The crucial question every coach needs to answer.
I’ve been there... We feel like we have been putting a lot of energy into establishing our coaching practices. We say we are committed to the coaching mindset. We tell ourselves that we are serious about coaching, and still, it seems we are not making much progress in generating the opportunities we so look forward to.
I know that feeling very well. When I first started my coaching business, it took me years to get real traction. I was focused and determined. I knew that coaching was in complete integrity with who I was and my personal vision. Yet, I could not get the business off the ground, no matter what I tried.
And trust me, I tried everything. I listened to the “marketing gurus” on the internet. I played with all the social media networks. I built a pretty website. I focused on a niche. I wrote articles and blog posts. I went to networking events. I created programs. I joined focused groups. I took business development courses and experimented with every possible gimmick that showed up in front of me. Still, nothing.
While I was spending all this energy on these initiatives, once in while I would remember a question one of my first mentor coaches asked me once:
Is this a hobby or a business?
Of course, I would quickly answer the question affirming my commitment to make the business work. However, only later I realized that, in truth, I still did not quite understand the difference. There was a shift that had not occurred in me and therefore, despite all my efforts, the results I was getting were just a confirmation of the mindset I was carrying.
Our attraction to coaching comes because we see its power and how much it aligns with our core values. We want to do good in the world. We love people, and we want to support our clients reaching for their best and true potential. Somewhere inside of us we know this is just right for us. And with that conviction we start doing what everybody else tells us to do: build a website, post on LinkedIn, create a logo, register our business. However, if we are sincere with ourselves, even with all the energy that we dedicate to coaching, there is still a part of us that is tentative, skeptical, a nonbeliever. Trust me. That makes all the difference.
Reconciling our passion for coaching with the business aspect of coaching is perhaps one of the greatest challenges I see coaches facing especially at the beginning of their careers.
We come to coaching because we want to coach, not because we are eager to run a business. Isn’t this the reason many small businesses fail? We are passionate about a craft, but we are not fully invested in the business itself. We say we want to be successful but in truth, what we truly want is something else – perhaps to retire, to have a flexible schedule, to work less and make more money. That is where our minds are, and while all of this may be possible, there is still work to be done to get there.
It takes a mindset shift for us to realize that regardless of whether we are internal or external, whether we have an independent practice or get affiliated with a coaching platform, we still must commit to the business in all its aspects – not simply to get clients, but make the business successful.
In coaching, we talk a lot about certain dualities – the “what” and the “who”, the “form” and the “flow”, and how important it is to find equilibrium in them. We also need to find a balance between the “passion” of coaching and coaching itself with the “business” of coaching.
For me, it was only when I truly embodied and believed in the business mindset of coaching that my practice began to grow. It was only when I realized that I needed to not only follow a passion but fully embrace the development of a company that things began to take shape. This is a choice we need to make. It is a subtle but important step in every coach’s story.
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As a mentor coach, I am always giving feedback to my students and mentees helping them develop their coaching skills and prepare for their certification with the ICF. ForCoaches is a place where I can publicly share some of my insights and experiences. What does it mean to be a truly effective coach?