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What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Coach

June 17th 2022

Depending on who you ask, the size of the coaching industry in 2022 is worth anywhere from $2.85 billion to $22 billion. Of course, that number includes all the various coaching niches, from executive coaching to life coaching to career coaching, and more. The field continues to grow as a result of people realizing the value that a coach can provide, whether that involves mapping out a career, making important life decisions, or deciding how to best grow a business, just to name a few.

Coaches can help with any and all of those challenges, as well as many other life decisions.

Coach Megan Shekleton, founder of Wider Visions, a personal development and membership platform, offers help in distinguishing between coaches, therapists, and mentors in this video for WomensNet.

She says that all three provide “important avenues for growth and healing but differ in their approach and focus.”

Which Do You Need?

Before you decide to get help from any of these three types of advisors, make sure you know which will be the most helpful for your particular situation.

  • Coaching. “Coaching is future-oriented,” Shekleton explains. A coach can help you define and craft a vision for your future, setting goals and identifying shifts you want to make. Then they can help you create a plan to achieve those goals. A coach “is about maximizing your potential,” she says.
  • Therapy. “Therapy focuses on your past to understand how it is impacting your present,” says Shekleton. A therapist is most useful for working through your past traumas, to clear away any mental roadblocks or issues you are currently having. It’s about finding a new path forward after dealing with and processing past life events and experiences.
  • Mentorship. And mentors are consultants who specialize in a certain skill. Working with a mentor can be most useful when you are trying to skill-build, such as polishing your presentation or negotiation capabilities. Mentors help you strengthen your existing skills or add to your knowledge in preparation for new experiences you’d like to have.

Are You Really Ready?

Because there is overlap across the three types of advisors, Shekleton recommends before engaging that you ask yourself:

  • Am I looking to make a big shift connected to a vision or goal?
  • Do I need a coach, a mentor, or a therapist?
  • Am I all in? Am I willing to commit?

Potential Reasons You Could Use One

Entrepreneurs may decide that a business coach who can help them develop a more effective marketing or sales strategy is what they and their company really need now. That might involve talking through where you are, where you want to be, and then mapping out a process and a plan to get you there, with your coach giving you tough love when needed to keep you progressing.

Other entrepreneurs may realize that the blocks they are encountering in their business are the result of an early experience with money, perhaps, or a previous partnership that went bust. Before venturing forward again, they may decide that it’s important to heal from those bad experiences and learn how to proceed with a more positive mindset with the help of a therapist.

Some entrepreneurs recognize that they’ve set effective business goals, but they lack certain skills required to achieve them. Maybe they need to figure out how to cold call, or to write RFP responses for government bids, to raise their rates, or to present in public comfortably. A mentor can guide and instruct them to hone those specific abilities.

To Protect Yourself

Asking for help is always smart! But be sure you’re turning to someone who is qualified to guide you. No one wants to spend money for advice that is useless, after all.

Shekleton points out that coaching is an unregulated field, which means that almost anyone can call themselves a coach and start charging people money for their opinion. To increase the odds that that opinion will be worth what you pay for it, she advises that you work with a certified coach, who is someone who has been formally trained as a coach and who has agreed to abide by the industry’s code of ethics.

Whether you’re looking for short-term answers or a long-term plan, paying for the services of a professional coach, therapist, or mentor may be just what you need to make progress in your business.

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