How to Succeed in the Business of Coaching

This is a re-post of a guest post I wrote for Co-active Transforum. You can view the original post here.

There are no fast-tracks and no short cuts. If you are going to be successful as a coach, you’re going to have to work for it. The path is different for everyone and what works for me may not work for you, but here’s the best of my business development learning that I hope will support you on your journey.

  • Know your work. Get trained, get coached, always be learning about this amazing and transformational work we are so privileged to provide.
    Never stop learning. Not every powerful coach is a certified coach and not every certified coach is effective at serving her clients. One thing all great coaches have in common: practice. Have hundreds of engaging conversations and coach with all your heart.
  • Know your worth. I’ve heard this adage often: “You can only take a client as far as you’ve gone yourself.” Can you coach deeply without having experienced the same challenges as your client? Of course. Will you have more emotional capacity to be with your clients through their challenges if you’ve successfully navigated through your own? Absolutely. In this work we do with other humans, we create spaces for vulnerability to exist and courage to emerge. Be brave and bold and dive headfirst into the study of you with the guidance of a trusted professional. The more self-aware you are, the less likely you are to take on your clients’ struggles as your own and can support them in their growth. As you own your value, you are able to see more potential and possibility in others.
  • Know what you want. Is coaching a business for you, or a hobby? Assuming it’s the former, decide what you want it to look like. I don’t know a single coach who does this work only for the money, and if your business doesn’t have revenue, you cannot thrive – personally or professionally. I am a coach who craves and creates variety and flexibility, and my business reflects that with in-person leadership retreats, remote phone coaching, teaching, facilitation, consulting, mentoring, and writing. I love all of it. There are countless ways to operate in this profession. Choose your own adventure.
  • Be seen, be known. (aka Marketing.) I’ve seen more than one coach get squirmy and squeamish about selling their services. The phrase “shameless self-promotion,” makes me sad. Within those words exists a sense of shame in talking about the value of the goods and services being offered and the value of the person or business making the offer. No more of that, people! Be proud. Do great work and let it shine. Own your business, your expertise, your quirks, your impact, and how people have benefited from working with you. If you’re not sure about the results you’ve helped create, ask, receive, and do whatever work it takes to embrace your awesomeness so you can help others find theirs.
  • Try, fail and begin again. I’ve written before about the relationship between failure and innovation. What I haven’t shared is how many times I’ve failed, changed my niche, altered my marketing and enrollment strategies, canceled my own projects mid-implementation, and how I’ve learned to let go of what I think my work is supposed to be to realize what it is: constantly evolving, just as I am. As Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.”
  • Relationships first. The day of my CPCC certification exam, I drew a heart in the palm of my hand and inside, wrote the word “client.” I wanted my focus to be on the person on the other end of the phone line and not checking off my list of Co-Active skills. It can be a challenge to keep your focus on the relationships with the people who help us build our businesses rather than on the business plans, mailing lists, contracts, and income, especially when clients complete and there isn’t another to fill their place.

Ultimately, ours is a service-based business and to serve, we must stay connected with ourselves and the people in our lives to know what matters most.

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