It seems like hiring a coach is becoming the hottest new accessory for high-achieving individuals—whether it be for business, career, or health. The coaching industry is estimated to be worth $2 billion annually and continues to grow, according to the International Coach Federation (ICF).
It’s an exciting time to be a personal brand, online service provider, or wellness professional—and it’s an exciting time to hire. You might have even noticed your Facebook feed looking a lot like your hometown mall with every kiosk handing out a self-help flyer.
It’s a crowded market, and as a prospective consumer, it’s up to you to do the due diligence and know what you’re buying. As a coach who has spent a lot of time and money on coaching services, I know how valuable they can be in supporting (and improving) your life, health, or business. To make sure that you get the best out of your experience, make sure to ask yourself these five questions.
1. Do I need a coach, a mentor, a teacher, or an expert?
Traditionally, a coach is simply a guide in your own process. Their purpose is to skillfully draw out the answers from within you and provide reflections that help you deepen your awareness and come to your own conclusions. A coach will hold you accountable but isn’t offering expertise other than holding space for you.
These days, service providers who function as mentors, teachers, and experts refer to themselves as a “coach.” But what they’re doing is selling expertise or a knowledge transfer of some kind—whether it be in nutrition, business strategy, relationship advice, spiritual healing, or what have you.
No one function is better than the other, but you need to be clear about what you need. Do you need an expert who has the subject-matter knowledge and experience to help you with what you want to accomplish in your life, health, or business, or do you want a space-holding type of coach?
If you decide that you want the former, make sure he or she is actually qualified to give you advice on your field of interest or has walked the path you’re about to walk and achieved the results you want to get.
2. Does the coach offer a structured program or framework?
If you decide you are in the market for an expert coach who’s transferring knowledge to you throughout your time together, make sure he or she has a framework or structured program to guide you through that process. Many “coaches” are effectively expensive sounding boards. You may show up to a session just to hear them say, “So, what’s on your mind today?”
If you’re hiring because you don’t have clarity around your direction, make sure that your coach has a plan and a way to guide you.
3. Is he or she a coach or an excellent marketer?
A coach is usually also an entrepreneur in the business of getting clients, and many (especially the ones with the name recognition you may be seeking out) become very effective at sales and marketing for their businesses. So before you hit purchase, ask yourself, Am I buying, or am I being sold? What’s the outcome I’m seeking here? Is there evidence that this person is an expert at getting people like me to that outcome? Or is he or she simply very good at enrolling clients?
4. Will my coach be available for regular feedback?
Some coaches will only be available to you during sessions. Others will make themselves available for between-session feedback, sometimes via Voxer or WhatsApp. If you’re hiring a business coach, will he or she check your web copy? Provide feedback on social media content you’re putting out? Directly iterate and cocreate with you?
If you’re hiring a health coach, will he or she look over your meal plan? Provide feedback on the herbs in your Amazon cart? If that’s something you want, don’t assume it’s part of the package. Check and clarify that the coach actually provides what you’re looking for.
5. Do I trust myself to do the work?
This is the last but most important question. Your coach or mentor cannot guarantee results. I’ve hired coaches costing upwards of $15,000 myself and yielded results worth many times that amount not only because of the quality of the coaches but because I was committed to making that change in my life. I backed myself, showed up, and knew I was going to succeed regardless. A coach can help you get to your goal. But at the end of the day, the commitment to do the work starts (and ends) with you. If you trust yourself to do the uncomfortable and do the work required, you’re in the right mindset and position to hire a coach.