Starting Out as a Self-Employed Coach

by Maite Barón

Many more people are realising that if you want to get ahead in life and in business, it pays to have a coach by your side. This has led to increasing opportunities for those who want to become a self-employed coach.

But if you're tempted by the prospect of helping others achieve their life goals, you need to bear in mind a number of points.

1. Know your ‘Why’
Be clear why you want to become a coach and start a coaching business. If you’re doing it just for the money, or because you see yourself as a self-help superstar who draws thousands to packed events, you might want to think again.
Successful coaches are genuinely interested in helping others achieve their potential. To do that, you need to be able to empathise with your clients, prepared to find ways to motivate them when they're ‘down’, willing to push them further when they feel stuck and need to find solutions to a problem –someone who can ‘unpick’ a roadblock in their life to help them move forward.

2. Niche for success
Find a ‘niche’ for yourself, an area that you are genuinely interested in, that you’re good at and that clients will be willing to pay for. If you don’t, you’ll end up coaching half-heartedly, uncommitted, and unwilling to put in the effort needed for your and their personal and professional development. Your heart will simply not be there 100% and, as a result, you won’t deliver the high quality coaching that your clients are looking for.
Obviously, in choosing a niche it makes sense to choose an area in which you already have some background, knowledge and expertise, as that will give you a head start. However, you still need to learn how to coach. That means taking courses to build up your core coaching skills, then adding the increasingly specialist knowledge that will help your clients even more.

3. Be selective about your training
There are many courses available on how to become a coach, but not all are of equal value. So, if you are to make the most of your investment, you need to choose carefully.
That means researching the background of the person or company giving the course. Do they have an established reputation within the industry? How long have they been coaching? Is their experience relevant to what you want to do? Is their training certified by a reputable coaching organisation like the IAC or others? Given that coaching courses can be expensive, you need answers.

4. Keep developing your skills – in coaching and in business
The growing number of people setting up as coaches has ensured that the market for coaching services has become increasingly competitive. As a result, if you want to build a good base of clients willing to pay well for what you do, you need to stand out from your competitors.
That means being able to communicate clearly to potential clients what you do and why you, in particular, can help them. This requires continual marketing, including raising your personal profile through writing articles and blogs, being active in social media and having the ability to sell what you have to offer face-to-face or online.

5. Have a strong vision for your business
As you build your career as a coach, you need to be clear about what you’re looking to achieve with your business so that it grows in the way you want.
For some, that may mean developing just a modest practice, enjoying helping a relatively small number of clients personally in the best way they can.
The more ambitious may want to create a coaching business that can be scaled up or franchised, putting on events and seminars, and producing books and information-rich material, not only to promote what they do, but to create an income stream that could even dwarf their personal coaching income.
Whichever route you take, working as a self-employed coach means being responsible for all aspects of running a business. You are, after all, a business owner; as well as coaching, you will have to deal with marketing, admin, book-keeping and everything else besides.

All in all, coaching can be hard work and pretty demanding, so make sure you too have the right support. If you get it right, helping someone achieve their goals and change their life is an incredibly satisfying way to make a living and a difference.

Maite BaronMaite Baron is known as The Corporate Escape Coach™ for helping professionals break free from the rat race to become self-employed. She is a motivational speaker, co-founder of The Corporate Escape™ and double award winning author for 'Corporate Escape: the Rise of the New Entrepreneur'. She has been featured in many publications including The New York Times. Subscribe to her newsletter to get useful tips and techniques to help you succeed in your business.

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