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Ten Tips on How to Select a Business Coach

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Leaders in any field can benefit from a good coach. As the driving force behind your business venture, you should consider a coach who can help you streamline your production processes, improve your marketing initiatives, and contribute to the overall survival and success of your business.

Business coaches, like other types of coaches, often specialize in a specific area; they may focus on career development or they may handle merging cultures during corporate acquisitions. However, use caution when making your decision; business coaching is a self-regulated industry.

Here are 10 tips for finding a business coach who will guide your business down the road to success:

  1. Explore industry associations. The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) is one of the first professional coaching associations exclusively dedicated to business coaching. Membership is selective and based upon eligibility requirements and high standards of ethics, integrity, and professional responsibility.
  2. Ask trusted sources for recommendations. Solicit recommendations from trusted service providers, including your lawyer, accountant, financial planner, banker, HR advisor, or from other business providers.
  3. Zero in on your own needs. Business coaches specialize in a wide range of topics: emotional intelligence, tolerance of turbulence, or assuring corporate profitability, for example. Carefully consider in which areas you most need guidance and find a coach who best suits your needs.
  4. Interview candidates thoroughly. Judiciously interview several business coaches; this will increase your odds of finding the right match for you. This decision is as critical as selecting the right attorney and financial advisor. You want to be cautious and patient.
  5. Draft a list of interview questions. To find a fitting coach for your business, you'll want detailed answers to specific questions. Questions you'll likely want to ask include: What is your background in business? What is your experience coaching business owners? What credentials do you have in coaching or in other related fields? What is your personal coaching style? With what kind(s) of clients do you work best? What are the business issues in which you are most qualified?
  6. Explain your professional situation and solicit feedback. When interviewing potential business coaches, don't be afraid to seek early feedback on your personal business issues. Ask the prospective coach how he or she has assisted others in the past with the issues or challenges that you face.
  7. Compare working styles. Like a therapist or personal trainer, each business coach has a specific style for conducting coaching sessions. Do they typically conduct their sessions in person, on the phone, or via e-mail? How long, and how much, do they charge per session? And perhaps most importantly, how will they deliver feedback to you? Make sure their coaching style suits your needs.
  8. Seek references. Ask potential candidates for a list of references and contact them. It is crucial to determine if your prospective business coach has satisfied clients.
  9. Go with your gut. Solid relationships are built on trust, safety, honesty, support, and quality feedback; the relationship that you form with your business coach is no different. After your interview, reflect upon how you feel about and what you think of your prospective coach. Do you think you can trust them? Could you let your guard down enough to really open up and be honest with this person? Does your gut tell you that this is the right fit or to keep looking?
  10. Have a clear understanding of your mutual roles. An effective business coach helps you build your own capacities and resources to respond more consciously, skillfully, and appropriately to your leadership and management challenges. He or she then guides you to execute your decisions with precision. How will this assistance and support be displayed? How will you react to this help?

Be sure to check out 60-Second Guide to Finding the Right Business Coach for more detailed advice on finding the right coach for you. And for a behind-the-scenes look at the career of a business coach, read Life as a Business Coach: Ray Moore ACMA.

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