Heather Wylde

How to Avoid Getting Scammed by Coaches and instead hire people who will actually help you.

In light of the recent New York Times article called, “They Spent Their Life Savings on Life Coaching“, I want to share some steps on how to avoid this happening to you. As an ethical sales strategist and consumer advocate, I’ve seen the problems in the coaching industry for years and have written two books about it. I’m not blaming these individuals for getting taken advantage of – the stuff I’m about to share has taken me over $100,000 in business coaching investments alone to learn, not to mention investments in health coaching, relationship coaching, spiritual coaching, and more. I’m passionate about putting this information out there because while therapy saved my life, personal growth is what has made it worth living.


Yes, there are sleazy coaches. But there are also truly good-hearted coaches who help their clients make life-changing transformations.


Here’s how to find a great coach:

Step 1: Figure Out What Kind of Coach You Need

Don’t just scroll on social media, come across an ad promising to fix everything, and decide that’s the coach for you. Really sit down and figure out what area of your life you want to focus on, then find a person who specializes in that and has worked with people like you before.


Step 2: Research and Observe

Narrow it down to three or four potential mentors, then research them for 3-6 months. Don’t get rushed into buying. Jump into their free things – email lists, challenges, masterclasses, podcasts, YouTube channels. Check out their stuff and observe. Are they just regurgitating what everyone else says or are they a true expert? What kind of marketing are they using – a lot of FOMO and overhyping? Do the results they tout sound too good to be true? These are red flags.


Step 3: Review Testimonials and Reviews

Look at reviews and testimonials on their Facebook business page, Yelp, Google reviews – places the coach doesn’t have control over what people say (unless they have a gag order in their contract, which is a whole other issue). Look for patterns in what makes people happy, what results they got, if they’d recommend working with this person. If you can, reach out to reviewers and ask if they stand by their testimonial. Coaches can play games with testimonials, especially ones on their own website.


Step 4: Purchase a Low-Ticket or Mid-Ticket Program

Ideally choose something that will give you a little access to the coach, like a small group program. It’s better to spend a few hundred dollars to find out someone’s not the right fit than to spend thousands. In this smaller offer, observe: are they delivering what they promised? Do they seem invested in helping you get results? Manage your expectations – free or low-cost stuff probably won’t change everything but it will help you get to know the coach’s style. If you don’t have a good experience, move on to the next potential coach on your list.


Step 5: Consider a Higher-Ticket Program

If you went through a smaller program, got some progress, and feel the person is right for you, then look at one of their higher-ticket programs to get a real transformation. The more they charge, the more high-touch and individualized it should be. Advocate to speak directly with the coach, not a salesperson. The sales call should be about making sure you’re the right fit, not them just selling your dream to you or pushing you to buy now.


Step 6: Read the Contract Before Paying

Don’t buy on the sales call before reading the contract. A good coach who wants you to make an educated decision will understand. Look for a termination clause, refund policy or guarantee. Without an “escape clause,” you could get stuck even if it turns out to not be the right fit once you get started. Some have predatory guarantees that make you jump through impossible hoops to get money back. If there’s a gag order saying you can’t share about a negative experience, run. Have the uncomfortable conversation about what happens if it doesn’t work out. If they balk, find someone else.


Step 7: Be a Client That Gets Good Results

If you’ve done your diligence, found a coach with a termination clause, and decide to move forward, you’ve got to show up and do the work. You can’t just attend sessions and magically expect results, you have to take the action steps. Communicate with your coach if something isn’t working, especially early on as you figure out how to work together. A good coach will work with you to make adjustments. But if they won’t, or the changes still don’t work, that’s when you exercise your termination clause.


There are so many good coaches out there who are in it for the right reasons and can help you get amazing results if you follow these steps to weed out the scammers and predators. Investing in yourself through coaching can be life-changing, but it’s got to be with the right person. Don’t let the bad apples out there sour you on the whole barrel – just be diligent, advocate for yourself, and trust your gut. You’ve got this!

To get more in depth information on what to look for (and what to avoid) when hiring a coach, read my book, What Every Entrepreneur WISHES They’d Known BEFORE Hiring a Business Coach. You can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited here.

Want to make sure your next biz coaching investment...

Delivers ROI, not debt and regret? Read Heather’s consumer guide that teaches you 7 steps to finding the right biz coach for you!