At some point as you’re growing your business, you may decide that you need an outside set of eyes, or coaching around a specific issue. Common needs include strategy, sales, marketing, work/life balance, etc.

But good help usually doesn’t come cheap, and you’ll want to get as much return as you can on your investment. Here are some ways you can get the most out of a coaching relationship.

Choose well

There are a million business coaches out there. Each coach has a different style and brings different industry and work experience.

A coaching relationship is very personal. Pick someone who you feel understands you, your business, and your situation. This is a decision where going with your gut might be preferable to making a purely intellectual decision. You need to feel a connection with your coach.

Try to talk to some previous clients if you can. You’ll get a clearer picture of what you can expect when you work with that person.

Set expectations

When you begin your relationship, you should explicitly discuss what success would look like. Are there certain revenue goals you would like to hit? Do you want to create a business plan or marketing calendar? Do you want to be held accountable on a weekly basis?

The more specific metrics you have, the better. As the client, this will create a vision of what you’re striving for and understanding of why you’re putting in the effort. Your coach can create a strategy to help you achieve the goal – and adjust it when things go off course.

Be honest

When you’re working with your coach, don’t share your shiny happy life. That’s for social media.

A coach has heard it all. Don’t sugarcoat your situation – or you won’t get the help you need. Do you have a feast or famine revue history? Are you struggling with work/life balance? Are you occasionally overwhelmed by all the things you have to do? Do you suffer from analysis paralysis?

None of these are insurmountable, but the coach needs to know exactly what you’re wrestling with. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The more honest you are with your coach, the more valuable suggestions and advice you will receive.

Honor expertise

You picked your coach for a reason. You heard good things about them, you admired what they had done with their business, they knew about your industry, etc. Treat them as an expert and listen to their insight.

It’s fine to read or listen to what other experts say about what you’re getting coached on. If something really hits home for you, discuss it with your coach. Maybe they can incorporate it into your work together.

But please don’t consistently bring up what someone else recommends. It feels invalidating to the coach. If you like that person’s point of view so much, maybe you should have hired them!

Work through discomfort

There will be times when your coach will ask you to do things that are uncomfortable and make you stretch as a professional. Try not to veer into being passive aggressive or defensive even when your inner 8-year-old wants to throw a tantrum.

Breathe. Talk about what’s lighting you up. Share what you’re feeling or experiencing. Have your coach help you work through it.

Your coach may tell you something you don’t want to hear. I made a client cry once. But I saved him $15K and months of wasted time building something he would have hated doing. In the end, he thanked me. 

Follow through on commitments

If you aren’t committed to doing something, don’t commit to it. Your coach is there to push you, but in the end it’s your decision.

It’s incredibly frustrating on both sides when you don’t follow through. You may feel like you’re not making enough progress, and your coach will be seeing where you could be with your business if you actually did what you agreed to do.

One question business coaches get asked is if they work with business coaches. In fact, many of us do. I know I have worked with several. I did an intensive last November with someone I had always wanted to work with. It changed everything about my business and I am having my best year yet.

Help is a four-letter word – but not a bad one. If you need help with your business, go get it sooner rather than later. You’ll wonder why you waited so long.