(This post was originally published on the International Coaching Federation’s blog, May 26, 2015)
As a coach you are like a great artist in that you have spent much time cultivating what you love to do and honing your craft. The thing about great artists though is that they are not always entrepreneurs. They know how to create; and they find others – agents or gallery owners – who find them the clients.
As a coach you face a similar situation and you have options about how and where you want to offer your services.
I talk to many coaches around the world, who believe they are entrepreneurs. They struggle for years to try to build a successful business. And then they realize that they don’t like working from home, they are lonely and they don’t like doing business development (they really don’t like this last one – sales are especially daunting to them).
They realize that what they do like is the structure of an organization, they like having benefits such as healthcare, and they like working with a team. So they go to work inside of an organization as an in-house organizational coach and are as happy as can be. This is the first of four options for how to bring your coaching into the world. And there may be others.
Others want the flexibility of working with many organizations and they also like a team. These second group of coaches become associates and join consulting firms where others do the business development for them. They get to focus just on what they love to do – coach – and they don’t have all the stress or “headaches” of running their own business.
There is another – third group of people who complete their coach training and choose to be non-practicing coaches. They use what they have learned in their day-to-day lives and never coach a single client once they have completed their certification. And their ripple effect is still felt through the way of being they have developed as a coach and how they positively impact others in their lives.
And then there is the fourth group – the coaches who are entrepreneurs. They are able to create their own structure, love working on their own and with teams, love business development with potential clients, creating a pipeline, pricing their products, developing content and doing social media marketing. If this resonates for you, then coach as entrepreneur you are.
An essential question to ask yourself when you complete your coach training, is which are you? Are you a coach who is an Employee (of an organization), an Associate (of a consulting firm), a Non-practicing Coach, or an Entrepreneur (determined to build your own business)?
These are all valid options and it is empowering (takes the pressure off and let’s the inner critic have a break) when you remember you always have a choice.
Here are some questions you can reflect on to decide which path is right for you. I have put them into the four categories:
- Non-Practicing Coach,
- In-house organizational coach,
- Coach as contractor or associate in a consulting firm, and
- Coach as entrepreneur.
As you review and respond to the questions, notice where your energy builds? Notice where you feel drained. In addition, reflect on the personal clarity you gained as you developed your Personal Brand, and use this as criteria to decide on which path is right for you.
1. Non-Practicing Coach
Now that you have completed your Coach Training, do you want to coach? If yes, go on to read #2, 3 and 4.
If no, congratulations, you will forever have this wonderful foundation to support you on your life journey, in whatever way you choose to apply it (or not).
2. In-House Organizational Coach?
- Have you worked in an organization? If yes, what did you like about it? Was there anything that was challenging for you?
- Do you want to have stable income (direct deposit that arrives on a regular basis)?
- Do you want to have a team of people to work with each day?
- Do you want to have an office to go to?
- Do you like to have set hours where you know you will be at work?
- Do you miss having the structure of working in an organization?
- Are you lonely working on your own?
- Do you know of for-profit or social-profit organizations (formerly known as not-for-profit) that you admire and would like to be an Associate of?
If you have more positive answers to these questions than negative, congratulations, you are a coach as employee!
3. Coach as Contractor/Associate
- Do you want to have flexibility in your day where you create your own structure around your time (sometimes working with clients, some time doing Admin work, sometimes resting)?
- Are you OK to work on your own at times and at other times with a team?
- Are you OK with less stable income (income that comes in at times and then there are gaps at times)?
- Are you OK without an organizational benefit program? Do you have another source of health and other benefits (a spouse or significant other who has benefits through their organization)?
- Do you want to collaborate with others to do group coaching or facilitation in addition to your 1:1 work?
- Do you know of consulting or coaching firms that you admire and would like to be an Associate of?
If you have more positive answers to these questions than negative, congratulations, you are a coach as contractor/associate!
4. Coach as Entrepreneur?
- Do you want to run your own business?
- Do you have a high level of determination?
- Do you have some financial security so you can build a business for several years without a large revenue stream? Do you have a second source of revenue that will supplement you as you build your business?
- Are you OK to set up a business structure (legally and financially)?
- Are you OK to do some or all of your own bookkeeping?
- Do you like business development – finding potential clients?
- Do you like spending between 25 – 75% of your time building a sales pipeline of potential clients?
- Do you have a good friend and community you can reach out to (or they will check in with you) when you get frustrated?
If you have more positive answers to these questions than negative, congratulations, you are a coach as entrepreneur!
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