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How to Find and Choose a Business Coach

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>

This week I asked the experts to name names, point fingers, and give shouts of kudos where appropriate.

The question for this week is:

Do you currently have a business coach or mentor?
If so, are you brave enough to share who it is?

FeliciaFelicia Slattery of Signature Speech Secrets says:

My coach is Steve Sipress, who is the leader of one of the top 3 largest and most successful Glazer-Kennedy Insider's Circle groups in the country. As you know, being a Mom with little kids at home makes traveling to coach or mastermind groups tricky, so when I met Steve, who is right here in the Chicago area, I jumped at the chance to work with a coach like him who knows his stuff and can quickly and easily guide me to the complete marketing and sales success with each project I am working on.

Plus, as a coach and consultant myself, I'd never ask my clients to hire me as their mentor if I wasn't willing to be working with (and paying) someone else as the same. Over the years I've worked with greats like Jeff Herring, Kevin Nations, Bob Jenkins, Ken McArthur, Denise Michaels, and I get to speak weekly as accountability partners with Shannon Cherry, all who brought me to a higher level in various aspects of my business. I'm so grateful I made the investment in myself and continue to see the benefits of doing so!

Susanne Myers of Daily Affiliate Tasks says:

I did some group/forum coaching early on (which is actually where I became friends with Nicole) and it helped me grow my online business to first a part-time, then a full-time income. In other words, I was familiar with the concept, but in recent years, I have not had any type of formal coaching or mentor program with one-on-one interaction. I relied on a wonderful network of successful peers. It definitely helped me grow my business, but about 6 months ago, I realized I was at a point where the right mentor could make a difference and help me grow even more.

The only problem was that I had a very hard time finding the right person. I wasn't at a point yet, where I was comfortable spending a couple of grand on a coach, plus many of the coaches I came across just didn't seem the right fit for me and my business.

I think it's important to realize when you need a coach, but also to not force it and either spend way more than you can realistically afford or work with someone that isn't on the same wavelength as you.

I did find a coach (thanks to Nicole) a little over a week ago. I started working with Tony Shepherd from Hippy Marketing (click for a sneak peek into his business) and so far it's looking great.

We haven't had a whole lot of time yet and I'm only in the first stages of implementing his advice. But I can tell you this… I already have more focus and better clarity of what I need to work on to take this to the next level.

Nicole – I hope you'll revisit this Expert Brief in a few months and have us report on our progress. I have a feeling I'll have some great news to share by then 🙂

Note from Nicole:

I really recommend this free report. You can look inside Tony Shepherd’s business and he holds nothing back: CLICK HERE FOR FREE BEHIND THE SCENES ACCESS   (Note: It's not for the easily offended. And, it's funny as heck!)

MarkMark Mason of MasonWorld Internet Marketing Blog says:

Jimmy D. Brown is my coach for my membership site about Late Night Affiliate Marketing. (Watch for that project to launch soon!)

Cliff Ravenscraft is my coach for podcasting.


Melissa Ingold of Internet Marketing PLR Reports says:

Tony Shepherd is not only an old client of mine, but I also hired him to be my business coach this year. I’m a big believer in working with a coach if it feels right to you.

Last year, I worked with a different coach, and as much I wanted to work with her again, I decided to go with Tony because he’s a better fit for me this year based on my goals.

Anyway, after just 7 days of working with Tony and following his guidance, his coaching was paying for itself. And, it continues to over and over again – seriously!

That's me, in the picture, reading his Tony's private “insider” newsletter where he shares what he's doing in his business every month. Yes, I print them each month and keep them in a binder for easy access.

ShannonShannonCherry of Business Charm School says:

Who's my mentor? No one and everyone.

I have no formal mentor. I have wanted one for a while. I even created a blog post about my search for one more than a year ago. It included a pretty detailed job description. And still, no luck.

But I am not mentor-less. Far from it.

You see, even though I cannot find ‘The One' yet (Yes, I believe that person IS out there!), I have plenty of super smart online business friends who I know I can pick up the phone and call on a moment's notice when I am stuck. And I'm lucky, because unlike many people, I look beyond a specific niche. So my pals run the gamut from great speakers and authors to savvy coaches and internet marketers. By allowing me hear different takes on the same problem/solutions, I can formulate a plan that works for me.

So who are my peeps? People like Nicole Dean, Tracy Roberts, Shawn Driscoll, Sandy Martini, Felicia Slattery, Lou Bortone, and Nancy Marmolejo are all people I rely on. They are honest, helpful and more importantly, fun to be with!

Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of Organize Your Online Business says:

My mentor has been Armand Morin for the past five years. Prior to that I worked with Jim Edwards and Alex Mandossian. Needless to say, I've learned from the best!

One of the things I look for in a mentor is someone who cares about my success. Frankly, I don't care how successful they are, because there are a lot of people who can create success themselves but have no clue how to help someone else. And that caring and ability to inspire me to action and guide my actions are exactly what I have found with Jim, Alex, and Armand.

I've stuck with Armand the longest because every time I take a class from him, I make money. Every time I attend an event with him, I learn something new – and make money. His excitement and enthusiasm for Internet marketing comes through in everything he does – he's like a kid with a new toy. And his level of caring for my success is obvious, whether he's teasing me from the stage or raking me over the coals in the Platinum group.

I believe that everyone, regardless of your level of success, needs a mentor. We need someone to watch us from the outside, from a detached perspective. Your spouse can't do it. Your best friend can't do it. You need a professional.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

Well, Susanne let it spill who my current coach is. Note that I said “current” as I feel that the coaching/client relationship is a fluid and evolving thing. In my opinion, to stick with the same business coach or mentor forever will limit you.

For instance, I  graduate my coaching clients at a certain point, too, once they don't need me anymore as they on on a roll. I'm not going to continue to work with someone for years, because they should no longer need me – if I'm doing my job right.


I have to eventually let them go, if I feel that they meet any of these criteria…

1. They are moving in a direction where I'm no longer the best person to help them. In which case, I'll give them suggestions and refer them to someone else who is better suited to helping them.

2. They are stuck and are not listening to me, choosing to give me excuses instead. (In which case, they need to have a “come to Jesus” talk with themselves about whether they're willing to do what they must to reach the levels of success that they're telling me that they want.)

3. I'm repeating myself week after week and they're letting fear keep them from progressing. (In which case, they need someone who can deliver a butt-kicking better than I.)

Either way, I see it as a temporary role and eventually they leave the nest and head off on their own.

The problem that I'd been having on the other side of things was finding a coach for ME.  Once you get to a certain level of income/success in your business, it's very difficult to find a coach who you trust and who is someone that you can be honest and direct with – as well as who has knowledge in areas where you want to get stronger.

Could I have found a coach to help me become a better speaker? In a heartbeat. I'm definitely a beginner at that.

Could I have found a coach to help me write and publish my book? Absolutely. In fact I have one.

But, someone to teach me to be a better marketer? Well, I'm kinda awesome at that – so it's a little more difficult. 😉

One normal alternative, and what I'd been doing was to create private masterminds with peers which worked well. I'm also accountability buddies with Susanne and Melissa and a few other friends. And, that's been hugely beneficial.

But, I really wanted something different. And, I've tried to coach friends and be coached by friends — it just doesn't work as well as I'd like. I wanted to work with someone who I admired – but who wasn't a girlfriend (and someone who I was paying so they had to be honest instead of just being nice).

So, I'd been on the hunt for a coach for me. And, I knew several other friends who were looking as well.

When suddenly a few months ago, I opened my email and saw that Tony Shepherd had opened up a few coaching spots. I quickly clicked on the links and saw a big “SOLD OUT” button. DANGIT!  I IM'd Melissa to complain about it and she said ‘Oh, I got in.”

I was like “DOH!”

So, then for the next month, I had to listen to her tell me how wonderful Tony is… as if I didn't already know. 😉

Finally, I got a notice that he'd opened 10 more spots, so I hit that paypal button so fast that I hurt my finger. (Not really, but you get the visual.)

So, I've been working with Tony for the last month or so and am really enjoying it. I love the way the man's mind works. Plus, he makes me laugh.

If you want to peek inside Tony's head without the coaching pricetag – check out his private newsletter here:

Anyway, I do hope you found this post to be interesting and informative.  And, yes, if you'd like to do private coaching, there are a few resources below.

Nicole Dean

Recommended! If you need someone to tell you “THIS project” is the one to focus on or “THIS traffic technique is what you need to be doing” – I recommend my friend (and mastermind partner who I brainstorm with on a daily basis), Susanne Myers, who offers private coaching for much cheaper than I do.

You can check it out here: Private Confidential Business Coaching with Susanne Myers.

Or you’ll find mine here: Nicole Dean Private Confidential Coaching. (Yes, I have clients whose names you’d recognize. But I can’t tell you who they are. I promised them confidentiality.) ;)

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • James Artre

    My first coach was none other than Jimmy D. Brown! Awesome man, love him dearly.

