If you’ve done your strategic planning for 2024, you may have laid out some big goals, and you might be asking yourself “Is business coaching worth it?”. I’m going to be exceptionally candid with you in this episode. Business coaching is a great help but it’s not always the best investment for you and your business in certain situations. You want to ensure a return on your investment so I want to give you guidance in what to consider when thinking about a business coach and how to hire a good one when you’re ready.

I understand the hesitation in hiring a business coach, when I was growing my first business, I held off on hiring a coach past the point where I should have. I have also hired a coach who seemed like a good fit but I didn’t get good value out of the relationship. For a business coach to be beneficial to you, there is a lot to consider. I’ve come up with seven steps that guide you through the whole process from conception to hiring to ensure you find the right match for your goals.

The seven key points are designed to lead you on a journey of introspection to be sure you’re ready to benefit from what coaching can offer. First, ask yourself what you hope to get out of coaching. Before you try to narrow down the options in the field or interview a potential coach, know what you need. Also, do you have the time and energy to invest in coaching? Be honest. There are a lot of business coaches that charge big money and for you to get the results you want, you need to have the time to invest in what you learn from the coach. Then you have to ask yourself the hardest question: are you coachable? How do you assess that? How do you know you’ll be able to follow through on your plans? How do you narrow down the glut of options in the business coaching industry? Those questions, and more, are what this episode will help you answer.

Key Moments

03:30 What do you hope to get out of coaching? How can you answer this for your business?

09:45 You need to find a coach who understands you and what you want from your business.

14:44 How to dig in and ask a potential coach the right questions.

  • Being coachable is a key component of the relationship, it’s a two-sided coin
  • Will you be able to commit to putting into action the things you learn from your coach?
  • Coaching will not save a floundering business if all your energy is devoted to keeping it afloat.

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Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Contact Kari Lotzien | Be the Anchor: 

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Transcript:

Kari Lotzien: [00:00:01] Welcome to Be the Anchor, the podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach Kari Lotzien. When the seas of life get stormy, and they always will, it is not up to us to captain anyone else’s ship or to try to calm the waters of the ocean. It’s up to us to set our own destination for what we really want, and to learn how to navigate those waves of life together while finding that place of security and stability with others. I call this being an anchor. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:00:37] Hello, my friends. I’m so glad you’re here. You might have done your strategic planning for 2024, and you’ve got some big goals. And you might be wondering, is business coaching worth it? So whether you’re looking at the Anchored Leadership Academy, the group training program, or maybe you’re considering private coaching for your business, I want to be really clear. I do not always think that business coaching is the best investment. Today, I’m going to talk to you really openly about how I think you can use your resources with more clarity, and that if you choose to hire a coach this year or do a group training program, that you’re really clear on what you want out of it, and that you’re going through a process to make sure that what you’re investing in is helping you to ensure that you’re getting your return on your investment. I know that it’s hard. As a small business owner myself, I started my business when I was in my early 20s, grew it for 22 years, and then sold. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:01:36] And I know myself how reluctant, number one, I was to spend money on coaching, and I held on for a really long time and didn’t seek coaching when I probably should have. And then I know there’s times where I hired a coach and thought that I was going to get a lot of great value out of it and I was disappointed. And there was times where I found the right fit, where I was in a place where I knew what I needed. I was able to find the person or the program that was a great fit for me at that time, and I was able to move forward and get the results that I really needed. And I think too often when we look at the coaching industry, which is so saturated, we tend to be drawn towards the shiny things that people who have the most money and the private jet and the fancy cars, and we think that, well, if they have all of those things, they must be a great business coach and I should probably hire them. And then you find out how much it costs to actually work with them, and you think, oh, that’s not available for me. I’ll just have to accept much less or, worse off, you do spend the big money and you find that that person just really doesn’t get your business and where you are, and they just have different resources or a different perspective. This doesn’t work.

