When I left my corporate career of 35 years I thought that starting a coaching business, with my extensive professional experience, would be easy.
I’d been in the human potential, leadership and organization development world for most of my life. Furthermore, I was creative, competent, big-hearted and wise (older). So now that I had a coaching certification and designation, clients would come flooding in.
What was I thinking?
I had no business skills. No sales skills. No online marketing skills. And in addition, I was an introvert. It was not pretty.
Oh, how susceptible I was to the online marketers with their promises. Like a cornucopia of fruit at a juice stand, many people could and did sell me their programs. Some were great, others unnecessary. I could have used a bit of cautioning or direction.
I kept thinking that one course and then another (and another) would take me to the breakthroughs I needed. More desperate as funds got lower, I believed that learning could be done online. I now know that it can’t in all cases. You still need the expert to help with application.
Years after my training and certification, one of the facilitators told me that one couldn’t earn a living from coaching alone. I was shocked. I had never heard that. And I didn’t want to believe her. (I’d have gone down this path anyway.) I’d show her, I thought. I was ready to do whatever it took.
I was a hard worker who never gave up. How could I know that working hard was not enough?
Dear me. I had sorely overestimated what I could do. Seriously underestimated the learning curve. Probably through arrogance, and mostly from naïveté.
Hard work that didn’t result in income was wearing. Demoralizing.
Tell Us the Facts
Surely coach training schools could have provided us with some direction about what we would require, especially those of us who didn’t have previous business skills. It isn’t the same for internal coaches.
Though some programs do teach business fundamentals, mine unfortunately did not, even though I was trained by two different schools. A spreadsheet with do’s and don’ts or even a process map would have served well.
To warn us. To recommend to us.
Avoiding the conversation is not just a disservice. It’s unconscionable.
The monies so many of us spent to find the right next steps could have been used more wisely. I wasted a lot of time and energy fumbling around and became dispirited. And I am not alone.
Yes, I could have done some research. I’m not a victim of my circumstances. I know that this situation faces graduates of all kinds of programs – people in the arts and sciences all have to figure out next steps. Those institutions too could do a better job of preparing their graduates.
Enchanted with programs that had been so highly recommended and with coaching in general, I was caught unprepared by what was unspoken.
Coaches are for the most part lovely, idealistic people. The training experience was great from many perspectives, but lacking at helping the non-business person become aware of what to expect. We don’t know what we don’t know and that makes us naive and vulnerable.
I’ve wanted to tell this tale but hesitated to reveal how tough and unpleasant it has been. I have spoken with too many coaches who find themselves in this situation after graduating and I hope things change or have changed.
A Gentle Plea
So to those competent and serious coach training schools out there, I’m asking gently that you have the conversation with us about the challenges of starting a coaching business. That’s responsible leadership.
Don’t avoid it. If you don’t talk about it, it’s easy to blame ourselves when we run up against the many different walls. And then we lose hope and courage. That hurts us and the profession.
About that value of transparency that you teach us. Use it here, please.
It won’t hurt your business. We’ll trust you more.
Be the leaders you are, and point us in some direction.
To help us manage expectations, you could tell us that for those of us thinking of making this into a business, we’ll need a host of other skills that won’t be covered.
Coaching is powerful and transformative. I see what happens for with my clients. It’s both humbling and awe-inspiring every time they have a breakthrough.
I see it as I work with my own coach to keep stretching, learning and experimenting with other approaches and tools.
Of course, coach training schools teach coaching competencies. That’s why we pay them. And I happen to love the people who trained me and their programs.
But I never heard them say what it would take to make a viable living.
We leave programs enamoured and drunk on possibility.
Reality is cold and sobering.
Over To You
Comments, questions, ideas? Bring them on.
P.S. Please Share This Article
The icons below are for your ease.