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Do Your Coaching Due Diligence

She invested $10,000 in a group-coaching program and has not received what she expected in terms of how to build her business.  The contract she signed is iron clad and she has no choice but to pay for the program in full, regardless of how she feels.

Another woman invested $3,000 and she is embarrassed to ask for her money back, even though the coaching program is stressing her to the max.  The coach has given her a massive list of things that must be done with no clear direction on what the strategy is, leaving this woman feeling overwhelmed and with a bad case of buyers remorse.

It is your responsibility to do your due diligence when hiring a coach.

The Internet can be a glitzy and glamorous place where you can find coaches for every niche.  You can find a life coach, business coach, speaking coach, video coach, Facebook ads coach, writing coach, book coach and even a coach to coach you on how to be a coach.

Coaching is powerful.  And, when you find the right coach for you, it can change your life. In my case, I would not have finished my book without the support of a coach.

But, with so many out there, it can be hard to find the right one.

Here is what you need to consider when you are looking for a coach.

Who is the contract there to serve? 

If your coach is expecting you to sign a non-refundable contract, that is a red flag. Click To Tweet

That means if you are unhappy, you cannot get your money back unless you sue them and chances are, they have already had a lawyer draft that contract so you cannot win.  Walk away fast.

What experience does this coach have?

Your coach should have some credibility behind what they do.  Credibility can come in the form of certification and or experience.  There are many training programs out there for coaches, and there is also valuable hands-on experience that people like myself have in business.  When hiring a coach, know what you are hiring, what that coach’s background is, and whether or not their training or experience supports your needs.

Why do you want a coach?

You may want a coach because someone has told you that is what you “should do” to grow your business. While coaching can be an effective way to build your business, it is not the only way. Take some time to get clear on why you want a coach and what outcome you want to get from that relationship.  When you are clear on your why, it becomes a lot easier to find a person to help with your how.

Who has this coach helped get results?

Look for other people who have worked with the coach you are considering and have a conversation with them about the coach’s style. Find out how accessible they are and what type of results or transformation this person received in working with them.  Ask questions around the best part of working with this coach, and what they didn’t like.  If you are investing a lot of money, you should be asking good questions to help you make a smart decision.

How can they show you their skill?

Last year when I was searching for a coach, I had a number of conversations with individuals before I made a decision.  I was looking for someone who could move me to take action or teach me something that could really impact my business.  Interview your coach and give them a real-life situation and ask them to coach you so you can experience what this is like before you go all in.  Although some coaches may offer this to you for free, you should be prepared to pay a small investment in order to see if they are the right fit for you.  Isn’t it better to invest a bit of money up front to save yourself the heartache of $10,000 down the road?

When people reach out to me for a consultation, they pay a one-time fee via and, if we move forward into a coaching relationship, I credit that initial investment toward the program they choose.   This way, I know they are also serious about working with a coach and not just looking for free coaching.

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to do your due diligence when it comes to hiring a coach.  There are a lot of excellent coaches out there, and there are also some incredible marketers disguised as coaches.  Make sure you know the difference when you are investing in your and your business.


17 thoughts on “Do Your Coaching Due Diligence”

  1. Lisa, these are fantastic guidelines!
    Like you say, choosing a coach requires getting really clear on how you work best, your goals and investigating to see if this coach cater to these two things.
    I would add two more vetting questions to your list:
    1. Does this coach have experience making money? (with heart is way better!)
    2. Does this coach have my best interest at heart?
    I am so thankful to work with you as my coach, Lisa! I have never met someone capable of holding my heart’s truest aims in one hand and my ambition in the other and inspiring me and teaching me to how to use BOTH in my business!
    Wow! Love working with you, coach! XO

  2. Great article (and comment)! As a coach, I found all the points important but especially the WHY do you want a coach — is it for accountability; is it to learn a specific skill. I feel that if someone doesn’t know the WHY – then they aren’t truly committed. Just my thoughts! Keep up the great work Lisa!!

