It's taken me a month to process that I won the Emerging Coach of the Year Award for 2017-2018 at the recent Beautiful You Coaching Academy Awards in Melbourne.
What an honour and a joyful surprise after 18 months in my business to have been selected as a finalist and even be considered for the Award. To hear my name announced as the winner was a shock, but it signifies just how far I have come in my own life over the past three years, and how much I've trusted that doing something so wildly different to anything I had ever done. I trusted my intuition in this decision to become a coach, and it's led me to the place I was supposed to be.
My time at the Beautiful You Coaching Academy taught me how to support and encourage others as a coach in a variety of ways. My business, The Breath Between, sees me in a heart-centred space and it allows me to do those things that bring me joy and that feel easeful to me, and allows me to have gorgeous collaborations with amazing individuals. What an incredibly winning combination, right?
Winning the award didn't just mean a beautiful crystal trophy and gifts. It also meant that my business foundations were strong, and all those daily rituals - consistently showing up and taking action - were paying off. The award recognises the incredible people I work with, the organisations that reach out to me for workshops and to incorporate rest and renewal into their days more meaningfully and the stages I get to stand on to share my message.
It's not just about the trophy. It's about The Breath Between and her vision for the world.
Lessons for new coaches
When I look back over the past 18 months I can honestly say I've learned more about myself than I have the past decade. Bold statement, right?
But when I think about WHY that is, it's because I've learned how to be truly gentle with myself in these early stages of my business. I've incorporate the principles I share on rest and renewal into doing business more gently, and without the rush and the 'hustle' that I knew I had to leave behind in the legal world. I had to do this part of my life in a different way to the way my Type-A personality had done law, postgraduate studies and academic work.
So here are a few of the lessons I've learned in starting my business more gently and I want to share them with you especially if you are a coach in your first year (they're good for anytime though!).
1. Nobody knows what they're doing all of the time
This took me a while to figure out. In the academic world, imposter syndrome is rife. We are taught what we don't know and how much more everyone else around us does. Or so we think - and so often everyone feels like they SHOULD know everything so they don't talk about it feeling like an imposter.
Do successful entrepreneurs know everything about what they are doing, everything that they need, what the business they are bringing into the world is truly capable of? Absolutely not. Not all of the time anyway.
I'm telling you now - in talking to many of these successful coaches and entrepreneurs in a number of settings - the firsts that bring you a level of uncertainty, maybe stress, but certainly the unknown - that feeling doesn't change!!! Even as an experienced business owner or coaches. You get better at diving in despite the uncertainty, but if you are paving your own way then you are destined to come up against something that you genuinely are puzzled by - have no idea about - and you will feel like you have no idea what you are doing.
That's the nature of the game, and the beauty of it too.
So EXPECT it. Expect that feeling of not knowing what you're doing and forge on ahead despite it.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
So often as new coaches we wait until 'INSERT SKILL OR LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE HERE' to move forward, to launch, to have a conversation that could change our business - you name it! We're waiting to feel like we KNOW ENOUGH. What is AS important as that feeling (and to be honest, sometimes it NEVER feels like I know enough!!) is that you truly and utterly love what you are doing. That it excites you, extends you, stretches your knowledge and skills in new and different ways. If so, and I'll say it again, it's about learning to feel the fear and do it anyway (can you tell this is one of my favourite quotes? Yep, a whole lot of fear has come before).
I think as brand new entrepreneurs, we feel like we should have answers to all of the questions, all of the time and so often we wait until we know before we feel comfortable with moving forward.
I want to encourage anybody who’s building a coaching business to not wait until you feel you know enough because every time you learn something new because there will always be something more.
2. You don't have to do everything at once
It is so easy to compare the start of your journey to the middle or more mature part of someone else's. In the coaching industry there are amazing products and services you can offer: one-on-one coaching, group programs, online courses, paid webinars, ebooks - the works.
Does that mean you have to offer them all at the beginning of your business?
Of course not. Not if you don't want to.
The reason why you see those sorts of offerings is they are an AMAZING way to help your ideal clients live their best life, and it's a great way to reach them online.
You don't have to do all of these at the beginning of your business and you don't even have to do ALL. THE. THINGS at all - some choose to offer a signature program or service and stick with that approach for their entire business (it can even be a really GREAT strategy).
