Business coaching is red hot thanks to TikTok and Instagram, but remains unregulated. Here are 7 steps to find the right coach.
- A growing industry of young, female coaches are helping entrepreneurs launch online businesses.
- Coaches use social media to build their reputations, but it can be difficult to tell who's legit.
When influencer Brittany Jack started her Instagram marketing business in January, she had 10,000 followers on the platform. A month later, she signed up for business-coaching sessions with Maya Elious, a brand strategist who helped her double her follower count and reach 200 clients by October. She wouldn't have been able to do it without Elious' help, Jack said.
Both Jack and Elious are part of a growing industry of young, female coaches helping entrepreneurs launch and scale their online businesses through upbeat Instagram reels, inspirational quotes, and online courses. In 2019, business coaching was a $15 billion industry, and it's expected to grow 5.8% in 2021.
But not everyone's experiences with coaching programs are as rosy as Jack's. Social media plays an important role in how coaches build their reputations, but it can be difficult to tell who's legit.
Last year, after starting her credit-card-points podcast, "Geobreeze Travel," Julia Menez saw an ad on Instagram for a website called The Bundle Co., which sells a package of online courses for $99.50. She signed up but was disappointed to find that the courses only covered surface-level topics, such as journaling and YouTube basics, not the business and marketing tips she'd hoped for.
"With business coaching, oftentimes you do get what you pay for," Menez, 31, said.
Here's how to find the right business coach and avoid getting scammed, plus red flags to watch for, according to seasoned coaches and entrepreneurs who've worked with them.
How to find the right business coach
1. Follow before you invest
Jessica Caver Lindholm, 36, has been an online-business coach for eight years and has hit $814,000 in gross income this year, documents reviewed by Insider showed. She advised entrepreneurs not to rush into anything just because it sounds exciting. "When something is marketed really well, it can make us feel like we have to have it now or else," Lindholm said.
Instead, take your time to research, read testimonials, and call up a couple of former clients. Gauge a coach's values by paying attention to what she says on social media. "You have to get an idea of who they are and how they operate," said Debbie Rebar, who has been a virtual assistant for 19 years to authors, speakers, and business coaches.
For example, Rebar said some people have complained that her client Amanda Frances swears in her courses - something they would have known had they followed Frances and paid attention to her posts.
2. Get free content first
Check out free content, which many coaches offer, such as guides and templates to help you test whether their methods work for you, Lindholm said.
Rebar suggested signing up for a coach's email list to assess their level of expertise. "See if that's closely related to what you need help with," she said.
3. If the coach is new, look for a focus
Just because someone is new to coaching doesn't mean they can't be helpful. But Lindholm suggested ensuring that fresh talent had specified skills, such as marketing on Instagram reels or TikTok. If you're looking for a breadth of business knowledge, stick with more experienced coaches.
"So that you know that they really have had the time to practice and live what they preach, and that it's not just one well-written post," she said.
4. Have an introductory meeting
Not all coaches offer introductory meetings, but if you find a coach who does, take it. "Be clear about what you need help with and ask that coach directly if that's something they can help you with," Rebar said.
5. More expensive does not always mean better
Rebar said a common misconception in the industry is tying value with price. But she's seen coaches with less experience price high and more experienced coaches price low. "We've conditioned ourselves as a society to think that the more expensive one is better, and that is not always the case," she said.
At the same time, Menez cautioned entrepreneurs to be skeptical of extremely low prices. "When entrepreneurs are starting out, it is always about cutting costs," she said. "Invest in yourself a little bit more. You will get higher quality as long as you do proper research."
6. Get your purchase in writing
Once you're ready to sign up for a coaching session, make sure there's a written agreement that covers everything you're getting out of it. "It helps it feel more like an agreement was made rather than you're not even sure why you signed up," Lindholm said.
7. Red flags to look for
Now that we've covered what you should do before hiring a business coach, here are some red flags that might indicate a coach isn't the right fit.
- If a business coach pressures you to sign up quickly to secure your spot, it may mean they're desperate.
- If a coach markets themselves as a business coach but only has testimonials from other coaches, it could indicate that she's going to teach you how to become a coach, not run your business.
- If a coach gets a lot of negative comments on their posts, it might be worth reaching out to those people to get their perspective before signing up for her services.
- Courses and programs tout a community, such as a Facebook group, but members aren't active, or posts only market the program rather than generate discussion.
Have you used a business coach you found on Instagram, TikTok, or Clubhouse? Contact this reporter at email@example.com to share your story.
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