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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 –>

I just found a new coach that I'm working with and am super happy about that. (You can find out who it is at the end of this post.)

That led to this week's question.

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

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

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

My business coach is Armand Morin. I'm a part of Armand's Platinum group, which meets monthly on the phone, daily via email, and 3 times per year at Armand's home. I've enjoyed Armand's business advice since 2005, so it must be working!

I chose Armand because I liked the way he does business. I always learn something new from him. He truly loves what he does and is always learning and sharing the latest and greatest information. He also has the ability to diagnose problems quickly and offer a solution. Armand attracts people just like him – no pretense, no hype, 100% above-board business owners – many of whom are not “internet marketers.” Armand himself operates several businesses outside the IM space, so he has broad experience that pays off for us.

Most importantly he genuinely cares about my success. He is a patient teacher and even better mentor. I highly recommend him as a business coach!

FeliciaFelicia Slattery of Signature Speech Secrets says:

I work with several coaches for various reasons. My business and internet marketing coach is Bob The Teacher who helps keep me focused on my money-making activities while helping me make decisions about my business direction. In my business I interact with A LOT of coaches and I chose Bob because he's everything I'm not in many ways: he “gets” technology like no one I've ever met, he's uber-organized, and is amazing at connecting with people (ok, well I do that, too, but Bob is fabulous at it!). Not a week goes by where I don't learn some new tip or trick that is useful! I met Bob when he was a speaker at an event in 2008 and we've been friends and business associates ever since.

I also have a wealth coach, Kamin Samuel, who has helped me stay focused and grounded in my business. Working with her has helped me open up areas of wealth and income I would never have experienced without her coaching and guidance. We started out in a program together in 2006 and all these years later still work together regularly.

Finally, I have an ADD coach, Tina File, who, having ADD herself is adept at helping me prioritize and gives me useful strategies for getting everything I need to get done without feeling too overwhelmed. Tina was a client who wanted to learn more about speaking for her business and when I heard about how she helps so many entrepreneurs with quieting the noise inside their heads long enough to be productive, I knew she could help me.

The point is, there are different coaches for different skill sets. One of these days I'm going to hire YOU, Nicole, to help me get my passive income and affiliate programs running as they should because YOU are the hands-down clear expert on that. I find the best and work with them. It's always served me well!

Karon-black-225-framedKaron Thackston of Step-by-Step Copywriting Course says:

Why, yes! I do have a business coach, Nicole. And it's YOU!

I have some very specific goals I'm working to accomplish and you have proven systems in place where these goals are concerned. I knew you'd be able to get me through to where I wanted to be and give me the know-how and resources to be able to continue down the path long-term.

Plus, you're just a fun person! I knew I'd enjoy my time with you and have a few laughs along the way. Nothing better than making money and having fun doing it!

connieConnie Ragen Green of Affiliate Marketing Case Studies says:

The idea of coaching has never appealed to me; instead, I have chosen to work with several mentors since coming online in 2006. I think of a coach as someone who cheers you on to do your best and challenges you to do more, while a mentor guides you toward success by sharing what's working for them and then showing you exactly how you can do something very similar for your own business. During my first two years online I worked with two different mentors, and each of them helped me to move forward. One mentor I still work with to this day is Armand Morin, someone who continues to help my business grow by leaps and bounds. I'm in his Platinum program, which is limited to twenty-five entrepreneurs from around the world. I've been with this group since 2008.

Several years ago I was asked to join a Mastermind of my peers and I enthusiastically agreed. We meet in person several times a year and via Skype or webinar at other times. Unlike the mentor relationship, Masterminds are by invitation only and include the opportunity to joint venture and recommend each others best products, programs, and courses. This group has helped me to grow on both a personal and a professional level and to achieve goals I never thought possible.

I would encourage you to seek out like-minded people to put together your own Mastermind, and to choose one person you admire and respect to be your mentor. Having multiple mentors does not seem to work for anyone, and my own mentees experience the best results when they work exclusively with me for one or two years. Knowing that someone cares about your success as much as they do their own can help you to move up by leaps and bounds and will help ensure that you reach and surpass your wildest dreams and goals. Going it alone does not work, so get involved with the right people and be willing to do the work to achieve great results in record time.

How to Find and Choose a Business Coach-Connie

kellyKelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:

I have had some short term coaching in the last year, but I don't have a full time coach right now. I do have smart friends who I welcome input from on a regular basis though.

