knows how to grow your business is YOU. But you say, “Jeff, if I knew how to grow my business, I wouldn’t be looking for an experienced and knowledgeable business coach!”
The knowledge and experience you need is in business. It’s not necessarily in your industry. This business knowledge is often gained by business experience. Experienced and successful business leaders quickly see how your business can capitalize on opportunities. That’s the kind of wisdom you seek.
My most successful clients are the ones who have epiphanies during our coaching sessions that positively change their business forever. After these epiphanies, my clients change their mindset to continue their success long after our coaching relationship has ended.
Let’s rephrase your question into something that will get you headed in the right direction. How about this? “How can this coach help me unlock the potential in me and my business?”
How much will business coaching cost?
Let’s cover the second question… “How Much will business coaching cost?”
Cost is a great question, but it’s limiting. There are business coaches who cost $50 per session and business coaches who cost $5,000 per session. It’s a popular notion that the more expensive business coach will help you more than the cheap business coach. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
To understand what you should pay for business coaching; you first must consider what you need as a business owner.
If you’re a business newbie, I suggest you don’t hire a coach at all. There are plenty of free or low-cost resources to help you learn enough facets of business to write and execute a simple business plan. I offer a very low cost course myself that I call “Starting Your Business from Scratch”. This is a training platform that’s much less expensive than hiring a business coach. If you hire a business coach to train you on business, you’ll overpay for basic business training.
If you’re a struggling entrepreneur who has completed a business plan, but still needs help successfully executing your business, you can enroll in a business coaching group. These groups cost from $100 to $1,000 per month. The more expensive groups often include a monthly individual coaching session in addition to group meetings. The challenge when you’re struggling in your business is that you have difficulty seeing your problems and solutions clearly. In a group setting, you’ll see how others overcome their challenges giving you the confidence that you can do the same.
If you’re an established business owner but are convinced you’re missing opportunities. You should consider hiring a business coach for individual coaching sessions. Rather than focusing on the fees being charged by a prospective business coach, focus on the upside benefit you’ll receive if you’re successful in your coaching relationship. If you can increase profits by $1M per year, then paying $4,000 per session for four sessions a month, may be a good investment.
While the fees a coach charges you are certainly a large part of the cost of business coaching, the largest cost of hiring a business coach is your time and opportunity. If you’re paying a coach $1,000 per session, and your time is worth $500 per hour, you are paying $1,500 per session because you’ll be investing your time as well. The even larger cost is your opportunity cost. If you have an opportunity to increase your company’s profits by $1M per year, and you spend six months with a business coach who doesn’t help you capitalize on this opportunity, you have lost $500k because you hired the wrong business coach.
If you engage with individual coaching, most coaches offer differing frequencies of coaching sessions. If you want quick change and are willing to do the work on a weekly basis, you should invest in weekly coaching sessions. If you’re too busy to take this time on a weekly basis, you should consider less frequent sessions at a lower monthly cost.
Let’s now rephrase your question. Instead of asking, “How much will business coaching cost?”, you should be asking, “How much can I afford and expect to get back for my investment in business coaching?”
How will I know this coach is the right one for me?
Now, let’s cover the third question, “How will I know this coach is the “right one” for me?” That’s a great question! The right coach for you will be the one who helps you achieve the next desired transition in your business. Unfortunately, you won’t know this until you hire that coach and start working with him or her.
Most coaches offer a free consultation, a discovery session, or a complimentary coaching session. I encourage you to complete a complimentary coaching session with a coach before you hire him or her. In this initial session, your prospective business coach is trying to see what you want to accomplish in a coaching relationship. A good business coach will ask you questions about your business and probe about your personality, emotional state and try to understand your business acumen.
On the coach’s side of this conversation, they’ll be trying to discern if they want you as a client. As a business coach, I want to coach a business owner who has the desire to succeed and is willing to do the work it takes to be successful. I won’t coach someone who is close-minded and defensive.
On your side of this conversation, you need to judge whether you trust the business coach’s ability to help you. You can ask questions about their business experience, their coaching approach, results they’ve helped others like you achieve, and the typical questions about cost and scheduling.
At the end of your call, or shortly afterward, your prospective business coach should give you a proposal on coaching you. In this proposal, they should rephrase your challenges that they heard during the call. They should describe how a coaching relationship with them will help you break through those challenges. They should also outline the cost and terms of their coaching agreement.
I recommend that you interview three prospective business coaches before you decide on the one that is right for you.
What if you hire the wrong business coach?
So, what if you hire the wrong coach? As diligent as you are in the interview process, you may still hire a dud business coach. If this happens, make sure there is an affordable way to cancel your coaching agreement. The only way that you know you’ve hired a good business coach is if your business improves substantially during your coaching relationship. If It doesn’t you need to cut ties and find one that works for you.
I hope this blog post helps you find the help you need. You can learn more about Mechanics & Mindset Business Coaching at www.mmbizcoach.com; or set up a free discovery session to set up a time to talk in person.
I write a blog post and record a podcast weekly. I write/talk on business advice, small business turn around stories, political interaction with business, business mindset and spiritual intersection with business matters. If you want to get email reminders when I post something new, please sign up.