As a dog trainer, you’re probably used to playing the role of coach – supporting, guiding and cheering on your clients as they figure out life with their dog. And as you juggle all the complexities of running a business, you may have dreamt of having a coach of your own. It’s tough being your own cheerleader. Putting a business coach in your corner may be the greatest gift you can give yourself.
Yet just like dog training, business coaching and consulting is an unregulated industry. Anyone can call themselves a coach. Selecting the right person can be the difference between seeing your business soar and a potentially expensive dead end. Here are some tips on choosing a business coach, as well as some red flags to watch out for:
A good business coach understands that one size doesn’t fit all, especially in the diverse world of dog training. Avoid coaches who offer generic advice without considering the unique aspects of your business. A coach should be able to tailor their guidance to your specific niche, target audience, business goals, and the location in which you live and work. They should take time to get to know you and understand your specific goals, rather than making assumptions or telling you what you should be aiming for. And these goals shouldn’t just be financial ones – an effective coach considers all aspects of business, including your ideal lifestyle, the type of work that gives you purpose, and the networks and communities you want to connect with.
Communication is key in any successful partnership. A trustworthy business coach should be transparent about their methods, fees, and expectations. If a coach is vague or hesitant to discuss their approach, it could be a red flag. Look for someone who is open and communicative, who is willing to address your concerns and provide clarity on how they can assist your dog training business.
Proven track record
A track record of success is a strong indicator of a reliable business coach. Look for testimonials, case studies, or success stories from their previous clients. Ask your dog training colleagues for recommendations, including the specific ways coaching has helped them and their business. A dog trainer who has experienced success solely in their own business often isn’t enough. A coach who has helped others in the dog training industry achieve their goals is more likely to help you succeed.
Credentials and experience matter
You want a coach who knows what they’re talking about. Look for certifications or affiliations with reputable organizations in the dog training or business coaching fields. While it’s not absolutely essential, a coach with a background in R+ dog training is a huge bonus. If they know exactly what’s involved in running a successful dog training business, you’ll spend less time explaining how the industry works and more time working on what matters. If there are areas you particularly struggle with, such as marketing or financial management, a coach with expertise in these areas may be a good fit as well.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
If a business coach promises guaranteed overnight success or astronomical growth without a realistic plan, be cautious. Building a successful dog training business takes time, effort, and strategic planning. And just like dog training, ethical coaches can’t guarantee outcomes because they can’t guarantee the behavior of their clients. Business advice, planning, and support is only effective when both parties play their part. A coach who sets unrealistic expectations may not have your best interests at heart and could be more interested in building their own business than supporting yours. A shiny website and active social media account is not always an indicator of the best possible coach for your business.
Beware of too many sales tactics
While marketing is essential for any business, be wary of a coach who places excessive emphasis on sales tactics without addressing the core principles of running a successful dog training business. A coach should help you build a solid foundation, focusing on the quality of your services, your operational systems, and client relationships rather than solely on sales strategies. They should help you find ways to promote your business that don’t immediately give you the ‘ick’.
Personal connection is key
A successful coaching relationship requires a personal connection and mutual trust. If you find it challenging to connect with a potential coach or feel uneasy about their approach, it’s crucial to listen to your instincts. A lack of chemistry or trust can hinder the effectiveness of the coaching relationship. You should look forward to your coaching sessions, and feel good after them, even when the topics are difficult ones.
We’ve seen time and again how powerful an effective business coach can be. Many coaches offer a one-off call before committing to a larger or ongoing package. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how they will help you, how their coaching works, and what you can expect. With the right fit, you’ll find the support you need to take your business to new heights.