What is a business coach? Why getting one might be the best thing for your small business or the worst

What is a business coach? Why getting one  might be  the best thing for your small business or the worst

What is a business coach? Why getting one might be the best thing for your small business or the worst

By S. Anne Marie Archer

Forbes published this article on business coaching that really resonated with me and inspired me to write this blog post. It is entitled “Why (Most) Business Coaching is Waste of Time.”

So, what is a business coach and why should you be careful in selecting one?

This is an important question to not only ask but to really understand.

A business coach should assist and guide their client in running a business by helping them clarify the vision of their business and how it fits in with their personal goals. Business coaching is a process used to take a business from where it is to where the client wants it to go.

Coaching is an unregulated area in the United States. There are so many people in the world calling themselves “business coaches or “business strategists” or “business strategy coaches“ and so on. It’s very important for those of us who are small business owners to know the difference between a good business coach and someone who just calls themselves a business coach.

I recently hired a “business coach” to help me craft a strategy for driving more business to my online Etsy store. I quickly realized that what I thought I would be getting is not exactly what I was getting.

I am writing this blog post as a cautionary tale with some advice on how to choose the right business coach and how to avoid making costly mistakes.

When selecting and vetting a business coach make sure you do the following:

1. Be very clear about your objective in hiring the business coach

Clearly articulate your objectives for hiring a business coach to yourself and potential coaches. Make them articulate how they will specifically meet those goals in measurable ways.

2. Make sure you are very thorough in your research and in checking reputation and references

Make sure you carefully check the references of the coach. Not just the references they give you but those that are out on the Internet. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Read the comments on their social media. Really dig into who you’re hiring.

3. Ask for evidence of their success

Ask for evidence of their success as business owners and entrepreneurs. Not as a business coach but as a business owner. If a person is telling you that they can help you be successful in their business, they should be able to show success in their own business that is not tied to them just having people pay them as a business coach. They should be able to prove that they have actually run a business and take it from 0 to 7 figures or more. They should be able to show you data and hard numbers. If they can’t do that or they are unwilling to do that keep looking. Those who can do. Those who can’t often sell you the idea of doing but have never actually done anything.

4. Beware of touchy-feely buzzwords

If the coach is drawing you in with touchy-feely stuff about mindset and femininity beware. A lot of business coaches nowadays spend a lot of time appealing to your emotions to draw you in especially those who target women for their services. But when you scratch the surface and pull back the layers there’s No There – There. See numbers 1, 2, and three above. If all they spout is pretty talk about “Mindset“, or “femininity“ etc. but nothing about actual business strategy like marketing, search optimization, business planning, financial accounting, and planning, run as fast as you can. Also, be wary of business coaches who rely too much on technology. Technology is important but understanding a niche market and realizing that one size doesn’t always fit all is also important.

5. Are they certified or trained in their area of expertise?

Prioritize business coaches who are certified or trained in areas important to you over those who are not. I am not saying certification should be your only barometer but it’s definitely a factor to consider along with years of experience, education, and training.

For example, if you’re trying to find someone to help you with a marketing strategy or a social media strategy what kind of training and certification do they have to prove that expertise?

6. Do they truly understand your business and you?

Does the coach understand who you are, your life experience and how it drives your business? One of the reasons I created The Blackwomen Coach™ Directory Is to connect vetted and verified black women coaches with those who need their services, specifically other black women. I took a chance on hiring a business coach who was not a black woman and one of the issues I found is that they really did not understand my business and they did not understand my niche target audience (Black women). So, while they may have a strategy that works for their other clients it’s not one that worked for me.

7. Carefully review and discuss their payment structure

Do not agree to pay any coach without clarity on what they will actually deliver to you. Make sure that your payments are tied to actual deliverables and results. Many business coaches nowadays are very vague about what you will actually receive as a service and they want you to pay them upfront. Many will take your money and provide a lot of one size fits all, cookie-cutter information that you could easily find elsewhere on the Internet, and, call it a “product“. Be very clear with yourself about the results you are expecting and very clear with the coaches about what you expect to get in exchange for your investment.

I will admit that in my case I should’ve done more research on the coach that I hired. If I had, I would’ve found that they were not the right match for me and were not best positioned to help me reach my strategic goals. I have not given up on reaching my goals, but I still will. But this is an important lesson learned and one that I will not forget in the future.

I’ve worked with some really great business coaches and now I’ve l experienced what it’s like to work with one that does not deliver. At the end of the day getting the experience and information that you need out of any coaching experience is your responsibility as the client and the customer. You have to do your homework you have to do your due diligence to ensure that what you need is in alignment with what that coach has to offer.

Here are four business coaches you should know about. They are all members of The BlackWomen Coach™ Directory:

Claire B. Soares


Christine Job


Aleya Harris


Jacquelyn Omotalade


If you are looking for a business coach, this list is a great place to start but don’t forget to apply the guidelines I’ve shared in this post!

About The Author



S. Anne Marie Archer is the founder and creator of The BlackWomen Coach™ Directory. She is an HR consultant who specializes in advising her clients on exiting discriminatory and illegal hostile work environments with separations with severance (their “coins”) so that they can engage in the radical redesign of their lives. You can learn more about her work, or reach out to her for HR advice and HR consultations by visiting her website www.theanti-hrlady.com.
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