Business coaching seems to be a booming industry. But unfortunately this means there are a growing number of people charging for business coaching services without delivering anything of value -- and in some cases actually doing damage to their clients’ personal brands, careers and businesses.
One problem is that ‘business coach’ is now a term used by unscrupulous people who haven’t the experience or track record of success behind them. They simply call themselves a coach and expect you to take their word for it.
Business coaching is an unregulated industry. It is not like other professions such as law or accountancy, where you have to be accredited and there are legal guidelines. People don’t have to be qualified or follow a set of industry guidelines in order to become a business coach.
This opens you up to a range of dangerous situations; including a very common one -- they steal your ideas.
Often the type of person who needs a business coach is someone struggling with their business, is looking to excel in their career or looking to start out on their own.
They assume getting a coach will set them up with everything they need to succeed. This is unfortunately not the case.
What business coaches should be able to help you with:
A coach should be a specialist in a particular area in which you are in need of upskilling or development. For example, if you need assistance with the finances or financial structure for your business, an accountant may be your best option. If you need help with branding, profile and leads, a marketing/branding expert who has themself succeeded in this area is your best option.
They are not there to call you weekly/monthly to say “you can do this” or “how are you going” … they are supposed to give you practical advice (from their experience) and even solutions to a problem -- because they are professionals.
What to look for in a business coach
If you look for a coach, do your research first. Have the mindset that you are looking for a consultant who can deliver; rather than someone who will ask questions without directing you to a proven solution.
Check first that they are successful, or have been successful, in the area in which you are looking for help. Make sure you are confident about their abilities in that field before paying them to help you with the same thing. Ask around, check coverage of them in the media, or even ask for a list of their other clients you can speak to.
Don’t get caught up in sales hype or unrealistic promises. For example, if you have to sign up to a six-month contract within 24 hours, then this provider uses fear to secure their clients. If you are told that business should be easy or their mantra is purely “dream, believe, achieve” then you are most likely dealing with someone who hasn’t experienced the realities of the business world -- and is most likely not prepared to help you through it either.
How to avoid being screwed over by a bad business coach
Once you have a coach, have them sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement that clearly outlines all your ideas are YOUR ideas -- and make sure you include anything else you want to protect yourself against.
When you sign an agreement, make sure there is a clause for you to exit. For example: 30 days notice for cancelling a long-term contract.
If you do find out your coach has copied you or they are not what they made out to be, and you have proof, then it is best to cut your losses and move on.
Without a signed agreement, there is very little you can do if they steal or copy your ideas -- unlike a trademark, where you have protection without an agreement.
If they have signed a confidentiality agreement you can remind them of this; and do so via your lawyer if necessary.
Amanda Rose is the only 'Strategic Connector' in Australia, connecting CEOs, directors and businesses together to enhance brand, profile and lead generation opportunities.
Host of Amanda Rose TV, Founder and Host of The Business Woman Media, Keynote Speaker and media commentator including a weekly Smart Connections video blog for SmartCompany.com.au.
For help bringing your brand to the next level, contact Amanda today on 0432 49 02 48.