In the coaching world (and thanks to the beauty of facebook advertising), there are a lot of 'high-end coaches' who you see are promoting and creating high-end online programs and offerings because it helps to build a 'passive income' - right from the beginning.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that passive income isn't amazing and a great use of your time, but what I am saying is that there is no harm in working with people one-on-one to really find out how you can help people if that's what draws you to the coaching world (and let's be honest, passive income is not truly passive - you still have to work to create those amazing offerings!!). Choosing to work one-on-one or in a more concentrated space in the beginning is completely fine. In fact, it's FABULOUS. It helps you find out what people are truly struggling with and what it is they see in you when it comes to helping them with that.
I feel that pressure, of course, but I've resisted it and chosen to work with people more intimately and in a group/event and speaking space for now. But now that I have a bit of time (and a whole lot of personal research) under my belt I'll be beginning to to bring these products into the world really soon.
So if you’re a brand new coach, don’t feel as though you HAVE to tick all the coaching boxes from the very beginning. If you have and it feels right to you, then follow your intuition!! It's a wonderful thing. But don't PUSH yourself so hard to do more than you feel connected to, simply for the sake of being like other coaches out there.
Building my business off the back of one-on-one coaching and events has been the foundation for the success that it is now having. I know how much I love to work with people and for me, working one-on-one for the moment has been the best way for me to do that.
3. Argue for your limitations and they are yours
Major lesson for me and wise words from Richard Bach - if you argue for your limitations they’re yours.
If you have an idea, be curious and follow it.
If you decide too early that something is too hard, too unlikely, too uncommon - it will be.
Simple as that.
What you think might be possible is ABSOLUTELY possible with a lot of love, inspiration and some hard work. As soon as you start to feel that something just isn’t possible for you or that it isn’t what other people are doing, you lose that motivation or that potentially fabulous idea.
4. Consistency is key
Sometimes, when you're writing your weekly or fortnightly blog post, sending our your newsletter, writing guest posts or blogs for others or pitching for events - it might feel like you're getting no traction.
I'm telling you right now - you are.
If you understand your ideal audience and what it is you can help them with, then your seemingly small but consistent actions WILL create change in your business. I write a lot about rituals - rest and renewal rituals mostly - but here they're important as well. Create rituals in your business so that you are moving (slowly) forward, one day at a time.
When I first qualified as a coach, I had Julie's advice in the back of my mind constantly - if you do the work consistently, you will get more eyes on your blog, you will get more clients contacting you, you will get more people on your newsletter list and you WILL help more people and in doing so, get more clients.
Those consistent rituals matter.
Does that mean you need to keep the same consistency for posting blogs or emailing your list? Not necessarily with rigidity if that doesn't work for you. But you do need to do it and more than once or twice. Create the rituals that work best for you.
There are a number of ways that you can stay in contact with your audience online - as a coach that might include YouTube, Mailchimp, blogging and social media. You have invoicing and background paper work too. But these are things that if you can regularly engage and create consistent rituals - they WILL help you grow your business.
These four lessons have served me well in these early days.
Do I still feel like I don't really know what I'm doing most of the time? Of course! But I feel the fear and do it anyway.
Do I still feel drawn to creating ALL THE THINGS so I can reach my audience for maximum impact? Of course I do, but I know the benefit in pacing myself, learning who I am as a coach and creating those services more intuitively - not because I feel I HAVE to.
Do I still come up against feelings of 'I can't do that' - yep, sure do. It's human and it's driven by our inner ego whispering in our ear and trying to keep us playing small. But I've learned and are still learning to shut that down with positivity and possibility and forge ahead in my business regardless of those fears.
Do I always feel like posting on social media or entering my invoices into my financial system? Not always, and I'm still creating some of the rituals that I know will continue to serve my business. But I've seen the benefit of doing this, and I know my business is better for it.
So new coaches - know that you are not alone. The first 12, 18, 24 months are wild ride in any industry and any business. As new coaches with the Beautiful You Coaching Academy you are held with such love, guidance and support that launching a new life as a coach has never been more exciting.
I am blessed and continue to be inspired by this work and this world.
Stay tuned because there’s more magic to come in 2018.
PS If you are interested in becoming a coach I can help support you on your journey. Head to this link at the Beautiful You Coaching Academy and if you register through that link, you'll get my coaching bonuses. Check out my page Become a Coach. It would be an honour and a blessing to support you on your life coaching journey.