The 7 Biggest Mistakes You Make as a New Coach (Part 2) - International Coaching Federation
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The 7 Biggest Mistakes You Make as a New Coach (Part 2)

Posted by Amanda Alexander | November 24, 2014 | Comments (5)

When we start a new profession and learn a new discipline, we always make mistakes — that’s the nature of the learning curve. But there are some mistakes that are best avoided as a new Coach if you want to build your practice sooner rather than later!

Awareness is the precursor to choice, so in this two part post, I want to raise your awareness about the 7 biggest mistakes that new coaches tend to make in the early stages of their practice.

Here is the second part of this post – mistakes 4 – 7. You can find the first 3 mistakes here.

Mistake Number Four: Treating Your Business as a Hobby

Most of us emerge from coach training school with a vague idea that our coaching practice will be a business of sorts, but I don’t believe we really “get” what it means to be in business. I certainly didn’t. In fact, for the first 6 months of my coaching business, I created a website, printed some business cards, took out an ill-advised small ad in the back of a glossy magazine and waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t.

If you want to create a sustainable coaching practice, you have to treat your coaching practice as a business – because like it or not, it IS a business. In fact, if you don’t like it, perhaps it’s time to rethink your future direction?

Start by creating just an uber-simple one-page business plan – include a few main headings such as:

  • The purpose of your business
  • Who you serve
  • Where will you find the people you serve
  • Your main marketing strategies (i.e. how and where you will find them and what you will do to increase your chances of them wanting to work with you).

You don’t need an MBA. Keep it very simple – that way you’re more likely to look at it again.  Track your progress. By creating charts, tick boxes, mind maps or spread sheets you can make it fun as well as business-like! Every day ask yourself questions such as “What do I need to do to connect with someone?” “What is the best use of my time today?” or “Which  of these activities is going to take me closer to my next client?”

And another way of treating your practice as a business is to define boundaries, especially if you are working from home. This means things like communicating what you are doing with your family so that they get it that you are not at their beck and call when you are working on your practice. Think about things like defining work time, how to deal with interruptions and where is your workspace.

Mistake Number Five: You Chase Too Many Rabbits

Q: What happens when you try to chase more than one rabbit at a time?
A: You catch no rabbits

It’s the same with a business – even a coaching business! When we try to run several projects in tandem, we inevitably don’t complete and we feel as if we’ve expended a heck of a lot of energy with nothing to show for it. It’s a mistake made by many entrepreneurs, not just coaches – and not just new coaches. We are surrounded by so many opportunities and “bright shiny objects” that it is often difficult to decide what to focus on. We worry that we might just miss that golden opportunity by saying “no” to something. Or we worry that we’ve made the WRONG choice. Perhaps we’ve chosen the wrong niche? Perhaps we’ve chosen to focus on the WRONG marketing method? Perhaps we’ve set our fees at the WRONG level? So many decisions… so many uncertainties. And so the problem is that we try to cover all our bases. And of course we simply don’t have enough time to do that.

Unless we can clone ourselves, doing one thing to completion beats doing ten things half way. Every time.

Block out quality time to one project at a time – it doesn’t have to be a huge block of time. If you only have 15 minutes, then that is just fine. Remember – you can only do what you can with the time and the resources you have.

Decide what your one project is going to be and go all-out for it. Get that one project done really well and then you can go on to the next project.

A tip here, is, if you are an “ideas bunny” — someone who has lots and lots of different things they want to do — keep an ideas file or an ideas box. It could be on your computer or it could be a physical box or a jar. Scribble down your ideas and put them in the box, knowing that you are not going to lose them. One day, when you’re short of ideas (which of course you never will be) you can look in your ideas box — but ONLY when your current project is finished!

Mistake Number Six: Not Taking Your Own Medicine

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “people buy people”? Well, it is never truer than when applied to the coaching profession. Your clients are buying YOU and all that you represent. I have hired many of mentor coaches for my own practice development over the years and each one of them was a role model. That didn’t mean that they were all perfect, their lives perfectly sussed out! However, they were ALL coaches who actively walked their own talk. They worked on their own personal foundation, honored their core values, recognized and got their needs met, were aware where their own beliefs held them back and actively examined them. In other words, they don’t just “DO coaching,” they also “LIVE coaching.”

When I mentor a new coach, I get them to start by working on their own personal foundation. In terms of practice building, you only become attractive to clients when you are “attractive” to yourself.

I believe that the heart of a successful coaching practice is developing yourself as a coach. So if all else fails and your practice development seems to be stalling, take stock, take time out and reflect on your own life. It’s a time investment that will pay you back generously!

Mistake Number Seven: Being Hard on Yourself

Stop beating yourself up because it’s taking you longer than you think to attract clients! The late Thomas Leonard, founder of ICF, used to say that it took between 18 and 24 months to build a sustainable coaching practice. And that time period, I believe, is an estimate of how long it takes to build a practice when working on it full time. Many coaches find gaps of time in between their day jobs or raising a family to gradually build their practice.  Any business takes time to build, so why should coaching be any different? Be kind to yourself, keep coaching people one at a time and if this coaching thing is what floats your boat, don’t EVER give up!

Amanda Alexander

Amanda Alexander is a multi-award winning Coach and Founder of Amanda has been coaching for over 13 years and has been cited as one of the UK’s Top Life Coaches in the British Press. Her personal clients are professional women who have big ambitions but who need to “get out of their own way” first.  Amanda works with her corporate clients primarily to help them retain talented women.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

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Comments (5)

  1. Very good article. Many beginners coaches need to be aware of these errors.
    The practice of self coaching can help pass through this phase. There is no way to succeed without commitment and practice.

  2. Iva Wilson says:

    The notion of chasing too many rabbits is very true. AS a coach (old or new) one have to think very carefully about the niche one will serve. Once that is established you can focus on “rabbits” in that niche!

  3. Zohaib Butt says:

    You’ll find the best coaching toolkit and documents here…

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