Tips on finding the right business coach for you and your small business

Today’s guest poster is Lauran Star.

Believe it or not, today if you do not have a coach in your corner, you are falling behind in business. That’s right – there is ample evidence and studies that demonstrate those with coaches are far more likely to succeed in business and leadership than those who don’t. However, finding the right coach can be tricky as they are now a dime a dozen with a variety of backgrounds. So let me take some of the guesswork out of finding a great coach who will help you make the planned ascent you hope for!

Where do you find a coach?

The best place to start is a personal referral. However, if you do not know anyone who has had a coach, then start on the Internet. Do a search for the particular type of coach you are looking for i.e. leadership coach, relationship coach, and business coach. Go to the coach’s website and look for testimonies and background information. Email the perspective coach and see how quickly they respond. See if they offer a complementary consultation that should focus on YOU – NOT the sale of coaching to you.

Let the coach know you will take 24 hours to make a decision rather than on the spot. Often I find clients go with the first coach they find because they feel pressured. Also as a coach myself, I need a few hours to decide if I want to bring you on as a client. Test drive several coaches – get a feel for the different styles.

What does a positive coaching relationship look like?

Successful coaching relationships come down to just that — a good coaching relationship. There are thousands of great coaches out there, but trust me, there are only one or two who are good for you. It comes down to that personal relationship and style. Most coaches provide a consultation before taking you on as a client. This is for both you and the coach to determine if there is a sound relationship. If this is not offered, move on. The co-creative relationship is sacred and it takes two people—you and the coach—to build.

When you go into the consultation, be prepared to ask questions. Trust me, as a coach I have my list ready because it is more than gaining one new client; it is a relationship and thus needs to work 100 percent for me, too.

Questions to ask your prospective coach:

• Who is your ideal client? It is imperative that the coach you select know his or her ideal clients or the kind of person they will only work with. They also should be direct with answering this – not hedge in fear of losing you as a potential client.

My answer to this question is simple: I work with women who are very take-charge; they are open, honest, and not afraid of the tough questions or the tough action steps that we are going to discuss or put forth. They take accountability, and are willing to make mistakes. They are willing to take risks and understand the benefits of coaching, fully knowing it will take energy and time for success.

In understanding who I am and who I click with personality wise. I know right away if we will work well together when we have the initial consult. Example: If the client immediately starts placing blame elsewhere, this is not going to be a client I am going to work with.

• What is your coaching style? The coach should also know their style of coaching. Some styles are direct, tender, questioning, quiet or shy. Some are pure coaches – meaning they will have you solve all your questions – “you already know that answer you just need guidance in finding it” and some are more hybrid or a cross between coach and mentor – “It’s ok if you do not have the answer – I will help you find one that works because of my own experience.”

I am very direct, and very forward. I am going to call it as I see it. I am going to make you think and work hard. I will ask those questions that will make you uncomfortable. My coaching style is a hybrid of coaching and mentoring. However, realize that being uncomfortable in a co-creative relationship allows for personal growth. I will never judge you. I am your strategic thinking partner concerned with all of your needs.

• What are your credentials? Not all coaches are alike – some are members of the International Coaching Federation, a national group that sets coaching standards. Others will have no professional affiliation, some will have coaching training, some hold a degree in coaching, etc. Remember you get what you pay for…

I have fifteen years of leadership experience with several Fortune 500 companies. I have my master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology and certified in Leadership and Executive Coaching. I am the founder of Lauran Star Consulting LLC where our focus is on Leadership Development and Empowerment (visit for more information).

• In what markets are your clients found? Many do not think of this question; however, if your market is small such as restaurants in Bedford, New Hampshire, does your coach have a conflict of interest? It happens; I recently had to turn away two clients due to a conflict of interest as I was working with their direct supervisor.

My markets are Medical, Financial, Legal, and Engineering. Therefore, if you come to me from the restaurant arena, I will happily refer you to coach who plays in that market, and visit your restaurant as a guest.

Ask your potential coach for success examples. How does he or she see success? How would your potential coach address a situation you’re facing?

Below are questions you need to ask yourself when evaluating a coach after the initial consultation are:

Can you be open and honest with your coach?

Do you feel safe and not judged with that coach?

Does that coach have enough credentialing behind him or her or enough academic learning to be able to be mentally stimulating as well as your thinking partner?

Then putting that all together, does their personality jive with yours?

If, in the end, something does not gel with who you are, move on. I could be the number one coach in the entire universe but not right for you. Again, it comes down to that personal connection; you just have click with your coach. If you do not click, don’t be afraid to let the coach know – and ASK for a referral. If a potential client does not click with me, I refer her to someone I know she will click with.

For more information feel free to reach out to me.

Lauran Star

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