How (and why) to Find a Business Coach: 11 Entrepreneurs Share


A couple weeks ago, a commenter named Dan asked for some resources on how to find a business coach.

I thought it was an excellent question so I put a query out on asking current coaching clients:

  • How they found their coach?
  • Is there a general rule for budgeting how much to spend on a coach?
  • What do their coaches help them with? What are the benefits?
  • How often do they meet?
  • How long they’ve been working together?

These are the thoughtful and insightful answers I got back.

You’ll notice the common themes of finding coaches through your existing network, and how they can help you gain clarity and accountability on your projects.

Indeed, not having anyone to talk to who really “gets it” is one of the most difficult changes of being self-employed. A coach gives you someone to turn to for direction and to bounce ideas off of.

jesse kriegerJesse Krieger

Founder, Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Academy

In the past couple months I’ve been working with a business coach in a specific way that has skyrocketed my productivity. I’m the author of a book called Lifestyle Entrepreneur and run training programs to help first-time entrepreneurs launch online businesses.

Initially my coach, Dane, he took me through an exercise called “The Rule of 3” where I determined the top three goals I want to accomplish over the next year. Then we identified three monthly goals, one for each annual goal. Finally, he had me write out three things I can do each day, one towards each long-term goal.

From there, we have weekly calls for one hour, beginning with accountability for last weeks goals, then outlining exactly what actions I’ll take over the coming week to move towards the monthly and annual goals.

I pay him $250/hr and he records the sessions as we have a dynamic Google Doc for goals and session notes.

I had followed Dane’s work with The Foundation (a similar business that coaches/trains entrepreneurs), and when I saw Dane was leaving The Foundation, I contacted him immediately.

Working with him, just an hour per week gives me a greater sense of surety as to what I’m focused on day-by-day, and I know I want to hit all the goals we outline so I don’t get on our next call and disappoint him (and myself, though it’s somehow easier to stay accountable to someone else so I can’t talk myself out of doing what needs to be done…).

I highly recommend that entrepreneurs and small business owners get a coach with whom they can develop trust and the confidence to share what’s really going on in their business, and their ambitions — then let the coach steer them towards possible solutions and give blueprints for taking action.

Mariska RowellMariska Rowell

Director, Access (a live telephone answering service in San Francisco)

Currently, I am working with a Professional Coach named Gina Zappariello, the owner of Pathfinder Professional Coaching. I have been working with her for a little under two months to help me become more focused in my marketing strategy.

I met Gina through a networking group we are both members of and I engaged her services after she gave a presentation on a program called Get Clients Now. I decided to work with her because I had a tendency to be very scattered with my marketing and I knew that my lack of focus was hindering my success.

For example, I’d have a list of target clients that I’d be working on contacting and I’d see another completely different set of clients in the newspaper and I’d add that to my list. In the end, my list became so long I couldn’t reach out to any of them consistently. Furthermore, I wasn’t very consistent at my marketing tactics because I didn’t really like what I was doing to reach my target market.

When I started working with Gina, we set specific goals as to who my target clients were going to be and we decided which actions I was going to take to pursue those target clients. The beauty is we chose actions that I feel comfortable with and that I knew I could implement on a consistent basis (weekly and daily). We talk once a week via the telephone and she keeps me accountable for my actions.

This is one of the best business decisions I ever made. Within two weeks, I started booking appointments with large potential clients and my sales increased by 50%.

shannon lagasseShannon Lagasse

Health & Happiness Coach, Hunger for Happiness

When I was starting out as a coach myself, I had a number of coaches I worked with — some paid, some in groups, and some barter.

Right now, I am working with a business coach (Ryan James Lock – Be Your Own Publicist). We’ve been working together for almost 6 months, and he’s totally helped me transform my businesses and my life. I don’t have a specific budget for working with him, but I just make it work for my budget because he is so essential to my business!

With regard to looking for a coach and interviewing people, I always look for people who are practicing what they preach. Ryan’s specialty is media, PR, and publicity. He’s in the news all the time, getting written about by other people. That, to me, says he’s doing a good job at what he does. The fact that his clients also get results shows he’s got a method that works.

Some people look at coaches and think, “You didn’t train that long for this,” but coaches can actually really help, sometimes more often than a therapist who spent much more time in school. Most therapy is geared towards healing the past, whereas coaching is focused on the future.

The questions I’d ask are:

Where did you go to school? Research the school. Is it reputable? How long and intensive is the training program? When I went to coach school, I was taught by world-class experts. That’s a lot different than a one-weekend thing where they hand you a BS certification.

