This is a guest post by my friend and colleague, Erika Kalmar, the Coaching Biz Start-Up Strategist …
One of the often seen mistakes of coaches is that they start setting up their business on the wrong end. Sometimes it is due to overwhelm, at other times due to lack of planning, but conclusion is – many coaches do not start where they should be, the #1 step they would need to take and this is preparing a business plan.
So what, you may ask? Everyone is free to choose their first steps, right? Some might feel starting up with their website, others with their Facebook Fan Page and again others might jump straight into creating their products.
The thing is – if you also belong to this group of people, then you are not following a long-term plan but acting on a short term strategy basis, working on a to-do item on your list.
Do you see where I am getting at?
How will you know that this strategy or to-do item will really fit the big picture, the vision of your business – and most importantly, that this is the best way to fulfill your business vision?
Because this is exactly what is happening if you tackle individual steps instead of the “big picture” first – you are working on short-term goals, hoping that it will ever contribute to your long-term one (that you might not even be aware of at the time).
You know how when the house is clean you feel somehow freed up and renewed? Or that great feeling when you purge old clothes and stuff from your life?
Our businesses need that kind of clearing to be healthy too. But it’s not just about catching up on filing or clearing off your desk. It’s about reducing energetic drags… the things that get in the way of innovation, creativity, and courage to take big leaps.
I’m on a big jag to clean up my life and business. Something came over me. Maybe it’s something in the stars. A friend told me today’s eclipse is all about letting go of big things that are holding you back.
Or maybe it’s just that I’m tired of feeling tired. I’m done with that! So I’m cleaning up my act in every corner and cranny of my life and biz.
Last weekend, my husband and I cleaned out our garage (our storage unit really). We did a lot of recycling, shredded old documents, cleared out the stuff from our mother’s passing and moves, passed forward things others need that we don’t any longer, and took stock of what we still have.
I felt like a huge weight was lifted off me with one project. And I’m ready to get back even more energy.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Release. Receive.
How does this relate to your coaching business?
For any coach at any time, but particularly when you’re just starting your business, you might be tempted to get a client by offering free or barter coaching. Should you? There are more reasons not to than you might think.
No fee coaching does have its place (see the last paragraph). But if your goal is to earn a successful living by offering soul-satisfying coaching, it’s usually counter-productive to give it away, except in a sample session. Here is why:
#1 Damaging the co-creative relationship
Coaches often have the heart of altruistic caregivers. If you love to help others and are generous to a fault, being a coach will give you many opportunities to learn balance around giving. This strength, when overused, comes with a high price to your integrity and to your clients.
I’ve been there. I understand that heart-tugging reaction to come to their rescue, when a prospect says they can’t afford your services but they so clearly need help. It’s a RED FLAG.
Ever feel derailed from your best laid coaching business plans? Sometimes holidays, illness, family crisis — things that require your immediate attention — can stop your momentum cold.
Every business owner gets derailed by life sometimes. The key, of course, is how you respond. Feeling guilty about what’s not getting done and disappointed that you haven’t “made it” yet will only prolong the stall. Be compassionate with yourself, and use these seven steps to get back on track quickly.
1. Align your expectations with your commitment
Human beings run into all sorts of trouble when our expectations exceed our commitment to success. We’ve put too much stock on the desired outcome and not enough on the experience of getting there.
Think of your coaching business as a journey, not a destination. Then, any unexpected delay or side-trip is simply part of the adventure. Present results don’t define you or your future. Your identity is measured from within, not by what you’ve accomplished.
Think about it… If you’re wholly committed to your own success, then:
Have you ever felt that you need more knowledge, training or credentials to be highly valuable to your coaching clients? While every coach has some areas to develop, don’t make the mistake of discounting the many skills you already bring to the table. That goes for business skills as well. No matter how new you are to coaching, you’re no novice in life, work and communication skills.
It’s time to recognize and leverage your strengths, and consciously build a few core skills to help you thrive in your coaching business.
Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of core business skills. Take a few minutes to rank your current level of skill for each one. Be generous! And prepare to be surprised. Rank your skills on this scale (or come up with your own):
Your coaching business will support you to pursue your true calling, but only if you keep it running smoothly. To do that, create business habits that work for you and are simple to maintain.
It helps to think in terms of processes and flows, rather than tasks. A business is more like a garden than a machine. Here are five mindsets that can help your garden produce a rich harvest.
My recent post on when a coach should hire a VA brought up some follow up questions. To answer your questions, I interviewed an expert — Kellie deRuyter, business & marketing coach for VAs.
Do all VAs have skills in most anything a coach would need help with?
Kellie: A coach shouldn’t expect any individual VA to be skilled in every task or project the coach might need. Like everyone else, VAs have certain skills they’re great at, others they can perform reasonably well, and some things that just aren’t their forte. Many VAs specialize. The key is to find the VA who best suits your top priorities and your work style preferences, who will also offer expert referrals for tasks they don’t do.
In the early days of the coaching industry, coaches used to handle everything in their business themselves, from admin to marketing to developing clunky templated websites. It was the “penny wise – pound foolish” mindset of practitioners who hadn’t yet taken themselves seriously as business owners. In the long run, this approach stunted the growth of the coaching industry and coaches alike.
Now, many coaches work smarter. They build their business with the expert support of mentors, web designers and virtual assistants from the get-go. The result: coaches who invest in their business make more money faster. With their learning curves shortened and time well-leveraged, they stay off the money for time treadmill and enjoy themselves more.