by Aryanne Oade
The work of an independent coach is satisfying, demanding and stimulating. Depending
on your coaching niche your work will provide you with the opportunity to make
a positive contribution to other people’s workplace or private lives.
You will meet rewarding clients and interesting coaches. You will enjoy levels
of autonomy, independence and flexibility that are hard to find in employment
and you will learn and grow as you facilitate development in others.
You will need to learn how to operate autonomously, taking sole responsibility
for running every aspect of your coaching practice. You will also need to learn
new skills and acquire fresh perspectives on your areas of interest on a regular
basis. Above all you will need to place your clients at the centre of what you
do, how you do it and why you do what you do. Coaching will motivate you, inspire
you, frustrate you and, at times, drain you. It might also be the most rewarding
role you’ve ever had.
At the end of the day, as an independent coach, you are the only person who
can get your business off the ground and keep it busy and productive with top
quality services for your clients. To become and remain a consistently effective
coach will require resolve, perseverance, flexibility and a degree of pluck
on your part.
Starting and Running Your Coaching Practice
So what are the key issues that you are likely to face as an independent coach?
In order to start and run your coaching practice successfully you will need
- Sell and market yourself effectively: Many of you have
a lot of passion for your subject but find selling yourself and your coaching
services challenging. You may not have sold yourself before becoming a coach.
You may struggle to find the words or phrases you need to convey your coaching
offer in sales situations. You may simply not know how to put yourself across
consistently well, and hope instead that your credentials and qualifications
alone will be enough to influence potential clients to work with you. Sadly,
they rarely are, although they will sometimes get you a hearing. As an independent
coach you need to become proficient at selling and marketing yourself pretty
fast if you are to survive and thrive. You will need to learn to locate potential
clients and outline what you can do for each of them in detail. Your coaching
offer must convince them that you are the coach they need to work with.
- Own up to being the sole decision-maker and problem-solver:
As an independent coach you are primarily responsible for making all the decisions
that need to be made in your business, and for identifying and solving all
the problems that crop up as well. Performing these two essential functions
well is critical to the success of your coaching practice. As the sole member
of your own workforce you won’t have ready-made colleagues against whom
to bounce ideas and discuss possible ways forward. You might find the isolation
quite disabling, especially if you used to work as part of a team. You need
to learn to handle the isolation and perform these two key functions if you
are to make headway with the issues facing you and your coaching practice.
- Manage your own on-going professional development: Your
clients look to you as their coach to make a contribution to their continuing
learning needs. But you also need to look after your own on-going professional
development. Amid so many competing demands on your time, you may struggle
to prioritise your own learning and keep these commitments as scrupulously
as you would a commitment to a client. Nonetheless it’s difficult to
offer a fresh and incisive service to clients if you aren’t being refreshed
yourself. You need to make your own on-going professional development a key
part of your regular business cycle and plan to attend – and, where
possible, initiate – development opportunities for yourself that will
keep your coaching stimulating and effective for your clients and interesting
- Maintain effective boundaries when working from home:
Many of you will elect to work from home and that has many benefits. It can
save you the time and expense of commuting. You can claim back a legitimate
proportion of your household running costs as business expenses. You can avoid
charges for renting or buying office space. But working from home also brings
inherent boundaries issues with it: how do you differentiate between work
time and personal time when working from home? How do you preserve evenings
and weekends for non-work activities? How do you resist the temptation to
download emails or sneak into the office for an hour or two after your evening
meal? How do you "go to work" at home? Solving these issues is vital
if you are to enjoy the work-life balance you’d like to have and to
leave work behind when it's time to do so.
Starting and running a coaching business can be extremely rewarding. If you
watch out for these common challenges and find the support and resources that
will help you address them, you will be well on your way to a thriving practice.
Oade is a Chartered Psychologist and the owner of an established and successful
coaching practice who works with clients across the UK, Europe and North America.
She is the author of Starting and Running a Coaching Business,
a toolkit for newly qualified and established coaches, which addresses the most
common issues facing independent coaches. For more information, please visit