The one thing I wish I'd done sooner as an entrepreneur: hire a coach.
Business coach. Life coach. Sales coach. In retrospect, perhaps I should have done so before starting my business, but I didn't know what I didn't know. I'm not sure I would have known how to pick the best coach for me and my business. Now I know better.
A coach could be the one person your business needs, the one who can get you over the hump and onto your next big win. Here are some things you need to consider when scouting out your coach.
There's got to be sparks.
No. 1 is chemistry. Do you click with your prospective coach? Of course, you'll want to meet all coaching candidates in person. Remember once you're working together you'll have to open up and get pretty real. If you can't imagine talking with this person about your hopes, fears, strengths, weaknesses, relationships, and money, it's not the right fit; move along.
Focus on your needs.
Second, consider what the coach brings and what you need. Do you need an overall business coach or one who specializes in one area, such as sales? Are there are other areas of your life--relationships, self-care, and more--that you need to improve upon, and if so, might a life coach make sense?
Other considerations: Do you want a coach who focuses on your particular field or certain types of professionals? Or someone who focuses on businesses of a certain size--as measured by sales or employees--or tenure?
I opted for a sales coach, because, as a lifelong writer (a journalist and then corporate communications professional), I had no formal sales training. While I didn't know it was important to me at the time, after I met my coach, Rachel, I really liked the fact that she focuses on helping female entrepreneurs in creative fields.
Then, you will want to think about how and how long you want to work with your coach. Do you want 1:1 coaching or would you value being part of a coach's small group sessions? Do you want to treat it like a marathon or a sprint? By that I mean, do you want to ease in and work with someone for a long time, say six months or longer? Or do you prefer a quick burst of coaching activity followed by a period of less intense check-ins?
Whichever course you take and whomever you hire as your coach, you need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you will do the work. Did I mention there's homework?
Two bonus tips.
Your spouse or partner cannot be your coach. Your biggest fan, perhaps. In fact, that was in the vows my husband and I wrote nearly 15 years ago. I talked about this in a recent interview with business coach and entrepreneur Tabatha Coffey, host of Bravo TV's Relative Success with Tabatha.
"A coach gives you perspective. They are not as close to the situation," Coffey said. "With the people who love us, they are not the best sounding board, because they love us. The advice they give you is not necessarily the advice you need."
Finally, keep an open mind. You might be surprised by who just feels right. I never would have guessed that I'd hire a Millennial business coach or that she'd dig working with a Gen X-er. But she was the fresh set of eyes, ideas, and inspiration my business and I needed.
I like knowing Rachel is waving her imaginary foam finger in my direction at all times. Now go out and score your perfect coach!