Becoming a Self-Employed Coach

Home OfficeMoving from a part-time coaching practice to full time self-employed status is a big move.

The first place to start is by working out how many clients you have and how many you are turning away each month. This tells you that providing referrals stay the same, how long it would take you to reach your optimum number of clients. You also need to set about putting together a business plan which will include a detailed projected budget. You need to ensure that you have captured all your costs and then work out how many client hours you would need in a month to meet needs. Remember that your costs should also include how much money you need to survive (and pay Tax etc).

Do not underestimate the financial and business side of things and it may be better to be overly cautious than worry about the bills – whether they are business or personal. I always recommend that people put aside at least three months money into a savings account as business does not remain the same throughout the year and you will have good and bad months financially until you are well established. This way you will not worry if one month is down client hours wise or if you take a break. It normally takes 5 years to fully establish yourself so you have to work hard on marketing during this period of time to ensure you are financially secure.

In addition, you need to start thinking about your marketing. For example, if you left employment would your current employer consider you as an external coach if they use them? This is the networking part, who do you know that you could contact to offer your services too? It makes sense for you to leverage your knowledge and abilities as well as contacts in your sector. You have a track record but what kind or type of clients have you been working with, what type of coaching have you been doing, do you have a specialist offering as well as a generic one? If you could afford it and while in employment perhaps a few sessions with a business coach who is a marketer could be helpful. Once you are on your own you have to generate a presence and decide what your Unique Selling Point (USP) is.

You also have to be honest with yourself as being a self-employed coach means you are responsible for everything. There is no IT department to sort out the computer or Executive Assistant (unless you earn enough) to make your appointments or do the paperwork. You have to be highly disciplined and good at time management to create time to see your clients, time to do the admin and marketing etc. You will also need a website and related marketing materials. In many ways you are in the best position now as you can do all of this while funding it from your full time employment.

It is competitive in the coaching world so you have to make sure that you stand out. Therefore consider where you really add value and this is what you can emphasize to potential clients as well as your generic skills. Work on your profile so it represents you well and use your networks and maybe join some of the business networking specialist groups in your geographical area or the area where you want referrals from.

You may also consider whether you want to become an associate of an existing coaching provider. They do the marketing but you don’t earn as much fee wise because of this. However, having said that a coaching provider can bring in work for you and on the other hand if there is no work then there is no obligation on their side.

In addition, you may find it useful to read a book I co-authored: Achieving Excellence in Your Coaching Practice: How to Run a Highly Successful Coaching Business (Essential Coaching Skills and Knowledge) which is all about self employment for coaches.