I don’t remember the moment when, mid-way through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Programme, ‘Just doing this for me’ turned into, ‘I WILL BE A HEALTH COACH’.
As with all the really important decisions in life, it seemed that no decision was really required. I had set my little boat in the stream and off it had sped. I was gonna do this.
September 2015 marks a year since I took on my first paying client and, looking back, the beginning of the end of my career as a professional copywriter. Up to that point, I would sit on the tube in the mornings listening to my lectures, lulled into safety by the voice of IIN founder Joshua Rosenthal, and it was with a heavy heart that I’d pull the plug as I arrived in some grey office, steeling myself for eight hours of writing about everything and anything, but nothing that truly mattered.
A year on, I’m more or less a full-time health coach and yoga teacher. The work I do is beautiful and extraordinary, but launching myself into entrepreneur-ship has been by far the hardest and most challenging thing I’ve ever done. And as it seems that every second health blogger I meet has either done, is doing or is planning to do IIN, I want to share with you ten things I wish I’d known a year ago.
1. Making 100k in your first year just isn’t going to happen
Making 10k might not even happen. As trainee coaches we are inspired by stories of, ‘So and so made $97,000 in their first year as a coach!’. Inspiration is essential, but know that these super coaches are the exception, not the rule.
2. Don’t give up the day job…yet
Your focus during the first year is getting good at coaching and confident in the process of meeting, signing and coaching clients – which is a lot trickier than it seems. Use your salary to fuel your passion. When you’ve got plenty of clients and some sweet testimonials, wean yourself off the paycheque.
3. You won’t find your niche; your niche will find you
Don’t waste a single second on worrying about that all important niche. In that first year, simply coach people that you feel excited about working with (and not people who you feel icky about – they’ll drain your energy and enthusiasm like nothing else). As your coaching practice evolves, your niche will too, naturally.
4. You are not a coach with a business; you own a business offering coaching
Man I wish I’d realised this sooner. Running a business is a very different deal to being self-employed or a freelancer. As a business owner it’s your job to consider sales, marketing, operations, finance and people, get support where you need it and put a clear growth strategy in place. Which brings me onto…
5. Don’t bother with business strategy for at least six months
Creating a strategy out of thin air is pointless, and only leads to heartache as you miss your beautiful goals. Spend your first six months coaching, trying loads of different marketing tactics and seeing what comes naturally to you. When you’ve got your data, then decide what you want and how you’re going to get it.
6. Get support
As coaching guru Rich Litvin says, ‘A coach without a coach is like a doctor who won’t see a doctor’. Get one pronto. They will fast-forward your learning and be there to support you when you feel out on your own, which will be often. Definitely find or start a mastermind group to lean on and share learnings with – mine has been transformative. And for gods sake, don’t waste time trying to squeeze support from friends and family who just don’t get it. Identify your genuine cheerleaders early on and never be scared to reach out to them.
7. Be wary of online courses
When you’re flailing around wondering WTF to do and stressing about your shortcomings, it’s tempting to shove your precious pennies into the pockets of any online guru who seems to have an answer. In my experience, the lessons you really need can only be learned through doing the work, trying, failing, and trying again.
8. Meet people. In person.
Business runs on relationships. I promise. You can send email after email to someone you want to work with and get sweet FA in response. Let them experience your firm handshake, glowing cheeks and burning passion first hand and you’ll have a joint venture launched before you can say, ‘Eat your greens’. Join meetups. Go networking. Get chatting.
9. Work hard; on yourself.
Nothing shines a light on your beliefs and values more than being in business. You have to roll over and show the world your soft underbelly. You have to talk about who you are, your story and what you stand for. And let’s not forget, you have to ask people for money! The quicker you let go of what isn’t serving you and step into your power, the quicker you’ll make a profit. So always have a personal development sideline on the go.
10. Put the baby down
You birthed it, and it’s yours to look after. That doesn’t mean you have to sit in front of your laptop grinding away until the wee hours. You’re running a business for fulfilment and freedom right? So find time to step away from the hustle and recharge yourself. And set an example to your clients in the process.
Am I making this sound difficult? It is for sure. But running a health coaching business is also rewarding on a whole other level. Never in my 31 years have I made such leaps forward in just 12 months. Doing this work has brought me face to face with my demons and demanded I step up, speak up and play a bigger game. It has reminded me who I am and what I have to offer the world. And finally, I know I’m really making a difference.
Just last night I received a card from a client. It said, ‘I wanted to say a huge thank you for all the guidance, love and positivity you have shown me. You have taught me a lot about myself but also about the person I want to become. I am proud to say I know you.’ It brought tears to my eyes.
Yes, becoming a health coach is not an easy road. But yes, it is one absolutely worth taking.
To learn how to maximise your blog so that you can use it to promote your career as a health coach, don’t forget to check out the Blogging Superhero course in the HBC Academy.