Experiences of a New Coach
By David Wood
The following interview is with Estelle Gibbons, of Western Australia, who had been coaching for approximately eight months at the time of this interview, and worked with me for the first three.
How did you get started as a life coach?
I had always had an interest in this field, but had no idea how to channel my energy. Then one day I happened across "Life Coaching" on the www, scanned a few web sites, and whilst reading David's site, something clicked. A week later, I took a free Introductory Session for the CoachStart™ Program, and haven't looked back since!
When did you start with clients?
Within one month of starting with the CoachStart Program.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day starts with a dawn run along the beach with my dog. After that fantastic start, I check my email, catch up with any correspondence, and then the rest of my morning is spent doing "brain work" (I think better in the mornings!) It is during this time that I am the most creative, so I work on developing programs and exercises to suit particular clients, as well as potential clients. Mostly I coach in the afternoons and early evenings - Thursdays and Fridays. That leaves the rest of the week free - I still do some work in my "old" profession, although now it's because I want to, not because I need to...the ideal way to work!!!
What does your practice look like? Clients? Revenue?
At the moment, I am working with 14 clients - although several weeks ago, I peaked at 17. As well as working with individual clients, I have extended into working with large businesses to improve staff morale and have developed an agreement with a local health club, to help their clients achieve their goals. This particular arrangement is proving to be an almost unlimited referral source - and to date, all parties are simply having a ball! At the moment, I charge $200 + GST for a month of coaching, although this fee is negotiable (either way!) Thus I'm currently earning about $3,000 per month in revenue, working 2 to 3 days per week.
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
I LOVE the feeling when a client makes a breakthrough and they can't wait to share it with you. At the end of those sessions, in particular, I get off the phone, and jump around and yell very loudly (I'm just a tad more restrained on the phone). How many jobs can you do when you are a vehicle for good things, to the extent that you are in this one??? It's times like this that I realize just how utterly blessed I am to be walking this path.
Do you have a specialty area?
Because of my relative "newness" to the profession, I have not yet focused on a particular specialty. At the moment, I feel like I am growing in all directions, and it would be detrimental to focus on one particular area. However, with time and experience, I'm sure I'll fall into a particular niche. Who knows what the future holds?
What has been your experience of the CoachStart™ Program?
The CoachStart Program has turned my world upside down...and given it a shake for good measure! The program/David not only allowed me to get my coaching business up and running, but it also led me to a whole new level in my personal life. The skills that I have learned are skills for life - I think I'll be rereading my journal from that time in 40 years and saying "Ooh yes, that's what I need to change in this situation..."
Are you accredited, or do you plan to be through the ICF?
I am currently accruing the hours necessary for accreditation with the ICF. I know that when I was looking for a coach, that was one of the prerequisites that I demanded, and I don't see why my clients shouldn't be afforded the same peace of mind. Plus it maintains a high level of professionalism within a relatively new and somewhat open profession.
Why didn't you seek accreditation straight away through an intensive coach training program?
Completing the CoachStart Program over a three month time frame gave me a chance to gradually warm up to the idea. I was not 100% sure that this new career was right for me, and so the part time study did not require me to burn my bridges too soon! Also at the time, the financial demands of an intensive training program were not practical.
What's the major strategy you a) did use, and b) now plan to use, to obtain clients?
Originally, I was most comfortable using the 'face-to-face' method, in that many of my initial clients I met either socially or professionally. I have many funny stories about how I attracted clients - once I was admitted to hospital for knee surgery, and ended up doing coaching sessions in the ward. Two of my fellow patients were so intrigued that they signed up for an Introductory Session there and then. (That's what you call making the best of an average situation!) Now that I'm becoming more computer literate and understand the principle of attraction a little better, I'm leaning towards the internet as my primary mode of attracting clients.
What are your plans for the future of your coaching business?
Things have grown so quickly, and changed sooo much that my original plans are embarrassingly feeble! At the moment, the future of my coaching business seems hell bent on blossoming beyond my wildest dreams. The mobility that the business permits means that I can continue to share my clients achievements and challenges from anywhere on the globe. While this month involves a circumnavigation of Australia, next months' calls will be coming from an island in the South Pacific.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a life coach?
If you have even the smallest inkling that you would like to follow this path - JUST DO IT! Even if you decide that it's not for you, the lessons that you will learn, about yourself, your life, your work, your relationships etc. etc... those lessons will be with you forever. They are effective. And they are the best gift you can give - to yourself, your family, your friends. Just do it. You'll never regret it.