When you’re first getting started as a coach, it can feel like you’re drinking from a fire-hose every day. Many new coaches wonder if they’ll ever absorb and integrate it all. And then… suddenly… that torrent of learning transforms into a manageable trickle.
Hallelujah - you’re arrived!
This is the point where you begin to develop a signature style and approach. And as you coach more clients, you increasingly feel at ease with the process, and with yourself. You step away from the textbook, and into the flow of “coaching improv”!
Once skills and competency reach a comfortable plateau, there inevitably comes a moment when you start to wonder “OK, what next?”
For some coaches, it could be that the business side just isn’t taking off. Or maybe they’ve discovered some gaps in their education, and it’s time to bulk up in a particular area of expertise. Others earn their certification, do a ton of free sessions, but never feel confident enough to book paying clients.
Wherever you’re at as a coach, there’s always more to learn and new heights to summit. If you’re committed to evolving (and what coach isn’t, really?) we’ve got some ideas for you!
Enhance Your Coaching Skills
Ask for feedback
Do you regularly check in with your clients to get their take on how the coaching relationship is going? If not, we suggest you start… like right now.
This could be something as simple as asking at the end of each session: “What’s the one thing that you’re taking away from today’s call?”
When you’ve completed your work with a client, whether that’s just one session or a package of 10, always, always, always send a short survey afterward. Make it easy for your client to tell you how it went, what was most useful, and where they think you can improve as a coach.
Your clients are the ultimate authority on your effectiveness. They can show you what your strengths are like nobody else. The information you gather from surveying your clients is also useful for feeding into testimonials for your website and social platforms, and to inform your marketing messaging.
Get really good at something specific
It’s not enough to say you can “coach”. It’s not even enough to be really, really talented at it. You need a hook, an angle, something that sets you apart.
You might have a niche already - say career coaching, or relationships. If so, that’s terrific (and if not, it’s high time to carve your unique path). Look at all the ways you can further expand your expertise within your specialty.
As a relationship coach, you might be encountering clients who are survivors of abuse. If so, you could expand your knowledge about PTSD and become more trauma-informed. If you’re career coaching, consider widening your exposure to the various assessment tools you might offer clients to help uncover their strengths and interests.
Invest in specialized training. It will widen your perspective, add greater depth to what you currently offer your clients, and increase your market value.
Join a mastermind group
Do you have a confidential place to talk through client challenges, share tools, and debrief with other working coaches? This can be so beneficial.
If it hasn’t already happened, know that there will be times when you’ll get thrown off your game in a session or with a particular client. It’s helpful to have a group of peers to talk it through, and get different perspectives on how to work through tricky situations.
One caveat that’s important to remember in any practice group: honor client confidentiality. Make sure that there are strong agreements around nondisclosure for all participants, and that client names are not being used.
Accelerate Your Business Growth
Get an accountability partner
Just because you know how to coach, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some coaching yourself! If you’ve been procrastinating the final tasks to get your website launched, never seem to get around to developing that group program you’ve been thinking about, or aren’t meeting your revenue goals… a coach can help.
For all the same reasons that your clients hire you, it’s a smart move to invest in coaching for yourself. Especially if you’re new to entrepreneurship, and building your own business. Trust the old adage “You’ve got to spend money to make money.”
If you’re not willing to invest in yourself, why should clients invest in you? If you're in the market for business coach, come check out our directory of certified coaches to set up a free discovery call!
Connect with your heroes
Some new coaches make the mistake of pouring all their “business development time” into writing content and creating programs. Important activities for sure, but the scope of building a business is wider than sitting hunched over your laptop, churning out posts and offers.
One thing that separates highly successful coaches from the pack is that they invest time in developing relationships with the right people. We’re talking people who inspire them, and can help build their business.
The key here is to aim upwards. If your coaching community consists solely of pals from your own training cohort, you may be missing out. You need people in your circle who are at every stage of the game. This should include coaches who are currently where you aspire to be in the future.
Think about the practitioners you admire - the ones who are killing it in their business. If nobody comes to mind, it’s time to identify some role models! Valuable connections are formed this way. Follow or take a class with a practitioner you look up to. Let them naturally get to know you and your style. Before you know it, they might be recommending your services to their audience. Or hiring you to contribute on their team.
