How to know if an online course or financial coaching training program is right for you and your coaching business.

Online courses these days are like belly buttons: Everybody has one. You can take classes on anything and everything from marketing to time management to the perfect YouTube lighting setup. 

Depending on where you are in your financial coaching career, you might consider taking a course to uplevel your business. But how do you decide which course? And how can you tell if it’s worth your investment as it relates to both your time and money? Here are six questions to ask yourself before diving into an online course.

Is the course and its instructor(s) credible? 

You need to do your research about the course and its instructor(s). Check out the instructor. Verify testimonials. Do whatever level of research you need to check the boxes and make sure the course is valuable and the instructor or instructors have the credibility to be teaching what they’re teaching. 

Make sure the course can deliver on its promises. It’s easy for someone to say their course is valuable, but have people who’ve taken this course been able to demonstrate its value? Can they point to new clients, increased revenues, or a new skill they’ve put into practice since taking the course? Anyone can claim to be an expert, but can they back up their expertise with education, experience, or a killer mix of the two? When researching a course make sure the things it and its instructors promise are being delivered. 

Do you respond positively to the instructor(s) teaching style?

Personality counts. If you’re going to learn from someone in an online course – especially if it’s video-based – make sure you like him or her. It sounds superficial, but if you like someone, you’re going to be more receptive to what they have to say. 

We’re not advocating that the instructor needs to be the kind of person you want to share a Best Friends necklace with, but you should like them and respond to them on some pretty fundamental levels. Ask yourself: 

  • Do they explain things in a way I can understand?
  • Do I appreciate their energy or do they bore me?
  • Do they get me fired up?

I always tell people who I do Q&A calls with for the Financial Coach Academy to do one thing before buying our financial coaching training course. I have them join our free Financial Coaches Unite Facebook group (if they haven’t already). I tell them to watch some of the videos we’ve posted and materials we’ve uploaded to see if they like us. Do they enjoy the way we teach? Do they like our energy? Or is my voice like nails on a chalkboard to them? It might be, and that’s fine. 

Some people like to use big words. It irritates me. When people use big words for the sake of stroking their ego, I get turned off. But that’s ok. It’s my personal preference. You might not care if an instructor is peppering a course with six-syllable words, but it doesn’t hurt to know if that’s something they routinely do ahead of time. 

If you don’t connect with me, it doesn’t make you or me a bad person. It just means we don’t communicate the same way. We won’t serve each other well, so it’s best to learn that before you invest in my training program and find another instructor who better suits you and your preferences. You’re allowed to be picky with selecting an instructor. After all, it’s your money and your time. Spend them wisely.

Does the course provide you with what you need right now?

People get their wants and needs mixed up when choosing a course. Sure, you may want to take a course on email marketing, but if you have an email list with less than 10 subscribers, that course won’t serve you. 

You have to start by asking yourself what your business needs now. Right now. What training can you or your business benefit from in this moment to help you get where you want to be in a month to a year from now? Not five years from now. Sure you might want to start a YouTube channel at some point, but do you need to take a course on video lighting to make that happen? You have to seriously ask yourself if the course you want to take will deliver on what you currently need.  

For example, I and my team have been looking into what it would take to start a monthly membership for financial coaches. It’s something that has been on my mind for a while and now seems like the time to pursue it. So what did I do? I looked for a course about building a membership site. I signed up for Stu McLaren’s Tribe workshop which is all about how to launch, grow, and scale a membership business. It was a no-brainer because it was exactly what I needed at this moment. 

This course wouldn’t have served me as well a year ago, but right now, holy hell am I on fire with ideas, inspiration, and actionable steps. That’s what your next course should do for you too. And if it’s something you need right now, there is a better chance that it will. 

What philosophy the instructor is teaching?

Some instructors and teachers have built their business and their brand on a concrete set of steps or actions. To achieve whatever skill or level of success they are offering, they teach, practice, and preach following those steps. Ask yourself if you agree with all of those steps? If the instructor’s philosophy is vastly different than mine, I’m going to have a hard time learning what they’re teaching. If you agree there are seven steps every person needs to take to achieve financial success, then, by all means, learn from the instructor who teaches that. 

I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to personal finance, so I don’t teach that. I teach critical thinking. I do not think every client needs the same 7 steps to be successful at managing their money. If you think those seven steps are critical, the Academy might not be a great fit for you. 

The bottom line is you have to agree with the topics the instructor teaches, otherwise the course will likely be a waste of your time. 

Is there a group component? 

I think your best investment is going to be a course where there’s some group coaching element and not 100% self-paced. I’m not saying it has to be group-focused. The group coaching portion doesn’t have to be a weekly Zoom call. It can simply be access to a private Facebook group where you can learn with and from people who are going through the same course. 

As you work through the course, you’re likely going to have questions. Being able to pose your questions to a group of people who are at a similar level as you can be transformative to a business. This is when collaboration is at its best. Collaborating with a group of growth-minded people is an incredibly powerful thing which is why I suggest opting for a course that provides the community element. 

  • Is there a live Q&A with the instructor(s)? 
  • Are there regularly scheduled live Facebook videos where you can ask questions? 
  • Is there a place for you to publicly post your work to get some accountability? 

Witnessing interactions, commenting on lessons, and seeing what other people are creating keeps me motivated and helps my energy stay up. And most importantly, it keeps me engaged in the course. That will most likely be true for you as well.

How is the course designed, and how does it flow? 

You should have a clear sense of what you’re getting into before you sign up for a course. Can you tell: 

  • What are the lessons you’ll learn? 
  • How are they broken up?
  • In what order do they flow?
  • Does it make sense?
  • How will I know when I’ve completed the course?

You should know when and how you’ll progress through the course. The instructor’s outline and guidance should be apparent. Your milestones should be obvious and transparent. There needs to be a clear path for you to follow so you know what success looks like. It can’t be open-ended or left to interpretation as to how and when you’ll wrap up the course. If you know what you’re getting into, you’re also very likely to know what you’re getting out of it.

We want you to make the best decision you can before investing in a course. Even if it’s a free course your time is still valuable, so make sure the course you purchase will deliver on the value it promises. We hope these questions help make your decisions much easier. 

If you’re interested in financial coaching, check out our courses for both beginning and veteran financial coaches and professionals – the Financial Coach Academy and the Financial Coaching Toolkit