If you aren’t singing the C is for Cookie song right about now, well, I’m not sure we can be friends. It’s been a long time since Sesame Street was part of my voluntary TV repertoire and that lovable blue monster still makes me smile. He was my first coach actually. Granted it was the art of eating cookies with absolute abandon and enjoyment but still. It was a valuable lesson that has served me well the rest of my life. And isn’t that what coaches are supposed to do?

Even if you might not be looking for a coach right now, especially for cookie eating (a noble goal and one I fully support if you haven’t mastered it yet), most of us could benefit from coaching even if we don’t realize it. What kinds of things can coaches help us with?

coaching word graphic

I know I’m missing several hundred categories with the pro’s to match but we’ll focus on business for now.

The key to making the coach experience work for you? Finding the right fit and following your gut. Now if you’ve eaten too many cookies your gut might be off a bit but I’m certain you know instinctively when you meet someone if that relationship is going to work for you. I recommend this partly because the coaching industry is largely unregulated so anyone with an idea and some enthusiasm can hang out a coaching shingle. Many people have found themselves thousands of dollars out of pocket and none the wiser by not researching their coach carefully.

What should you look out for when interviewing coaches? And yes, you should be interviewing! It’s your business and your money. Here’s my top 5:

  1. Recommendations – who have they worked with and will they talk to you about their experience?
  2. Experience – speaking of which: if the coach has all theory and no practical application in the area you need coaching, how are they going to be able to help you?
  3. Education – no, a PhD isn’t everything but post secondary education in the field they claim to be an expert in is probably a good idea.
  4. Workshops – do you have a chance to see this person in action? Take it! Spending $150 to attend a workshop could save you thousands if decide to move ahead with the relationship before finding out the fit is wrong.
  5. Gut Feeling – regardless of pedigree, experience and personality, if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. Trust me. Move on and find someone else.

So after you’ve decided that someone has ticked all the boxes and your gut is happy, how long should the relationship last? That’s a great question. And one that can only be answered once you’re in the relationship. Why? Because as great as most coaches are, they will run out of things to teach you. They will have a limited area of expertise. You will, if they’re doing their job right, outgrow them. And that’s great! Granted you’ll have to repeat the interview process but if you want your business to succeed, you need to be willing to move forward. And that includes different coaches.

In the end, coaching is a two-way street. The coach is usually getting as much out of the relationship as the coachee because it’s a chance to use their skills in new ways, identify areas that they might need to expand and learn more about and push themselves to improve. If the coach looks at the relationship this way, then it will be easy to get testimonials and encourage more people to benefit by their willingness to share their expertise. When I say share, I mean get paid. But please don’t break your budget to pay the most expensive coach you can find. Use the checklist and assign value that way. High fees doesn’t always mean high ROI for you.

I’ve had great experiences with my two coaches and am now on my third. Each one has brought different things to the table, as have I. My business needs have changed and therefore I have new lessons to learn. Regardless of what I went to them for in the first place, I know the coaches I’ve met and benefited from have given me lessons to last the rest of my life.

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