by Heather K. Terry
You’re about to undergo an invasive operation. The procedure’s being done by a skilled surgeon with an excellent reputation. Her track record’s nearly perfect, and she’s been doing surgeries like this for years.
Fortunately for us, doctors aren’t allowed to operate on people before they study medicine for many years. Before they operate on real live humans, doctors must hone their skill on cadavers until they’re fully qualified to become practicing surgeons. (Grey’s Anatomy anyone?!)
But have you noticed what’s been happening around les internets? There are dozens of smarmy people hiding behind splashy sales pages (in which they’ve invested a ton of cash), offering their services as business coaches.
Yet, the only business these individuals have ever run is their business coaching business. It’s shocking how deceptive a good-looking website can be, convincing many people to invest 5 or 6 thousand dollars into working with the person claiming the ability to help them move their business forward.
I am absolutely sickened by these parasites who’ve taken a few mastermind classes and are calling themselves business coaches. How can you help me grow my business if you’ve never run an actual business?
These people are taking advantage of vulnerable entrepreneurs who are trying to eke out an honest living, when, really, they don’t know the first thing about what it’s like to be in the trenches as a business owner.
If you’re thinking about hiring a business coach, I want you to stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and REALLY listen to what I’m saying to you.
Do not be fooled by a pretty front. Dig deeper before you hire a business coach, and make sure of a couple of things before you waste a penny of your cash or a minute of your time (as cash and time are the most important things you’ve got!).
For starters, make sure the business coach is knowledgeable about your particular business.
I am the co-owner of a packaged goods company. My business partner and I have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share about business in this space because we’ve learned by doing what works and what doesn’t. We know about cold storage, packaging requirements, and what absolute hell it is to ship chocolate across the country.
But we would not be of any help to an online-based service provider, just as a coach specializing in online-based services would be of no help to a packaged goods business.
A great example of this is an entrepreneur who came to myself and my business partner, Jennifer Love, at one time to share her idea about starting a cashew milk company. Great idea, but we knew right away she had a product with massive spoilage issues. This product would have an extremely short shelf life, and we knew from experience that if this woman were to pursue this idea, she would be facing an uphill battle. So, we told her the honest-to-God truth and she decided not to pursue that idea. She saved herself a world of hurt by talking to the right people.
Do you think a coach who had never run a business in the food industry would have thought about this?
Do your homework.
Find out what businesses the coach has been involved in starting and/or operating. If this information isn’t available on his or her website, that’s a red flag, so call and ask for it. If the person has no experience running or starting a business, move on.
Ask to speak to some references.
Once you’ve found a business coach with experience in your line of business, ask for the contact information of three or more clients. Find out from these people whether the business coach was of help to them and whether they felt their investment in his or her services was worth it. Be sure to ask what the business coach did, specifically, to help them and what the result was. Often, when calling around for references we’re happy with the blanket, ‘It was great!’ statement. GET SPECIFIC! Money and time are on the line!
Find out if you can get your money back if things don’t work out.
Ask right up front if the coach offers a money-back guarantee. Many reputable coaches will give you a full refund if you feel you were not able to move your business forward with their advice.
I believe you will get much further ahead by seeking out people who have failed in the business you’re in, and talking to them than you will by spending thousands of dollars on one of these “coaches.”
Because the entrepreneurs who have failed in the business I want to succeed in will teach me where they went wrong. They learned what didn’t work. They have perspective, and that perspective is priceless. Seek someone like that out, or someone who is successful in your space, and offer to buy them dinner, or, if you can, hire them for a consulting contract.
Hiring the wrong business coach is a waste of cash and time, and, as an entrepreneur, those are precious assets that must not be wasted, especially not on snake oil.
Celebrated health coach, cooking instructor, yogi, and writer, Heather K. Terry, is a true health aficionado. Co-founder and COO of NibMor Chocolate, co-founder of the Gluten Free Sugar Cleanse, and a strong advocate of eating real, simply prepared, organic foods and avoiding genetically modified, highly-processed food-like objects. A graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The French Culinary Institute of Manhattan, Heather’s passion for food and nutrition are palpable. www.heatherkterry.com