Of all the investments I made in my business, the best return has always been hiring a personal coach. Since coaching is not regulated, anyone can say they are a coach. I have seen many new entrepreneurs get bedazzled by high-end coaches who promise overnight success only to find failure and disappointment. There are three important questions you should ask yourself to find the right fit for you. Good coaching requires a big investment, but it will cost you and your business more if you do not have one.

1. Do you need a coach, a mentor or a teacher?

Before your hire a coach it is important to clarify the difference between a teacher, a coach, and a mentor.

  • A teacher is someone who has studied a topic enough to be able to teach what she has learned to others.
  • A mentor is someone who actually has experience in your industry creating success for herself and can show you the way.
  • A coach is someone who can help you with the internal aspects of entrepreneurship, personal growth, setting goals and facing fears and resistance.

If you need a teacher to help with a skill such as internet marketing or branding, make sure the person you hire has a business background. Look at their credentials. Do they really understand business or are they just good at Facebook ads and executing funnels copied from another internet marketer? There are graphic and web designers calling themselves branding experts, but they do not have any agency experience or training in branding. If you are looking for a teacher, find an excellent marketer with real-world business experience for the best results.

If you need a mentor, many times you can find one in your industry through mentorship programs. This is different than coaching. They are there for advice and business structure and negotiations, not really expert at helping you through stress or mindset. 

I recommend getting a combination of guidance in growing your business and developing personal skills. Hire experienced business teachers in the short-term to learn skills you need to execute your business (such as taking short courses or seminars). For long-term consistency, always have a highly-trained life coach, preferably with proven success and business experience, who can help you with your mindset as you face the internal challenges of executing the plans and growing your business.

2. What stage is your business at?

In the early days of my business I made the mistake of being in the wrong mastermind groups. I had an established business with paying clients and I was surrounded by newbies who have not even launched their business. Some coaches are good for beginners and others are more suited for helping people at higher levels because different stages require different skills.

Think about what support you need with your business. Do you need to set up lead generation and sales to launch your business or do you need to support in building a team to scale your business? Every stage of your business comes with unique challenges that need to be addressed outside of a formula taught to the masses.

Beware of the boxes. A true entrepreneur cannot be placed in a box with others, you should have a customized experience in building your business and surround yourself with people who are at your stage.

3. How do you feel about yourself and success?

This is the most important question to ask yourself. Your business can only grow as much as you do. Do you have hesitations on being more visible or charging higher prices? Do you need guidance to help with discipline while working with inner resistance? Do you feel like a leader or an imposter?

If you do not take care of your inner life, even if you do reach financial success, it will never be enough. You must be emotionally and psychologically ready to become a leader. I have seen so many well-intentioned entrepreneurs get caught up in the drive for high revenues when they are a stressed and confused inside. They work really hard and drive themselves to exhaustion because they are chasing a carrot that they believe will fill up something empty inside of them. They feel if they could just find the right marketing funnel, their problems will be solved. Marketing does not work if your mindset is not aligned with success.

When I was at the INC Women's Summit last fall in New York City, I was so happy to hear each woman on the panel talk about their life coach as a critical part of their success. Business skills can be taught by a teacher, but a highly-trained life coach can help you become a true success.