Our Coach in the Spotlight this week is Katie Louise Newman who experienced a common graduate dilemma after qualifying as a life coach - she had no clients, no actual business. Not letting herself get overwhelmed, Katie got to work to build a successful coaching practice. Today she shares the 5 big lessons she learned in her first 6 months of being a coach!
If you are about to graduate or have recently graduated with TCA, this is a must-read.
I joined TCA in Feb 2019 after deciding that the time felt right to start up my own business. My career up to that point had been mainly in sales and marketing, leading teams and delivering strategies, from large international corporations to a growing British start-up. My golden thread had always been working for businesses who were out to do good in the world, and I believed that if I could combine coaching skills with my business experience, I would be able to enable more entrepreneurs to create positive change. So I threw myself in wholeheartedly working on my diploma full time, meaning that by September 2019, I had completed my NLP and PPD and felt ready to go.
I was on holiday when my email came through confirming that I was now a ‘certified coach’. I felt relief, happiness, pride, and spent the rest of the trip in a warm fuzzy bubble. But upon getting home and sitting myself down at my computer, a new feeling started to set in. Panic. I was now a coach, but I had no clients. I had a certificate, but no business to speak of. What was supposed to happen now?
Jump forwards 6months and it’s nice to report that I did work out vaguely what to do, but I made a lot of mistakes along the way. So below I’m sharing the 5 biggest things that I’ve learned since I started running my coaching business, things that I wish I’d known when I started. I hope you find them useful.
Lesson #1: Focus on the trajectory
6 weeks into being ‘a coach’ I was hunched over my desk, feeling flat and demotivated, what had I actually achieved that day? This train of thought inevitably led me to wonder what had I achieved in the last 6 weeks? So I got out a pen and wrote down everything positive that had happened since I’d launched. I was pleasantly surprised. I realised that I had launched a website, handed out my first business card, gone to my first networking event, written 2 blogs, got 3 great new testimonials and joined a coaching club (amongst other things).
What became apparent was that I had come a long way from where I had started. Yes, I hadn’t won every day, (this being one of them!), but over the weeks I’d kept doing stuff, even if I wasn’t sure it was the right stuff, because some action was better than no action at all. And the resulting trajectory over 6 weeks had been in the right direction.
Lesson #2: Measure the inputs not the outputs
Focus your attention on tracking how much action you’re taking, and the results will look after themselves. My goal was to have 5 regular fee-paying clients, but tracking that number every day just made me feel depressed, as it still stood at a grand total of zero.
So, after some words of wisdom from ‘The Prosperous Coach’, I reviewed which actions had yielded the biggest jumps forward, and then shifted my focus onto tracking how many of those I’d done instead. How many people had I arranged to have follow up conversations with at networking events? How many hours had I spent actually coaching (even if unpaid)? I set targets for the number of positive actions I was taking instead and 3 weeks later, I had attracted my first paying client.
Lesson #3: Know yourself, your clients and trust your gut
WARNING! Once you qualify, a lot of people will try to sell you their services and tell you how to grow your business. It can be overwhelming and cause you to change tack on a daily basis. What I eventually learned - create a straightforward strategy that works for you and stick to it. Shut out the noise and trust yourself that your approach is right for YOU.
My approach was to get clear on my clients and the help they needed (Mission-led entrepreneurs struggling to be sustainable and impactful) and to find them in ways I enjoyed (through meeting people). So now I build relationships at events, through running workshops, networking, and by working in community spaces. I enjoy the journey of building my business and meet potential clients where they need help and where I’m at my best.
Lesson #4: Use your network
My first paid client came through a friend’s referral. They put their reputation on the line for me because they knew me, and the person they referred me to listened to them. Do not underestimate the power of people you know and their abilities to help you build your business (another gem from The Prosperous Coach). This isn’t just about tapping into your network, but the networks of your network, think how big and powerful they are! As the months have gone by I have invested more and more time into my existing and new relationships and I wish I had done it sooner.
Lesson #5: Own your story
A challenge I certainly faced upon qualifying was Imposter Syndrome. Suddenly, even being qualified wasn’t enough - I felt like I needed the next diploma like I wasn’t worthy of charging a decent fee.
My advice, FIRSTLY, find someone to coach you. These are classic limiting beliefs that a lot of us experience so don’t be afraid to ask for some help.
SECONDLY, find your Beautiful Constraints - a wonderful expression referring to finding advantages in your limitations. For me, my limitation was that I had a lot less coaching experience than other coaches in my field, however, the advantage I had I soon realised, was my several years of industry experience.
This shifted my whole approach and mindset. I stopped talking to my clients about just my coaching qualification and instead talked about my huge filing cabinet of experience, skills and capabilities that I’d gained throughout my career so far and the unique perspective and approach that I could offer them as a result.
The difference it made was huge.
If you're interested in finding out more about coaching, just like Katie did, start by joining us in our interactive live webinar. Choose from available dates here.
We caught up with the inspiring Ronia Fraser, International Coach of the Year, for a glimpse into the life of an award-winning coach. We travelled from London to the British seaside and talked about her Narcissistic Abuse Healing programme as well as her coaching journey. We hope you enjoy her inspiring story!