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$1.02 billion. That is the 2016 valuation of the professional coaching industry in the United States. According to the International Coach Federation the United States has approximately 17,500 coaches actively coaching- and this number continues to grow. With numbers like that, you think it’d be easy to find yourself a professional coach- but it’s often not! In fact, the intimidation people feel seeking the help of a complete stranger is enough to stop them before they start.
Here's the good news if you're the timid kind; coaches and mentors are all about you. You don't need to be a member of a fancy organization to find them either. Whether you have a budget for coaching or cannot spend a cent, we’re about to dive into ways to find one and start changing your life and business.
BUT FIRST, SOME POINTERS:
You need a very clear understanding of why you are seeking a coach or a mentor. Approaching someone and saying "I need help" is not helpful. You need to be able to conduct a self-assessment to see what your personal needs are as well as look at your business. Are you looking for insight into a particular career field or industry? Do you feel like your networking is leading nowhere? Do you need guidance on being a better entrepreneur? There is no right or wrong answer, but knowing what you want showcases that you value the time of others and that you are focused.
Ask whomever to speak with to be your coach or mentor. This is SUPER important! You may think because you have this person on the phone that they know where this is heading and will be happy to help. You want the relationship to start off on the right foot, and be a good fit for both parties. By explicitly asking, you ensure that you both know what to expect and how much time to give.
The People Around You:
Ask colleagues, business partners, family, workout buddies, members of your church, virtually anyone you cross paths with on a regular basis if they have ever used a coach or mentor or know of one. Using a coach or mentor is not something that people outwardly say, so unless you ask you may never know. Remember, those around you cannot help you if they don't know what your needs are.
If I could shout from the rooftops the power behind LinkedIn, I would. For starters, be sure you are a member of the alumni network on this platform. This is an excellent resource for scouting out potential coaches or mentors. Secondly, request informal interviews with people. Informal interviews are as they sound- an informal chat to learn more about a person, company, or industry. For those of you who have the premium option, informal interview is a clickable button for you. For those of you who do not have premium, you can send a private message instead. In either case, you have the opportunity to write a short message to this person asking them for a block of their time, usually 15-30 minutes, to discuss whatever you are looking to discuss. Go into this with no expectations and see where the conversation goes.
Veterati.com is a website geared towards military members and their spouses for finding mentorship. Best of all, it's free! Build a profile based off of what your needs are and scan their database of mentors waiting for you to schedule them. One of the best features of this site is it allows (and encourages) you to speak with as many mentors as you would like until you find the right fit.
Read next: 7 Smart Habits for Small Business Owners
SCORE is powered by the SBA (US Small Business Association). In 2017 alone they were able to help over 50,000 small business owners and over 60,000 people trying to identify their next employment venture. Most SCORE resources are free, although some workshops come at a nominal fee.
TiE Global is an excellent option for those of you who are in a position to spend a little money on finding and accessing a mentor. Their solo membership will run you about 100 bucks but with that comes the ability to connect with people within your residential area.
For those of you who may not have a large social circle or prefer to get recommendations straight from the horse's mouth, look into attending a meetup group on meetup.com. Register for free on their website and attend a meetup meeting in an area that interest you or that you're hoping to find a coach or mentor through. Please note that although the use of the platform is free, some organizers may charge member dues or event fees.
Chamber of Commerce:
Your local chamber of commerce can become of a wealth of resources, in tons of ways, but particularly in the area of mentorship. You have to be the personality type to be comfortable with engaging others in conversation, but you are hard pressed to find an unhappy room. Some members charge monthly or yearly dues but will usually allow you to attend your first event on the house.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Whether you're the life of the party or prefer to stay in your bubble, mentors and coaches are all around you. It's up to you to make the initial connection and build the relationship.
Looking for more pointers on how to make your small business a success? Download our free ebook, "The Ultimate Guide for Veteran-owned Small Businesses". In this guide we've compiled dozens of resources to education, training, networking groups, accelerators and a complete section to learn about the basics of small business funding. Download your free copy today!
This communication is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be an advertisement, a solicitation, or constitute professional advice, including legal, financial, or tax advice, nor is StreetShares providing advice on any particular situation.