Give it a try, and give it time. It works.
Embrace change, and pivot as needed
Many coaches are slow off the starting block because they believe that whatever niche they choose, they’ll be locked into it for life. Putting this much pressure on “where to begin” leads to analysis paralysis. Don’t let this happen to you!
Just about every coach we know has evolved over time. Some make minor adjustments, such as shifting from relationship coaching to specialize in sexuality. Others make transformative leaps, from business coaching to spirituality.
None of us know who we’ll become in the future. We just know where we are today. What have you already been through? What are your passions NOW? Go with that.
Think of your coaching business as a canvas. You’ll add color, texture, and layers over time. You might paint over the entire thing at one point, and begin again. Or it could be that you’ll just get out the brush every now and again to add some shading here, a highlight there. It’s your masterpiece. Allow it to grow as you do!
Stimulate Personal Growth
Spend less time on social media
You know we’re not the first to say it! And yes, we understand that your marketing, audience, and business itself probably relies to some extent on social media. It’s a powerful tool. It’s also a merciless time bandit.
For the next week, simply pay attention to how much time you spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Count it all - even those times you look simply to “fill a gap” while you’re on hold with your bank, or waiting for a conference call to begin. Better yet, use an app that analyzes your screen time.
At the end of the week, look at the data. Then ask yourself - how much of that time was legitimately devoted to your life and business needs? How much do you remember about what you saw? You may be surprised by how many minutes (hours!) per day are lost to mindless scrolling.
Instead of encouraging personal growth, too much exposure to social media can be toxic. Still unsure? Check out this article in Psychology Today to learn more about why that is, and the benefits of a digital detox.
Rest assured your business doesn’t need to suffer from a time out. There’s ways to stay on top of everything without logging in so often. Take advantage of tools to automate your posts and communications as much as possible.
Swim with dolphins, not sharks
We’ve all probably heard it by now: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” And while there may be some debate about how far that circle of influence actually extends, what’s true is that we’re influenced by the people around us. And, by extension, the people around them.
Take some time to reflect on the people in your circle. Do they bring out the best in you? Do you cheer one another on, and celebrate each other’s achievements? Are there people in your life who wholeheartedly support your business and personal goals? Do you admire where they are in return: how they live their lives, and the way they pursue their own goals?
If your primary relationships include elements that are unsupportive or unhealthy... there’s a cost. If you’re a go-get-em entrepreneur, but everyone around you is content to just get by... there’s a cost.
If you find yourself in a lifeboat surrounded by what looks like sharks, don’t get twisted up over it! Just pick up your paddles and get moving. Begin building new relationships with people who mirror your aspirations, values, and dreams.
Make one small move everyday
Remember the old bedtime story about the tortoise and the hare? It’s a tale that has a lot in common with building a coaching practice.
Let’s start with the rabbits.
These are the people who graduate from a program, brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. They build a website. Blitz on social media for a while. Book a few clients. But when it doesn’t result in a six-figure business overnight… some of them will fade away. They’re off and on to the next thing.
Now over here, you’ve got the turtle.
This might be the person who doesn’t make a big splash right out of the gates. Slow and steady, they build their business infrastructure. Solid. Dependable. They make a plan and stick with it. A few actions a day, week in and week out. At first they have a single client. But they keep at it. Eyes on the finish line.
That steadfast commitment begins to pay off. A little bit at first… until momentum builds, referrals from satisfied clients pile up, and they wake up one day to a full calendar and thriving business.
Which story will yours be? We’re hoping you’ll borrow some moves from the tortoise, taking one or two steady actions each day. Watching them pile up, like bricks, until the day comes when you’ll look back and see that you’ve built something incredible!
READY TO TAKE TODAY’S ACTION?
Learn more about what it takes to launch your own effective coaching practice with the Ultimate Guide to Becoming A Life Coach. While you're there, grab your free copy of our “6 Steps to Start Your Life Coaching Practice”.
Written by the JRNI Coaching co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, this no-nonsense primer will give you the tools to discover your niche, find clients and get started on your path to becoming a coach. Plus, when you sign up, we'll keep you up to date weekly with coaching techniques, and the occasional much-needed kick in the pants to keep you motivated on your coaching journey.