Something that constantly surprises and saddens my team and I are all the bad-news stories from clients who have experienced horrible, unproductive (yet expensive) marketing advice and coaching.
They’ve truly suffered at the hands of ‘experts’ (business advisors) who have led them down the marketing strategy rabbit hole; no results, no changes, no sales, no strategies later they’re confused, annoyed and downright angry – and so they should be.
Whether you’ve just invested in a startup, you’re an entrepreneur, you’re running an established small business, you have an online emporium or you provide physical or online products and services – chances are you need some help in pumping up sales right now and creating long-lasting sustainability and systems in your business.
Your decision to bring an advisor or coach into your business can be exciting, productive and profitable – if you’ve done your homework!
We all know the scary stat that 8 of 10 new businesses will fail within 18 months and sometimes the biggest pill for an entrepreneur or small business owner to swallow is the…
“I don’t know it all and I really do need some help” pill!
It really can be the difference to whether you how to succeed business or why business fail.
This is the truth about advisors story that my team I hear over and over again:
I turned to an advisor to help systemize my business and create some strategies to work through. A the beginning I was promised the world, told how amazing my business is and that a simple marketing plan could double my sales really quickly…
Then something happened…
“We’ve paid for a marketing strategy and we’re still waiting 12 months later”
“I only receive a call from my coach when I need to pay my bill”
“I’m getting ideas, but no substance or direction”
“I’m not really sure what I’m paying for in my membership”
“I have an advisor – but I find it hard to get in contact with them”
Sound all too familiar?
If any of these situations have happened to you and your business (or are currently happening) then you are definitely not alone – a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners enter into relationships with advisors and coaches with extreme naivety and often end up paying big.
Well, it stops today!
Right now I want to give you the tools to be the most equipped and informed business owner you can be when it comes to hiring a business advisor or business consultant or a business coach and inviting them into your business.
You see, if you’ve ever been in an unfulfilling coaching situation, you will know how destructive, frustrating and ineffective these relationships can be – PLUS they can cost you some serious dollars!
Which is precisely why I’ve created this guide:
The Best (and Worst) Ways to Invite Advisors into Your Business for you.
A quick note before we dive in…
Entrepreneurs and small business owners who are operating from a place of fear, scrambling to catch up, jumping from one strategy to the next and wondering why ‘nothing’ is working often turn to a business advisor or coach wanting a ‘quick fix’ and a magic-pill solution.
Here’s the thing – even the best coach and advisor in the world can’t do the work for you – you must commit to making changes in your business and understand that the buck stops with you.
That old saying “If nothing changes, then nothing changes” rings true here. So before you consider investigating coaches and advisors, ask yourself: “Am I ready to make some big changes in my business?” and “What is the legacy I want to leave behind?”
If you can answer these questions then you’re ready for the next step.
So let’s get into it right now.
Coaching can be incredibly beneficial for you personally and for your business. Noted Leadership Advisor, Robin Sharma says:
“My best investment, as cliched as this sounds, is the money I’ve spent developing myself, via books, workshops and coaching. Leadership begins within, and to have a better career, start by building a better you.” Robin Sharma
But like any good plan, your plan to introduce a coach or advisor into your business starts with research!
Researching the right things will help you discover whether your advisor or coach is representing themselves at a professional standard and really ‘walks their talk’.
Remember – this is your business, your asset, your revenue creator – you need to ensure that if you’re trusting another person or team to advise you, they need to have proven themselves.
So look out for the following red flags:
1) An unprofessional website with little to no content and contact information
2) A lack of social media presence (this is incredibly risky if they are positioning themselves as an online or social media expert)
3) An unstructured communication style
4) No formal contracts and payment methods
5) Rude, unsupportive and inconsistent communication
6) Lack of social proof (these can be testimonials or case studies)
7) They falter when you ask them for more detail or to clarify certain aspects of their offer
8) There is a lot of talk and a real lack of action
9) A lack of a discovery process for new clients
This last point is really important – a professional advisor will have their own screening method for new clients to ensure the fit is right.
With the BenAngel.co IGNITE Program we have a three-step screening process to ensure the fit between our client and our team is right. This includes an initial application form or enquiry, a discovery call with our Head Coach who asks all the right questions that our team needs to complete some further research, and then an acceptance into the program based on the results.
You see, a great relationship between a coach and their client is a two-way street. There must be a mutual respect, an alignment of values and ideas, and both parties must be able to see the benefits of working with one another.
That’s where the magic happens!
For an expert advisor and coach, they are looking for the right client – not just any client – and it should be the same for you!
Step 2: Decide on your top choices and then double-click on the detail to protect yourself.
So you’ve weeded out a few imposters that didn’t pass the first round of research – and you think you’ve connected with a professional who seems to understand your situation and your goals and you’re ready to trust them with your business.
