A business coach, or corporate coach, is a trusted advisor with industry management experience who can guide you through start-up challenges like hiring staff and paying taxes, as well as help you plan your growth strategy, make sound marketing decisions, and recommend software. Most also provide coaching to help you grow your personal leadership skills.
We’ll share tips in this article on where to find and how to hire a business coach, including how much business coaching services cost, and questions you can ask to ensure you find a coach that matches your needs.
Where to Find a Business Coach or Coaching Services
According to a Global Coaching Study by the International Coaching Federation, there are over 50K personal business and life coaches worldwide, and coaching has increased about 20% since 2011. A business coach can be a great mentor and help you achieve your business goals.
Here are four ways to find a business coach:
1. Ask Your Personal Network
According to the Alternative Board, 85% of business owners stated that they sought a business coach from their own network of other business owners, and that personal referrals were the best way to find a good coach. If you’re in business, and you have friends in business, those peers may know other business leaders who can provide coaching to help you grow your business.
2. Search for Coaching Services Online
Most professional business coaches have a web presence and you can find ones locally in your area by searching your web browser for ‘business coach, life coach, marketing coach’ or whatever particular area of coaching you feel most in need of. Here’s our review of some of the best business coaching services out there.
Websites like the ones below can also help you find a business coach:
- Noomii – This site, which is the largest web directory of business coaches, focuses their search by zip code, and they’ll provide a list of coaches near you, ranging from business and finance to entrepreneurship. Noomi coaches have senior leadership experience across a range of industries. They will assign an account rep to help you find the best business coach.
- Life Coach Hub – Choose the type type of coach you need and submit a detailed coaching request and they’ll match you with a coach. Coaches will send you personalized emails, and you can set up free initial calls with the ones you like.
- MyCoachMatch – Browse all their business coaches by type, like leadership or creativity, or fill out a 48-question survey and they’ll match you with a coach based on your personality, values, and business needs.
You can also search for business coaching and certification schools that can match you with graduates of their proprietary coaching programs, like:
- Coach Federation – This site is designed to provide coaching education and resources for business coaches. The site offers a ‘Credentialed Coach Finder’ for you to search for a coach with their certification.
- International Association of Coaches (IAC) – This is a non-profit international organization that provides coaching certification. The ‘Find a Coach’ tab allows you to search for a coach by country, language, or type of coach — i.e. business, career, mentor.
- School of Coaching Mastery – This website provides coach training based on positive psychology, in other words, “what makes people flourish”. You can find a coach based on location. But on this site, you have to create a login account before they’ll share options.
Another option is to look at schools that offer coaching programs. Of course, you’d have to contact the school directly to ask about potential coaches, because they don’t have a coach search option on their website:
- Harvard Business School – provides continuing education for coaching leaders
- Board Certified Coach – provides coach credentials and assessments
There may even be a coaching certification program or school in your area that can recommend a local business coach.
Another way is to search for ‘business coach’ on social media, like LinkedIn, or to ask your friends on social media, whether Facebook or Twitter, if they know of a business coach that might meet your needs.
3. Look for a Business Coach or Mentor Locally
One of my favorite ways to find resources, including a corporate coach, in addition to the local phone book is to attend local business networking meetings, like chamber of commerce meetings and ask members who they recommend. The BBB in your local area can also serve as a resource.
4. Go to the Small Business Administration (SBA)
It’s worth noting another option for business coaching is the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE, a non-profit, which no longer refers to itself as Service Corps of Retired Executives, but rather Counselors to America’s Small Business. Their services are free to small business owners.
Local Business Coach vs Online Business Coach
Although it may seem like a local business coach would be better because they know the community, can meet face to face, and can evaluate your business onsite, we find that many coaches, even local ones, are now offering their services online or by phone or video conference.
You may find that searching online gives you more options for finding and hiring a business coach than what you may be able to find locally, depending on how large your community is. Particularly if you’re looking for a coach that specializes in something particular or in a certain industry, searching online will open up your options.