How many clients do you have? Some coaches won’t answer this outright, but check out their testimonials. What are other people saying about their work?

Do your research. Google their name and business name to see what comes out. Check out their personal Facebook page, if you can. Do you resonate with their message and approach? Do you like how they speak?

Some coaches are softer, some are more tough love. Get to know what works for you and find a coach who can provide that for you.

David WanderDavid Wander

Owner and Founder, Eastgate Virtual Professional LLC

I have been with a business coach named Kathy Goughenour from Expert VA Training, for about three years now. I first met Kathy when she was a speaker at an online seminar series I was attending.

After taking Kathy’s training I signed up for her coaching and mastermind group. Kathy and I speak on the phone once a month and our mastermind group is twice a month, plus I have access to Kathy via email.

Kathy has helped me with developing a professional looking website, and marketing my business.

Personally I don’t think you should spend more than 10% of your income on a business coach.

laurie keyLaurie Key

Owner, GoGo Glam

I recently started working with a business / Law of Attraction coach named Jeanna Gabellini. I met her through my former brick and mortar women’s boutique; she was one of my favorite customers. I was intrigued by what she did, but did not fully understand how important she could be to my business.

I think it’s really important to work with someone that you really like as a person. Jeanna and I have similar personalities and had a great rapport before we started working together. I respect the way she thinks, love that she thinks bigger than me and pushes me to do the same. I believe her when she tells me everything is going to be great and gain confidence when she tells me to step into my power.

I couldn’t afford one-on-one coaching, so I joined her group program called Flashpoint. I get two lessons a month, a live coaching call with her and a guest expert every month, as well as email and private Facebook access.

Jeanna has taught me to put systems and programs in place to help my business run more smoothly. In addition, she has coached me to identify evidence that my business is growing and moving forward, and to appreciate what’s happening in my business right now. She empowers me to trust my “Inner Business Expert” and understand that I know what is best for my business.

One of the things I’ve learned from her, which I think is helpful in answering the question of how much to spend, is to look at the ROI of the decisions and investments I make. Jeanna is worth every penny I pay her and I look forward to growing into one-on-one coaching with her as my business grows.

Stefanie KushnerStefanie Kushner

Owner, BagInspiration

My business coach is Chariti Gent, and the funny thing is I wasn’t even looking for a business coach!

I met Chariti at a networking meeting and loved her energy. I was at a crossroads with my business and really need someone to help give me the push I needed to get me going. After one lunch with her, I knew she was the one I needed to help me with my business.

Chariti and I met 2x/month for about 8 months. She started with a personality test (DISC training) so I could understand who I was and what my strengths were. This gave me the confidence to know what I was good at and the determination to work through things that are more difficult for me.

She did visioning exercises so I could see the big picture of where I was headed. Her contacts and business advice also gave me the jumping off point I needed to get my business on a path to a new level. Most of all, she was a sounding board that allowed me to talk about my ideas.

If I thought that something was a good idea, she held me accountable with tasks towards getting to that goal that were to be completed by our next meeting.

Shanna TingomShanna Tingom

Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

I work with an industry-specific business coach I found online, Suzanne Muusers with Prosperity Coaching.

I know other life and business coaches and she was in the range that they charge, and I looked at it from a average-sale standpoint. I thought if she could help me get only 1 deal a month, then she would pay for her fee. We meet twice a month on the phone for 45 minutes, and occasionally (about twice a year) in-person, since we live in the same city.

I call her my “Secret Weapon” — I don’t think I’d be as successful as I am without her!

She has helped me write my business plan, define my ideal client, edit my bio, and plan client appreciation and marketing events. She has also helped me say “no” to some opportunities for marketing and networking that didn’t fit my business plan. She also helps me keep balance in my life while running my business. She is invaluable!

louis altmanLouis Altman

CEO, GlobaFone

We are spending $20,000 this year on business coaching services from one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. There is no secret to finding the right coach (I had the wrong one for many years).

Somewhere between asking friends and colleagues for a recommendation, some Google searching and thinking about people you already may know. If you know and accept that you need a coach, there will be a certain intuitive sense of who and when.

I have known my coach for 15 years. I met him at a CEO Forum where he was presenting and liked him immediately. He has informally coached me over the years and asked for payment when I could afford it and an amount that I felt demonstrated the value he had brought. This year we formalized the coaching with some structure. I meet him with my General Manager quarterly and with the entire staff six times a year.

