Bad Business Coaching And How To Spot It
Not all business coaches know what they’re doing — here are the telltale signs.
If you’ve worked with business coaches before, whether through 1-on-1 sessions, group coaching, or a course, you may have had healthy exposure to coaches that made you feel worse rather than wonderful about the state of your business. Or, you may have received business advice that was unhelpful, maybe even detrimental to the progress of your business.
Real talk: there are business coaches out there that don’t know what they’re doing and take a lot of innocent businesses down with them through their lack of experience.
When business owners seek help, they defer to the experts to guide them. The danger of this expert-and-student power dynamic is that the student doesn’t know when they’ve received bad advice.
When a student in this scenario receives advice or coaching that doesn’t solve their problem or move their business forward in a meaningful way, they lack the knowledge to make the call between what of their result was influenced by their shortcoming and what was the shortcoming of their coach. So, they follow the confidence of the business coach and keep working with them until they see some results, without knowing better that the problem is the coach.
There are a lot of business coaches out there right now. There are some that are really experienced, have all the recognition and awards, and seem like they should know what they’re doing, but don’t. On the flip side, there are those who are pretty new to business coaching, but somehow are exemplary at helping businesses hit their goals.
This speaks to the core challenge for those shopping for business coaches: experience isn’t everything, and good marketing can deceive you into believing that a coach will produce results for you.
So what do you look for when shopping for a business coach? And what are the red flags signaling the advice that you’re better off not taking? Here’s a breakdown —
You feel boxed in by your challenges and their solutions
Proceed with caution if you share your challenges with a coach, and they respond with solutions that leave you feeling boxed in, or like your only way forward is to compromise on solutions that don’t feel good to you.
Instead of showing you a field of opportunities, this type of coach shows you a tight tunnel to squeeze into, possibly to go in a direction you’re not thrilled about.
A business coach who’s inexperienced or does not have a large toolkit to draw from will default to only pushing one or few solutions.
These are the coaches that swear up and down that digital ads are how you get your business to 6-figures, or only know how to use Instagram to drive a business’ growth. These coaches are great if you are looking for expertise in one specific topic, but they’re not the best when it comes to advising you on your best strategy with a bird’s eye view of all your possible paths forward.
A true, experienced business coach will listen to your desires, strengths, and weaknesses and gain an understanding of your comfort zone. With this information, they’ll be agile in crafting a business strategy for you that’s compatible with your personality and abilities.
They will draft up the best business plan for your business by co-creating it with you.
Business coaches who don’t have enough experience won’t possess this agility and will only push solutions that they know. Because they have a limited cup to draw from, they will demonstrate that limited range when working with you. Beware of the business coaches who push singular solutions on you, rather than co-creating solutions for your business with you.
A lot of woo woo and manifesting is involved
There has been a strong intersection between business coaching and spirituality in recent years, particularly when it comes to money mindset and manifesting one’s business desires.
Looking to these practices to get your mind to a place of self-belief and confidence is great (I’ve used these teachings to guide me in my entrepreneurial journey too) — but where these practices cross a dangerous line is when they’re relied upon as a tool for one’s success rather than as a supplementary lens.
A common manifestation desire for entrepreneurs is the income jump or manifesting a lot of money out of nowhere. Here’s the disclaimer about manifestation that a lot of coaches neglect to mention — it’s difficult to manifest your way to a $10K month from near nothing if your action plan is to wait for the money to magically manifest for you.
Manifesting paired with action definitely works — there are many stories of some of the most successful people on the planet who have manifested their dreams this way.
When manifestation is taught without intentional planning or action however, you are moving into sci-fi territory of expecting your mind to conjure up your dreams without lifting a finger.
If you find a coach who preaches manifestation with a heavy lean on the manifestation and less of a focus on strong strategy and ruthless execution, be suspicious of the value of the guidance you’re receiving.
Spending money is the only solution
One piece of advice that you don’t need to hire a business coach for: money solves all of your problems.
If you’re not careful, it’s possible to be unaware that this is the advice a business coach is constantly giving you. When this type of advice is sugarcoated and delivered in different ways so that it’s not obvious that all of their advice always comes back to you spending money to solve your problems, it can be hard to catch.
A business coach’s purpose should be to help you see how you can utilize resources other than money to solve your business problems. They should be helping you solve problems that revolve around questions of — where is there an opportunity to use stronger strategy? How can I allocate my time better? Where am I misusing my resources and how is that hurting my business?
The purpose of the business coach is to inject creativity and ingenuity into your business strategy in a way that money can’t. Hold them accountable to that.
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