Meeting your coach face-to-face, whether in person or via video conference is a good first step so that you can establish rapport. After that, whatever works best for you and the coach respectively is the process we recommend.
Here are some additional perspectives on in person vs online coaching from corporate coaches:
“In-person coaching is often more effective as the energy and dynamic between the coach and coachee is improved, but it does bring complications in scheduling. So, if you can make an in-person session work easily, go for it. If not, the remote option tends to work just fine and is much easier from a mechanical standpoint.”
– Tomer Yogev, Chief Synergist/Executive Coach, Tandem Spring
“The ideal situation is to have virtual coaching with a coach you have met in person, at some point. There is no way to build trust better than eye-to-eye. If you are time-sensitive, virtual coaching is a perfect arrangement. I record the session and make both the video and audio available for my clients so they can listen to the audio later.”
– April Wier, CEO, Sugar Five Design
“During the past 25 years as a business coach, I have found voice-to-voice the best way to help clients share their challenge and work through it quicker.”
– Jeannette Seibly, Business Coach, SeibCo, LLC
Business Coach vs. Consultant
A consultant is anyone outside your organization that provides business services. A coach is a kind of business consultant. Typically, consulting services implies big-name firms like Deloitte PWC or Accenture. But a business coach is simply a kind of consultant — a personal business consultant that you contract with to help you grow your business.
Cost to Hire a Business Coach
Business coaching costs between $75 and $500 per hour for small businesses and depends on many factors, such as the type of coaching you’re looking for (marketing, vs life coaching), the certification level of the coach, and whether or not the coach has to travel to your location.
Arden Coaching suggests 3 additional factors that affect pricing: services offered, experience level of the coach and the job level of the coachee within the organization.
There are really 3 pricing options:
- Hourly – $75-$500
- Monthly – $300-$2000
- Package – $1000-$2500*
Typically, hourly isn’t the best way to buy business coaching services unless you need just a session or two, and that’s rare because most individuals who want consulting services are looking for a relationship, someone to walk with them through the journey of business growth.
When you get monthly coaching, you’ll usually get a package of 2-4 coaching sessions a month although every coaching service prices their packages a little differently. You’ll often save 25-50% off hourly rates if you purchase a package. And you may be able to get a discount of 10-20% by paying in advance.
Here’s one coach’s perspective on why monthly or package pricing makes more sense:
“Typically, you’re going to pay a business coach monthly as part of an ongoing package. One-off coaching is fairly unusual. Both the client and the coach should be working towards a clear set of goals that the coach and client have agreed upon. With business coaching, you’re usually looking at packages of three, six or twelve months to work towards those goals.”
– Katy Flatau, Founder & Certified Coach, Mindful-U
We talked to a few more coaches to get some examples of the various ways in which they structure their pricing:
- Business coach Eileen Timmins, Ph.D. suggested that “for a small or family owned business, the rate may be reduced and if the business grows it could go to $150 to $200 per hour. It all depends on services and assessments”.
- Business coach Ken Porter of Porter Leadership Development says his prices go up to $450.00, but he typically charges $295/hour with weekly meetings for the first month, meetings 2x a month for the next 3 months, and once a month after that.
- Experienced coach Devay Campbell suggests prices are a bit higher, starting at $400/hr up to $2,000 a month. She also offers what she calls a VIP Intensive Day, for $1500, to kick off the coaching process
Packages often include additional services beyond those provided in one-time sessions, such as:
- Group coaching
- Peer network
- Document reviews
- Email answers to your questions
Typically you’ll be offered an initial consultation which may be free or discounted, and then you’ll negotiate an hourly price or purchase a package of meetings, which can be held in person, via phone or video conference, like Skype. However, as mentioned above in the pricing section, many coaches offer additional services based on their expertise, or your business needs. Typically you’ll sign a contract with the coach once you’ve agreed to the coaching schedule and services.
The average business coaching session is 50-60 minutes based on the coaching contracts we reviewed, and the average length of a coaching contract is typically 90-days to 2 years.
Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Corporate Coach
When looking for a business coach, you’ll want to find one that’s a good match for your personality, your business/industry and your goals. Here’s a 4-step process provided by Noomii, one of the services which offers a professional coach directory.
We’ve listed some questions below that you can ask during consultations to evaluate your prospective business coach. And don’t forget to assess not only how they answer each question, but how you feel when they answer each question. If you think the coach’s style or experience doesn’t match you, you’re probably right and should move on to find a better fit.
Questions to Ask to Evaluate a Business Coach
|1||Tell me about your business experience.||Experienced coaches should be able to tell you about successful businesses they’ve owned or managed.|
|2||What made you get into business coaching?||Answers should demonstrate their passion for helping you succeed.|
|3||Do you have any kind of business coach certification?||Even if they have no certifications, they should be able to tell you about their qualifications.|
|4||What is your coaching style?||Most should tell you they ask questions and listen to determine your needs.|
|5||What business, similar to mine, have you provided coaching services for?||Look for answers that show they have experience specific to your business.|
|6||Do you have any particular coaching model you prefer to use?||They should be able to tell you about their coaching process.|
|7||Can you provide me with 2-3 business clients that I could call as a reference.||They should respond with a list of references, names, and phone numbers.|
|8||Do you prefer face-to-face coaching or coaching over the phone or some other method?||Evaluate the answer to see whether their preferred method matches what you’re looking for. (For example, if you’re looking for face-to-face meetings and they only offer over-the-phone coaching, it may not be a good fit.)|
|9||Ask them their opinion on a business problem you’re looking for help on, like, “I’m thinking to expand my social media presence”, or “I’m looking for my first manager”. How could you help with that?||Based on the question you ask, they should demonstrate their ability to help you think through options and perhaps offer tools at their disposal to assist you in analyzing the issue.|
|10||How would I be able to reach you if I had an urgent question or issue?||Verify that they will be accessible to you in a manner that works for you, phone, in person, via email?|
|11||What is your pricing, per hour, per month or do you offer a package?||The coach should be able to provide you with pricing and explain what the pricing is based on, as well as discounts and payment plans.|
What Certification Do Business Coaches Need to Have?
There is no official accrediting board for business coaching like there is for a CPA or an HR professional. However, there are plenty of business coach certification programs, and most of them provide training and verify coaching skills through testing and assessments.
Below are two expert opinions on whether or not a coach should be ‘certified’.
“There are numerous coaching programs and certifications that apply to specific situations. For clients experiencing or seeking high growth I recommend hiring a Gazelles International Four Decisions™ Certified Coach.”
– Jeff Moore, Business Strategist/CEO Coach, Moore Impact
“I don’t think certification is necessary if the person has vast business experience, but I do think they should have experience in the area in which they are coaching, continue to study themselves, and treat each of their coachees as individuals.”
– Dr. Gayle Carson, President/Business Coach, Carson Research Center
Business Coaching Certification Programs
Here are some professional business coaching certification organizations we found:
- World Coach Institute
- International Association of Coaching (IAC)
- International Coach Federation (ICF)
- Board Certified Coach (BCC)
- Gallup Business Coaching
Although there is no master list as every certification company has their own list, here is a chart from Data USA showing the kinds of skills business coaches should possess.
Work that a Business Coach Does
A business coach is an experienced business consultant that talks with you and listens to where you’re at, and then helps you get to where you want your business to go. Here are some coaching focus areas. Most business coaches, based on their business experience, can provide support to your business in more than one area:
- Strategic planning – refining your company growth goals, vision, and brand
- Personal leadership coaching – assessing your management skills, management style, and helping you build leadership capability
- Marketing coaching – building a marketing plan and integrating tactics like social media
- Human resources coaching – helping you build an effective organization and come up with a strategic hiring plan
- Productivity coaching – evaluating software tools used at the business and best practices to maximize efficiency
“Some coaches are drill sergeants, others are hippies. What do you want and what do you need? Perhaps the single most important thing is that you and your coach are aiming for the same thing. What does the coach think a great leader or a well-run business looks like? If that doesn’t align with your aspirations, then they’re unlikely to help you get to where you are trying to go.”
