8 Questions to Ask a Business Coach Before Hiring

business man staring up at question marks

Should I Hire a Business Coach?

If you’re reading this, you very well may be expecting me to answer with, “Yes, and make sure you hire me.” 

Well, sorry to disappoint. 

The reality is that the answer to that question really depends on the answers to a variety of questions, the first of which is, “What business problem am I trying to solve?” For example, if you need to increase operational throughput, then maybe a process consultant would be a better solution than business coaching. However, if the problem is something like, “I need to identify my leadership blind spots”, then business coaching may be just the ticket. 

Why Do I Need a Business Coach?

Maybe you’re reading this article, have identified a real business problem, and are exploring the idea of outside help. Yet when you hear the word “coach”, you have a negative response. You may have heard others say, “I’ve tried coaches before… they’re all ‘dog and pony’ when trying to sell you, they brag about their certification, but at the end of the day, I was no better off after the engagement.” Sadly, this scenario plays out often because of the ease of entry into coaching: Anyone can “hang their shingle” and claim to be a coach. 

Yet despite all the charlatans, there are great coaches who help their clients by:

  • Leveraging and sharing proven experiences
  • Helping identify root cause business problems
  • Strategizing processes for gaining greater efficiencies 
  • Improving leadership acumen
  • Building cohesive teams 

The benefits of business coaching can make a major impact…IF you choose the right coach.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Business Coach

Once you’ve decided to hire a business coach, use these questions to ask potential business coaches if they are right for you.

1. What Is Your Business Experience?

The best athletic coaches may have not been the best players, but they played the game. It’s what lends the credibility in their coaching. It’s the same in business. Don’t hire a coach who has no experience in the field. A good business coach has built processes, assembled teams, managed P&L, etc. If your potential coach doesn’t have real world business experience, look elsewhere.

2. Why Are You a Business Coach?

I’m amazed at how, on a weekly basis, I get hit up by so called “marketing experts” to help me build a 6-figure coaching business. They offer high ROI plans that will generate tens of thousands of dollars a month in revenue. 

In doing so, these folks are assuming that money is my driving force. They find their success by targeting the large segment who are in it for themselves and or a big paycheck. Someone like that may not be the coach to engage for solving business problems. 

Ask potential coaches, “Why did you start coaching?” Then, look for answers and evidence that point to the heart of a coach: a desire to see their clients grow, thrive, and succeed.

3. What Are Your Core Values?

Chances are, they won’t know how to answer this question. If by chance they do, make sure the values align with yours. After they list their values, ask them for a story or two that demonstrates how they live that value. Values aren’t core if they are not lived out. 

4. What Is Your Business Coaching Process?

Business coaching is not just showing up and having a conversation. The best coaches have a defined approach or framework, and they should be able to describe it. 

For example, when asked this question, I’ll say, “I ask questions, make observations, and share stories from my experience. I do this through the GROW model framework where I help my client to establish a Goal; define Reality; lay out the Options for moving forward; then finally ask the “what Will you do?”. If they can’t lay out their process, how are they going to help you with yours?

5. How Have You Dealt with My Problems Before?

This question goes back to the first one about experience, but it’s more nuanced. It’s drilling down to specifics, and it gives the prospective business coach a chance to provide case studies on how they’ve handled similar scenarios. It also gives them a chance to be up front—if they haven’t dealt with it in the past, then they should tell you.

6. How Do You Measure Success?

Ultimately, the success of a coach is measured by the amount of transformation seen in the client. Ideally, you want to hear a coach discuss how they identify goals of the coaching, how they baseline, and how metrics will be applied to measure the difference from beginning to end. 

For example, a client may indicate a need to improve communication effectiveness to his or her direct reports. A survey among those reports can be used to take a baseline of communication effectiveness. After several months of working with the coach, the survey can be re-administered to look for measured improvement in the identified areas. 

7. How Often Will We Communicate?

What you’re really trying to find out here is, in the business coaching engagement, how much access will you have to the coach? Many coaches limit communication to the weekly 1-hour session, while others provide regular out-of-session communication. Find out and press into the level of access you’ll have, and measure it against what you think you’ll need from your coach, especially at the beginning of the relationship.

8. Do You Have Reviews from Previous Clients?

It should go without saying that reviews and testimonials are helpful. It should also go without saying that prospective vendors only share good reviews. So, it’s important to press into the “validity” of the review. 

If you’re looking to hire a business coach, and they don’t have any reviews, then move on. If they do, look beyond the reviews and testimonials they provide you. Look at their Google Business Profile, see how many reviews are there, and how many 5-star ratings there are. Ask the coach for references from former clients. Ask the coach how he or she goes about obtaining testimonials and reviews. These extra steps can give you insight into the validity of the review. 

Are Business Coaches Worth It?

Ultimately, the client has to answer that question. Hopefully, the answer is something like, “Our coach has been instrumental in guiding our leadership team, and our business, to achieve sustainable revenue growth. He delivers a wealth of knowledge, credibility and discipline to our business planning process.” This kind of response sounds like business coaching is worth it. 

Hire a Business Coach: Free Consultation Available

I’d be happy to learn more about you and your business, and help you determine if coaching would be of benefit—no strings attached. Contact me here to set up a 30-minute conversation.