Kari Lotzien: [00:02:59] I think there’s a process that we can go through together on helping you make the best decision on how you’re going to move towards business coaching, or how you can decide with confidence that now is not the right time, and to do that and feel okay about it. So I’m going to give you seven steps today to just guide you through the whole process. Number one, I want you to ask yourself when you consider coaching, when you start to think about, oh, that’s something that maybe I am interested in, I want you to just ask yourself, what do you hope to get out of it? What are you looking for in your business right now? Get clear. I think there’s so many coaches out there that work in different areas. So there are coaches that work primarily with your strategic planning and they specialize in different industries. So you might have business coaches who specialize in the legal industry or in oil and gas or in product development. You might have business coaches who really look at efficiencies and time management or organization. Maybe that’s one of your big struggles this year that you’re wanting to improve on. I think one of the big mistakes that I see here is business owners mixing up getting help in your business, you need someone to do it for you, you need someone to just take over that task, versus spending time with a coach to allow you to really assess how are things working, to reflect or brainstorm ideas, and then to help create a plan together. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:04:31] So let’s take for example marketing. So maybe your challenge this year is you really want to grow your clientele, and you really want to grow your revenue in your business. You’ve identified the goal, but maybe you’re not sure how and you’re not quite sure where to move forward. What are your best ideas? Where are the gaps? Where could you grow? And you want someone to kind of bounce ideas off of and to be a sounding board who will ask the right questions to help you get clear, and then help you to lay out a plan to move forward. That can be a perfect fit for coaching. If you know exactly the product and service that you have already well established, you’ve got a great reputation, you know you’ve got the resources in place to handle the increased business, but you just need more people to know about it, then you might want to hire a marketing agency that can really focus on that specific challenge in your business and build you forward from there. So one is more of that kind of quick fix, or you’re wanting the answer. The other is, I need someone to help me unpack the bigger picture. I think by just aligning what you’re looking for specifically will help you with the next step when we talk about doing your research. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:05:45] Okay. For number two, I want you to do your research to help you find the best fit for what you identified in number one. Once you know what you want to work on, now do your research and find out who might be the best fit. The coaching industry is really busy. It’s really noisy. And I want to make sure that when you hire someone that you know you’re getting what you’re looking for. So you want to make sure, go to their social media, go to their website, listen to their podcasts such as this one. There’s so many business coaches who have really great podcasts where you can go and kind of get to know them. It’s like you’re having a conversation with that person, and you get to know a little bit about what their values are, how they think, what they, how they attack different types of problems or challenges. What sorts of advice do they give? And I want you to ask yourself at that point, does this feel like a good fit for me? Do I feel like this is someone who would get me? You want to be looking at their social proof. So in their testimonials, are you seeing yourself? Are you seeing people who are facing similar challenges? You might just find that, yeah, they have similar challenges. So for example, I work with a lot of different business owners, but they face similar challenges. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:07:05] A lot of the clients that I work with are working towards what I call the teenager phase of business. They’re wanting their business to start operating a little more independently from them. They’re ready to start letting go of some of the front line, and they are really looking at improving their own skills of leadership. They want to know how to delegate better, how to hire better, how to really build a strong team. And they know that as a leader, they might be really, really good at providing customer service, they’re really good at doing the job themselves, but they know that there’s a different skill set they need to develop as they grow their business and move it forward. There’s other businesses where a coach will work primarily with men who are startups, who are in a certain type of industry. Maybe they only work in real estate and they coach other real estate owners to build their businesses. Or maybe you have someone who specializes in working on mindset with speakers, and they’re really helping them to develop their speaking business. Whatever your goal is, you want to make sure that this business coach ideally can align and you feel like they get you.

Kari Lotzien: [00:08:14] I think this was one of the big mistakes that I made early in my business when I first started looking at business coaching, I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I didn’t really know what I wanted. I knew that I wanted my business to operate more smoothly, because I knew I was tired, and I knew I wanted to make more money. So when I was looking, I went to people and looked for advice, who had lots of money and who I felt like knew how to do business because they were driving the fancy vehicle and they had the nice house. I looked locally, and what I found really quickly is that when I started asking them for advice, I felt like they didn’t really understand me. They didn’t really understand why I was in business. They didn’t understand that when they told me, you need to be working on your business, you need to just walk away and delegate tasks to others so that you can move into a place of ownership where you look after the business, but it runs itself.  

