Feeling Invisible? How to Be Taken Seriously as a Coach

Author : Nicola Harker

29th January 2020

A fellow coach told me this week that in her darker moments she wonders if she made the right decision to leave her corporate role to become a self-employed coach. She was overwhelmed with the targets she’d set herself for January, annoyed with potential clients cancelling meetings, and most of all frustrated that she didn’t feel she was being taken seriously.

When I trained with Animas I didn’t really know how it would work as a full-time career, I just knew that I was impressed with coaching and wanted to learn more. Many fellow students were planning to coach from within paid roles, but I was planning on leaving my NHS job and setting up a coaching business, on my own, with no real clue.

I’m just beginning my third year in business, and time has flown, and hearing my friend fretting like this I wondered, how DO you get yourself taken seriously as a self-employed coach in a huge pool of competitors? And with Brexit looming, is now a realistic time to set up as a coach on your own? I only have my experience to share, but I think I’ve learned a lot in 2 years.

My first answer is that you have to take YOURSELF seriously. By this I mean you have to consider why anyone would want to hire you, and get crystal clear about that. Who do you most want to work with, what are their pain points, and what do you specifically bring as a solution?

For ages this was the toughest question for me. Who was I to put myself forward to solve anything? And wasn’t coaching supposed to be led by the client, not about solving something or fixing them?

To find the answer I needed to connect with my emotions, my passions. Questions such as “What do I get really heated about? What problems do I think need solving?”

Animas solves the need for a great coaching school for people that want to coach at a deep level and who are prepared to reflect and to invest in their training. Tony Robbins doesn’t just work with anyone, he works with people who want change enough to pay the high ticket price to attend his events.

I realised that I feel hugely passionate about inspiring, entrepreneurial women who know they have a gift for the world, but they get stuck meeting the needs of their boss, the system or their family. Or they derail themselves with self-criticism, doubt or procrastination. They’re frustrated with themselves for not making it happen, and they don’t know how to get unstuck. I realised that I’m a unique blend of mindset, action focused motivation, with an intuitive reflective side that recognises the need for self-compassion, nature, exercise and nutrition. I’m not Mr Motivator, so my ideal clients need to be looking for something else if they want to work with me.

The key lesson for me whilst I worked this out, was to stop being afraid of turning people down. If you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

The next step in taking yourself seriously is to get out there and have conversations. Daring to talk about what you do and learning from the responses is market research. It’s not personal if your message doesn’t resonate with someone, but if it resonates with no one then your message isn’t clear enough. Ask questions, interview people that you think might be your ideal client. What are their pain points, fears and frustrations?

A huge lesson from getting “out there” was that NO EXPERIENCE IS UNHELPFUL. Every mistake, every rejection, every criticism or troll has taught me something useful. My first workshop wasn’t great, but I learned how to do it better. Some of my first coaching sessions weren’t amazing, but I reflected and I learned.

Building an enthusiastic following requires you to create the best possible experience for your clients. So don’t be afraid to invest in a slick booking system, send thank you cards, or give your clients a beautiful notebook. They may not remember what you say but they will remember how you made them feel (to slightly misquote Maya Angelou!).

Mastering fear is a BIGGIE (as my 9 year old daughter would say!). The thing that stops coaches from asking for feedback, having courageous conversations, daring to charge higher fees, or even seeking help and advice is FEAR. Fear is inevitable if you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, which is what you will need to do to be a successful coach. The clients won’t just come to you.

Every week since I started my business I’ve done something new, which has usually been scary. Mastering social media platforms, speaking, podcasting, facebook lives, creating a website, writing blogs or books, running your first retreat, creating an online course – I’ve done all of this (and more) in two years and most of it has terrified me. I’m due to go on TV later this year and I’m still waking in the night about that! But I think getting comfortable with being afraid is the key to success. I now see it as a victory to be slightly terrified, because it means I’m mastering something new.

Whilst you’re mastering fear, ask yourself whether you are thinking too small? Are you trying to persuade your neighbours, friends, friends of friends and colleagues to be your clients? Do you feel surrounded by packs of coaches who all want the same clients as you? I definitely felt like this the first time I went to a networking event. 80% of the room were coaches. It was depressing! But my response to that was to leave the networking group and start focussing on the rest of the world.

There are millions of clients for all of us, and we don’t need to let scarcity mindset paralyse us. This is why, despite being horrified about Brexit, I don’t think it’s a bad time to be a coach. Just set your sights far and wide, and don’t spend time with people who are depressed about lack of money.

I’ve realised as I’m writing this that I could probably write a book for new coaches, because there is so much to learn, but I’m going to finish up with a piece of wisdom that has helped me tremendously in my first two years as a coach: Don’t overestimate what you can achieve in 1 year, and don’t underestimate what you can achieve in 5 years. You will amaze yourself!

Find our more about Nicola here.


If you would like us to help tell your story or you would like to share your coaching niche, philosophy or agenda in the form of a blog, like this one – contact Sam to express your interest: sam.chambers@animascoaching.com

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