    My second mentor was Stephen Pierce. I was able to spend quite a bit of time with him at his home and at several major functions. The man is a genius!

    I still receive updates from Jimmy and Stephen, as well as you, Nicole.

    However, I am in the process of moving onto the next phase of my mentoring and may just check out “The Hippy” to see if he is the right person at the right time for me.

    And as you stated Nicole, knowing when to move on is very important.

    Be good to yourself,


  • Shannon

    Oh Nic—

    So happy I’m wasn’t the ONLY one who has a hard time finding a good match. I frankly was worried that I would be the oddball in this group.

    So thanks for sharing that!

    I love Tony too, BTW. But still haven’t figured out if he’s the right guy for MY business.

    • Nicole

      Oh no, Shannon. I totally understand. I was ready to give up.

      I think Tony is perfect for me right now as I mostly want a second set of really smart eyes to rake over my business with me and to say “yeah that’s a good idea” or “I think it would be better this way” or “frankly, I don’t think that’ll fly”. lol.

      Who knows what I’ll be looking for next year? 🙂

  • Peggy Baron

    I’m a big Tony fan too, as you know, and I’ve been making money from his newsletter ideas since he started it. I knew Melissa was doing his coaching, but I didn’t know you and Susanne were too! I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes for you ladies.

    Jeanette when you said “I’ve stuck with Armand the longest because every time I take a class from him, I make money.” I was thinking about how sick you were at his conference in SF!


  • Fabio VP

    It’s just an experience from a VERY beginner (my website is not ready yet).

    Nicole, when you said one of the criteria of letting people follow their way was when fear was taking over, it really rang a bell.

    I picked Ronnie Nijmeh as a couch and I really like him. And fear struck me twice:

    1) when he proposed me to create a business based on the language of my own country (although I’m brazilian, all stuff I have – mostly from Jimmy D. Brown and PLR – is in english; so, although internet marketing in english is waaay more developed and mature, I believed it would be easier to follow this way);

    2) I know the theory of “traditional” ways of creating a product and promoting (articles, SEO, blogging…). And, despite making some jokes and getting along well with people, I consider myself a shy person – so, I tend to favor writing skills, instead of social ones. And I almost got paralised when he proposed me webinars… Ouch! I made good presentations, but I feel better talking one-on-one than to a crowd.

    Ok, so what’s the point? I believe when you guys told that you should choose a couch that is a better “fit” to you. However, maybe it’s interesting to talk to someone who can take you out of your comfort zone – definitely my case. How am I know? Creating my website (actually, struggling with it, as I hate programming – so, I’m asking for a little (Huge) help) and advancing on my content. I hope I can launch in a month or two.

    I hope I could help and best regards.

    Fabio VP.

    P.S.: Oh, by the way, my theme is Stress.

    • Nicole

      Hey Fabio.

      Great questions.

      When I say “choose a coach who’s a fit for you” – my goal in this instance was to find a coach whose business was similar to mine. There are several marketers who I really love, but, like you said, they do things that are just not the direction that I really want my business to head.

      Tony, for me, was exactly who I needed at this point in time. He’s mostly a writer. Not a webinar guy or YouTube guru. I’m a writer, for the most part, too. He also has a family and likes to travel with them and spend time together. He outsources much of what he does. And, he focuses a lot on product creation, list building, and backend sales. All stuff that I really focus on, too. Plus, he’s got a great sense of humor and ties that into everything that he does. And, he’s a little geeky with testing too – which I enjoy as well.

      The three main criteria, in my opinion, are:

      * Their business style. I wouldn’t say to find someone *exactly* like you – especially in the beginning, but know the direction that you want your business to head and choose someone who has already been there and done that.

      * Obviously personality is a factor as well. Choose someone who you’ll work well with. I’ve heard horror stories of coaches who belittle their clients. Not good. You want good communication.

      * Format. The format that the coaching will be done in is important, too. I get on Skype a lot with my clients because I’m a visual person and I want to see their screens on their computers at home. I also offer email coaching for the interim. Others only do phone or only do email coaching.

      Obviously there are other factors to consider, but I do hope that helps!

      And, I agree. Ronnie is a great guy. Have you listened to my podcast with him?

  • SkinnyandFabulous

    Hi Nicole,
    I am right in the midst of choosing a business coach. I am expanding my niche and am looking for clarity and strategies.
    I am really at a loss about what I am looking for and who would be a good fit for me.
    I am wanting to add offline marketing as well as online strategies to my S&F business.
    Any suggestions?

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