Kari Lotzien: [00:09:07] I didn’t understand how that would improve my business, and it didn’t feel aligned with where my energy was coming from, because what I was so passionate about was the front line service. And I think there’s a lot of business owners out there who are really passionate about what they do, about what they provide. They love mentorship, they love being with people. And maybe what they’re looking for is, how do I support the back end? Because maybe you don’t love doing the admin part of the job, the invoicing and the strategic planning and meeting with lawyers and accountants and all of that kind of stuff. Maybe that’s not where your energy comes from in your business. So I think when you’re talking to a business coach, you need to make sure that they understand you. A lot of the owners that I work with are parents, and one really big factor that I feel like a lot of my clients have is that they want to balance between having a life outside of their business and being really connected to their business. And I think early on, I know for myself, I was reaching out to business coaches who had no life balance themselves. That they had a value or a belief that you had to invest sometimes 80 hours a week in your business if you wanted to be successful and that the way that you did that was by hiring people to look after your family and by not attending some of those important events within your family, that it was just the price you paid. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:10:35] And I remember feeling like, if that’s the path to success, I don’t think I want to be on it. It really had a negative effect and I felt really disconnected. And I will tell you, that’s probably one of the key things that held me back from seeking a coach at the next stage, because I thought, they’re going to tell me to do something like step away from my kids and not be there for family meals and not have family vacations. And those are the things that are most important to me, because that’s kind of why I’m working. I love what I do, I believe in it, but I also want to have that balance. Those two things can’t be mutually exclusive for me. So a lot of the people that I really love working with are in that same situation. They really value the time with their family. They do spend time volunteering and doing other things. They just feel they don’t have enough time to do all of the things. And as we get a little bit older, many of my clients are in their 40s and we’re starting to slow down. We don’t have the energy that we did back in our 20s where, you know, we could stay up until midnight working on our business or finishing things up and cleaning things up. We need sleep and we’re just tired. So we want to have more freedom and flexibility to do the things with the energy that we have. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:11:49] This is something I want you to lean into, because you will be able to weed out a lot of people. And one additional step is I want you to ask yourself clearly when you look at a coach, would you trade their life for yours? So they might have the private jet, they might have the fancy car, but you might notice that they’re on their third marriage or they have no relationship with their kids. You don’t see that in their posts. Or you can see where maybe they talk about other people and kind of a negative way that they’re using people to achieve that level of success. So I want you to just ask yourself, and if you do get that, oh, I’d really like that. Oh, that holiday looks really nice or I’d love to have that kind of vehicle, or I’d like to enjoy that really fancy vacation or that really great outfit, and then ask yourself, would I be willing to do what they’re doing to get the results that they’re getting? Because we can get a little bit enamored by the social media or the website, or the thing that looks really great on the outside. But dig into it. Do you feel that person could speak to where you are at in your business, and do you feel like you could have that mutual exchange? If not, they may not be the right fit for you and just know that from the get go. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:13:09] One of the best things I did last year was launch the Anchored Leadership Academy group coaching program. We had our first group go through in the fall of this year, and let me tell you, it was incredible. We gathered a group of established entrepreneurs who really want to move forward in their leadership. So developing their teams, being able to give great feedback, delegating well to move to that next stage of business. The next cohort is going to start in February and doors are open now for applications. All you need to do is click on the link in the show notes, have a read, see if it feels like a good fit for you, and then book an inquiry call. That’s it. Hope to see you there. All right, back to the show. