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By John Warrillow, author of “Build to Sell” wrote a short article on BNet called “How to Pick a Mentor: Take a Cue From Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt”

I enjoyed reading the article and posted a comment. Then realized I should post the comment on my own blog :) So here it is.

When I hire a coach (as I did recently – my fourth coach in 12 years) I’m able to do 2-4 times the amount of good things to run my business. I get a lot of feedback and thoughts about “better” things I could be doing or at least trying on for size.

My current coach is my opposite from a standpoint of how we became business owners. I did it being a 3rd generation business owner and grew up on Wall Street. She grew up in acadamia. I’ve had coaches who were more like me, and that worked to because I needed what they had. :)

Other attributes I look for (other than “do they have what I want”) when hiring a coach are:
a) Do they have coaching training – from an accredited school. *
b) Have they hired (and continue hiring) a coach for themselves throughout the term of their business. *
c) Can they give you the names of 3 clients to contact.
d) Do they have testimonials on their websites showing the same progress that YOU want to make.
e) Do they have ways (on their website) for you to get a good feel for who they are? Look for information on their About Us pages, as well as articles, videos or audios they give away for free.
f) Is their personality a good match for what you need — notice I didn’t say want! (i.e. hand-holding, a task master, strategic or free flowing, do they give you templates for things you’re working on or do they have you do your own research and create templates etc.)
g) Are they the type of coach you need? Life Coach, Business Coach, Executive Coach, Parent Coach, Career Coach, etc.
h) Do they offer a variety of programs that you can switch into/from or one program.
i) Do they offer prospects – those who are looking to hire a coach within the next 7-14 days – a complimentary getting to know you sort of session? In 20-30 minutes you can learn a lot about someone. :)
j) Do they have a hiring process that’s customer service friendly and do they offer options (email, Skype, in person, phone, etc.)
k) When I hire them, do they give me their personal (but business) phone number or do I have to go through hoops should I be in “emergency mode”.

IMO, it’s very important to do your homework before hiring a coach. In fact, it’s a a hiring process, just like any other.

*I want to know that whomever I hire is continuing to grow. Being a student or alumni of a coaching school and hiring your own coaches from time to time, shows me that’s happening. I also want to know that my coach has had training. I had one coach who didn’t and training is on my list of must-haves now.