The latest and greatest new industry is, without a doubt, coaching. There are 55,000 business coaches out there today, and as people work on their side projects and start entrepreneurial ventures of their own, they often turn to these coaches to help them avoid mistakes and get ahead.

This is, by and large, a great thing. It's a great service that people offer and some of the lessons they can teach you are incredibly valuable.

On the flip side, I've seen high-level coaches charging tens of thousands of dollars to, for example, revamp small businesses when they have yet to break six figures in their own business.

Here are a few red flags to look for when vetting your next potential coach. 

1. Shady Backgrounds

Some coaches seem to hide their background behind a curtain. They rarely talk about what they've done or they'll use ambiguous terms that don't really mean... anything.

Here are a few questions to ask as you do your research:

  • What were they doing before this?

  • What kind of education do they have?

  • Have they risen to the top of their niche?

  • Are they self-made? Do they have a trust fund? A quick Google search of their last name should quickly tell you this.

  • How large is their current company?

  • Are they referenced by other high-profile leaders in their niche?

A good coach has started from the ground up and been through all the struggles you are poised to face. Their story will be clearly documented in explicit detail, with verifiable facts all around the internet--or in a book.

2. Recycled and Lackluster Content

The next step is to take a look at their content. What you'll often see is someone taking a tried-and-true method, putting their own signature name on it--as if it's some revolutionary new idea they've come up with--and selling it to people who don't know any better.

In reality, you could get the same info for free with a Google search or a book at the local library.

In addition, their content and online presence should be beyond professional. How does their website look? Is it mobile-optimized? Does their newsletter consistently have typos? If someone can't even get the basics right... that is a huge red flag.

A good coach is producing professional, unique content that actually serves a purpose. 

Joe Polish, who runs Genius Network (a high-level group for entrepreneurs) is a perfect example of this. He went from a broke carpet cleaner to one of the worlds most successful coaches and marketers by providing educational content that taught carpet cleaners how to market ethically, without bait-and-switch techniques. By doing so, he positioned himself as the expert in his field and was able to not only cultivate a large customer base, but transition that into a successful coaching business. 

The best coaches don't need to sell--if it seems like someone is only putting out content to entice you to join their course or sign up for their email list... that is a red flag. 

3. Unreplicable Methods

Many people have a habit of giving advice, methods, or tips that sound amazing... but in reality, are nearly impossible to replicate.

Let's not be naive. Some of these people are simply good marketers--they may know that their method isn't going to work, but they'll do whatever they can to sway you in the right direction.

As an example, some coach may claim to have a proprietary method for only working X days or hours per week in their business. They've implemented this in their own life, which is great--but they might be living off of other income (like a trust fund or previous savings) while their business barely stays afloat.

4. They Have All The Answers

No one is an expert in everything. Many coaches seem to have the ability to answer any question, regardless of the topic.

I have seen plenty of so-called "experts" just Googling questions and handing out the first answers they find to people who simply don't know any better. 

A good coach knows when to admit that something is out of their zone. And while they may not be able to help you personally, they should be able to point you to someone or something that can help you achieve your goal.

A not-so-good coach will be anxious to prove their worth to you and they'll do anything to make it seem like they have all the answers.

The Value of a True Coach

I don't want to discredit the genuine coaches out there, but I do want to make sure people are aware of what can happen behind the curtains. If you're looking for people who can walk the walk and talk the talk, here are a few great examples... 

Got a bad feeling? Look into it. Go through the steps and try to peel back that curtain. It might surprise you...