What I'd really like is to be part of a Mastermind. I want to spend more time with people making more money than me. I want to soak up their attitude and submit my brain for regular stretching sessions. I respond well to firm accountability (I can't bear reporting a missed deadline!) and enjoy the mix of a mastermind environment.

If I can't find a mastermind that fits me soon, I'm going to circle back to the coaching question. I know I can't get from where I am to where I want to go without some steady outside influence.

Tiffany Dow of  Work Life Balance says:

I have an online business coach who started out as just someone who saw potential in me and reached out to help me go from ghostwriter to marketer.

His name is Craig Desorcy . He currently works with both individual entrepreneurs as well as coaches or niche leaders – but the thing I love most about him is how he teaches people to “come to the table, ready to serve.”

As most of us know, greed gets you only so far. You build a solid reputation and a loyal fanbase that converts well through your efforts in helping others, and he excels at helping you tap into that.

What started out as a simple friendship discussing Internet Marketing has evolved into official coaching calls with my mentor. During these sessions, it almost always turns out to be something personal holding me back from professional success, and he takes me to that place that reveals what it is and shows me a simple way to address it.

One thing I find myself doing during times of extreme stress is becoming paralyzed or scrambling to get things done. Craig is the voice of calm and reasoning that shows me that if I breathe through it and think things through with a calm, clear mind, it all works out effortlessly.

I also love that he doesn’t have a cookie cutter approach to his coaching. He might ask some of the same questions to get insight, but he recognizes each individual as a separate entity and doesn’t try shoving his personal ideal business strategy on anyone – he tailors what you need to you because we’re all unique in our set of skills and talents, available time, and obstacles that we’re overcoming. 

ShannonShannon Cherry of Learn How I Get *Paid* to Attend Events says:

Currently I don't have a business coach, but want one. It's difficult for me to find the right person, as I am an out of the box, fast thinker which can annoy some, and can challenge someone who is coaching me. (Rebellious anyone?) So finding a person who gets my values and can go with me toe-to-toe has been a very long, very hard process.

That said, I am quite lucky as I have several very smart friends who help me on occasion, whether I need help or just an ear to listen to me whine.

And if anyone is up for the job, here's my help wanted ad.

Help Wanted: Smart Coach or Mentor to Help Successful Marketer to Expand Her Reach and Increase Her Profits

Established entrepreneur with a rapidly growing client base is currently seeking a dynamic, driven, and experienced individual to be their coach or mentor. This position will have the primary responsibility for providing ongoing support and ideas to the entrepreneur to grow the business.

Specific responsibilities for this position will include: help with the development of new business opportunities through analysis and interaction with the entrepreneur, coordinate and conduct regular mentoring activities which may include live meetings, phone calls and email support. The position will also assist with providing guidance to promote revenue growth. This position is highly visible and requires working in an effective and professional manner.

The ideal candidate will have a combination of real world and coaching/mentoring experience. In addition, he or she needs to:

  • Provide a reasonable contract with an ‘out’ clause for both parties. (I refuse to be sucked into a contract for a ‘lifetime’ or even a year, unless specific guarantees are in place.)
  • Listen to entrepreneur when the advice given isn’t working, without blame.
  • Be unique and not use a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to coaching/mentoring. (I see through that quickly.)
  • Understand how to work with a strong personality who sees through BS pretty quickly.
  • Uses and comprehends fundamental marketing principles… not too much of the Law of Attraction and woo-woo techniques unless you like my eyes to roll.
  • Recommend only additional products/program that you see as a benefit to the entrepreneur (as opposed to something you get a kick-back on or have a back-end agreement to do.)

Divas, kings, queens, gods, goddesses, emperors, mavens, and other self-important titles that have nothing to do with your abilities need NOT apply, unless you have been officially coronated or ordained in some way. (Please provide appropriate documentation, if needed.)

Compensation is commensurate with experience and proven TYPICAL results. (Not your best results… results, on average, for all your clients.)

melissa-ingold-twitterfbMelissa Ingold of Time Freedom Business says:

My personal and business coach for this year is Jennifer Longmore, and I’ll share more about why I chose her in a moment, but first…

I say “this year” because as I grow both personally and professionally, my needs change.

Choosing the right coach shouldn’t be taken lightly. I don’t go out looking for a coach to be my personal cheerleader, I have friends like Nicole for that 🙂 and mastermind groups. I choose a coach who is going to help me get to where I want to be next.

And I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong with coaching. They hire a coach who isn’t in a place to get them to the next level, or they think a coach is going to be all “rah, rah” and so they don’t hire one.

