Episode 74: 4 Steps to Avoid Being Scammed By Business Coaches - Business Bites

4 Steps to Avoid Being Scammed By Business Coaches

Episode 74 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: Hiring a business coach can be very overwhelming, scary and exciting – however, you need to make sure you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. And, in some cases, not be scammed! Join Rachel as she shares her checklist so you can make the best decision for your business!

What you will learn:

  • Why you need to identify what your goals and needs are before you hire a coach/consultant
  • Why having a consultation with the person you want to hire can save you time and money
  • Ideas of how you can vet your coach/consultant before you actually hire them
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Hey guys, welcome to this episode of the Business Bites Podcast. My name is Rachel Brenke and I want to share with you something that’s probably a little bit of a sensitive subject, especially for those of you listening that are business coaches or business consultants. And I’m going to share a personal experience as someone who received business coaching and also as someone who offers it to audience members and to other entrepreneurs.

And I think the biggest thing I want you guys to understand is that everything I’m saying really is hoping to protect you guys, keep money in your pocket, make sure that you’re not wasting time. Money is a big thing too, but I really think in business we can waste a lot of time. And often, we go through cycles as the entrepreneur, as a CEO, and we are, many of us, type A. We want to have control over everything.

So even getting to the point of wanting to hire a business coach can be very, very long and it can also be very overwhelming and stressful. And the problem with that is we end up wasting money, but more importantly, we end up wasting time. So I want to share with you guys my four top tips to avoiding having a problem once you do decide to hire a business coach.

Now to share with you guys, I have been in business for, oh well I date myself here, 14 years at this point. I have multiple businesses. I’m not just a lawyer, although I do own a law firm and I do have legal niche blogs. But I have this podcast, we own co-working spaces, I’ve done photography businesses, I’ve had fashion companies, a fashion apparel, which is so funny because I am not at all fashionable myself as you guys can very well see on my Instagram and all of that.

Which by the way, if you’re not following, please head over there because I’m going to have some great things rolling out for the podcast. Instagram.com/rachelbrenke, and I want you guys to be able to join in the fun there as well. But let’s go ahead and jump right in to my story here.

It took me a while to get to deciding to hire a business coach or a consultant. And I’ve talked about the differences of a coach or a consultant in the past and oftentimes, I find that coaches only teach the way that they want, which is not necessarily a bad thing as we’re going to see when we dig into my tips, and consultants typically are going to present to you a couple of different options and advise you on which would be best for your business. And then you choose from that.

And that’s why I subscribed to being a business consultant. I come in, I kind of evaluate, I rip it apart, give you some tough love, I give you some good love and hugs. But then I gave you some options for you guys to choose from. Now, I’m not going to go in and try and convincing you guys that you need to have somebody to come into your business. You can go over to episode 10. So it’s rachelbrenke.com/epi10, and it’s called, You Can’t Read the Label.

Essentially, the idea is that if you’re standing inside of a bottle, you can’t read the label that’s on the outside from the inside. You can’t see the forest for the trees. So head over to episode 10 and you guys can get some more information on, and can help walk you through whether or not you’re even at the point of needing to hire a business coach or a consultant.

My story here now is it’s taken me how long to finally get to a point that I wanted to hire somebody because I felt like I’ve reached a ceiling. Not necessarily the fact that I have had no growth or whatever, but I wanted to have somebody from the outside. I have a really good team that is able to give me feedback. We have open door and you guys hear me and you’ll see on social media, and I say “we” because while I’m the figurehead and I’m the voice and I’m the face of the company, we are very team based.

But when your team based, we have good ideas, we have good discussions with one another, but at the end of the day, we are all blinded by the fact that we’re working already and we’re already ingrained. We’re on the inside, we can’t read the label. Right? So episode 10, make sure you guys go see that.

But when I started out in entrepreneurship, and I’ve shared this with many episodes before and when I’m on other people’s podcasts and they ask me about my story. When I first started out, we didn’t even have Facebook. We hardly had MySpace. And I sound so “old” saying that, but I know many of you probably were in business even prior to then. So you understand what I’m saying when I say at the time, there was not a lot of business options, education available to us. Right?

And now we’re at the other end of the pendulum where there are so many. And it took me about, oh man, what is it, 14 years, because this was the year that I decided I wanted to hire a business coach or consultant. And that probably was my first mistake. I went to someone who was more of a coach than a consultant.

Now caveat to this, especially if they end up listening, they are great in their own right. Okay? They are really great, I think, for people that are just starting out in business and I feel like I was already on the level of that person or just close behind. So there wasn’t maybe a lot to be done anyways to help me out, but the end result was that I felt like I wasted six months trying to learn but wasn’t receiving a lot.

Minor tweaks can make big changes, so I recognize that there are some minor tweaks that we made and I did make my money back, but just barely. I broke even. So I wasn’t necessarily out the $25,000 that I had spent. And I’m sharing this with you guys to be vulnerable. You know me and this podcast, I don’t sugar coat anything. So $25,000 was a big investment, especially considering the fact that I was really expanding my team this year and wanting to hire more people. That basically took half the year, half of someone’s salary, and half the year invested in this coach.

Well, I come out the other side of it and like I said, I feel like there were only minor tweaks made and perhaps there were only minor tweaks that needed to be done, but I didn’t feel like it really springboarded me to the next level like I needed. And I have learned a few lessons out of that and I’m going to share with you guys. So my tips for choosing whether or not you’re going to go with a business coach or business consultant, obviously episode 10, listen to that.

But once you choose one of those, these are the top tips that I want you guys to run through, this nice little checklist to make sure that you’re going to hire somebody and really invest your money and your time. I think I’m not so upset about the money because I broke even and made it back, but I’m kind of more frustrated at the time that I wasted a little bit. I could have … I just feel like there was more. And here’s four things that I didn’t really do.

Actually, how I ended up there was I took the recommendation of a colleague to hire this person and I did initial consultation. I really enjoyed talking with them on initial consultation. I think I allowed myself, because it was at the end of the year, the new year was coming, and I just allowed myself to get swept up in the fact that I was overwhelmed and really this strong desire to want to get to the next level and I avoided these four steps that I should have taken. Okay?

So the very first one is you need to identify what you truly need help with. And I understand that you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s the entire premise of my podcast and my blogs and everything, but I feel like as entrepreneurs, we at least have some inclination as to what we do need some help with. We have some good intuition here.

We’ve looked outside ourselves, especially if you’re someone like me who has taken other courses, I’ve attended speaking events, workshops, and I’ve listened to others, sat at the feet and tried to learn from other people. So you need to identify what you truly need help with. The other side of this can be really truly identify what your goals will be or what your goals are, which they can change and your goals can, what they’re going to be can change once you start working with somebody. But you need to start fundamentally with identifying what you truly need help with or what your goals are.

Now, in line with that is when you are getting ready to hire somebody, and I don’t want you guys to think I’m saying, “Rush out there and force these people to work for free just to garner your business.” Maybe do a paid consultation, but I want you to have this coach or consultant to identify initially some items in a high level plan of action to get you to maybe what you truly need help with and/or the goals that you have.

One of the things that I fell victim to was the throwing around of numbers, the talking about goals and, we can get you this number, that number. Guys, we didn’t get there. I’m at the end of the year now and we did not get there and that’s okay. It’s something that I’ve gone back to the drawing board. I’ve changed things on myself and I’m not sharing this to say, “Oh, my business is in trouble.” It’s not at all.

I’m still on an upward trajectory, just not in the way that I anticipated by making this big time and money investment. So first, identify truly what you need help with and/or your goals and then have this coach or consultant identify initially some items in a high level plan of action. I wish the beginning that I had done this second portion because it would have helped me to see that we were only going to be making minor tweaks.

My expectations going in were that we were going to make some big revolutionary changes and it just didn’t happen. So minor tweaks were okay, but had I known that initially that we were only going to be doing minor tweaks, it actually may have been more cost effective and time effective for me to hire this person on a couple of times, like consultation basis, versus committing to six months having high expectations and then feeling disappointed in the end.

And it wasn’t for the lack of their knowledge, it just was that I’m more advanced than many of the people that this person consults with, which brings me to point number three. I want you to use their other products first. So many people that are coaches or consultants already have existing products on the market. Oftentimes, there are web courses or maybe even in person workshops that you can go and do.

I don’t really suggest necessarily just downloadable guides and all that because it’s not giving you really a framework of how this coach or consultant works. A little bit, it could give you some insight, but really if they are offering online courses or in-person courses or you can hear them at speaking engagements, that will really give you a good view into how they teach, the level that they’re teaching at, and who they’re talking to.

Other episodes, I talk about unique selling proposition and client avatar a lot and you guys can hear about the client avatar stuff in episode 12, and it’s so true. This is a fundamental thing of business that everybody goes through. All those that are successful and are garnering customers are utilizing this and so we can reverse engineer and that by using their other products, looking at their marketing, and seeing who they’re actually talking to.

