Skip to main content

In Retrospect: 8 Start Up Tips from Successful Coaches

Posted on May 29, 2019
Ability in business

by Brandon Twine, CPCC, ACC, MA

Starting and building a successful coaching practice is often a trial-by-error, make-it-up-as-you-go exercise. There are so many balls to juggle: mastering the craft of coaching; attracting and enrolling clients; finding your voice and niche; managing the business side; tapping into your confidence and resilience; and so much more. It can be a dizzying experience.

To take away some of the guesswork, here are some co-active, being-and-doing approaches that established and successful coaches offer to the next generation.

  1. Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better. As Pema Chodron suggests, failure is where the real learning and growth happens. There are many forms that may lead a coach to feel they have failedfrom not being a “good” coach in a session, to being fired by clients, to not having people turn out for a workshop you offer. Be willing to see that after each closed door, another opens. You will find that “failure” reframes over time as “opportunity.”
  2. Leverage The Business of Coaching. This essential book by Dorcas Kelley has helped innumerable new and seasoned coaches get the skinny on the business side of coaching – particularly valuable for its legal and financial guidance.
  3. Design Sane Boundaries. Know how you keep your energy flowing and build a schedule that will keep that happening. Don’t feel that you need to say “yes” to every opportunity. Don’t give your time away for free unless it’s for clearly defined causes – you are a professional and need a livelihood to sustain you so you can provide your service to the world.
  4. Align With A Therapist. Have a go-to counselor who you can refer clients to, when they need more psychological expertise than you can offer. Know your limits, and be ready to point clients towards more specialized support when their anxiety, depression, addictions, or other psychological experiences are inhibiting their functionality and ability to be coached.
  5. Program It. Design and deliver online and in-person workshops and programs. These brief, day-long and multi-day events help establish your credibility and brand, and also enroll clients. CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program can give a major boost in how to do design and deliver (also, co-design and co-deliver!) programming.
  6. Talk It Up. Give talks in front of groups of many varieties and flavors. Many coaches like using Meet-Up groups as venues for their talks. Professional organization networking events are also a great opportunity to talk about what matters to you, and offer some value on the spot (just enough to work as a teaser, so participants want more). You’ll also cultivate a reputation for expertise on your topic.
  7. Be Abundant. Come from this perspective, rather than scarcity. When you believe the world will provide for you no matter what, your energy can flow away from reactivity and be freed up to be creative and generative. You can move towards success, rather than fleeing failure.
  8. Be A Coachee. Always be a client of a powerful coach. Surprisingly, many coaches do not work with their own coaches. Being a client will support you to stay on your path, be conscious about your transformations, and receive modeling about what great coaching looks and feels like.

These are all important elements that coaches with thriving practices have developed. Most importantly, they offer this word piece of advice as a bonus:

Connect With Your Joy. Always be in relationship with what brought you to coaching in the first place. At the root of this is joy: your own experience of it, and your clients: you play a vital role in them connecting with their own special flavor.