6 Mistakes That Derail Your Success When Hiring a Business Coach

Image of the blog title, 6 Mistakes That Derail Your Success When Hiring a Business Coach

By: Kathleen Ries-Jubenville   |    Read time: 11 minutes


You may have heard the statistic that 50% of businesses fail in less than five years. Studies have shown that, of those that failed, over 70% never had a plan or asked for any help.

New business owners often try to figure everything out on their own because they have excellent technical skills and great communication skills and maybe even an advanced college education.

They have a false believe they already have enough knowledge to build a business alone, but they were never taught the skills they need to succeed as an entrepreneur.

And they don't even know the right questions to ask. It's a new experience. How could they know?

That was my story! I had a college degree in finance and over a decade of experience in corporate management and accounting roles when I started my first business...a QuickBooks bookkeeping and consulting firm. But I still had NO IDEA how to run my business in the beginning. I needed help. So I hired a business coach and learned how to grow my business over the next twelve years. I successfully scaled it to the point where I was able to sell it!

Now, I am a business coach helping other entrepreneurs build their own profitable and enjoyable businesses.

But not all business coaches are the same. Buyer beware!

It is very important to do your research and try out your potential business coach before deciding to work with them. I've put together some tips to help you successfully navigate the process.

Here are the top six mistakes entrepreneurs make when hiring a business coach. The rest of this article will explain how to avoid these mistakes to hire the right coach for your situation.

  1. Hiring a business coach who doesn't have the right credentials
  2. Hiring a business coach who doesn't focus on accountability
  3. Hiring a business coach who doesn't have a process that adjusts to your needs
  4. Hiring a business coach who doesn't ask good questions or give clear guidance
  5. Hiring a business coach who doesn't align with your values
  6. Hiring a business coach who doesn't charge what they are worth

1. Hiring a business coach who doesn't have the right credentials

The first mistake that many entrepreneurs make when they are interviewing business coaches is they do not know what credentials to look for in their coach.

Your business coach needs to have big corporate executive management experience. This provides them with an understanding of how big businesses implement and apply top-tier, professional systems. They should be able to help you adapt scaled-down versions of these systems to expedite the growth of your small business.

They also need to have started and built a successful entrepreneurial venture of their own. This will give them first-hand experience of both what doesn't work and what does work in a small business. You can then skip all the trial and error they had to go through which will also accelerate your success.

Finally, they should be life-long learners, investing time and money to obtain specialized certifications and support from their own coaches. If they have not continued their education or if they do not have a growth mentality, they will have a difficult time inspiring you to get out of your comfort zone to develop your entrepreneurial skills.

But, more importantly, they need to be working with a coach too. I have had many coaches over my career, including health and wellness coaches, mindset coaches, and business coaches. Every one of them contributed some important element to my personal development and ability to take actions for my success and be able to help my clients do the same.

What don't they need? Experience in your industry. You are the expert in your industry. It is not the coach's job to have all the answers about your kind of business. The coach's job is to ask you great questions, help you brainstorm ideas, and determine what course of action to take, including how to get specialized help, when needed. The success principles of growing a business are the same in every industry!




2. Hiring a business coach who doesn't focus on accountability

The next mistake many small business owners make when hiring a business coach is they don't ask about the accountability process.

Your business coach needs to document the discussion during your sessions, along with your goals and commitments. Then, during each session, your commitments need to be reviewed. Perhaps you took the action you discussed last time. Or maybe you decided it wasn't the right step to take after all. Or, you just didn't get it done. You can discuss the situation and determine how you want to move forward over the next week or two.

Your coach should also help you set long-term and short-term goals, at least quarterly. These goals will help you decide where to apply your focus and what actions to take. You will be wasting valuable resources to accomplish tasks that don't move you in the direction of the goals you set. You might say 'yes' to a seemingly good opportunity, only to realize you should have said 'no' because it doesn't actually take you where you want to go. A coach will help you evaluate your opportunities so you are efficient and effective with your time.

Finally, your coach should help you determine a set of Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. They should be updated monthly to measure your business activities. Examples of activities to measure are the number of networking events you attend or blogs you publish. And, be sure to include results, such as how many client leads you received and how many sales calls you closed. In addition, your KPIs should include financial data, so a business coach with an accounting background is a huge plus. Then you and your coach can evaluate the effectiveness of your business activities by examining the results they achieved and adjusting your goals for the next month.

3. Hiring a business coach who doesn't have a process that adjusts to your needs

Another mistake business owners make is hiring a business coach who only specializes in one area of business.

It's alright to do this for specific initiatives and projects in your business. For example, if you only want to build a successful sales funnel, hire a coach or consultant to help you accomplish that goal.

But for overall growth - and the development of business systems that allow you to scale your business - you need a well-rounded coach who can identify areas for improvement and work on any or all of them with you.

My list of the six key business systems are leadership, management, finance, marketing, sales, and customer service. In the interview process with your potential business coach, explore how much they know in each of these categories to assess their overall knowledge and ability to help you.

The benefit of hiring a coach with a breadth of business acumen is that they will be able to shift the focus of your coaching sessions to the area you and your business need to work on in that moment.

When I first start working with a client, they are usually either struggling to get clients or frustrated by all the work they are doing by themselves (either they don't know how to hire a team or they are not delegating well to their existing team). These are very different problems! If you need help with marketing and sales right now, you don't want to hire a business coach who always starts with leadership and management skill development.

