As a coach who's been around the business for a while, I frequently get newer coaches approaching me to hire them into my business, or give them tips about how to build their practice. While many coaches choose the profession because of the flexibility and the independence, for some the reality of starting, building and running a business turns out to be quite daunting, and not aligned with their natural strengths - not surprising. There is good news for coaches who aren't entrepreneurially inclined, though. As the coaching profession grows and matures, there are proving to be as many ways to earn a living as a coach as there are coaches. For example: Independent Coach Practitioner
The most common starting place for most coaches is the idea of running their own practice. Often home-based and requiring minimal start-up capital, an independent practice sounds like an ideal lifestyle at the outset. As reality sets in, though, it turns out that starting, building and operating an independent coaching practice is just as difficult, and as rewarding, as launching and running any other kind of business. The early years are lean, marketing is often not what the coach does best or most comfortably, and there are busy times followed by droughts. It's critical to plan for a slow start, ensure sufficient administrative support, and put excellent systems in place from the outset. Establishing a marketing schedule and plan can ensure the client pipeline gets and stays full. The solo practice can get lonely, though, so be sure to make regular plans to connect with people in your network and community. The reward for the independent practitioner is complete flexibility and the chance to do something individually creative and unique.
Associate Coach A good coach who is willing to work as a representative for a large firm or consulting organization is always in demand. In an associate relationship the coach is independent, hired as needed, and can enjoy a steady stream of business without marketing or invoicing headaches. The downside is the requirement to use the firm's models and processes, relinquish rights to intellectual property created on the job, probably sacrifice on hourly rates, and turn over new business to the firm. Most associate contracts also have fairly stringent non-compete and non-solicit agreements to be sure to read the fine print. An associate role is a great way to enjoy a team environment without the encumbrance of a permanent or full-time commitment, though, so it really can be the best of all worlds.
Internal Coach Large organizations may have coaches on staff, or have roles that include (or can include) coaching as an embedded component. For an individual who has enjoyed a successful career inside an organization there may be the flexibility to evolve towards an internal coach role based on organizational needs and the individual's credibility and reputation internally. internal coaches usually coach at the mid-levels of organizations, though, so it's probably not the role for a very senior individual.
Life or Executive?
I often hear life coaches worrying about how to "break into" executive coaching - after all, it's where the money is, right? On the surface, maybe. Executive and corporate coaches tend to have access to a greater variety of options than pure life coaches, who cannot usually access coaching that occurs within and is sponsored by organizations. And true, the fee for a typical executive coaching engagement is usually several times larger than its life coaching equivalent. That said, there are some extremely successful life coaches who have built organizations and who hire other coaches. For the most part they've been able to leverage great intellectual property in the form of a book, and have learned how to wow an audience as a keynote speaker so they generate big audiences and attract high volumes of potential clients to their businesses to keep the other coaches fed.
At least for the first few years of practice, it makes sense for a new coach to offer a variety of services such as training, teaching, facilitation and/or counseling/consulting, to name a few. Even once the practice is thriving, having alternate activities and sources of income such as products and programs can be appealing to stave off boredom and protect against negative economic cycles. There are also lots of coaches who maintain apparently unrelated multiple streams of income for the long haul - teaching yoga, making jewelry and selling real estate are just a few I am familiar with.
The bottom line - if it's what you're good at and like to do, it's hard to beat the lifestyle attached to running an independent coaching practice, but it's got to be properly set up for sustainable success. If the business of running a business will be so stressful that it gets in the way of you being the best coach you can be, there are other options that can allow you to bring your best to this great work.
One of Canada's most experienced and respected executive coaches and coaching business leaders, Karen represents a team of associates and alliance partners offering services in executive coaching, assessment, wellness support and career management/transition.
Rebecca is a well known Coach, Consultant and Trainer and President and founder of Leadership Insight Inc. Developer of the newly launched 'Confident Coach' training program that transforms Managers into Coaches.Rebecca 's strength is understanding personal behaviour and drivers of success in a business context.
Pearl’s clients become better leaders, and better people. They are better at having the real conversations that create results. They are better at moving their organization towards the changes they believe in. They are working more collaboratively and learning to thrive in teams and partnerships.
Linda Dessau, CPCC, is the author of Write Your Way to More Clients Online. She helps coaches and other small business owners get better results from their online writing. Visit her website for a free article writing tool.
My name is Mark Norris, your ADHD parent coach. My academic background includes training in ADHD coaching along with a Master`s degree in Adult Education. I am also a certified Nurtured Heart Approach practitioner.