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:13:53] What I think you’re doing in step two is you’re narrowing it down. So now you might have narrowed it down to three different coaches that you think might be a good fit for you. You’re doing your research to find out what am I looking for, who might be able to help me with this, and then narrowing it down even further to now where I’m going to take my next steps and maybe book an inquiry call or do a little bit more research to find out is this the right program for me as I move forward with this decision. Okay. At step three, you want to lean in a little bit further by booking that inquiry call or discovery call with that coach. This gives you a chance to ask your specific questions. Now, many of us are kind of turned off by an inquiry call because we’re used to having the sales pitch or feeling pressured or coerced into buying a program. That’s not what this is about.  An inquiry call gives you a chance as well, to ask your key questions and make sure that this is the right person for you.I want to know, do they have a framework or a process that they work through with their clients? Because a lot of what you’re paying for as someone who’s investing in that service is you want to know that by going through this process or this framework, that you are going to achieve a certain type of result. That you’re either going to learn or get something from your business. You’re going to be able to create a strategic plan. You’re going to be able to know what you want to do next in your business by following that framework or process. You want to know. Directly ask them, who isn’t a good fit for my coaching. If they are the type of coach who tells you that they can work with anyone, anywhere, in any industry and that everyone is a good fit, that is a huge red flag for me, because I think if you’re a good fit for everyone, you’re probably a good fit for no one. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:15:46] I want to know where do you really shine and who are you not a good fit for? What I know for myself, I am a great fit for service-based industries, particularly health and wellness, that’s an area I really understand well. I love working with people who have taken a business from a really small place, and then they’ve grown it and they’re really invested in it. I don’t do well with more of a corporate structure where maybe that business has operated for 50 years and then I’m working more with a management team than I am with an individual. I know that I do better with individuals. I do better with small companies. I do better with service-based companies. Product businesses where maybe if their primary concern is supply chain issues, or they’re really working on a certain type of process related to production, that is not my jam. If their issue is related to their people, team building, wanting to develop a strong team then that’s more aligned with what I want to do. You want to know how long am I expected to work with you? So we have a lot of coaches out there who might sell you a package for a certain number of months, or a certain number of sessions. You want to ask them, how long do your clients typically stay with you? Because if I don’t ever want a client that feels like they have to invest that time for the next 5 or 10 years. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:17:07] But I’m also very forthcoming with my clients that I do a solid break. So they sign on for a certain number of sessions, and then they decide if they want to continue for another period of time. We clearly set goals, and if they take a break, there’s no pressure. It’s always concerning to me when coaches are evasive, either they won’t tell you how long most of their clients stay, or you feel like there’s kind of this sense of pressure to stay long term. If people are saying, oh, you know, most of my clients stay for five years and they’re just so happy with my service, and if they speak poorly about people who maybe didn’t continue on, you want to know what results can I expect to see in this particular time that I have available? If you’re willing to commit six months to business coaching, and these are the results you need to see, you want to know that what you’re looking for aligns with the way that coach works. If most of their clients work with them for extended periods of time, but they don’t get that traction, that might not be the coach for you. So you just want to make sure that there’s a good match between those two things.

