Advice: To Pay or Not to Pay, That is the Question

If you have ever played a sport or practiced a guided extra-curricular activity, you have seen how structured coaching or advice can enhance your performance. Perhaps you use a team of professional advisors or consultants to keep your business on track, or maybe you have hired a personal trainer to get you in the best shape of your life. But when it comes to paying for advice, how do you determine if you should hire a professional to learn from or if you should figure it out on your own?

In college, I worked for a firm where my (highly successful) boss engaged a business coach and paid him $50,000 a year. At the time, this fee was higher than my salary, so this blew my mind (and it made me a little angry because I was struggling to pay rent and buy groceries as a college student living in Los Angeles). I wondered why this coach was able to add so much value that my boss could not live without him, even if they only spoke once or twice a week for 25 minutes. This concept sparked my interest, and once I could afford it, not only did I hire a coach for business, but I also work with several others for different areas of my life I intend to improve. Every single coach I have worked with has helped me think outside of the box and expand on what I thought was possible.  

Here are 5 key factors to consider if you are on the fence about paying for advice:

  1. Clearly Identify What You Are Trying to Accomplish. Whether you are trying to scale your business, enhance your return on investments, or get in better physical shape, start with identifying the problem you are trying to solve. We live in a world where solutions are all around us and they are often available on demand. We see advertisements for solutions to problems we didn’t even know exist! If you are able to clearly articulate the problem you are trying to solve or the goal you want to achieve, it will be much easier to create a game plan to get there. 

  2. Perform Your Own Research. It seems to be a trend that when the general public identifies a problem or opportunity, all of the sudden you see ‘experts’ pop up everywhere, whether they are credible or not. Everyone has something to say as long as they have an audience who will listen to them – which is terrifying. Be diligent with your research and stay on track with what you are trying to accomplish. You may end up figuring out a solution on your own, or you will at least gain a better understanding of who the experts are in the field.  

  3. Reputation Is Important. Seek out individuals, coaches and professional advisors whose values and principles are in line with your own. Reputation matters, and don’t be scared to say ‘no’ to opportunities if you are on the fence – this gives you the bandwidth to say ‘yes’ to the right ones. In addition to online research, credibility checks and testimonials, it is important to apply this concept to your own life; be honest and authentic in your relationships. If you portray one persona at work but act completely different behind closed doors, this will eventually catch up to you and it could quickly sabotage any goals you are working towards. 

  4. Once You Commit, Stay the Course. Once you commit to hiring a coach or following a prescribed method, you must stay the course. If you continuously switch up your strategy or the people you take advice from, there is zero chance of you staying on track to achieve your goal at 100%. Whether it’s a business growth strategy, increasing your return on investments, or a physical or mental practice goal, you must allow yourself to be coachable and be open to learning from credible resources in order to grow.

  5. Measure Your Progress and Your Results. This sounds simple, but if you are investing money or time in yourself or a coach, what are you doing to measure the results of your efforts? If you are only considering one aspect of your goal, such as increased revenue for your business, are you really doing everything you possibly can to grow the assets on your balance sheet? If you are committing to an exercise program, but have not adjusted your eating habits, how do you expect your performance to improve? And if you sell your investments when the market is in a downtrend, clearly you have never been on a shopping adventure when the entire store is about to go on sale. Develop measurable metrics to track and stay accountable to your progress as your goals evolve.

I love the process of understanding a new concept, identifying a method to implement it and then measuring it. I never hesitate to hire a coach or pay for advice, as long as the values and principles of the person I am learning from are in line with my own.If you are on the fence about hiring a professional advisor, coach or trainer, consider this: what is it costing you to not hire them?