Sometimes the hardest part of building the coaching practice of your dreams is just getting started. When you look at other successful coaches and see their long client rosters, fancy websites and robust social media presence, it’s easy to feel like you need a lot of bells and whistles in place before you’re ready to set up shop.
But what does “ready” really look like?
My answer may surprise you. You might assume I’m all for systems and step-by-step instructions, but truth be told, you’re ready when you can plant your feet firmly on the ground and acknowledge the value people experience from coaching with you.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, some days that is a moving target. There are always going to be times when it’s hard to stay grounded and find that inspiration. But it’s a great place to start. And once you can sit comfortably in the knowledge that your purpose is to help others, then you add on the layers of your processes, systems, and shiny business cards.
Many new coaches also work a day job, so I am often asked about when they should quit their day job and just coach full time. The easiest answer to that question is money.
I worked through this situation with a coaching client named , Jessica. Her practice is relatively new, but she has a ton of training and she’s a very skilled communicator and coach. Jessica also has a demanding, high-level full time job. So, together brainstormed what milestones Jessica needs to meet in order for her to quit her day job.
Jessica will move into coaching full time when:
She has a solid system in place for client attraction. This doesn’t mean a full practice already on the calendar, but it was important to Jessica to have the infrastructure in place to handle clients coming in.
She wanted 3-5 regular private coaching clients and 2-3 public speaking opportunities under her belt to give her a better sense of experience.
She also wanted a strong online presence – not a ton of followers and fans, but an editorial calendar, a brand she loves, and an engagement routine in place.
There isn’t one definitive checklist for every coach across the board. So, think about the signs you will look for in order to take the leap.
Now, what about the people in your life who don’t want you to leave the comfort of a nine to five?
Now, you and I both know that not everyone in your life will be supportive of huge financial and professional changes. You may learn some of your friends and colleagues think you’re not ready yet or suggest you keep a side job as a fall back. Try to remember that these “naysayers” are coming from a place of love, and they are just doing their best to protect you. They’re nervous too, and their solution is to keep you in your safe corporate cubby so you can pay your rent and take the occasional vacation. That may not be the path you plan or want to take but it doesn’t make it wrong either.
In fact, they could be right. Yep, your mom might have a point when she warns you about leaving your job as a CPA to coach musicians. Your gamble may not pay off, but there is only one way to know for sure. You have to try.
If you need more encouragement, just take a look at your own track record. When you look back on your work history, can you find any evidence that you won’t find another job again ever? Probably not. So why assume that the least likely outcome (failure and financial devastation) is the one that will actually happen.
My journey to full time coaching was unique (and maybe even ill-advised…)
I learned very early on that I like to be the boss (if my little bro, Cam is reading, I’m sure he’ll back me up on this). When I started my first business with actors at the ripe old age of 24, I had an idea for a business and that’s about it. I was too naïve to know I didn’t know anything.
My marketing strategy was guerilla to say the least! Every day, I hit the street meeting actors and telling pitching my services. We’re talking Kinkos flyers outside Central Casting and coffee shops.
Weeks later, my efforts paid off because I met an actor who studied at a well-established school. He hired me (yippeeee!) . Within a month, 40 of his fellow classmates signed up for my service. I was able to finally cover my rent of $800 per month and I began to have faith.
From there, my business grew because I focused on providing excellent service and I set up a simple, client-friendly referral structure. Within 3 years, that business was a six-figure company.
And if I had it to do again, I think the process would have been much less stressful if I had worked with a mentor who could have provided a reference point. But I also was so lucky to have done a few things wrong, because I learned so much from that process.
That was my path. Yours will be different.
There is no one set road for every coach. Any guidelines to determine if it’s time to quit your job and practice full time will be all your own. You’re ready to begin the next chapter when you can stand in the knowing that you can actually help people. And when you can embrace the fact that you deserve to be paid for this unique and wonderful skill.
What mile markers did you use when you took the leap into coaching? Did you make a lot of helpful mistakes starting your business? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.