Kari Lotzien: [00:18:13] Okay. Now I’m going to flip a little bit to the side of the coach, because one thing that I’ve learned over the last few years as I’ve worked with more and more clients.  At step four, I want you to ask yourself before you invest one penny or one minute in coaching, I want you to get really clear with yourself. Do you have the time and energy to invest in coaching? When you go back to number three and you talk about, okay, how long are people expected to work with you? What is the time commitment involved? What is the financial investment that I’m going to make for this, and what are the results I can expect to achieve? Now I want you to ask yourself, do I have that time and the resources to truly make the investment to be a partner in this? I heard a beautiful quote the other day and it said the listener completes the song. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:18:59] And I thought that was really beautiful because it’s the same with coaching. Your coach can create the system and the process and the framework. But if the client doesn’t come with their own experience and their own ability to apply that information to their business, the circle is incomplete, and no matter how great the system is, and no matter how great the training is and the framework and the process, if you don’t have capacity to follow through on your side, no matter how much money you spend, I don’t care if it’s 29.99 for a one hour course or you’re spending multiple five figures on a really complex highly committed framework, either one of those, if you don’t have capacity to do it, is a waste of time and money. I’m going to say that again. If you don’t have it, if you don’t have the time or money, don’t do it now. It’s okay to delay it and then start to make a plan for how you are going to make that time available so that you can follow through. The thing that I now know in my practice is that when I have clients who are too busy and they are frequently canceling or moving appointments, they don’t get the same result. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:20:18] And even though they are paying for the service and they’re valuing my time and energy, I don’t like that. It makes me feel terrible because I feel like I’m taking advantage, and now I’m way clearer on just asking people flat out, I’m really clear on what they need to invest in terms of time and energy. And then I’m really clear that if they don’t have that available to them or they’re needing to cancel often, they can’t expect to get the same results. And the best way for my clients to get results that they see on my website and they hear in my testimonials is by attending regular connection appointments with me, so that we maintain the traction on their goals and in their business, and that they are investing that time and energy into it. So that’s a it’s a bit of a tricky one. It can be a hard conversation, but I just want to be really open with you. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:21:11] All right, now on to point five. I want you to ask yourself if you are in a state of crisis, or really, if it’s time to be seeking qualified mental health support. I am a huge supporter of therapy, and I think sometimes we reluctantly hire a coach thinking that if we just get our business in place, that then the rest of our personal life or our challenges will work out. And I can tell you, this is not the best option. If you’re in a place of crisis, if you’re going through grief or trauma or loss, or you’re dealing with incapacitating anxiety, this is the perfect place to reach out to a qualified mental health professional, to help you feel nurtured and get you back on track as a stepping stone, so that in the future you may be available for business coaching. But I never want to confuse coaching with qualified mental health supports. The other piece is, I want you to make sure that if your business is in a state of crisis, if you are thinking that business coaching is that last straw effort to try and save your sinking ship, that is your business. I also don’t recommend coaching at this time, because this is the time you need to get really strategic around how are you going to save this? If you are in crisis and you’re at that place where you feel like your business is sinking you, coaching is likely not your best investment. And here’s why. I think that coaching works best when you have capacity to make the changes that you need to make. You need to be having space for vulnerability and being open and self-reflecting. And if you are spending your last resources, especially if it is big money, if it’s multiple five figures that you’re spending to achieve coaching, but your business is at a place where it is sinking fast, do not invest your resources on coaching. You’re kind of setting yourself up for failure. At that place, you really need to get strategic about where are you going to be able to earn money to turn that around, or what supports do you need today to kind of stop that bleeding wound that is sinking your business, or you’re plugging that hole in your ship as it’s sinking. I don’t want you to invest tens of thousands of dollars in coaching at that point. It will not save your business simply because you don’t have capacity. At that time I think you need to really narrow down into where are the quick fixes? How can you save it? You’re in crisis mode, right? So at that point, you really do need to narrow down and spend what resources you can honestly afford to spend. You need to get really clear on what capacity you have to save this and then move forward. But I think at that point, coaching is not your best option.  