If you’re not hiring a coach for the right reasons, you’ll end up disappointed.

If you’re not hiring a coach because you don’t think it’s for you, you’re missing out.

The right coach brings more to the table than just helping you one-to-one in your business, they can bring:

  • Connections – They can personally connect you with the movers and shakers in your industry, and get you in front of people you’d never get in front of on your own. Whether it’s to get you an interview, some kind of promo, a speaking engagement, or for a JV.
  • Resources – They’ll share their personal recommendations for people and tools that they wouldn’t share with their list or blog readers publicly. You know, the kind of stuff they normally hold close to their chest, but as their high-level coaching client, they’re more than willing to share them with you.
  • Money – They’ll become invested in your business, and they’ll really get to see what you’re doing and the value you’re bringing to the market. And so, more often than not, they’ll promote your products and programs to their huge lists, exposing you to a whole new group of people that can result in a lot of money for you.
  • Smarts – They’ll, more often than not, have their own business coach, and so there’s a trickledown effect that happens because of that. They learn from their super-duper successful coach, they try and test new things, and then that knowledge ends up trickling back down to you. They’ll tell you about all the things they’re doing in their business, what’s getting results, what’s going on behind the scenes, and more. You’ll get an inside look at how they’re running their own business, and why they’re doing what they do. Plus, they always have so many crazy good ideas for you, so you’re going to make a lot of money.

You see, you don’t get all those things in a mastermind group. When people are in a group setting, they’re not as open and trusting as they would be with a private coach. And the mentor running the group, isn’t likely going to lay all their cards down on the table because some stuff will only be shared with their private high-level coaching clients.

Think about it. If you were running a group of 25 people, would you send an email to your list promoting every single one of them? Would you send them all to your best writer or VA? Would you connect them all to the go-to people you worked really, really hard to build a relationship with? Would you really share all of your hard-earned top secret tricks and strategies?

Maybe with one or two of them, but I guarantee you won’t open yourself up to all of them. It’s just human nature.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t value in mastermind groups, there totally is. But a group like that by itself, won’t get you to the next level as quickly as a well-chosen coach can.

How to Find and Choose a Business Coach - Melissa

At the end of 2010, I hired Carrie Wilkerson as my coach for 2011. She was more successful than me, she had a ton of connections, and I really wanted to see what she was doing and why.

I invested $20,000 in her yearlong program, and what do you know, I added another $100k to my income that year. It ended up being my best year up to that point, for all the reasons I mentioned above.

I don’t pick coaches to cheer me on. I pick coaches who have what it takes to make me money and grow my business.

In 2012 I didn’t work with a coach, because I took almost the whole year off. 🙂

Then in April of last year, I purchased some info products from Jennifer Longmore, which then led to private one-to-one sessions with her for the remainder of the year. At the end of 2013, I made the leap into her yearlong coaching program, so I’ll be working with her all of this year.

I chose to work with Jennifer this year because I’ve been working on a lot of inner personal / business stuff that was stalling me out. I say “was”, because since working with her, my business has taken a quantum leap in growth and income. But I still have a lot more internal work to do.

But what I’ve found, is that as you get ready to up-level your business, fear and other niggly’s will come up, and if you don’t work through those and clear them, you’ll stay stuck below the glass ceiling instead of busting through.

I really can’t explain how Jennifer does what she does. I just know that she’s freaking brilliant, and she’s changed my life in so many incredible ways.

I don’t know what the next year will bring. Maybe I’ll want to keep working with her, or I may be on the lookout for someone else. Again, I choose a coach based on what my goals are and where I want to be in the next year.

So my last piece of advice? Figure out what your needs are, and where you want to be personally and professionally, and then find someone who can bring a crap load of benefits to the table for you.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

As I mentioned, I just started with a new coach and I'm happy! happy! happy!

Note that I said “new coach” 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.

The problem that I'd been having was finding a coach for ME.  Once you get to a certain level of income/success in your business, it can be 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've definitely got room for improvement 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.

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.

My criteria at this point in time for a coach included:

1. My coach must have built at least two successful profitable businesses, and also have a great relationship with his/her list.

2. My coach could not be working 80 hours a week. I've built my business so that I can work when I want to but I have plenty of recurring income streams and systems in place so I make money ongoing. Having a coach who was flying all over the country and working 8-18 hours a day wasn't going to be a good fit.

