I would never offer a guarantee for my coaching or consulting services. But I am often asked about this in roundabout ways. I’ll get questions like “can you give me a guarantee that what you tell me will work?” Or maybe “I want you to tell me what to do, not ask me what I want to work on.” Or sometimes “how do I know that what you will tell me will make me money?
The other day I spoke with someone who has not been successful in his business despite having worked with probably 3 or 4 coaches either short-term or long-term – one of whom was me. By the time this person got to me he had already invested time and money in business building activities that were not working for him. He was frustrated and to the point of just wanting to be “told what to do.” It’s at this point that potential clients start wanting “guarantees” and “knowing exactly what I will get.” When I hear that my danger lights go on instantly. I know either they have made the rounds with other coaches, are not suited to own their own business, are too fear-based to take much risk, or are not trusting of business relationships. Any of these are poor indicators for long term success in business.
I cannot guarantee a result because, after all, I have no idea how much or how little execution a client will do. I can guarantee that I will speak truth and give the very best guidance I can give, even if that means telling someone they would be better off working with someone else besides me (yes, I do that sometimes). I’ve recommended that more than one client just quit and go find a job, in fact! No small business is lockstep. No one formula will work for everyone. There are far too many variables. I cannot guarantee another person’s success, just as no one but me can guarantee my own success.
While I do understand that effort not rewarded financially is super-frustrating, the mental attitude that results from “doing what I was told and nothing happened” is an energy of scarcity and fear. It can bring brittleness to that person’s customer relationships and over-expectation to a coaching relationship. Sometimes there is so much water under the bridge that the best way I can see forward is to forget everything that went on already and start completely fresh. And of course, that is hard for a client to do because they are exhausted and raw from trying so hard.
Sometimes I see a person who is willing to do the hard work but just doesn’t have the aptitude to own his or her business. A hard worker who is risk adverse will never be super successful. Someone who wants to say “just tell me what to do” has to let that go. It’s YOUR business and YOUR life. I can advise, consult, suggest, recommend, give opinions. But I cannot tell you exactly what to do. You decide. And there is risk in every decision. Being willing to step up to that is the dividing line between success and frustration. Money back guarantees still will not guarantee your success. Only you can guarantee that, which is the work and the joy of owning your own business.
If you are considering coaching I’m happy to speak with you. Just drop an email to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll be in touch.