By now, you’ve probably realized this whole entrepreneurship thing can be a little lonely at times. The freedom to do what you love is amazing, but maybe you’re starting to feel a bit in over your head with everything else. Maybe you feel like you’re flying by the seat of your pants. And in the middle of wishing you could find someone to help, you stumbled upon the term “business coach.”
But what is that exactly? What does a business consultant or coach do? What does it cost to hire one? And are they even worth it? As an serial entrepreneur who started their first business almost 13 years ago and now offers business coaching for creatives, I want to demystify this topic. I want to answer all your questions, help you determine whether or not you should hire a coach, and help you understand how to find one that’s perfect for you. (Yes, even if that person isn’t me!)
What Is a Business Coach?
A business coach is someone who’s job it is to help entrepreneurs thrive. This term has been thrown around loosely over the past few years. At this point, you could find a variety of “business coaches” that specialize in everything under the sun including:
- Mindset work – overcoming mental hurdles.
- Marketing – social media, email, Pinterest, getting more leads, etc.
- Sales – how to close a client, how to increase product sales, etc.
- Systems – how to set up workflows and organization that support your busy seasons.
Business Coach vs Consultant
Before we continue, it’s important that while they’re used interchangeably from a marketing standpoint, there is a difference between a coach and a consultant. In fact, some people (including myself) act as a combination of the two. This can often be the best of both worlds as you’ll learn to fish on your own (metaphorically) instead of being fed for the day.
Typically, a coach is someone who empowers a business owner to make their own decisions by asking strategic questions that bring clarity. On the other hand, a consultant acts more like a doctor. They can help you diagnose business issues, bring them to light, and provide you an expertly guided solution. Consultants will help you execute changes through specific strategic action plans.
If you feel confident in business, but find yourself just overthinking and need someone to shake you out of it, a coach may be all you need. But, if you feel you’re missing knowledge or strategy, a consultant may be a better fit.
For the sake of this blog, we’ll use coach and consultant to refer to a true business consultant.
What to Expect From a Business Coach / Consultant
Again, it varies from person to person, but here are few things you might be able to expect from working with a business coach:
- Diagnostic eyes on your business.
- Educational lessons regarding opportunities in your business.
- Accountability to the degree you request it.
- Action plans to improve your business.
- Regular touch points as if they were a business partner.
- Guidance to make empowered decisions.
Good business coaches for entrepreneurs understand that entrepreneurs started their business to gain freedom and not be micromanaged. Because of that, a good fit should feel more like a partnership than a hierarchical relationship.
Why Hire a Business Coach?
There are a ton of benefits of a business coach. They can often expedite your business results by forcing you to take action. Not in the literal sense, but when you’re paying someone to help you grow your business, you’ll show up more intentionally. After all, you want to get your money’s worth.
It can also help you spend more time working on your business rather than in it because you have someone to pull you out of the day to day regularly. We all know how easy it is to just get work done, but sometimes, that leads to burnout and inefficiencies that would’ve otherwise been avoidable. Basically, a business coach should be able to help you see the whole forest, not just the trees.
Business coaching for creatives can also lead to an increase in confidence. Some decisions, such as when to increase prices and how much, can be met with a lot of fear and overthinking. Many of my clients have increased prices by 20-40%, second-guessed themselves, and almost switched back. Having me to remind them that our pricing was determined unbiasedly helped them stand strong and before they knew it, they were booking out at their new price.
Last but not least, there’s a lot of time entrepreneurs spend on just thinking. Seriously, it’s so common that “analysis paralysis” became a very real term to describe it. Coaches help clients get results more quickly because they spend less time in this growth dead zone.
Business Coaching Services
So, let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we? It’s green, made of cotton, and plastered in faces of dead presidents… money! How much does a business coach cost? Bluntly, anywhere from $100/month to $100,000/month. It totally depends on who their target client is, what kinds of results they help clients get, and what their specialty is. For the sake of argument, let’s assume we’re chatting about small business coaches. You can still find a big cost range, but it usually looks more like $100/month to $10,000/month.
Another huge factor is what kind of small business coaching packages they offer and the format in which they’re delivered. A group coaching program will be much cheaper than 1:1 business coaching because you don’t get individualized attention. While you can absolutely get great results from a group environment, many of my past clients that have experienced both will tell you 1 to 1 business coaching comes with much better results!
Even within 1:1 business coaching for creatives, you can find multiple tiers of support. Some are meetings only. Some include question support in between to make sure you don’t get stuck. You can even find some that include material review or some done-for-you deliverables. Just pay attention to what you’re paying for to get the most out of it.
Quick disclaimer though – you get what you pay for… to an extent! More expensive does not always equal better, but if you spend pennies, don’t expect much. The reason I bring this up is that there are entrepreneurs popping up left and right charging $10,000 a month for coaching that have literally never run a business before “coaching.” Not to say they can’t help you because they haven’t been in business since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but it’s important to be aware of.
What to Look For In a Business Coach
Okay, so what makes a good business coach? Well, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. That said, I do think it’s helpful if this isn’t their first rodeo. What I mean is that if their very first business is coaching, they may not have the depth of perspective you need. In fact, it’s likely that you know more via trial and error than they do.
That said, if you’re looking for a true coach (as defined earlier as someone who asks good questions to help you come up with the answer), this is less of a concern. However, if you’re looking for a consultant, experience matters. (Experience is different than certification, by the way.) Certification can be paid for and doesn’t necessarily qualify someone with the expertise needed to help your business.
As a blanket statement, look for someone who has a proven track record with both their own business(es) and their clients. Have their clients gotten results in the past? Are their testimonials full of praise? More specifically, look for a coach who specializes in what you need.
Just like when considering bringing on a business partner, one of the most important qualities of a successful partnership is that you balance one another. If you suck at marketing, can’t get leads, and your prospective coach sucks too, good luck. If you’re not sure what’s holding you back, a good consultant / coach should be able to help you diagnose that in a free consultation call.
Last, but not least, you should choose someone you feel you can talk to easily. How will you truly make strides in your business if you don’t feel you can share your concerns openly?
How to Find a Business Coach
You might be tempted to look for a coach / consultant the same way you do every other service in your area…. heading to Google in search of a “business coach near me.” It’s not a bad place to start, but I challenge you to expand your scope geographically. While I love SEO and would be elated to pop up in your area, business coaches have the ability to work virtually just as effectively as in person.
Let’s imagine you know someone who is super sick. If you had access to any doctor in the world versus who was just available down the street, would you not seek out the perfect doctor who specializes in that specific illness? Business coaching should be the same way.
You can find them on Instagram, Google, Pinterest, or anywhere else online, but if you know someone who has worked with a coach, they might be the best place to start. Remember, not everyone responds well to the same type of coaching. That said, with all of the business coaches out there (good or otherwise), vetting is important.
Most business coaches will offer a free consult call. Some truly are consults and others are more of a sales call. Do not allow hard sales tactics to intimidate you into signing. Ask your questions, follow your gut, and make a decision you feel at peace about. Need to take a day to think about it? THAT IS TOTALLY REASONABLE! Business investments should be thought through, not made on a whim. Just don’t let yourself get caught up in analysis paralysis too long. 🙂
Business Coach For Creative Women
As I mentioned previously, I’m a creative business coach with over a decade of business experience crossing multiple industries. I literally have a BBA in Entrepreneurship, HR, & Management from one of the best business schools in the Us. Moreover, I have a passion for helping women get their lives back through business.