Your coach should be able to adjust the focus of their standard sessions to develop the business processes that will meet your immediate needs and solve your immediate problems.

4. Hiring a business coach who doesn't ask good questions or give clear guidance

The fourth mistake entrepreneurs make when hiring a business coach is that they don't take into consideration the communication skills of the coach.

They might prioritize the coach's experience or hear a great sales pitch and forget about evaluating soft skills, especially their communication style.

A business coach communicates in two ways with their clients.

First, a coach is trained to ask great questions. They are aware that you have most of the answers within you already! Primarily because you know your industry well, but also because a lot of the discussion will be around brainstorming ideas to explore. Coaches know that entrepreneurs are creative idea machines, so we just need to tap into that ability and help it flourish! In addition, you will be the one who needs to commit to taking the action; so if you are not involved in the conversation, you won't buy into the plan and you won't get it done.

Second, a good business coach can shift into training mode. The coach should bring their wealth of business experience and knowledge to you. Training is used to share information which can speed up your learning process and accelerate your success.

The person you work with will be helping you identify and resolve business problems. They should do this by transitioning between coaching to help you generate ideas to try and training to provide you with ideas that work.

How they shift between coaching and training and how they communicate with you during the process is important. You don't want to dread your sessions. You should be excited to talk with your coach!

So, don't just evaluate a potential coach's skillset. Be sure you connect with them and enjoy talking with them. Are they shifting between coaching and training or just sticking to one mode of conversation? Are they explaining everything clearly? Are they talking with you in a respectful way or are they talking down to you? Are they listening to you and documenting your journey from your point of view? Do they challenge you and help you think about things in new ways? Are they positive and uplifting and do they bring their full attention and energy into serving you? Do they truly care about your success?

Finding the right business coach to work with is not just about evaluating skills, it's also about finding a personality and communication style that connects well with you.

5. Hiring a business coach who doesn't align with your values

Another mistake small business owners make when hiring a business coach is they don't consider whether the coach's values align with their own.

Your business coach should believe in the same things you do...or at least, put their opinions aside to help you achieve what you want.

Many small business owners I meet have a few broad goals. They want to make money, they want to create a specific lifestyle, and they want to make an impact in other people's lives. They want to serve their team and their clients. And they want to do it with integrity.

Some business coaches are laser-focused on increasing profits. They are great at helping entrepreneurs work hard and build teams and make more money. They may even teach heavy-handed marketing and sales methods. If these ideas don't align with yours, the coach may not be a good fit for you.

I heard one story of a coach whose go-to strategy was to cold message leads on social media. He was insistent on this with his client who was very resistant. Now, perhaps his client had a mental block or fear he could have helped her overcome. But there are also other successful ways to market that might have aligned better with his client's values. She ended the coaching relationship with him as soon as she could.

In another example, a coach may think hiring more employees and renting office space are the best measures of success, but if you really want to work at home to spend time with your family, you will be working towards different goals.

It's better to share your values and understand the coach's strategies before you engage their services.

Bonus tip: If someone wants to connect with you on social media, but they are posting things in their profile that does not align with your values, do not connect with them! Control what comes into your feed and connect with people you might want to work with in the future. It's nice to have a lot of followers, but the quality of your peers is more important than quantity over the long run.

One more note...Work with a coach who encourages you to dream big and is empathetic when you are struggling with personal issues or the ordinary fears of entrepreneurship. They should help you overcome mindset challenges, not just tactical or technical problems. They should treat your struggles with respect and help you navigate through them. And more importantly, they should help you learn and grow from them!

A business coach is a partner who should support your goals and guide (and challenge) you to be the best of who you can be, not push you into doing things that do not align with your values. They should treat your journey and your feelings with respect and care.

6. Hiring a business coach who doesn't charge what they are worth

The final mistake an entrepreneur can make when hiring a business coach is saying "no" if the price seems too high or saying "yes" to an inexpensive coach.

A business coach should charge high prices for 1-1 coaching sessions for two main reasons.

First, they are teaching you by example to treat the value of your services with respect. One of the most common challenges for consultants and other service providers is they do not charge their clients enough. They undervalue themselves and are always struggling to make ends meet.

Keep in mind, you are not paying for an hour of your business coach's time. You are paying for the years of vast experience they are distilling into an hour for you so you can get back to work and crush it in your business! This is the same logic you can use when explaining to your leads why your prices are higher than they expected.

The other reason a business coach should charge high prices is because they are going to get you financial results more quickly than you would get on your own. Time is money and the sooner you implement the ideas you discuss with your coach, the faster your business will grow and prosper. And, without your coach's help, you may never achieve the results you want on your own.

You should be able to get a tangible return from working with a business coach. The first thing you might notice is a reduction of stress. Then, perhaps more freedom and balance in your life. And, of course, you should close more sales and earn more profits. From an accounting point of view, a business coach is an expense of your business. But in reality, you are making an investment into the success of your business by hiring a coach. The cost of your coaching sessions will eventually be covered by the income from your new sales. So think less about the up-front cost of coaching and more about the long-term gains you will receive!


The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when hiring a business coach is not taking time to get to know the coach first. Make sure the coach you sign up with has great credentials, focuses on accountability, has a process that adjusts to your needs, asks good questions and gives clear guidance, aligns with your values, and charges what they are worth.

Click the link under my picture below to request a call with me and let's spend a little time to get to know each other!

By avoiding the six mistakes, you will be on your way to hiring a business coach that helps you take your business to the next level!


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