Coaching seems to be really in these days. It seems like you can hire a coach for nearly anything: a productivity coach, a life coach, a spiritual coach, a family coach.

Among all of them, one of the most popular types of coaches is a business coach.

But business coaches seem to be a dime a dozen today, and unfortunately, many of them turn out to be a hoax. They reach out to you and connect with you in some way. They start a conversation with you and genuinely seem interested in you and your business. You start talking about some of the challenges you are experiencing.

Then, the “coach” shifts the conversation, planting glorious visions of reaching your dreams, setting your own schedule, and making millions in your head. You get caught up in those beautiful images, and suddenly, you find yourself signing an agreement for “coaching”, although you aren’t really sure what it is or what you’re actually going to get from it.

Were you just scammed? Maybe, maybe not.

In this article, we will explain what business coaching is, what it isn’t, and how to avoid scams and find the best business coach for you.

What is Business Coaching?

Business coaching is an engagement that involves an individual (an entrepreneur, business owner, or executive leader) and a professional, like-minded entrepreneur. A business coach helps individuals navigate personal and professional challenges to help them see their businesses differently and grow them to the next level.

As we wrote here, a business coach is:

    • A mentor
    • A motivator
    • An accountability partner

A business coach’s role is to:

    • Assist with goal-setting and planning
    • Assist with turning those goals into actionable plans
    • Help clients find the answers within themselves

    A business coach is NOT:

      • A salesperson who helps you close deals
      • A personal assistant or an employee
      • A therapist

    A business coach doesn’t do the work for you.

    Think of business coaching like this:

    Imagine you are back in high school, and you are a quarterback on your school’s Varsity football team. You’re out on the field and missed an important play. Your coach blows the whistle and calls a time-out. You jog shamefully to the sidelines to join the rest of your team in the huddle.

    What do you do then? Do you tell your coach you are having a horrible game and ask him to play for you? Of course not. You would be laughed out of the stadium. You suck it up and finish out the game strong. Your business is just like that.

    Another example is working with a personal trainer. You hire a personal trainer to help you build muscle, strength, and lose weight. To reach those goals, you must show up to the gym. Does the personal trainer lift weights for you? Of course not.

    A successful business coaching engagement is a commitment. It is a partnership with chemistry and trust serving as its foundation. It’s up to you to show up, do the work, and put in the effort. It’s only when you put in the effort that you will be able to reap the benefits. If you aren’t able to grow your business or reach its goals, that’s not your coach’s fault (unless he or she literally didn’t show up); you are the one who has to act.

    What Business Coaching is NOT

    Business coaching is more popular than ever. But is it a scam? In general, no, but here are some things to watch out for:

    The Barrier to Entry to Becoming a Coach is 0

    There aren’t any barriers to entry in the field of coaching, which means anyone can wake up one morning and call themselves a “coach”. This is especially true today in our post-COVID era. Many professionals in transition decided to take an online course or two and then call themselves a coach. When you combine the completion of a well-known course with their experience, they appear to have more skills and experience than they really have.

    Beware of “Run-of-the-Mill” Organizations

    Yes, there are some coaching organizations out there that offer “run of the mill” type coaching services. These organizations sell coaching to entrepreneurs and businesses like used car salesmen, dangling the possibility of “making millions” right in front of them, but who don’t really care about their future and then disappear after the agreement is signed.

    How to Choose the Right Coach

    On the other hand, there are good, reputable, and valuable coaching programs out there. Good business coaches coach with a purpose, making the entrepreneur accountable for his or her success in the program. In fact, hiring a business coach might be one of the best investments you make. But it’s about choosing the right coach.

    A good business coach does the following:

      • Actively listens
      • Stimulates individuals to think of possibilities by setting clear and specific goals.
      • Assists individuals in working through and reducing negative or limiting beliefs and thoughts by providing tactics and restructuring and reframing questions
      • Facilitates self-reflection by examining their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. As a result, individuals gain insight into their cognitive patterns and recognize areas for improvement and change.
      • Organizes feedback and holds individuals accountable for their actions and their own business growth.
      • Supports individuals in understanding the importance of as well as developing emotional intelligence to become better leaders and business owners.

    So, is business coaching a scam? In general, no. Are there some people and businesses out there who are? Yes. I was scammed by a flower delivery company on Mother’s Day in 2023. Does that mean every flower delivery service is a scam? No.

    When selecting a coach, be sure this person has the depth and experience to provide you with the guidance you seek and the ROI you deserve. Does the coach need to have an MBA? Not necessarily, but it’s up to you to decide what and who you are looking for in a coach. Much like you would shop around to find the right doctor or surgeon, you should do the same when looking for a business coach.

    Is a Business Coach Right for You?

    Have you considered working with a business coach? If you have considered it but are still unsure, ask yourself the following questions:

      1. Are you ready to put in the work?
      2. Are you ready to make a commitment?
      3. Are you prepared to take accountability for your actions and your role in your business?
      4. Are you prepared to make some decisions?
      5. Are you prepared to invest in your business—and in yourself?

    If you answered “YES” to these, then you have a high success rate with working with a coach and seeing the ROI you want and deserve in your business.

    How do you know if you need a business coach? Not every entrepreneur or leader indeed needs a coach. If you aren’t sure, take our free assessment to get an understanding of the health of your business and where coaching might benefit you.