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How to Succeed in the Business of Coaching

Karen Pery  |  Jun 01, 2016

There are no fast-tracks and no short cuts. If you are going to be successful as a coach, you’re going to have to work for it. The path is different for everyone and what works for me may not work for you, but here’s the best of my business development learning that I hope will support you on your journey.

  • Know your work. Get trained, get coached, always be learning about this amazing and transformational work we are so privileged to provide.
  • Never stop learning. Not every powerful coach is a certified coach and not every certified coach is effective at serving her clients. One thing all great coaches have in common: practice. Have hundreds of engaging conversations and coach with all your heart.
  • Know your worth. I’ve heard this adage often: “You can only take a client as far as you’ve gone yourself.” Can you coach deeply without having experienced the same challenges as your client? Of course. Will you have more emotional capacity to be with your clients through their challenges if you’ve successfully navigated through your own? Absolutely. In this work we do with other humans, we create spaces for vulnerability to exist and courage to emerge. Be brave and bold and dive headfirst into the study of you with the guidance of a trusted professional. The more self-aware you are, the less likely you are to take on your clients’ struggles as your own and can support them in their growth. As you own your value, you are able to see more potential and possibility in others.
  • Know what you want. Is coaching a business for you, or a hobby? Assuming it’s the former, decide what you want it to look like. I don’t know a single coach who does this work only for the money, and if your business doesn’t have revenue, you cannot thrive – personally or professionally. I am a coach who craves and creates variety and flexibility, and my business reflects that with in-person leadership retreats, remote phone coaching, teaching, facilitation, consulting, mentoring, and writing. I love all of it. There are countless ways to operate in this profession. Choose your own adventure.
  • Be seen, be known. (aka Marketing.) I’ve seen more than one coach get squirmy and squeamish about selling their services. The phrase “shameless self-promotion,” makes me sad. Within those words exists a sense of shame in talking about the value of the goods and services being offered and the value of the person or business making the offer. No more of that, people! Be proud. Do great work and let it shine. Own your business, your expertise, your quirks, your impact, and how people have benefited from working with you. If you’re not sure about the results you’ve helped create, ask, receive, and do whatever work it takes to embrace your awesomeness so you can help others find theirs.
  • Try, fail and begin again. I’ve written before about the relationship between failure and innovation. What I haven’t shared is how many times I’ve failed, changed my niche, altered my marketing and enrollment strategies, canceled my own projects mid-implementation, and how I’ve learned to let go of what I think my work is supposed to be to realize what it is: constantly evolving, just as I am. As Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.”
  • Relationships first. The day of my CPCC certification exam, I drew a heart in the palm of my hand and inside, wrote the word “client.” I wanted my focus to be on the person on the other end of the phone line and not checking off my list of Co-Active skills. It can be a challenge to keep your focus on the relationships with the people who help us build our businesses rather than on the business plans, mailing lists, contracts, and income, especially when clients complete and there isn’t another to fill their place.

Ultimately, ours is a service-based business and to serve, we must stay connected with ourselves and the people in our lives to know what matters most.

About Karen Pery

Karen Pery, MA, ACC, CPCC, founder of Excellent Adventures Training, takes a playful and daring approach to changing people and organizations from the inside out. An executive coach and experiential leadership development expert based in Los Angeles, she works with her global clientele to create innovative solutions, develop heightened awareness and expand their capacity for impact. Excellent Adventures believes that all learning is personal and that the deepest learning comes from experience. Experiences that stretch your boundaries, challenge you, and make you feel alive provide life changing insights. With new insights, new possibilities are born.

What People Are Saying

Dear Karen,

Congratulations for your excellent job and all the help you are providing to new coaches like me :)
I´m living in Mexico City and I started my business recently as an independent life and business coach.
I have a question, in your experience, which is the online tool most effective to reach new clients?, or do you suggest a specific strategy for begginers?

Thank you so much for in advance,
Best Regards

Dear Liliana,

Congratulations on beginning your business as a life and business coach! You are doing important work in the world.

In my years coaching and running a business, I’ve learned that the most effective tools are a combination of strategy, self-awareness and presence.

As a new coach, I strongly encourage you to listen deeply, to yourself, and to the people who surround you. Listen for what people need, what your impact is as a coach, and serve generously. If you don’t know what people need, ask them. If you don’t know your own impact, request feedback. While you may be new to this business, you are not new to life, so use your experience in service of your work.

Know what your clients are seeking and how you can uniquely help them to achieve their goals and dreams. Be authentic to yourself, become the best coach you can possibly be, and continue your learning and growth in service of others.

Keep asking great questions! My best to you on your journey!

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