Having an experienced, knowledgeable, objective and skilled consultant/coach in your corner is invaluable in running a business. They will give you thoughtful, honest advice and council and they have a vested interest in having you succeed! How valuable is it to be able to have a 5-10 minute conversation with a knowledgeable person, who understands you and your business, and what you’re trying to accomplish, and get straight, honest feedback and advice? Priceless!

A Consultant/Coach is in it for the long haul with you. In contrast, a business broker’s relationship ends when you sign on the dotted line. As with all professions, there are good ones and not so good ones. Don’t get taken in by slick talk, lofty predictions and guarantees of wealth, prosperity, fame and fortune. First of all, if you are actively seeking a business, and stumbled upon a business broker, no doubt you like the broker who is aiding you. That comes with the territory – they are in sales, and so likely very good at building that bonhomie feeling. They will earn a substantial commission when they place you with a business, upwards of 6%, 10% or in some cases, while considered unethical, it could be 20% of what you pay for the franchise or opportunity. It is natural for most brokers to nudge their clients to the opportunity that pays them the highest commission. (They will also then steer a client away from another quality opportunity if they don’t earn a commission. Note: Sign Biz does not use brokers).

Don’t be surprised when you prepare to launch, and the broker has moved on. It’s time to find your business coach! According to a Harvard Business Review study, ten years ago, most companies engaged a coach to help fix toxic behavior at the top. Today, most coaching is about developing the capabilities of high-potential performers. The second-biggest reason to bring on a coach? To have that priceless sounding board!

Here’s what to look for: Do they have experience in your industry, or a related one? Do they speak knowledgeably about the industry, and have experience with a business of your size? Have people you know and trust worked with them, and what were the results? In your conversations with them, listen for clues as to how their life is going. Is their life, professionally and personally, together, or do they have all sorts of issues and problems? Are they positive, or does negativity keep coming through.

After you’ve met with them, do you come away feeling positive and energized, or enervated? Do the things they say make sense? The tiniest of red flags should never be ignored!  Present them with some issues or problems, either hypothetical or real, and listen carefully to their responses. Their responses should ring true and if you are not clear on what they’re saying, ask for clarification. This is not rocket science! If you get an uneasy feeling in your gut, they’re probably not right for you, regardless of their credentials. You should be able to have an easy back and forth conversation and feel very comfortable with the person. A big one … do you feel (not think!) you can trust them? This is huge, because over the term of the engagement you will share intimate details of your business, your life and your relationships.

The consultant/coach will be your confidant and it’s imperative that you feel comfortable with them and that they will keep all information disclosed to them confidential.