The recent number of social media promotions, online ads, email marketing and pitches at industry seminars that offer private business coaching, masterminds, online coaching and everything in between, is pretty remarkable. What should you realistically expect out of a business coach for the money and time you are investing (which often can be significant)?

Here are a few key suggestions to consider before committing your time, money and effort into a coaching program or similar mentorship program.

Do your homework. Who is this "coach" and what are his/her specific qualifications? Is this person truly a coach and mentor or simply someone who has seen personal success in the industry. Building a successful business does not always equate to a person's ability to coach effectively. Also ask yourself if this person aligns with you and your business goals. The dynamic between coach and student is critical.

What is the platform of the coaching program? Are they making attractive promises without offering concrete business strategies? Just like a quality fitness program, a successful business coaching program will have a specific structure from which the coach works with enough flexibility to adapt it to your specific business and goals.

How are the coaching sessions conducted and does that work best for you? Are the sessions over the phone, in-person, or over email? Think about how you learn best and be sure that the program aligns accordingly; this will set you up for greater success.

Ask your peers. This is a fairly tight-nit industry. Develop relationships with other fitness professionals and seek their experiences with different coaching programs to help form your decisions.

Understand that the outcome of a quality coaching program is in direct correlation with the amount of energy you devote and the number of specific actions with which you follow through. A coach can only give you a path; you have to walk it.

In great part, we hire coaches for their expertise, but more than that, we hire them for accountability. Just as our clients hire us to hold them accountable, we often need someone to hold us accountable to taking action to reach our goals. Hiring a qualified business coach who resonates with you can be one of the best investments you make in your future and in the future of your business. Do your homework and be sure you're ready to commit the time, resources and most of all, your dedication and energy to set yourself up for success.