This article was originally written for PAYCALL, and can be found online here.
I started my Life Coaching business five years ago. I’m not going to lie – it’s been, and continues to be, an uphill struggle. In a saturated market, it is hard to get clients. In this post I share the five things I’ve learnt are fundamental to sustaining a full-time Life Coaching practice.
1. Don’t quit your day job…yet
The best thing I did when starting out as a Life Coach was to keep the financial pressure off. I worked full-time in an unrelated field whilst completing my Coaching & Mentoring training, reducing my days from five to four, to three, to two, to zero, all over a period of a few years. I really value the financial freedom this gave me to define who I wanted my clients to be, how I wanted my brand to look, and how much I wanted to charge; decisions that can be rushed if we don’t give ourselves the time to think them through. The worst thing for a Life Coach to be is desperate for clients. It takes the joy out of the work and causes unnecessary stress whilst starting your business.
Following on from the above, I’ve come to realise that very few Life Coaches survive solely on the income they make from one to one clients. Unless you market yourself extensively and network all the time, there’s usually a need to have a second income from somewhere. This can either be from a part-time job or from diversifying your practice. For example, you might create an online coaching programme; offer coaching or workshops to corporates; be an associate of other coaches; train as a coaching supervisor; or add another service to your practice, such as counseling, Mindfulness training, NLP etc. This creates a few streams of income, rather than relying on just one to pay the bills.
3. Carve out a niche
Whilst it can seem counterintuitive to the above, I’ve learnt the benefit of carving out a niche, and becoming known in a specific area of the market. Very few Life Coaches who generalise survive over the years. In a saturated market, it’s important to stand out. I chose to focus my coaching on helping those in their 20s and early 30s who are unhappy in their careers or starting up their own business. I started out marketing myself to anyone and everyone…and got no-one! Only when I started to refine my marketing to make it clear who I wanted to work with, and why (I’d been through what they’re going through), did I start to get clients, press interviews, speaker invitations etc. It’s because I honed in on one particular issue that I identified with and felt strongly about, standing out in a crowded market.
4. Patience (and resilience) is vital
Whilst I feel like I’ve been a Life Coach for a while now, I’ve realised that five years isn’t that long really, especially as I was training and working full-time for some of that time. I still have a long way to go when it comes to getting myself out there, finding clients, and building up my coaching portfolio. It takes a while to build a business, and even longer to maintain and then grow it. Passion is about an inner conviction and unrivaled determination to persist, no matter what, because you fundamentally believe in the importance of the work you’re doing.
5. Step out of your comfort zone
If you don’t try new things, your business will stay the same. If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to be happy to step out of your comfort zone and do things you’ve never done before. I’m a firm believer that we’ll never feel ‘ready’ to do something scary so you might as well say yes, commit, and then figure out how to go about undertaking the new challenge that presents itself. We need to train our brains to realise that we can handle uncertainty, take small risks, and that we will not come to any harm by doing so.
And one more tip for good measure:
6. Hire your own Coach!
Since starting my business I’ve had two Life Coaches, three counselors, a business mentor, and a Coaching Supervisor. Each one has helped me work through obstacles I’ve come up against that threatened to derail me and give up on my business. I love coaching Life Coaches – it’s so valuable to have someone helping you identify where you want your business to get to, defining your vision of success, and supporting you in implementing the steps to get there. Being a Life Coach can be a lonely existence, made harder by discussing challenges and problems with clients day in, day out. It’s important to have someone to talk through your experiences and aspirations on a regular basis. Accessing a network of coaches is a great idea also; you get to opportunity to share ideas, frustrations, highlights, helping you to realise that you’re not alone and many coaches feel the way you do.
Alice Stapleton is a Career & Life Coach offering bespoke one to one coaching sessions for those in their 20s & early 30s. She helps them find confidence, focus, and direction by working together to set clear goals, improve motivation, overcome obstacles, and ultimately, get more from their business & life. Contact Alice to arrange your free introductory session to discuss how coaching can help you achieve your life ambitions.
I admit I found some of the sessions quite challenging, mainly because they forced me to address some of those obstacles that I've felt have held me back and stopped me from really going after my dreams. The tools that Alice gave me have been really helpful, especially the tools which helped me to identify strengths and value sets. I also plan to work a lot more on my confidence issues and turning a negative mind set into a positive one. I’ve really enjoyed meeting and working with Alice over the past few months. She has a real talent for asking questions in a way that gets the best out of people and immediately puts you at ease.