It took me months to get up the nerve to write this article, but I was told to tell my story. So, I will tell you about a business coaching experience I had that started with tears and left me with mixed feelings.
How It All Started
Like many, people get coached by someone they've grown to feel a level of trust for or someone referred. The person who ended up coaching me is someone whom I knew for years before they coached me. I knew them from an excellent marketing class they had taught at a college. So, familiarity with this person created a level of trust. But sadly, for me, the familiarity left me blindsided.
After meeting up with this coach to catch up on life and business in this person's office, we went out for a quick bite before leaving the city to go back to our homes. But, during the time out, the coach spoke to me about my commitment to my business. The coach assessed how it seemed like coaching at the moment looked to be ideal for me. And I did agree, but I told this coach that I seriously did not have the money for coaching at that time because I had just left my job, got engaged, and was planning for a wedding.
When the bill came, we took out our credit cards, and the coach asked to see mine. I figured it was for the check. But, instead, this coach ran my credit card for $3,000. So unreal to me, I went home thinking this coach was joking. But then, I got on my computer to see that he really did it! Without a contract, this coach ran my credit card for $3,000 from their cell phone.
I called this coach in tears, pleading for my money back, for this coach to tell me that the fee was non-refundable. And oddly, my credit card wouldn't stop payment. I should've done more in hindsight, but I felt defeated.
[Later, this coach revealed that they didn’t take me saying that I lacked the funds seriously. This is now a charge I am still slowly paying back now after promises of help landing clients to make up for the charge].
I felt embarrassed having been taken advantage of in this way – by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Then, I had to convince my family and fiancé that I wasn't an idiot and that the coach had good intentions. I blamed myself for this coach essentially scamming me, as most do when taken advantage of. Talk about a quick life lesson.
The Fall Out
But despite the deception, which I addressed at length with this person, they convinced me that I was making the right decision by investing in myself. And, as livid as I was, I knew I needed to invest in myself. I then rested on the coaches' reputation as a reason to give them a second chance. If this ever happens to you, sue! A person who operates this way should not be trusted. Take it from me.
Lessoned Learned From The Wolf
Since I didn't sue, here are some more quick takeaways for what you should never accept from a coach during the sales and onboarding process. The first two points were covered already...
Never give a coach your card even if they say they "just want to see it."
Always get a contract before making any payment. In my case, the coach did not give me a choice.
A coaches' sales process should not involve deception or high-pressure sales techniques.
You should feel 100% sure about your decision to work with a coach because you genuinely see the value of working with them.
Now, on to service delivery. Seeing how this coach took my money in such a horrendous way, I was determined to get as much from my coaching experience as possible.
Was Anything Salvageable?
Sadly, looking back, I wish I had sued this person for my money instead. Here are some things I wish I had during my coaching experience that would've made it better.
I wish I didn't have to be the one to push for a rundown of what was going to be covered in the coaching program.
I wish the coaching program had structure. I found myself having to instill structure where none existed.
I wish I had detailed weekly assignments. After a while, it seemed like this coach was winging it as we went along.
I wish the coach provided me with the recordings from our session to have something to look back on for the moments when valuable information was presented. Unfortunately, I had to be the one to ask for them instead. And, if I did not ask, my sessions were never sent to me.
I wish the coach stuck to the contract terms (that I should've received before [thief of] payment). I was supposed to get long-form workshops. I asked for them, but the coach continued to reassure me there was time for them. My time with the coach ended, and no long-form sessions.
I wish I didn't feel like this coaches' guinea pig for a new program launch.
For me, I learn best in a structured learning environment. And I will not deny that I learned new tools for running a business. But weeks after working together, this coach said they did not feel like they left me with proper direction. Say what?! Sigh. But did this person offer free help or a refund? Nope. The coach just left me hanging.
So, what does this mean for me?
When I coach others, I will always make sure the sessions are structured, systematic, and calculated to get a person from point A to point B.
I will never deceive a potential coaching client. I would never want anyone to go through what I went through.
I will let people know that it is okay to have worked in a business function but struggle with having their own business. It's hard coming to terms with the reality that you may have built up a long-standing career in the corporate or nonprofit world and that as an entrepreneur, you have to build up your reputation again.
Despite my ordeal, I will continue to be a lifelong learner and someone willing to make investments into my business and personal growth. I am eager to play the long game. And as a business owner, you have to be a life-long learner.
Not knowing everything about having a business will always push me to study marketing and business every day to provide my clients with the best information.
Have you ever been through a coaching experience you wish you could take back and how have you moved on from it?