Notes from 6 Months of Being in Business
Collecting my first thoughts on the business side of coaching.
It was about 6 months ago, back in April 2019, when I decided finally to move forward with this philosophical life coaching idea.
As many of you will know already, philosophical life coaching wasn't my first entrepreneurial idea. I have flitted around as a classic "wantrepreneur" with "shiny object syndrome" for the better part of a decade. OOPS.
Anyways, this time I've been following in the footsteps of so many successful (and unsuccessful...) life coaches before me.
First, you talk to some people to get an idea of what your "tribe" needs and wants, where there pain points are.
Next, you offer some pro bono coaching. This is tricky! Working for free is a bit of a drag (energetically). And of course working for free is unsustainable for many people (pragmatically).
Worst of all, when you coach for free you run the risk of attracting the wrong people: tire-kickers, those with merely a lukewarm interest in personal development, clients who want help but who aren't a good match for your style.
This segues nicely into the first lesson I wanted to discuss here...
The Paid Intro session
My intro session (the "False Belief Fixup") isn't free - right now it costs $75 for 45 minutes.
I want to meet potential clients who are serious, and to show them right off the bat how philosophical life coaching works within their individual context.
The intro session promises to deliver at least one nugget of immediate value, so that even clients who don't continue with me can be satisfied with the experience.
And because these paid intro sessions get purchased at a manageable clip for me, I can always do my best work in the sessions.
More generally: pricing 1-on-1 services is tricky and stirs up all kinds of "mindset" issues. On some level, every person is a deeply special snowflake with unique, non-fungible value. Some business gurus strongly recommend opting out of discount pricing dynamics by pricing simply in accordance with what you're worth, as discovered through introspection.
In other words, pulling a high price right out of you know where.
At the same time, basic market dynamics dictate that you are "worth" what other people choose to pay you. This hurts, if you don't earn much. But you can learn ways to raise your worth, by becoming actually better at what you do and marketing the value of your service more clearly.
My need to accumulate coaching experience is more pressing than my need for a few more dollars. And I'm still very much in self-training as a coach. A very high price would create too much pressure for me now.
So, I've priced myself towards the lower end of the overall scale - but not so low that I can't cover my basic costs or so low that it makes me resentful.
I do offer a friends & family rate so I can work with people I know who are interested in my new line of work without making it excessively awkward.
And I'm in the middle of a "coaching by email" experiment that was priced low at $100/month in case it didn't work well. (As it happened, my clients saw some success with that, so I'll be converting it into a regular offering soon).
Rates can change anytime, so there's no reason to take this too seriously. If and when I book myself completely solid, I'll change something. My primary financial goal is to contribute substantially to the $$$ childcare I need in order to work.
Coaching Certification vs. Coaching Self-Training
With regards to that self-training as a coach...
Coach training is kind of controversial. Of course, the coach training programs themselves tell prospective coaches that their programs are essential. But many actually-practicing coaches are uncertified - and many certified coaches fail miserably to establish businesses.
At first glance, it may seem odd that anyone can just call herself a "life coach." But, in reality, no one can actually become a professional life coach without other people (clients) implicitly endorsing her work by repeatedly buying it.
After spending too long (and way too much money) seeking higher education credentials, I'm not making that mistake again! I learned things, but they could have been learned in other ways and at a lower cost. My 1.5 diplomas carry very little weight out in the ~ real world ~ So too with coaching.
Part of why I work with clients (at a fair price) now is to help develop my coaching skills more quickly. But other types of professional development are both necessary and desirable.
For the next 6 months, I'm going to keep a learning log here.
I'm also publishing my "Influences" document, written a few months ago but still a work in progress.
Last but not least, I've joined a club for coaches at my coworking space and already attended the first meetup, at which a high-profile coach trainer presented.
Actual Coaching Lessons
Last but certainly not least, I have learned a number of things about coaching itself.
But, these deserve separate treatment. Each day for the rest of this week I'll publish one of these:
- Who Are Philosophical Life Coaching Clients?
- What Do Clients Talk About in Philosophical Life Coaching?
- The More I Prepare for a Session, the Worse It Goes
- Coaches Are Helpers
Pamela J. Hobart - Philosophical Life Coaching Newsletter
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