The other night I had a phone conversation with an old friend who is considering leaving the corporate rat-race to set up a coaching business. I had deja-vu. It reminded me of my own position seven or eight years ago when I left my Project Manager role to strike out on my own into the scary world of business ownership.
Here are my nuggets of advice:
1) Be clear and comfortable with the accredited nature and status of your coach training provider. While the profession remains unregulated - except for the work of the International Coach Federation - many coaching schools can get away with touting coach training with very little accreditation. If you are uncomfortable with the sales style or ethics of a training provider tread carefully.
2) Be aware that the majority of money being made in coaching today is in training others to become coaches. Get clear on what percentage of their coaching revenue comes from true coaching - how many clients do they have who aren't coach trainees? This will also give an indication of market demand for your services as a coach.
3) Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater - if you are considering making the transition from corporate employment to full-time coaching, you are unlikely to be able to replace your current salary immmediately. Much of the discussion within the coaching profession recently has been about "how can I make money out of being a coach?", and there has been a glut of courses and resources claiming to give coaches the key to kick-start their business. Once again, while no doubt helpful to coaches setting up on their own, this trend also reveals where the real money in coaching is being made.
4) Consider what other income streams are at your disposal as a coach. This could be as straightforward as holding down your full-time role and doing some supplementary coaching on the side - or even negotiating a change in your current role to give more in-house coaching opportunities. Alternatively it could mean a radical shift towards making money out of a creative talent, plus coaching, plus contract work or another more reliable wage-making opportunity. "Portfolio careers" have become all the rage in recent years, and seem to provide people with a fulfilling variety of work, with multiple income stream opportunities.
5) Keep a healthy perspective. Selling coaching is like selling anything - it helps if you completely believe in the product, and are able to demonstrate the tangible benefits that you and others have experienced through coaching. What difference has it really made? It will pay to regularly reflect on these types of question, so you can always respond to market need in the most effective and productive way.
6) Self-awareness is key - coaching that becomes "techniquey" is extremely off-putting and will be neither convincing nor helpful. It is vital to continue reflecting on your own personal development and experience in order to be most authentic and "useful". AND you need to get out of the way completely when you are coaching others.
7) Do you have a practical skill that you can combine coaching with?
For myself, coaching has become much more a way of life and an attitude than a business. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn and practice coaching, and I have met some remarkable, extraordinary, beautiful people along the way. I would like to see the coach approach practiced more widely within the world of education - and for the principle lessons of self-awareness, listening to and respecting others, busting self-limiting beleifs, trusting our intuition and being curious, all of which coach training delivers, to be of more central importance within our educational curriculum.
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