I have been self employed for 40 years, of which 20 years has been spent running my life coaching business Hart Life Coaching. I have owned a recruitment business, a couple of typing services, a bookkeeping business, a manufacturing business, a financial planning business and a magazine, all of which I started by myself with just an idea, and quite a few with no money. I sold most of those businesses for a profit and had one business failure. What I’ve learnt from those businesses has helped me to become more trusting, resilient, creative, resourceful and courageous. And even though marketing has changed dramatically since I first started in business the fundamentals are still the same.
Ask for help or guidance
Long ago I established the habit of asking for help and guidance from other people and the Universe. Before life coaching was ever heard of as a career I started two businesses, built them up then sold them. I chose to return to working in the corporate world and discovered that I hated it. I wanted to be self employed again but the problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to do and like most people I had become accustomed to the security of a regular income. I asked the Universe for guidance and it took me awhile to receive the answer because at that time I was focused on the problem. Once I got my focus back on track I was contacted by a man that I had applied for a position with twelve months earlier. He had been trying to contact me for 6 months but was never able to get through to me. I believe that was because I was so focused on what I hated about my job that I actually blocked this opportunity. The position he offered me was to head a women’s financial planning business and it matched everything on my wish list, except that I wouldn’t be self employed. I decided to go for it. Six months later I had the opportunity to take over that business as my own.
When you ask you need to be open to receiving. And when you receive answers you need to have the courage to act upon them.
You may think what does that have to do with life coaching? I loved my financial planning business but eventually I got bored but what I learnt along the way, and the media profile I built for myself during that time made it easy for me to move into life coaching when that career opportunity came along.
You need to have a product or service that people want
Before you even start you need to know if there is a market for what you have to offer. You can find out by conducting a simple survey, asking friends, acquaintances and most importantly your target market if they would use such a product or service. When I was interviewed for the financial planning role I was asked to establish if there was a market for a business that focused on women’s needs. I went out and surveyed 100 women. The results of that survey helped me get that job because I established what the needs of my market were.
Be innovative and courageous, and act as if you expect to succeed
You need to know who your target market is. Some of the life coaches that I train often say how much they want to earn. but they often don’t know who their target market is. You need to know who wants your product or service and what this market is willing to pay. Knowing your target market means you don’t waste time and money on marketing by targeting the wrong people.
Ask yourself where you would find these people? What would appeal to them? If you are not sure experiment by offering your services for free to this segment of the market before spending any money.
Feel good about what you offer
To get people to pay you for your product or service you need to feel good about what you have to offer people. When I first took over the financial planning business as my own, I rented an office in the heart of the central business district that was cheap and unattractive. I felt bad about the office because it clearly said I wasn’t very successful. I would have been better off to move outside of the city and get a better looking office for a lower rent which I eventually did. Not surprisingly when I did this my business improved significantly.
When building a life coaching practice you need to feel good about yourself as a life coach.
You need to be the coach that you would go to
And the only way to get to this point is to ensure that the training you undertake will provide you with the tools you need, then you practice, practice, practice. I wasn’t a great coach when I began, but I loved it and I made the commitment to work for nothing if I had to. That commitment to myself helped me to develop my skills and build a business. Be prepared to work for nothing at first. That’s the type of commitment you need to succeed.
Tell people you are in business
What surprises me is how many people don’t want anyone to know they are in business. This fear of what other people may think of them prevents them from achieving their goal. You need to be able to tell people clearly and succinctly what you do. This is all about believing in yourself. You have to back yourself. Be proud of what you do.
Focus on what you want not the obstacles in front of you
This is so important. It’s easy to get caught up in concerns about ‘not having enough money’ to promote your business, or a lack of time. As I said before I blocked the opportunity to work in financial planning because I was so focused on the frustration of my job at that time. Create a daily routine that enables you to focus on what is most important to you.
Until recent years I never had a marketing plan, yet my businesses grew and that’s because I have always used the law of attraction. You need to remember that you can visualise, affirm, use vision boards, keep yourself motivated but you have to act whenever an opportunity presents itself otherwise nothing will change. Action comes first – feeling confident follows.
Commit to your dream
What do you need to do, or have happen, for you to commit to your dream? One of my book readers took on a second job so that she could pay for coaching (from one of the coaches I trained). She then went onto to establish a very successful business for herself. If you are promoting a business such as coaching, you should be prepared to pay for coaching yourself to get you to where you want to be. After all if you won’t pay for the service you offer why should anyone pay you?
I firmly believe that business success has very little to do with marketing. It’s about how you feel about you and your skills. Work on yourself. Know your market and give them what they want. Practise. Practise. Practise. Coach for nothing so people know you are in business. Commit to your dream and act as if you have no doubt.