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Hiring Your Ideal Business Coach: 5 Decision Factors to Find Your Match

I’ll always remember the day I called my manager to resign from my sales position and begin my new life as a solo professional. It was just before the Thanksgiving holiday. I had been planning my exit for months, and dreaming of it even longer. I had a plan in place and it was time for action.

There was this mix of excitement and complete terror in letting go of that steady paycheck in exchange for the unknown. All those little questions popping up in my head: Was I ready? Did I know what I was getting myself into? What if this is a complete bust?

But deep down, I knew it was time; it was my destiny to work for myself, to get out into the world and do bigger things.

If I could share one thing I’ve learned: don’t go it alone. Hire the right business coach to help you on the path. Consider it an investment in yourself and your success. But because it’s a pretty considerable investment, it can be intimidating to know you’re making the right choice the first time.

A good friend and companion on the self-employment journey once told me: if she’s on the path a few steps ahead, she wants to point out to those following behind the big boulders to avoid. In the spirit of paying it forward, I want to help you avoid some boulders.

When I hired a business coach, I looked for these non-negotiable factors:

  1. Specific target market. When doing your research, make sure your coach serves people like you. For example, I work with self-employed women who are service professionals. They create products and services around their knowledge or expertise. They also want to remain self-employed and work virtually; they don’t foresee themselves establishing a brick and mortar business or hiring employees. Being that specific allows people to consider me – or not consider me – before going further. The more specific your coach’s niche, the more expertise they will likely have to help you.
  2. Trust and credibility. Look for standard credibility builders – they’re simple but necessary. These include a professional email address, a web presence, and specific testimonials. When I was researching coaching certifications, I contacted one of people who provided a testimonial for the program. She spoke with me for 30 minutes about what she gained from the program. That’s powerful. It was what I needed to help me make my decision.
  3. Experience. I personally look for a mix of credentials and experience. Part of experience is meeting a client at his or her level. When I hired a business coach last year, she took time to understand my business and was able to suggest a starting point appropriate to my place on the self-employment road. A friend told me a story of hiring a marketing coach and spending a significant amount of money, only to later find the program was way beyond where she was at in her business, resulting in a disappointing (and costly) experience.
  4. Investable opportunities. What offerings does the coach have beyond the most expensive core package? Look for free or less expensive ways to experience this person’s style and knowledge before making the plunge. This could be a free tele-class or audio recording, a speaking engagement, or a low-cost class offering. The coach may also offer a laser session; if that’s the case make sure they have some pre-work for you to complete prior to meeting. This could be a questionnaire, assessment, or mini-course. That’s the only way for them to really get to know you and ask the right questions.
  5. Likeability. Likeability is part of building trust and credibility, but it’s so important that it has its own spot on the list! When you’re talking with this potential coach, do you feel that you can make an emotional connection with this person? After all, you will most likely be spending several weeks sharing details of your business, your dreams, and your goals. Tim Sanders writes in his book The Likeability Factor, that the four components of likeability are friendliness, realness, empathy, and relevance. How does this person rate with you on those four components? Take advantage of the free or low-cost investable opportunities to get a feel for how likeable the coach is personally and professionally.

Following these five tips will help you avoid any boulders on the path to hiring your ideal coach!

Investing in Gold

The extent of last year’s market turbulence and volatility was reflected in an acceleration in the price of precious metals, especially gold. Between June and November 2007 the price rose from $640 to $847, a level not seen since the all time highs of the early 1980s. Today, the first day of trading in 2008 sees the price at over $850 and with a strong probability that it will reach the magic $1000 very soon.

The reasons for this spectacular rise are very straightforward. First, demand is currently outstripping supply. Second, gold like all commodities is in the midst of a “supercycle”, and third investors have traditionally used gold as a hedge for their “paper” investments as well as a safe haven in times of uncertainty and unrest.

Hedging would usually be in the futures market, and to meet this continued demand China announced on December 28th the launch in early 2008 of a major new futures trading agency, The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SFE). In addition China also increased its own production of gold by 13% in an attempt to meet rising demand at home and other Asian countries, where gold has always been revered for its beauty and investment value. This increase in demand is also due to growing inflationary pressure in the region as well as continuing dollar weakness.

For the small, retail investor participation in this latest gold rush has never been easier, with investment opportunities ranging from outright purchase of gold bullion to trading the metal (and other precious metals) in a variety of exchange traded funds. However, two words of warning: First never, ever buy gold jewellery as an investment and second do bear in mind that we may have reached an interim top in the gold chart and it may be prudent to wait for a dip back below the $800 level before entering this market. A good place to find the views of the professional money is the weekly Commitment of Traders report (COT) where details of all futures and options contracts can be found.

Whether gold continues its meteoric rise will also depend on oil prices continuing to climb, further dollar weakness and increasing market volatility. Monitoring all these factors has never been easier. The oil price is quoted daily on the news while details of the dollar can be found in the dollar index and market volatility is measured by the VIX indicator.

The Top 2 Reasons You Should Invest in Residential Real Estate

What is the number one reason you should invest in residential real estate? Since the colonization of North America, no other economic asset has produced as much wealth as real estate. And, no other asset has produced as many millionaires as real estate. Ask the likes of Leona Helmsley, the Springs Clan, George Washington, John Jacob Astor, Sam Zell, and others (a number of which are billionaires). They all made their millions in real estate and most had all or at least a large part of their wealth in real estate.

Besides reliability and consistency producing more wealth than any other asset. You should be considering residential real estate for a lot of other good reasons. First, what other asset provides an education in how to care for it in the general every day activities that we all cope with. Paying the gas bill, or electric bill, or water bill are part of having a home and are part of owning residential real estate. Maintenance issues like roof replacement, rotten wood repair, fixing the plumbing, unstopping the toilet, repairing broken locks, and so much more are simply part of every day life and… part of managing residential property. While you may never have leased a home or an apartment to a consumer, the odds are very high that you have completed this exercise yourself and are familiar with the questions asked, the background and credit checks completed, your liabilities if you failed to pay and what the process would be should they have to evict you. You probably already know when rent checks are due, when they are late, and what will occur if not paid on time. You have an idea how to report a maintenance request even if you don’t know what to do with it when you receive it. In fact, you’ve spent a good part of your life to date learning the ins and outs of residential real estate operations and management. Additionally, as an American, you likely already know some or even many of the programs available to you to purchase a home and you have some sense of the loan process you will need to complete for the purchase. What other business can you think of that without additional professional training that you would know so much about?

Because of these two points, no one has created as much wealth as in housing and there is no business you know so much about, you should very seriously consider making residential investing part of your asset portfolio.