Not so fast – go the extra step of investigation before you sign a contract or hand over money.
Trust me – this will save you and your business in the long run!
Here are a few ways you can do some extra research before you’ve signed a contract and become a client:
1) Read as much as you can about the person/company providing the service. Look at their website, their social media, their content – are there any issues with what you see? Are they experts? Do they practice what they preach?
2) Speak to them! Pick up the phone and ask all the questions you have. If you have any questions about our IGNITE program, our Head Consultant, Sarah would love to answer your questions and you can email her right now to set up a time to speak. Most advisors will be happy to spend time answering your questions, understanding how important it is to you in asking someone to help you in your business.
3) Ask to speak to a current client of an advisor or coach to get an idea of their experiences.
4) Review their communication style, do they email you professionally, do they call you and act professionally? Do they do what they’ve said they would do (send you an email, call you at a specific time, send you the information you’ve requested?)
5) Look at your notes from your communication with them so far. Are they giving you value even though you’re not yet a client? Have your first interactions given you some value and ideas?
6) Do they have a client discovery process where they’re asking you a lot of questions about your business? Have they asked to look at your website and social media? Do they honour your concerns and answer them?
7) Assess how you feel when you speak to them. Are they respectful and encouraging? Or do you feel they are desperate and just wanting a sale? Are they willing to give you time and energy even when you’re not yet a client or are they are withholding information?
8) Ask what is the Plan B? An exceptional coach or advisor will have an array of Plan B’s they’re waiting to role out if the first marketing plan or strategy doesn’t work. They’ll be able to adapt quickly, make changes and re-strategise without skipping a beat. Ask them how they deal with plans not working, and what is their process for gauging the success of a campaign or strategy?
9) Talk about “worst case scenarios”. Sometimes even the best laid plans become unhinged. Life can get in the way, actions may not be completed, campaigns might create negative backlash (from the media and the public) even death threats (yes, I’ve had to deal with all of these scenarios) sometimes they’re inevitable. So talk about the worst possible thing that could happen with your potential coach or advisor and get their opinions on how they would handle these situations and how they would advise you.
If you’ve gone through this communication with your potential coach or advisor, and they’ve passed the test and you’re feeling really comfortable and excited with this person or team – the next step in the process is a really important one. (If they haven’t passed the test and you’re feeling a strong pull in another direction, let them know why, be open and honest and move on in your search).
Step 3: Get Crystal Clear on Expectations so you can gain the best results.
Investing in a coach or advisor can take you from where you are now to where you want to be and you can create amazing change in a short space of time – once you’ve taken some time to do your research and protect yourself AND you know exactly what you’re hoping to gain from the experience.
“If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed”. Terrell Owens
To leverage your experience with a business advisor or coach and set the tone for a positive, powerful relationship from the outset, you must gain absolute clarity on your expectations and the results you’re looking to achieve.
So if you’re struggling to articulate these verbally or on paper, then you’re not ready for an advisor because you’re not giving any clear guidelines and goal posts for them to work with you and the relationship will be a struggle.
Being sure of your expectations helps both you and your advisor in the long run.
Here’s a few tips to help you gain clarity:
Understand why you’re looking for help to gain the most from your coaching. What I mean by that is; are there very specific elements in your business and sales process that you need assistance with?
Are you happy with your product, but have no way of selling it to your audience?
Do you want to reach out to your community, but you’re not comfortable in-front of video?
Do you understand social media, but not sure how that equates into buying customers?
You’ve started collecting an email list, but have no idea where to start in writing emails?
Are you struggling to do it all yourself and find your time management and prioritisation is out the window?
An advisor and coach can help you with all of these things PLUS so much more!
However, by getting really clear on exactly where you feel you need help – and communicating that with your advisor or coach, they can give their opinion and start helping you from the very first session.
A great advisor will help you maximise every opportunity in your business and help you uncover all the moving parts to your business, that you might not be able to see. They will be able to drive immediate sales and implement some structure and systems into you business right away.
Imagine being able to create some quick wins, whilst working on the long-term strategy as well? That’s the alchemy of a great coaching
Have an expectation on how you work best. Do you only want monthly accountability? Do you prefer weekly calls? Are you better with face-to-face meetings, do you enjoy 2 or 3 quick calls a week to keep momentum.
For example, an expectation of yours could be:
”I’m expecting to receive weekly accountability calls, that you will respond to my emails with constructive criticism and advice, I know I can call you when I need you in between sessions.”
Now your advisor or coach may come back and review your expectations and give you feedback on what is and is not possible – and that’s OK, the relationship has to work for both parties. However, once you agree on the expectations and you’re happy with the process suiting your needs, then have both parties agree and you can move forward.
That way, if in the future your expectations are not being met and you feel as though your coach is letting you down in some regard, you can have the conversation about your expectations and know that you have both agreed to them.
