There are three reasons you should not fly in a two-seater airplane with someone who is not a pilot. The first is you will die. I forget the other two.
The same rule applies to finding a business coach. There are some who are highly effective and possess the ability to get your career off the ground with a vector toward productivity and purpose. Many, though well meaning, do not. They promise to be your "Marketing Aviator" and "Captain of Strategy" but simply don't have the experience or knowledge to deliver. Here are a four ways you can tell the difference between an effective business coach and a pseudo sage.
They have longevity in a single business. Have you known people who went from one business to the next? One month they are in real estate, the next month they are repairing computers. One month they are doing brain surgery, the next month they are selling egg salad. A quality coach has earned success in at least one enterprise for a sustained period time. Long enough to weather the storms in good economies and bad. This is someone who can guide you through the worst of times.
They have a specific strategy for success. Effective Coaching comes from someone who has been where you want to go. They have crossed the finish line over and over and can teach you exactly how to do the same. Strategy coaches Clint Evans and Joshua Lee offer similar advice in their excellent Entrepreneur.com article, "3 Ways to Find The Right Fit When Searching For A Business Coach." Many people today freshly enter the coaching field through programs that offer a certificate. And certification is certainly admirable. Just be sure the certification comes with real world experience and the coach offers a proven, step by step process to get you to your specific goal.
They have real world testimonials. If someone offers to coach you on how to balance on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, you might want to talk with a few people who have gotten to the other side and lived to tell about it. Likewise, make sure you talk with other students who give glowing reviews about their business results. If your coach can't provide that, perhaps you should tip toe in the other direction. Or run.
They offer a personal touch. Group coaching has great benefits and is usually a part of any coaching program but what happens when you have questions? What if your situation is a bit different? Business Coaching Foundation's article, "The Best Business Coaching Sessions Are One On One," makes a good point in that the primary objective for the coach/student relationship is to identify issues and introduce steps to overcome them. That's not always possible in a group setting. Look for a coach that will work with you personally. No mass produced strategy will answer all your specific questions.
Now that I have made enemies of half the coaching world I will change my name to Changpu and move to a small village in Beijing. But the genuine coaches will celebrate. Some business leaders use their experience to change lives. Others pitch their book "How to Get Rich," because they need the money. You should know the difference.
I can say from personal experience, there is no better money spent than on a true coach and mentor. Invest in yourself and do what you are asked to do even when it takes you out of your comfort zone.
Eventually you will solo. You will pilot your own dream as friends and colleagues stand amazed at your progress. I will cheer you on. From the ground.
What has been your business coaching experience?
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