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New Coaches, Don’t Quit Your Day Job

So many of our new coaching students can’t wait to get going. Yet in 20 years I only know one person who transitioned immediately from having a full-time position to being a full-time coach. For most of us, it will take three or four years (I took four) to finish coach training and develop a client base.

I know you want to get going – NOW.

We all have within us that yearning to find out, “Why am I here? What was I created to do? How can I have the biggest impact?” And for many of our students, coaching is the answer. Coaching fits you like a glove; it feels like a calling.

If your experience is anything like mine, you may have a couple of people hire you, then a couple of clients will complete their work. It’s the classic two steps forward, one step back and it can be very discouraging. That’s why it’s tempting to think that if you could work at it full-time, you’d make steadier progress.

Don’t quit your day job.

As frustrating as it was to get a couple of clients and lose a few, the assurance that I had a steady paycheck while I was building my coaching practice afforded me the opportunities that once I’d quit my day job I wouldn’t have.

If you’re relying on coaching to support you entirely, you will be coming from a place of scarcity and your clients and prospective clients will hear that in your voice.

As one step in my transition, I decided I would do all of my coaching on one day – Thursday was my day. That let me focus on my day job the other days, and really show up for both things. From there I was able to add another half-day, and then the breakthrough finally happened when I found the connector who hired me to coach 34 of his employees for 18 months.

There are opportunities out there (I regularly get calls from organizations looking for coaches), and when they come knocking, you want to be at your best. That way when people find you, they see someone who’s really living out what you’re going to be coaching people on – not someone who’s trapped in scarcity mode.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca, Roman philosopher

Yeah, maybe there was some luck involved when I launched my full-time coaching practice, but there was also a lot of hard work and persistence. I had a plan and I was working that plan.

It’s amazing to me how many people want to jump into full-time coaching before doing the math of determining what you need to earn in a year. I’m so grateful my coach emphasized this step.

Once you know how much you need for an entire year, divide that amount by 10 and that’s how much you need to bring in each month. Why by 10 instead of by 12? Because you’re for sure going to have one really slow month every year, and the other month represents holidays, sick days, and vacations.

(Be sure to consult an accountant or another financial professional to get clear on your business expenses and tax obligations.)

Doing the math is also a reality check into how many people you need to coach and how much you need to charge. That’s where group coaching came into it for me. I could charge a higher hourly rate and make more money for my time while helping more people.

Don’t quit, transition.

In Professional Coach Training, the official Coaching4Clergy textbook, I describe four different strategies for transitioning into full-time coaching. I compare it to entering a swimming pool.

Jump into the deep end of the pool. Quit your job and start a coaching practice (butplease don’t).Slide into the pool slowly. Dip your toe in by continuing to work full-time while coaching part-time. As you gradually add more clients, you’ll work part-time and coach part-time, and then make the transition to full-time coaching. Bring the pool to you by incorporating coaching into your current position. This is a way for you to bloom right where you are planted.Swim in someone else’s pool by partnering or collaborating with another coach, or joining a coaching organization. There are many more of these around now than 20 years ago, and these may be a great place to hook your wagon as you get started as a coach.

I personally used a blend of the second and third strategies. What’s important is to define the method you’re going to use, and work that plan!

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