3. Similarly, I wanted someone who doesn't work off a jam packed calendar. I like to have my schedule mostly free except for a few coaching calls and any interviews that I'm doing. Otherwise, I feel trapped by my business.

4. Someone uber-productive.

5. A businessperson with low overhead. I didn't want someone who had a staff of 15 employees and an office building. I wanted someone running a tight, lean, profitable business.

6. A person who rocks at positioning. I felt stuck in a decision about rebranding and how to move forward with it.  So, I wanted someone who was very clear in his/her positioning and in putting themselves out clearly in the marketplace.

7. A great public speaker/presenter. I am getting more and more speaking opportunities and I know that I can improve in this area.

8. A person who I trusted to not blab to others and who I felt comfortable being honest and open with. (Someone safe and kind.)

9. Someone who was familiar with and who would understand my business model, with,, as well as my other areas of business.

10. He or she must offer email coaching. Again, I'm not a fan of scheduling calls and I prefer flexibility. Plus, I wanted private coaching, not group. Sometimes more opinions are not necessarily better.

11. Funny helps. I wouldn't mind having some laughs, too.

12. My coach must also have MASSIVE amounts of integrity in business and in personal life. This is not optional.

13. He or she must also be making the world a better place with the platform that they have built. (Using the opportunity of having an audience to get the word out about ways to impact the world.)

Not too hard, right? 😉 Well, when I was stuck in Icelanta during the storm, Kelly and I brainstormed and one person JUMPED out at me as the right person. And, I was so sure that I was making the right decision that I jumped on the lifetime coaching option. It was the best and easiest money that I've spent in a long time. (Watch for new greatness to happen soon.)


Click here to find out who I picked!

I do hope you found this post to be interesting and informative.  

Please share your tips for finding an working with a coach below. Also, feel free to give a shout out if you have a coach that you are working with that you love.

Big hugs to you!
Nicole Dean


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

  • Patti Stafford

    Ooh Nicole, as I was reading your criteria his name popped into my head. Freaky cool, eh? 😉

    I don’t have a coach or mentor, but I’m “studying” a few people. I am in Paul Evan’s Achieve program (which is awesome, because Paul is awesome) I also watch (as close as I can,) Lynn Terry and Kelly McCausey.

  • Kelly McCausey

    Shannon, I wonder if your desire to go ‘toe to toe’ with a coach is your problem in finding one? Hiring a coach is an important admission that you don’t have all the answers and you NEED ideas and direction from someone with a different perspective. The whole way you’ve worded your ‘ad’ is adversarial – like you DARE them to be smart enough to teach you something.

    Sure, you’ve rocked it so far – there’s no arguing you’re a smart cookie with serious street credibility in your wheel house. But you’ve got to check your history at the door and come to a coach with an open heart and mind.

    Maybe if you can bring yourself down to a position of true humility, you’ll find that it isn’t so hard to find perfect for your needs going forward.

  • Karon Thackston

    I love Paul, Nicole! Every product I’ve gotten of his and every session/keynote I’ve been in where he spoke was far past awesomeness.

  • Karon Thackston

    BTW, Felicia, I think it’s hilarious that the person with ADD currently has THREE coaches!

  • Ryan

    Hey Nicole,

    Just got done checking out your coach’s page and it sounds like an impressive offer. I’m interested, how did you decide to go with that specific coach? Did you interview them first or have a previous working relationship? Just curious about how you went about making your decision.

    Best of luck and I hope you’ll do a followup and let us know how the coaching is going.

    • Nicole

      Hi Ryan. I’d known Paul for years, and have followed his business. So, it was easy for me to decide as I knew he met my very picky criteria. However, just to be safe, I did reach out to him on Facebook first to see if, knowing me and my business, if he would want to work with me.

      As for the interview part of your question, that’s a GREAT point. At NAMS in Atlanta, many of the instructors (including me) offer free 15 minute one-on-one sessions. I find that most of the people who sign up for these slots are actually looking to find a coach during the weekend they are there. So, it can be an interesting “Interview Each Other” chat. lol. I only work with a few people at a time (high level infoproduct sellers), so most of the people who do the sessions with me get referred to another Instructor as I can play matchmaker very well. 🙂

      But, yeah, with your business model (assuming the link you posted in your comment is your main business) – I can see that you’d want a very specific type of coach.

      Feel free to respond if you like and I might be able to point you in a good direction.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Ryan

        Thanks for the detailed reply Nicole and thank you very much for your offer to “point me in the right direction”.

