Written by Julia Stewart
This time of year, I hear from folks all over the world who are thinking about becoming life, business, or executive coaches. Their questions inspired this post.
Although the questions vary, the subtext is always the same: Can I succeed, as a coach?
That one, I can't answer, but you can, after you've asked yourself the right questions.
Here are seven questions to help you determine if becoming a coach is right for you:
1. What's your reason for becoming a coach?
- If you love to help people, or you got coached yourself and loved it, or personal and professional development are your passion (see #7); these are great reasons. If you're out of work and out of money, or you just got diagnosed with a serious illness; these are poor reasons. As with any business, you'll need time, energy, money, and passion to succeed as a coach.
2. Is now the right time for you to become a coach?
- Speaking of time...timing is half the secret when it comes to succeeding at anything. Do you happen to have the time, energy and money to work on your new business, right now? Or did you just fall in love, are getting divorced, making a big move, or going back to grad school? Major life transitions take up huge amounts of energy, focus, and time (and usually money). Starting a new business is a major life transition. The more you pile on, the harder and slower it will be to succeed. I'm not saying it can't be done, but be prepared.
3. Do you have the skills you need to become a coach?
- Virtually everyone underestimates the skill required to become an effective coach. Most think they learned what they needed in school or on the job. Probably you have some of the skills and that's good. But it's extremely rare to have all the skills needed, without substantial coach-specific training, or a decade of full-time professional coaching. Get training, rather than education. Education gives you context, history, theories, etc. What you need is skill. Get the skills you need to succeed more quickly.
4. Do you have the financial resources to become a coach?
- Coaching is often cited as one of the easiest and cheapest businesses to set up. While that may be true, as with every business, "it takes money to make money". In the case of coaching, be sure you have an alternate income source until your coaching practice is full. You should have clients within your first three months, but a full practice can easily take a year, sometimes more.
5. Do you have the emotional resources you need to become a coach?
- Great coaches believe in learning opportunities. There's no better learning opportunity than starting a new business, because it'll bring out all your insecurities. Capitalize on this opportunity by working with a mentor coach. S/he'll believe in you until you believe in yourself and will help you build a community of ardent supporters.
6. Do you have the business know-how to become a coach?
- People who already have experience running a small business, tend to hit the ground running, when they launch coaching businesses. If that's not you, work with a mentor coach who knows the business of coaching, inside out. Get advice also from a small-business attorney, accountant, financial adviser, and more.
7. Do you have the passion to become a coach?
- This is the biggy. If your answers to the first six questions feel like too much work, maybe you just don't have the passion for coaching. On the other hand, if you feel curious, excited, but with a few butterflies (think: waiting inline for the ferris wheel), you've got that illusive IT, the passion needed to succeed. Passionate people dive in and do what others complain about, cut corners on, or procrastinate over. Passion will carry you forward. Add a great strategy to make it simple.