I'm not suggesting they need to have experience in your specific industry, just that they have "walked in your shoes." If you are a corporate executive, you'll want a coach who has experienced life as a big company executive. On the other hand, if you are a small business owner, choose a coach who has owned and operated a small business and whose coaching niche is working with small business owners.
While a lot of my fellow coaches may disagree, I would not hire a coach whose work experience did not match my needs. For example, I've recently met a lot of former big company marketing people who have set up shop as small business coaches. The problem with this is they do not understand the intricacies and dynamics of the small business sector. I once listened to a big company marketing expert deliver a talk to a small business group. While he had the expertise for the world he lived in, the $50 million marketing budget he was used to was more than a little out of the sphere of the people in the audience.
Another example that appears frequently is the well intentioned coach who wants to work with sales people but has never been in sales. They cannot possibly understand what sales people deal with each day without having done it.
Next, you'll need to ask the coach what they bring to the party. If all they can contribute is having completed a coach training program for one of the many coaching schools, something that may be adequate for life coaching, for your business, you will want more from your coach.
Ideally, your business coach can say, with confidence, "After a number of years operating my own small business, I entered the coaching profession and now specialize in working with other small businesses, just like you. My real world experience, combined with my coach training enable me help you produce extraordinary results. SInce i understand your world and can relate to your challenges, I can add value to your business as well."
Jim Donovan is a Certified Explode Your Business and Income- Coach with more than 20 years experience working in the personal growth field. His books have been published in twenty-two countries, helping millions of people worldwide. In his individual and group practice, he has worked with hundreds of small business owners in dozens of industries and assisted them in producing extraordinary results. Learn more at