He knows me and my business very well and has the ability to drill through to the important stuff where we need to focus. His input helps to guide me to stick to what I am good at and delegate or otherwise ignore the rest. We have been able to refine my role (at my company BTW!) a couple of times in the past year and we are now making some more tweaks that will help us accelerate.

tom cooperTom Cooper

Principal, BrightHill Group LLC

I’m an executive coach, and thought you might want to include some ideas from the coach’s side of the equation:

1. What SPECIFICALLY do you want to achieve?

Without a good goal for coaching, you’re failing when you start.

2. Do you have any rapport with the coach?

Do you like them personally? You’ll be digging deep with them.

3. How do they define “coaching”?

Is their coaching directive? (Offering suggestions and recommendations about what “you should do”? I’d call that mentoring or consulting rather than coaching.)

Is their coaching inquisitive? (Curiously asking you things like, “Why did you think it was a good idea?” and, “What do you want to try next?” These questions deal with your beliefs, which affect what you do, and can dramatically impact your RESULTS.)

4. How much time can you commit to the process?

A great coaching relationship happens when the client is coachable and is willing to work. My clients need to spend at least 2 hours working on “homework” between sessions, and can spend a lot more!

My clients meet with me regularly — where regularly ranges from weekly to quarterly depending on the kinds of goals that they are working on and how much time they can put into the process.

5. Are you coachable?

If you’re not open to hearing a different perspective, or reconsidering your assumptions, coaching may not be for you.

6. Does your coach work with clients like you often?

Who is a great fit with your coach? Can they tell you?

7. How much does coaching cost, and which type is the best fit for your budget?

It depends on the specific arrangement and whether you’re looking for group coaching, individual coaching, or organizational coaching.

8. When will you be “done” with coaching?

See #1 above! My clients frequently work with me for 6-12 months or until we clear the initial goals. At that point many times we stop, or we pause and re-engage when they have a new area to work on.

Melissa St.ClairMelissa St. Clair

Solopreneur, Paper Chaser

I am a solopreneur who engaged the services of a Business Coach in February 2014 to become a charter member of Coach Jaynine Howard‘s Ignite Your Profits Mastermind Group.

Through our professional association over a number of years and by participating in her free 21-Day Business Organization Challenge to kick off the year, I was able to learn more about her philosophy, coaching style, and results. I forecasted approximately 10% of monthly income for coaching services and pay by monthly installments.

The Mastermind Group has two mastermind coaching calls per month led by Coach Jaynine, one (10 minute) private laser call, and receives a weekly challenge question from the coach along with e-courses and resources as well as access to a secret Facebook group to mastermind with the coach and other members.

Not only have I experienced a boost to my business and my professional development but have witnessed the accelerative effect on the achievements of my fellow members.

I have been able to move four major projects to fruition in the first two quarters of 2014 that had previously been stalled. These individual projects ranged from list building to generating passive income, all gaining exposure for my Virtual Assistant (VA) business. I experienced a 55% growth in revenue after the first two months of coaching.

Coach Jaynine creates an environment for learning and sharing from her and from each other and a culture for growth and success.

karen bateKaren Bate

President, KB Concepts P.R.

I have run my own P.R. consulting company in Arlington, VA for the last seven years. My secret to success early on was to work extremely hard, network like crazy, follow every lead and never say no.

I said yes and successfully built my business, but in the process I also got very tired and very stressed, and began to exhibit medical symptoms of fatigue, inflammation and muscle soreness about two years ago. I’m an active runner and boot camper, but working out — which had always been my stress relief — became exhausting and painful instead.

I went to my regular doctors, to a holistic doctor, read books, tried expensive supplements and nothing worked.

Then I heard through a fellow runner and triathlete about Kyle Davies, who helps business people, athletes, and regular folks recover from what he describes as the epidemic of stress-induced fatigue and pain syndromes in the world today. Kyle is part coach, part psychologist/therapist.

Through weekly Skype sessions, he showed me how I had utterly lost the ability to say no and to set boundaries with my clients. I was so busy being great at what I did that I forgot to take care of myself. I answered emails during meals, nights and weekends, and was basically never “off.”

Kyle says exercise and nutrition are important, but the third crucial leg of the total wellness triad is understanding the enormous role our emotions play in our health. Following his program, I was completely better and back to running and working out within two months — with much healthier boundaries and relationships with my clients.

Two of my three grown daughters, one of my step-daughters, and even my ex-husband also now meet with Kyle regularly for life and business coaching.

I bartered with Kyle for my own services, in exchange for helping him with marketing and P.R., and I continue to work with him in exchange for my daughters’ coaching now. We are all now avid members of the Kyle Davies Fan Club!

Your Turn

Do you work with a coach? How did you find them?

What do they help you with? Leave a comment below and share with the rest of Side Hustle Nation!


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