  3. One of the things I remind potential clients of is the difference between a coach, a strategist, and a mentor.

    A coach may or may not have walked a mile in your shoes. They may or may not have “been there, done that.” That’s not what a coach is about. Real coaching is about holding up a mirror to your client and helping them uncover their own truths.

    In sports, for example, a golf swing coach may or may not have ever had a bad swing, but can show you how to improve yours because they understand body mechanics – and it’s up to the athlete to make the adjustments and find what works for them. A defensive coach in football may or may not have every played a defensive position, but they understand how each defensive position works together to keep the ball from getting down field.

    A strategist helps you develop a specific strategy, and a mentor helps you shorten a learning curve because they’ve been in your shoes before. If you want a specific plan of attack for social media or growth, you want a strategist. They’ve got particular knowledge that may or may not trickle into other areas of your business. If you want a shortcut to avoid pitfalls a mentor can show you how to not make the mistakes that they did, and get to your goal faster.

    Each role is different, and some of these six figure coaches try to be all things to all people, when in reality, they’re not. The coach helps you figure out the goals, the mentor tells you how to avoid the problems once the goals are set, and the strategist will give you a specific plan of action to get to the goal. This is a gross generalization, and some business guides overlap as mentor, coach and strategist, depending on what you need. But like you said, Lisa, it pays to do your due diligence and know what you’re paying for.

    A lot of pe

  4. Heather Chernofsky

    Excellent! I have had a couple bad experiences with coaches who basically said “my way or no way”. Sort of canned coaching. Participating in your various programs has helped me a great deal from when I first started. Feeling good and motivated is so important when putting out money for a coach.

  5. Lisa, great article…

    I have a coach and am involved in a mastermind that I absolutely love. I also frequent events that some of the more well known “business coaches” out there hold. So, I too am exposed to quite a few people that sign up at an event (on an emotional high) and later end up regretting their purchase. For many of the reasons you have stated.

    I’d like to expand a bit on the clarity item…. in my corporate past life, everything I worked on pretty much involved change for people, and sometimes BIG change. IN those cases, we always did what was called a “Readiness Assessment”. Because even if the coach or consultant or project management team is ready, the area that we were going into might want the result… but they may not be READY for what it is going to take to get the result.

    This is the other side of what I often see with entrepreneurs hiring coaches. They want the results that someone else obtained while using that coach, and yet they are not READY to do what it takes to get them. They went into the relationship ready for the results… but didn’t consider what getting those results would involve. The coach doesn’t just give you a pill with a glass of water, you have to be READY for work 😉 … and change… and change is hard even when it’s good change.

    LOVE the fact that on your Quick Start Coaching page, you ask, “Are you ready?”. Because if someone isn’t, it doesn’t matter who the coach is, they will likely come out unhappy.

  6. Great Points Lisa!

    I will add that one should not necessarily go with a big name coach. Just because a coach has his name plastered all over the media, doesn’t mean he can give you what you are looking for. Once you have figured out what you need – the “why” you need a coach as Diana mentioned, look for a coach who demonstrates that they have the ability to share that particular knowledge with you.
    Coaches are as necessary as bookkeepers and social media for achieving the success you want in your business. Choose the one that’s best for you!

    1. So agree Kathi! Sometimes big name coaches are just really great marketers, not always the right coach for you and they don’t always have the time you need.

  7. Great article, Lisa, and perfect timing for me. I just had my first consultation meeting, and while it was a great meeting, wasn’t what I expected or hoped for. Reading your article made me realize I’m looking for a business coach and not a life coach which was this coach’s primary focus. Thanks for that!

  8. Thanks for this Lisa. I’ve been noticing lately that the tactic is to tell the prospective client that they have to decide at that moment on the first call. When you ask for time or references they say you are acting in fear and are not a good fit for them. Very gimmicky and icky. I love to work with coaches who don’t shy away from questions regarding their practice and are open to helping you find what works for you. That’s attractive and makes me want to pay them:)

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