When a person is transitioning into the world of full-time independent coaching from being in a corporate, the best way to think about this new role you’ve adopted for yourself is that you’re not just an independent coach but a full-fledged company by yourself.
What this essentially means is that just like how in a fully-functional organisation there are several departments functioning interdependently – such as sales, marketing, HR, finance, legal, etc., your coaching business will also have pretty much the same functions. Though it may of course not be of the same scale, you would still need to perform the same functions singlehandedly, until you’re in the position to outsource some of it.
One thing that will serve well is to remember when you step into independent coaching is that you don’t consider any one task to be more or less important than the other – whether it is making sales calls, marketing, invoicing, selecting online coaching tools or collecting payments. Each aspect contributes in the way the wheels of a train do – if one is not functioning properly, it can derail the entire train off its tracks.
The biggest challenge is, unless you’ve been an entrepreneur before and have dabbled into various aspects of your business previously, doing it to begin with can get tricky. And to do this when you’re just dipping your feet into the independent coaching pool as a new coach can be difficult to get around. So how does one work around it?
Before we move into other functionalities, as a coach it is vital to never forget that your primary work is to be able to coach people. That is one aspect that should never take a backseat even if there are several other functions that need your attention.
It is important not just to coach, but to also keep updated as a coach about changes in the industry, best practices and to also continue to keep learning to improve your skills as a coach.
Only focusing on coaching, however, is not enough to making your practice into a full-fledged business. You need to be able to market yourself as a coach and be ready to sell your services proactively. These are the basic functions that you just cannot get out of if you want to make it as a coach. Then of course comes the admin work.
A good starting point with the numerous admin work that accompanies any business is to first rate yourself and your skillset in each of those fields to see where you fare. The ones in which your score is the lowest are those areas you can consider outsourcing to an external party if you’re in the position to do so. If you’re not, see what kind of help, assistance or resources you need to be able to do the basics; it may take a little trial and error, but you can pretty much learn the basics, figure it out and do it by yourself until you have the resources to be able to outsource it eventually. Then there are certain functions that you can automate – such as invoicing with the use of certain apps like QuickBooks. Coaches often get overwhelmed by keeping track of the multitude of things to keep themselves organised, so finding some good online coaching tools can be helpful.
Simply.Coach is one such platform that takes the overwhelm out of managing an independent coaching business by integrating all that a coach can need into one place, so that a coach can focus wholeheartedly on the primary aspect of their business, which is coaching.
Your expertise as a coach and your ability to be able to market & sell yourself as a coach is something you cannot outsource. And whether or not you’ve had a marketing or sales background, these are fields you will need to eventually get around to learning and experimenting with until you figure out what way works best for you.
The Emotional Side
Channelize energies: Independent coaching is a journey alone. It can all the more feel that way if you’re coming from a full-fledged corporate background and are used to the hustle bustle of an office environment. Organisations involve a lot of engagement whether it is meetings, team-building exercises or the general chit-chat between colleagues during work and the gossip during break-time. When you step out of that into the shoes of a coach & solo business-person, the journey can feel a little isolating. So, the question is as an individual coach how do you ensure that loneliness doesn’t get to you?
In a company you have these small highs, these tiny adrenalin rushes that accompany you during the day. As an independent coach however you may have 2-3 sessions in a day and the rest of the time you may be spending in managing admin work. In the rest of the time, how do you account for all that you would miss from a corporate environment?
For instance, if you’re an extrovert you need to figure out how you’re going to channelize those energies and not feel boxed in and frustrated at the lack of conversation and engagement. This could be by finding an alternate medium such as joining a community or being part of hobby classes or workshops where you get to interact and meet people that fulfils that part of you that needs interaction.
Manage time: Apart from this you also need to see how you manage your time. If you have 2-3 hours of coaching per day, you can schedule time in your calendar to take care of other aspects of the business in the remaining time so that all the wheels of your business are always in motion. You can fix times & days to update your LinkedIn profile, put up a post and engage, schedule time for formal studies and trainings, listen to educational podcasts or read blogs relevant to your field and more such activities.
Marshall Goldsmith recommends what is called the Daily Question process, which is a good way to keep track of your day and goals. Everyone’s set of questions can differ according to their own goals and values, so take the time to draft your own questions and schedule a few minutes every day to track your progress. You can break down different functions of your business and give it a proper structure to see how those functions of your business are working.
Power of routine: And lastly, there is the power in routine. Whether you belong to the 5 am club or the 8 am club, finding a path that works for you and setting up a disciplined workflow for your day that you stick to will go a long way for you in your life and independent coaching business. Waking up at a certain time, having a morning routine, a workout and meditation routine, having certain boundaries in terms of work hours and schedules, and finally an evening and night time routine to prepare you for the next day: All this is going provide a structure to your work and life which ironically ends up paving the path for more freedom in your life. And the emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual balance you achieve as a result is an added bonus!