How do I find the right business coach?

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you wear multiple hats and need a multitude of skills – business planning, accounting and forecasting, HR and recruiting, branding and marketing, sales, etc. As your business grows, there will likely come a time where you need to ask advice.

A business coach is a great ally to have on your team! Someone who can provide an alternative perspective, answer your questions, and push you to make the right decisions to grow your business. Once you have identified the need for a business coach, you need to conquer the challenge of finding the right coach.

There are tons of business coaching options available, but only you can determine which solution is right for you and your business. Here are five key questions to consider:

  1. Do you need a specialty skill set or a general business coach? Some organizations can pair you with an expert in their field that can help with a niche industry or topic, while other organization can pair you with a general consultant who can help with various aspects of your business.

  2. What type of experience will benefit your business? Some business coaches specialize in a particular industry or work with companies of a particular size. Determine if you want to work with a coach who has dealt with the challenges of entrepreneurship first hand.

  3. What is your budget? There are free coaching opportunities through non-profit organizations like SCORE and SBDC as well as paid coaching opportunities through for-profit companies.

  4. What is your preferred coaching format? Determine if you prefer face-to-face coaching or virtual coaching via a video call or phone call. Your preferred format will dictate your options. Face-to-face coaching presents geographic constraints, while virtual coaching possibilities are endless.

  5. What is your availability? There needs to be a fit between the business owner’s schedule and the coach’s schedule. Make sure the two of you can find a common time that works for both of you.

Once you have a better idea of your needs, you can reach out to various coaching providers. It is always a good idea to vet the coach before committing to a coaching program. You want to make sure the coach understands your business and where you want to go. You will also want to make sure they are a good listener and that there is a fit between your personalities.

If you are unsure where to start, ask someone who knows you and your business for a referral. You may want to work with a non-profit who offers free coaching for entrepreneurs, to join an accelerator or incubator, or hire a coaching firm. To get you started, here are two free solutions for Wisconsin companies: