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How to choose the right business coach

Read time: 3 minutes


With a multitude of resources available online and elsewhere, finding a business coach is rather easy. However, finding the right coach for you and your business is another matter.  

What key qualities should you look for in the person who will guide you through your business decisions and help propel your business to new heights?

BDC Business Consultant Jean Joncas, who has been coaching entrepreneurs for 16 years, says you should meet with several coaches before making a decision. You want to make sure the coach you choose not only has good chemistry with you but also these six essential qualities.

1. A wealth of experience and a diversified skill set

Study the CVs of the candidates and select those who have a wide variety of business experience. You need a coach who is comfortable talking to you about such diverse topics as strategy, new markets, innovation, continuous improvement, human resources, operations, and your financial position.  

Joncas held different management positions in the food business before becoming a business consultant. He has often been asked: “What do you know about our industry?” To this, he responds: “I have never worked in your industry, so that gives me greater objectivity. The experts are sitting around the table with me.”

2. Excellent understanding of small and medium-sized businesses

Look for someone who held managerial positions in a small company or has owned their own business and dealt with the challenges entrepreneurs face every day.

“You have to understand their family and emotional environments to be able to guide them in their business decisions,” Joncas says.

3. Analytical skills and a critical eye

Business coaches help entrepreneurs to improve how they manage their businesses and overcome obstacles. This is why you should seek out a consultant with strong analytical skills and good judgment. Your coach should be able to cast a critical eye on how you do things and highlight your strengths and areas for improvement.

This is what Mr. Joncas refers to as working with an entrepreneur to pinpoint any “knots.” At the same time, the coach has to be able to say to the entrepreneur: “Things are going very well. Your business is top notch. You don’t need my services now.”

4. Driven when it comes to your success

Look for someone who is genuinely interested in seeing you succeed.  

You prospective coach should be asking you questions to get a good grasp of where your company stands instead of talking about their own accomplishments.  

“A coach can be a guide, but I often tell people: Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together. A coach may guide you but, in the end, it’s the entrepreneur who does all the work and who should get the credit.”

5. Courage, tact and great confidence

To make sure your coaching experience is successful, you need a consultant who has the courage to tell you to go for Option B even when you would prefer to select Option A.

“A person who always agrees with you won’t push you forward. At the same time, a good coach chooses the right time and the right way to tell you what could be uncomfortable truths and help you make the best decisions.”

6. Strong ethics

Entrepreneurs share many things with their business consultants including very personal information. You want to make sure that information will stay with your consultant.  

It is highly recommended to call on the services of a business consultant who is a member of a professional order or an organization that offers a well-defined approach based on a code of ethics.

Finally, as you search for your coach, remember to ask for references and take the time to check them. The experience of other entrepreneurs will be one of your best sources of information.