Have an idea of what you want to gain from the relationship and the process. What do you want the end result to be?
With this point, you want to be specific and concise. If you have very vague expectations on results, such as “I’m expecting you to help me get results” then the relationship is almost set up for failure.
If you can clearly say “I’m expecting to learn the processes involved in creating a personal brand so I can grow my audience on social media, self publish and promote my book” then you’re on the right track.
If you’re entering into a specific program with set dates and goal posts along the way, then get clear on what they are and how it benefits you. You might find that a tailored approach will help your business more as your coaching can be based specifically around your business needs, and the wins you need to achieve sales right now.
Accountability and Responsibilities. What is each partner responsible for?
At this point you also want to ask the question about what your coach will be responsible for in terms of implementation – and what you will be responsible for.
You want to know if you are going to implement all the actions, or will they be implementing some of them (ie managing your social media). Ask about the costs involved for you implementing the proposed strategies; ie extra staff costs, what kind of budget you should allocate for advertising, will there be an investment for graphic and web design.
Make sure it’s very transparent and clear who is managing what in the process. Also ask about what level of accountability you will have, and what you should expect if the work doesn’t get done!
Side note: A great advisor will ask you questions around your goals and expectations in the ‘discovery process’ of your relationship – before any agreement has been signed and any money has been exchanged. Your advisor will listen to your goals and also be able to see things in your business that you cannot see. They should have a focus on quick cash flow wins, but also a long-term strategy.
Step 4: The hard money questions – be OK to ask them!
Any professional advisor and coach should be 100% OK to speak about the dollars involved in coaching. They will have experience to draw upon in understanding the value vs the investment and will clearly explain this to you.
So once your expectations and goals are clear, make sure you’re 100% clear on the investment for the coaching and advisory services. Be OK to ask about any hidden costs, extra costs, when the investment is due to be paid, any payment options – ask as many questions as possible.
Most professional advisors will have one or two options available and will be flexible on payment options. Make sure all the payment details are clearly articulated on any document you sign, and if something doesn’t feel right, then get clarity before you sign.
Don’t worry about feeling like you’re asking a simple question, or looking silly – I’ve seen tens of thousands of dollars wasted in businesses because the decision maker didn’t want to ask a simple question that would have saved a lot of money!
Step 5: Congratulations – the hard work starts now!
Let’s review: you’ve done your research, you’ve double-clicked on that research, you’ve had a discovery process with your coach, you’ve asked the hard questions, you’re completely comfortable and OK with the investment and you’ve just signed the agreement.
Congratulations! Pop the champagne…and get to work.
Colin Powell says:
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell
You’ve just made a great decision, based on all the possible information you’ve gained from your new coach and you’re on the way to making some big changes in your business.
You can feel confident that you’ve done your research, you’re clear on your expectations and outcomes and you’re ready for the work.
Getting started with a new coach and advisor is exciting and you can expect some great ideas and some excellent momentum personally and within your business!
When your coaching begins, your coach or advisor will have a conversation with you about the tone of coaching and the responsibility they have as a coach for you (based on all the information you’ve been through together). At this stage you are giving them permission to have upfront and honest conversations with you, when they need to be had.
If an advisor can see a client heading for a car crash, spinning out of control and making bad decisions, they can they pick up the phone and speak honestly and openly. A great advisor will care about you and your business at all times, not just ‘click’ into that role during your scheduled sessions.
I hope you’ve taken away some valuable tips and advice on the best ways to introduce a coach or advisor into your business.
So, are all business advisors frauds?
Not at all, there are many advisors that are truly dedicated to helping you and your business. There are some ‘experts’ who are not equipped to deal with the level of coaching and strategy that you may require, so you as a business owner need to invest in doing some research to protect yourself to find out what it is that you actually need.
A great advisor will bring out the best in you and help uncover some amazing change in your business. The relationship can incredibly beneficial and add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your yearly profits. It can also be the start of a great ongoing relationship and if you do the research upfront and are clear on your objectives, it can really make or break a business surviving.
“Every athlete and every top performer uses a coach to bring out their best. Why don’t you?” Jeff Boss
Quick Tips For you:
- Do your research and watch for any red flags
- Then do some more research!
- What are the agreed to expectations and results?
- What are the fundamentals of the service and what are you actually receiving as the client?
- What is the complete investment and are there any payment options?
- Do you feel they align with your values?
An advisor or coach could be the missing link in your business – and if you’re looking to invigorate your sales results, your business positioning, branding or marketing plan now and you’re looking to invite an expert team of advisors into your business to help you immediately – my team and I have a program especially designed for you, called IGNITE. It’s a high-growth, 3 month program specifically tailored around your business goals.
In the meantime, leave a comment below.
What’s your experience been like working with an advisor or coach?
We’d love to hear from you.