Kari Lotzien: [00:24:09] This is a tricky one. Number six is being able to ask yourself, am I coachable? Am I open to self-reflecting, getting feedback, and working towards change? Now I want to point out that in a great coaching relationship, it can be difficult to be vulnerable and to open up and that can take time. So I don’t want to give you the idea that you have to come into a coaching relationship just being ready to kind of lay it all out on the table. The process of being able to open up does take time, but I want you to ask yourself, when you look at the past, when you look at kind of how you’re coming into this, really asking yourself if you have willingness to consider self-reflecting and changing. Any time that we are looking to change, there has to be a sense of being coachable to take the information that you’re given, reflect on how it fits and then be willing to adjust course. There are many people out there, and for multitude of different reasons, that are just not coachable. They are really stuck in their ways. They aren’t really invested in making a change long-term because, for whatever reason, they feel like this is working just fine. So if you hear yourself saying things like, I just need to motivate other people, I just need to learn how to fix other people because they are the problem, either, you know, my customers need to understand or my team needs to be more motivated or more inspired, but you’re not willing to look at your side of the equation. If that’s the case, I don’t think the business coaching is your answer. I think in that situation, you’re working through the day to day activities in your business and you’re doing the best with what you’ve got. But if you’re not in a place where you’re willing to change, if you feel like when you do, maybe talk to someone about it. And that could be even in an introductory or inquiry call. If you notice yourself defending what you’re already doing. That’s a pattern that you are frequently just defending why things have to be the way they are, or why you can’t change, why it’s never going to be any different. So this can feel, from the coaching perspective, when you come up against a client that is really resistant to change and is just always defending their own action and giving you all kinds of reasons why that’s not possible, why they’re never going to have more time, they’re never going to be able to let go of that task, they’re never going to be able to create any more money, it feels like such a roadblock. And this can really deflate a relationship quickly. As a coach, these are the people that will then also say, well, I didn’t get anything out of coaching. I don’t feel like the value is there and they can be really detrimental to the business reputation of the coach. But it’s not because the coach didn’t have the framework or the coach didn’t lay out the plan. It was simply because the relationship, both sides of that beautiful coin in the coaching relationship weren’t there. So you have to have that openness and flexibility both ways. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:27:29] All right. And in our final and seventh step, this is the time where you’ve gotten through all of this other steps and you think, okay, I know my priorities. I know what I want to work on. I’ve researched my options, I’ve interviewed a few candidates, and I think I’ve found a program or coach that will be a great fit. I have the resources, both financially and in my energy and my time, to invest in that process and now I’m in a place where I can say, okay, I’m ready to make the investment. But the key to wrap all of this up is to now plan for your success. Set aside time, put it in your calendar, not only for your coaching appointments, but giving yourself space and time within that coaching relationship to be able to reflect, do your homework, go back and implement those changes so that you can really get the most return on your investment. I’m going to set aside that time to do my follow through on what my coach and I discussed. I’m going to have time to spend on the business outside of the time I spend with my coach, or in that course, or in that training, so that I can start to implement some steps, whether those are really big things or small things, but you’re creating a plan. You’re taking your side of the coin to ensure that you’re not just doing the course, you’re not just listening to the training and having all of these great ideas at the beginning but then they never go anywhere because you didn’t have the plan to follow through on it. You didn’t have the resources. But you’re setting yourself up so that when you do invest that time in paying for that coach, that this is where you’re going to really optimize on your return. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:29:13] So this is where I want to just highlight that when you’re looking at the value of coaching and the range is so wide when it comes to how much you’ll pay for a coach, number one, you want to make sure that this is something that is affordable, but I also don’t want you to look for the cheapest coach out there, because what I want is that the value is there. You want to make sure that they’ve got the systems and the process and the framework that you can follow that allows you to predict that you are going to be successful in the goal that you had when you came into coaching. But you understand that you’re also paying likely for their experience. You’re paying for their knowledge. They’ve likely, hopefully, had a background of learning business, of being able to apply it to different situations. They have a background in knowing how to coach people, and they understand and get you so that you are able to apply it to your situation. That does have value, and you want to be able to ensure that when you’re paying that money, when you’re investing your time and energy, whatever amount that is, that you’re getting the value. And I do believe that when you find the right coach who really gets you and who understands your business and can get excited with you in unpacking your challenges and in brainstorming opportunities and collaborating together, that relationship can be beautiful, and it can be so much fun as you start to really explore, where do I want to go next with my business? And I never want to, of course, I don’t ever want to deter someone from working with a coach who is really great. But I want to make sure that we are setting ourselves up for the optimal level of success in business and in life, and making sure that when we come to this partnership between a client and a coach, that we’re both looking after our sides of it, making sure that you’re finding the right coach with the right credentials, but that you’re also preparing yourself for what is it going to take for me to truly implement some of these strategies into my daily life so that I can get what I need out of it? 

Kari Lotzien: [00:31:26] I hope that you have really enjoyed this episode. If this is something you want to explore more and you’ve gone through, you’ve listened to some podcasts, and you feel like this might be a good fit for you, reach out. Book an inquiry call with me. We can find out if we’re a good fit and build from there. Thanks so much for being here. I’ll see you next week. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:31:49] Please know that this podcast is meant for entertainment purposes only. It is not a substitution for medical or professional mental health advice. If you require support, please do reach out. Thanks so much.