When the pandemic hit, self-employed customer care consultant Madeleine Fisher* saw her income evaporate. “My business predominantly works in the leisure, hospitality and non-essential retail sectors and they all closed, or they didn’t have any budget for customer care. I went into panic mode,” she says.
As a limited company boss she had no government support to fall back on. The business owner decided to use almost a third of the £4,500 she had applied for under the government’s bounce-back loan scheme (set up to enable smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the pandemic) – to pay for a coaching package with a “design influencer”.
At first, the phone sessions were “high energy”. Her phone would ping every morning with motivating texts. But she soon became frustrated at her coach’s lack of commitment.
“There were supposed to be one to two calls a week, but I only ever had one a week,” she says. “Appointments weren’t structured, and that’s when I began to feel the amount I spent was not worth five 35-minute phone calls and generic text messages.”
She is not the only person to pay thousands for online coaching to then find themselves questioning its value. During the pandemic, many freelancers, whose work fell or dried up entirely, have tried to improve their prospects by paying for coaching.
Ann Storr, 39, a writer living in Sevenoaks, Kent, spent £300 on a public speaking course last year after coming across a coach on…