I’ve been in organizations my entire life. Got to the office on time and often left late, had bosses who set deadlines, had customers who set deadlines, even set some deadlines for myself.  But the one thing I ALWAYS had was structure.

Sound familiar?  Even if you haven’t worked in an organization, you’ve certainly been in at least one.  Remember school?  Remember homework – tests – schedules?  Did you ever play sports?  Remember practices – rules – games?  What most of us are brought up to value is structure – usually imposed by someone other than ourselves.

So when I started my own consulting practice over 8 years ago, even though I’m self-motivated, energetic, intelligent, experienced, focused, and knowledgeable, what I started to realize I’m NOT is very well disciplined.   Someone else had usually had the disciplinary control over me.

So what did I do?  I hired a business coach.  That’s right – I’m a business coach who has a business coach. I needed to have someone who would help me stay accountable to myself – the goals I set, the actions I needed to complete to reach those goals, and the measurement of the success of those actions.

It took me a while to find the right coach.  I looked at coaching programs that lasted 6 months – 12 months –  to infinity.  I decided those programs weren’t for me because they were usually highly structured and forced me into following a program that included things I didn’t need but still had to pay for.  That’s not to suggest that a structured program isn’t valuable – it is for the right person.  I just wasn’t that right person.

Because I’m a CLIENT-centered coach, I wanted one of those, too.  I’m a grown-up and pretty clear about what I want.  I needed a coach who understood my goals, understood at least a little of my business, asked probing questions, challenged me to look at things differently, and offered an objective perspective.  So why didn’t I just talk to my friends?  Well, I don’t PAY my friends … they don’t have any skin in the game and neither would I.  But if I’m spending MONEY for something, I’m pretty sure I’ll follow through – kind of like your gym membership.

So how do you go about finding the right coach for you?  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my business challenges?
  • What specific area of my business do I want to work on?
  • What’s working in my business and what’s not?  Is there something I should be doing that I’m not?

Once you get some clarity on what you’d like to improve, you can ask successful people you know for referrals to business coaches.  Pick a few (usually no more than 3) and interview them.  Here’s what to look for:

  • Do they ask good questions?
  • Are they good listeners?
  • How comfortable are you with them?
  • Are they focused on you and your challenges?

The right coach can help YOU reach the finish line.  I assure you – once you start working with the right coach and start seeing results, you’ll be a cheerleader, too!