– Tomer Yogev, Executive Coach, Tandem Spring
Any Downsides to Hiring a Business Coach?
Obtaining the services of a business coach is a great investment. “81% of entrepreneurs have seen a positive impact on their business from business coaching”, states the Alternative Board. Imagine you bring in 4 new customers a month, at $1000 per customer due to a new marketing approach, or reduce turnover by 10%, saving $30,000 a year? In either case, the cost of a coaching service generally pays for itself.
As long as the coaching sessions are focused on you, your business vision, and goals, and match your personal style, there’s not much of a downside. The only things that might derail your coaching relationship would be:
- Personality mismatch between your business coach and you
- Business coach not available when you need them
- Business coach not skilled in the area of business that you want help with
- Coach having certification, but not the people skills you need, or not easy to work with
We believe these business coaching issues can be avoided by doing a good interview with the prospective coach, and listening to your instincts to ensure that the coach you’ve chosen is adding value to you and your business.
More On Business Coaching From The Experts
We asked coaching experts to share their insights about coaching because coaching is both an investment in your business, and an investment in your most important asset — yourself. Here’s what they said:
Does Coaching Really Help?
“Coaching works – I’ve been in the field of teaching/talent development for more than 14 years. I’ve not seen another approach that can consistently deepen learning and inspire action. Other talent development strategies, such as training, tend to be more event focused and suffer from lack of performance support and transfer of learning.
Informal coaching allows us to connect with the learning, explore options and confidently move forward. Formal coaching (scheduled sessions for a period of time) allows for regular reflection and accountability.”
— John Nykolaiszyn, Interim Director, Career Management Services, College of Business at Florida International University
What Makes A Good Coach?
“A good coach has to be able to find the students’ strengths and work with them on developing those into a business or career. I love to use football analogies. One would never ask Tom Brady to run the football 30 times per game. It isn’t his strength. In addition, a good coach is honest and will tell the student (or consult) the truth no matter how hard that might be to swallow.
Finally, a great coach doesn’t follow a play book. Each individual responds differently so you have to find what works for that person. My tip would be that most small-business owners ask for help too late when they are sinking in the quicksand. It is very hard to pull someone out of that situation. Don’t let pride get in the way of help.”
— Daniel A. Charna, MBA, Assistant Professor of Economics, Ohio Wesleyan University
How Do You Prepare Yourself for Coaching?
“Know what you want from your coach. You can’t reach a goal until you point yourself in the right direction — so you need to identify the direction first. If you only have a fuzzy concept, a good coach or coaching organization will have somebody who can help you clarify your goals as well as the issues or challenges that are hampering your ability to reach those goals.
I rotate between Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Marshall Goldsmith, Brian Tracy, Stephen Covey and several other resources — because they all have great advice.”
How Do You Find the Right Match?
“Exercise due diligence with your research on anyone before hiring them – regardless of the name recognition. Look for a proven, sustainable track record in their own business and in their clients’ businesses, randing, visibility, and reputation in the market, accessibility and interpersonal skills.”
— Jacqueline Miller, CEO & Life Strategist, Jacqueline DuJour Enterprises, LLC
However you find your business coach, remember that business coaching is a long term investment in your business. You won’t see results right away. Sometimes, it takes months to see the difference. A coach is a person who works alongside business owners as they grow their business, as well as in their interpersonal and leadership skills.
Ultimately, however according to International Coach Federation, 99 % of those who have received coaching worldwide are ‘satisfied or very satisfied’, and 96% would repeat the process. Almost half of them report a return on investment of 10-50 times their coaching costs.
Bottom Line on Business Coaches
There’s no such thing as the ‘best business coach’. Coaches, like your personal friends, need to match your interests, personality style, and business goals. Is the coach helping you to be a better, smarter business owner, grow your business, increase your brand reputation, and earn profits? If so, they’re probably a great coach for your business, whether they’re licensed or not. Hiring a business coach or coaching service can be an investment in your most important asset: you.