Is Your Virtual Assistant Coach A Real Coach?
A few weeks ago in a virtual assistant community, I belong to there was a discussion taking place regarding finding a mentor, working with a coach, and what to watch out for. What I realized is that very few of the individuals understood what it meant to work with a coach, why finding a mentor is not always easy, and many had not considered working with a consultant.
These are all very different types of individuals who produce different outcomes over varying timeframes. All are extremely valuable if you have set the right expectations. However, choosing to work with one without really knowing the value proposition will never yield results and leave you disappointed.
Coaching has become a very popular buzzword. It seems everyone is working with or is a coach these days. Virtual assistants love to work for coaches! It is important to note that while anyone can call themselves a coach, that doesn’t really make them a coach. In business, we have somehow been okay with tolerating this yet we wouldn’t trust a track coach to be a swimming coach.
Not all those who call themselves coaches are really coaches. They might be something else to you in business. Someone who can help you but has the wrong title. You need to do your homework and find out.
The following are questions you should ask the coach and research for yourself when looking to hire a coach for your VA business.
Is your coach really career hopping? During times of unemployment, it is common for people to add the term “consultant” to their resume or CV so there is no gap. In times, like now, where more and more people want to diversify their income people are adding coaching to their list of services. I’ve even had people tell me I should call myself a coach. Multiple times I’ve heard that all that it takes to be a coach is “knowing slightly more than the other person”. Unbelievable!
Coaching isn’t just about what you know. Listening is also a huge component. Getting to the question behind the question, the feeling behind the statement, the core issue instead of the surface circumstance. These are things coaches are trained in.
Is your VA coach really a mentor? Well, first off, you usually don’t pay mentors. Instead, you pay it forward. Having a mentor these days is quite a big commitment and because of the type of relationship, there is typically a trusted bond. Too often people don’t value or respect what is given to them for free. Asking someone to mentor you is like asking someone to be in a relationship with you.
Before you ask someone to be your mentor (which I don’t advise) you should know them well. This is a person for whom you are asking advice and someone who is going to give it to you before you ask. What are their beliefs and morals based on? Do you share their beliefs? How does this person interact with their family? Remember you are going into a relationship with this person and this is information you need to know. Mentors can often be lifelong, again because it is such a special kind of relationship. If you don’t feel comfortable asking someone these questions you should ask them to be your mentor.
There is a difference between giving advice and charging for coaching. Advice is usually based solely on that person’s experience. Advice requires no formal training. Would you take advice from a therapist with no formal training? By definition, whether physical or psychological, therapists are “trained” in the use of either physical or psychological methods to help their patients.
Coaches are therapists for your business. The credentials do matter. Instead of relying solely on their past experience, coaches also bring in their expertise from past and current trainings.
Is your coach really a consultant? Consultants have often been referred to as the person who takes your own watch to tell you what time it is. This can be a quick process or the consultant can stay on and walk you through it. However, they are not always, nor can you assume they will coach you along the way.
I’m a consultant, not a coach and it something I have to remind my clients. There is value in consultants but the value proposition is not the same as that of a coach. You have to know what you are getting upfront to make your decision. For instance, the value many of my clients find in me is that I cut to the chase and tell them what they need to do and how to do it. It’s valuable for them because in the state their businesses are in they can’t see clearly and are unable to feel confident in their decisions. Quite honestly, they want an expert to tell them what to do. I also use their watch to tell them how much time and money they will save in the long run.
Some of my clients have both clients and money and don’t know why their VA business is not working well for them. Time is of great importance because this is where burnout happens, oddly at the crossroads of what you said you wanted, worked hard to get, and now have too much of it. I can move quickly to put out the internal fires. Making decisions in a place of burnout is not a good time. You either miss the forest for the trees or you throw out the baby with the bath water.
Once I’ve got them up and running again, this is usually the time I refer them out to coach. They no longer need to be told what to do to make money or find clients in their virtual assistant business. Now they have a better understanding of what they really want versus what they thought they wanted. What they are looking for now is how to build a brand, create a product, or even go global. Those things take time and expertise in coaching for disciplines that I don’t possess.
Coaching is the long game. Many coaches I know, great coaches, won’t even work with a client unless the client is willing to commit to at least six months. Others have year-long commitments. The process of creating not only mindset, behavioral, but instinctual changes don’t happen overnight.
I like the term “mental athlete” very much and consider this an accurate term for being a VA business owner. In doing so I compare myself to Olympic athletes. Many Olympic athletes work with their coaches for years. It’s no doubt they are the best! They keep working with a coach to constantly correct and improve behaviors, routines, habits to shave off seconds and even milliseconds to be the best. Working with a coach doesn’t mean you’re not doing well. It does mean you are constantly striving to get better.
I’m a huge believer in coaching! I am always working with a coach. A certified, trained coach. What I am not a fan of is the coach bandwagon plaguing the VA industry. So what do you look for in a real coach?
- Look for the credentials
- Look for references – not just the testimonials
- Look for a history – everyone has a first client (you did too) but the history should shape their story
Watch the video below for the three biggest red flags to avoid when looking to hire a coach for your virtual assistant business.
Melissa is the bestselling author of Hire the Right Virtual Assistant and Become A Successful Virtual Assistant. To learn more about hiring the right VA or be matched with a client looking for a VA just like you, contact Melissa here.
She has gained international recognition and has been featured in CareerBuilder, The Muse, Spark Hire, Thinkific & Woman’s World.