After obtaining my coaching certificate (in Paris), I faced many challenges.
I share them here, hoping my experience will help you in the development of your business, whether you are a coach or a freelancer.
Starting my coaching practice
First challenges and solutions:
- The market was not educated about coaching and personal development.
- I went to my market and found my first clients through networking and afterwards by recommendations and word of mouth.
- My school didn’t provide a professional network that was useful for me.
- I dedicated a lot of time to create mine.
- It was hard to find my coaching specialization or niche, as I was trained as a generalist. This made targeting clients very difficult.
- Only with experience I was able to understand what I liked and what I didn’t, and also in which areas of my work I was more efficient and excelling.
- Life coaching can get very close to psychology and the line that separates both is delicate. I had to be very clear in my positioning and communication so clients would know what to expect.
- I always set time aside during my first session with the clients, to explain the differences and I made sure it was very clear.
- Market confusion: there are plenty of coaches, who don’t have certificates or who don’t follow a methodology. This creates confusion and sometimes diminishes other coaches work.
- I now realize that there is a client for every person. You will attract the clients you want to have. The rest, is not important.
- Impostor syndrome: I didn’t feel prepared enough to start working after obtaining the certificate.
- I continued studying and working until I felt more confident and I continue training myself today. I read books, I attend trainings and conferences. This was a financial investment I hadn’t considered.
- It was very difficult and expensive to find a coach supervisor that suited my needs.
- I found one online coach eventually, she lives abroad and was a great support. Now I have different coaches for varied objectives.
Challenges that other coaches in Paris shared with me and what I would propose after my experience:
- One year after starting their practice, they still don’t have enough clients in order to make a living.
- I think this is the time where you switch, you adjust or you quit. Set deadlines and objectives according to your energy and your ressources and commit to them, so you can have a profitable work.
- They don’t want to call themselves coaches due to the abuse of the word.
- The answer is to differentiate yourself as much as you can by being you. The rest falls into place by itself.
- They don’t like to sell themselves or their services.
- This is normal as you are not necessarily a sales person, so either you hire a business development consultant or you learn how to do it yourself. But you have to make a decision, otherwise you will lose motivation and energy.
Other business development tips
- Use your client testimonies as your sales and marketing argument. It’s powerful because it’s true!.
- Educate the market by writing and posting articles about what you do and how you help.
- I connected my coaching learning with my expertise in business development. If you are able to connect all your past experiences with your new practice, this will enrich your offer and your work.
- I got all my clients by recommendation or networking and these became my main sales tool. There is no ideal sales strategy.
- Due to my international lifestyle I developed online coaching, and allows me to work worldwide and be office free.
- To be a good coach you don’t need to speak in public or sell yourself as a movistar, unless that is your client target 🙂 Find whatever makes you feel comfortable in order to communicate your offer.
What I’d say to someone who’s starting the journey:
- Make or buy a market research before you start the school, to know what to expect
- Growing your practice can be hard and slow so be patient!
- Consider having or keeping your job while developing the practice, to see if it is was what you expected.
- Take time to choose a good school and if it provides you a good business network even better. For that, you can ask for meetings, assist to their presentation conferences or ask other coaches on LinkedIn.
- Talk to other coaches on LinkedIn to get professional insights.
- Coaching can be a practice in itself or a tool within your work, that can be a combination of many things, like it is for me.
I hope this was useful for you,