This is where I take responsibility. I think that if I had dug into this individual’s other products, I would have realized that they were talking primarily to those that were newer in business that were not as well developed in strategy as myself. Okay? So I take full responsibility for that. It’s something that I should have done.

On the flip side, I also think that in that initial consultation we talked about in step two, that the consultant or coach should say to you, “You’re more high level than I need, or that I can help with, and you may need somebody else,” or in the inverse, “You’re way more low level and I’m way more high level. Let’s try to find you someone else.” And that’s what I do in my consultations.

I talk with people. I’m in it to tell you, “I only want us to become a long-term relationship if we really can work really well together and if we really can, if I can really help you.” There’s no sense in you having this bad taste at the end of six months like I’m currently having.

So identify what you truly need, have the consultant or coach identify some items in a high level plan of action to kind of give you an idea of where they’re going and what their knowledge level is for you, and use their products first. This will help you identify whether or not you fall into their client avatar.

And then lastly, this seems so common sense, but actually research out testimonials. Seek out people online. I had just rested on one testimonial, a friend who was already within this coach’s program, and I really put a lot of trust in her. So I listened to her and it was a $25,000 investment, which is kind of dumb now when I say it out loud, but that’s how much I trusted this other individual.

And when I had done the initial consultation, I felt really confident, but now that I start searching, I wish I had done more research into testimonials and just to also see what’s out there. In the moments where you’re panicking, you have someone in your ear telling you this person’s really great and you keep seeing their ads, well, it’s easy for you to identify with them and go, “Okay, I’ll just buy into them,” and you need to make sure that you’re really buying into yourself.

I think that’s fundamentally the entire thing here is that you’re buying into yourself. You’re not necessarily buying into a coach. All the investment of time and money that you guys are making is for you. And so it needs to be about you. Now, I know these steps sound very simplistic, some very common sense. Some of you are probably thinking, “Oh Rachel, that’s so stupid. Why didn’t you follow these?” Guys, it is what it is. In business, we make decisions. And again, like I said, I don’t fault this individual.

In fact actually, I take partial responsibility and I feel like they should take partial responsibility in that once we got into it, to be able to say, “Perhaps this program isn’t best for you because I can’t revolutionize this for you. I only have the capacity to make minor tweaks.” And I just feel like I wouldn’t have wasted time and money. And so I’m sharing this with you being fully honest with you, especially at the risk of being really afraid that this individual is going to hear this and be very offended.

Now, I’m not discounting that there are really great coaches out there and consultants. I’m not discounting this person’s knowledge and information. I just was not the client avatar. I just was not the level and I didn’t research the testimonials and the products because that would’ve given me some great insight. So I share this with you guys so that as we’re coming into the new year, if you do decide to hire someone, to make sure you’ve done these proper checks.

I want you guys to make sure that you’re making smart investments and smart decisions in your business, especially when you look at this. In light of this, I could have hired somebody to take something off my plate for me this year instead. But that’s okay. You live, you learn. I’m going to keep looking to see because I feel like no matter what level you’re at, you always can get some help.

And that was kind of one of the mistakes I made in the very beginning was I tried to hammer through things and I learned a lot. A lot of those lessons is what I’m bringing to you guys, but I feel like I hammered through a lot that I didn’t need to do. And even still now, I encourage you, whether you’re making $1,000 a month or you’re making $50,000 a month, you still always need to have someone that can guide you.

Whether it’s a colleague that can look from the outside and/or it’s a mentor, or it’s a coach, consultant relationship. I do think that is one of the best investments you can have. My personal preference, unless you absolutely loved the coach, and you want to absolutely mimic what they’re doing, and you absolutely think that it aligns with your USP and your client avatar, I actually think consultants are the better way to go.

Again, it depends on the person, it depends on the business, but I definitely think there’s something to be said about having someone come in, rip it apart, and give you options and not just sharing their way. Okay? Because there’s many different ways to do different things, but that is completely up to you guys.

You guys are smart. You can take these steps and I wish you guys best of luck. And please jump into the Facebook group, Business Bites, and share with us maybe good or bad experiences that you’ve had with a coach or consultant. You can also message me directly.

I do ask you guys, don’t necessarily share names because I don’t want to start doing that and going down the path of negativity and disparaging, but we definitely want to be able to have good discussions and lessons that we’ve learned or lessons that we’ve not learned. Because I feel like there’s a lot that I missed out on learning this year because they chose the wrong person, but that’s on me. So now we pick ourselves up and we move on into the new year.

About the author

Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

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