        I have started looking for coaches that might be able to help me expand my business, but, as you mentioned, it might have to be a very specific coach. Plus, there is so much noise in the coaching space right now the only way I would feel comfortable moving forward would be though a recommendation.

        I’ll check back here for your reply or feel free to email me too. Also, thanks for taking the time to check out my website. Maybe someday I can be of service to you. =)

      • Ryan

        Hey Nicole,

        Curious on how your coaching is going. Any chance we could get a followup post on what has been working and your thoughts after a few weeks of coaching?

  • Kelly

    Hi Nicole, I cannot afford most coaching and would really love to have a coach to help me get a plan drawn up and get me going. If you know anyone that would help a “poor” (literally) girl out I would love to know who they are and just so you understand “poor” I am stretching myself very thing paying for Kelly’s SOLOSMARTS program at 25 dollars a month. I cannot afford anything else at this point. You, her, and Tracy Roberts are my heroes, but I am not a business person like you three, I am a farmer. If you know of someone who could help me get things going and come up with a plan to get some money coming in I would most greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much. KJD

    • Kelly McCausey

      Kelly, I’m honored that you’re stretching your tight budget around my membership 🙂 It IS a great place to start and you DO have a Coach = ME! I’m there daily, so ask away!

    • Nicole

      Hi Kelly,

      Kelly M is right. If all you can afford right now is $25, then you use that membership to your full advantage. 🙂 The best thing about it is that you graduate after 12 payments so then you’ll have that membership for life.

      SoloMasterminds is where I got my start. You can’t go wrong there!

      Hugs and best wishes,

  • Tim

    Nicole, you are so right on the topic of having a coach!
    A good coach can also be a valuable mentor in some cases.

    I know since I hired a coach/mentor it has helped me
    immenseley with my online income biz! Highly recommend
    you get one if you don’t already have one.

  • Paul

    Thanks Patti!!!!! Next, Achieve is next Monday! 🙂

  • Lynne

    Great post very informative and also great suggestions. I will surely keep all these in mind as I choose a business coach.

  • Chitraparna Sinha

    Hi Nicole,

    A really amazing series 🙂 Having a business coach is really important. When I started out as a freelance writer in 2008, I didn’t have anyone to guide. Basically, I didn’t know anyone in the industry and figured everything out on my own.

    Not that I am doing bad on my own but I really wish to have had a mentor or coach during those years *Sigh*


  • Ryan

    Hey Nicole, Just wanted to update you on my experience with Paul. After reading you had chosen him as your coach I read some of his material, signed up for his list, and considered buying some of his products.

    I saw an offer for his Nichology product that offers PLR and other benefits and thought I would check it out. Turned out I didn’t like the format and was having trouble finding value so, as instructed, I went into his interface and canceled. Short story is that he rebilled me without my consent and refuses to respond to any support emails. I’ve filed a support request with paypal to see if they will reverse the charge.

    Paul did a great job converting someone that had a positive view of his brand and converted me into someone who thinks he is a crook! Hope you are having a better experience than me.

    • Nicole

      Ryan how I am just now seeing this? YIKES. How did I miss it?

      I know Paul well, and I’m assuming that this was a misunderstanding. He’s definitely one of the good guys.

      Let me look into it a bit for you. I have complete confidence that either is has been already or can be worked out.

  • Savvy Subcontracting

    I’m getting discouraged finding a coach. With my service business I earned my goal amount for a coach but can’t get anyone to commit. Most of them say they only work with established businesses. It’s almost like coaches don’t need the work.

    • Kelly McCausey

      As a coach, I have to believe in the project and skills a client brings to the table. If I can’t see that clearly and how I’d be able to shape them into profits – I have to pass on the client.

      Truth is, I don’t NEED the work. (Most coaches don’t!)

      The better question is do I want it? I want to work with clients who come to bat with excitement and a great project.

      Maybe it’s not that you can’t find the right coach, maybe it’s that you haven’t found the right project that interests one.

    • Nicole

      For me, as a coach, I only take on 5 or less monthly VIP clients at a time. The people who I choose to work with are the ones who I am clear on a vision and can give THEM results if they do the work. I have a very clear person who I work with because it simply does not FEEL like work for me if I have that person as a client. 🙂

      And, no, I don’t need the clients. I can actually earn more money each month without coaching clients. I choose to do it to hone my skills as a teacher, too, and because it makes me happy.

      I hope that helps explain. Please don’t be frustrated. You just haven’t found the right person for right NOW yet.

      Big hugs,

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