answers $1.00 - correct answers $2.00 - dumb looks are still free (hiring a coach for your maker business)

There may be enough business coaches out there now for us to each have one of our own.

(personally I'm waiting for someone like my old field hockey coach except maybe she won't spit on me when she screams my name loudly enough to have everyone in the stands looking around the grounds for a four legged calico)

Now I have never hired a business coach so my advice is of the "dumb looks are still free" variety

(if I charged for the kind of tidbits I offer up on this blog you would probably all be thinking I had a screw loose, but since I give my tidbits up for free I am pretty certain you are left thinking, that Cat, she is pretty freakin' clever ... once in awhile)

but not knowing what I am talking about has never stopped me before and from what I have heard from friends it hasn't stopped some of the coaches out there who charge oodles, so here is my advice for hiring a coach for your small business:

1. Nice is not always a good thing. Kind is a good thing - you don't want to work with a meanie, but nice is probably not what you need. You probably need to be pushed to the edge of your comfort zone - to see what you are really capable of - you need to sweat.

2. Expertise in your particular field is not a requirement - if you are a knitter and you feel you need the advice of an expert knitter (or someone who has grown their knitting business in a way you aspire to grow yours) what you are really looking for is a mentor not a coach. A coach needs to be a good coach not a good knitter.

(and sometimes a mentor is exactly what you need)

3. Expertise is required. You need someone who knows what you don't know - don't pay someone to tell you stuff you already know - unless what you really need is a kick in the ass to get you going and you can probably find someone to do that for you for free

(I recommend one of those paper signs taped to your back)

You want vision, systems, knowledge and fresh perceptions about your business niche - if things are too general you probably won't get much out of it.

4. Do your homework - you are hiring this person after all. Check references, understand just what you will be getting - materials, proven systems they have developed, private consultations, group consultations, etc - understand the fees

(I have an Etsy friend who hired a coach who helped - ie sent my friend an url to a loan site - her get a small business loan. The coach then collected 10% of the loan since her contract stated she got a percentage of any debt she was able to broker)

when you are paying someone more for an hour of their time than you make for an hour of your time they need to be worth it.

Ask them to connect the dots between the work they did with a client and the results that client achieved.

5. Trust your gut - find someone you like and want to work with.

6. Don't expect too much - unless you are hiring David Blaine you probably can't expect levitating playing cards and disappearing coins (dammit) - this stuff is hard and there aren't usually any easy answers.

A great coach can make a good player into a great player

(and although I'm not sure Coach Spitzer made me into a great player - she did substitute my fear of getting hit with the hockey stick into a fear of her which definitely greatly improved my game)

and we can all benefit from lots of voices having lots of conversations, so I think this is all a good thing just remember if you are looking in this direction to grow your business that a coach is someone you are hiring not a friend you are having coffee with.

(unless you pay your friends by the hour which I may have to start doing actually - sniffle)

* canvas print of 1969 postage stamp by pastpostage

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