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If you’re a therapist thinking about coaching, you might be wondering if it’s the right decision for you.
- •What is coaching like?
- •How is the coaching business different from a therapy practice?
- •Will I even enjoy building a coaching business?
These questions are so valid, and entrepreneurship is definitely not for everyone!
Here are some of the important realities of building a coaching business that therapists should consider:
Building a coaching business is harder than building a therapy practice.
For many people, filling a therapy practice is as simple as putting up a directory profile and signing up with a couple insurance companies. Because it can be a relatively seamless process, many therapists understandably feel like coaching is similar to therapy, so starting a coaching business should theoretically be just as easy.
It’s definitely not.
Moving into coaching is truly moving into entrepreneurship. You already have excellent skills to help your clients, but marketing and business-building might be brand-new to you.
You have to be willing and able to put yourself out there over and over again on social media, in person, in writing, in videos, etc. to slowly build awareness around who you are and who you help. In the very crowded space of the internet, this is a marathon and not a sprint.
Learning the tools of setting up a coaching business is only the first step.
And let me tell you, it’s a massive step!
Learning about marketing and copywriting and freebies and email sequences and sales funnels and social media and differentiating your therapy work from your coaching work and creating strong coaching offers: the learning curve is tremendous and will feel overwhelming at first!
And yet, learning all those things is, for most of us, just step one. It still takes a lot of trial and error and testing to get those things right. In my early days I had 10 different freebies running to 10 different email sequences because I was struggling to find good ones!
The process can feel slow and laborious, with a lot of work and frustration before you reap the results. The learning curve is honestly fun and invigorating for a lot of us, but always give yourself grace that you’re learning something brand new and your mileage may vary on how quickly you see the results of your efforts.
You’ll continue learning and growing from different people over time.
When I first started, there was so much to learn that I found myself joining one program after another in succession. Each of those coaches gave me a piece of the puzzle.
One program taught me how to build my first freebie and email funnel, another dove deep into mindset, a third helped me get better at copywriting, etc. No one coach or program will have everything you need, but a willingness to keep learning different pieces from different people will help you grow your unique business over time.
That said, no one can guarantee your success.
We would love to believe that entrepreneurship is like any other job: you work hard enough, you’ll succeed. The truth is, it’s a lot more like an actor’s quest to be a movie star, or a singer’s quest to win The Voice. Talent and hard work are important, but they’re not the only factors.
Sometimes it’s kismet (a viral video), sometimes it’s timing (your coaching niche is suddenly all the rage), sometimes it’s connections or social media acumen or a magnetic personality or supermodel good looks. As much as we’d all love to believe that only our hard work matters, the tough reality of entrepreneurship is that these other elements can factor in almost as much as your talent, work ethic, and tenacity.
We’ll all try on different jobs in our lifetimes. We’ve had clients start down this path only to realize later they would rather write a book, teach CEs, or become public speakers. Coaching may or may not be the path that will stick for you–and you often won’t know until you get in there and try.
Stepping into entrepreneurship is extremely vulnerable.
As therapists, our work is extremely private. Taking our work out into the world to let other people judge it is one of the most vulnerable things we can do. We all fear the troll or hater comment, but the truth is that those early days of putting something out there and simply getting no response at all can be even more brutal.
Having a support network and people around to remind you of why you’re doing this work and what your bigger goals are is so important! Joining programs can help with this, as can joining local business chapters and other places to befriend fellow small business owners.
Eek! Sorry for the bad news dump! Entrepreneurship is still a wild and exciting ride that most of us are happy we embarked on!
In our experience, our clients who have grown the fastest tend to share certain similar strengths. If you have some of these strengths, coaching might be a great fit for you! (Keep in mind, you don’t need ALL of these strengths: these are just traits we notice in people whose coaching biz grows a bit more quickly than their peers.)
When you talk, people listen, and it’s been that way all your life. You have a presence about you, and people turn to you for leadership and advice. If you’re the person who always got promoted quickly up the ranks at every job, this might be you.
Energy and confidence when speaking (even if you have to fake it!).
You catch our eye because of your energetic nature on video or in person. Even if you don’t always feel confident in the moment, your presentation skills are varied and interesting, and your energy keeps us engaged. (As my HR friend Nikki said, “There’s a reason they call it job performance!”) If you’re low-energy or lackluster in how you present, it’ll be hard to get footing in the competitive online space.
An upbeat nature.
A bit similar to the one above, we seek people out as coaches when they remind us of who we want to become. If your self-presentation tends to lean towards dour, bitter, or depressed, people will naturally gravitate away. However, if you have a positive outlook, a can-do spirit, or a great sense of humor, people will naturally seek you out and gravitate in.
Good writing skills (and not your grandma’s writing skills!).
Copywriting can absolutely be learned, and you’d be shocked how important it is! Being able to craft a good hook for a social post, tell a great story in an email–basically keep people’s attention with words–is one of the most important skills for growth.
Saying the same things over and over in fresh new ways is amazingly hard. Some of our most successful clients are masters at edu-tainment, building audiences through engaging, funny, and educational reels, TikToks, and more. Clients whose skill sets in this area FAR exceed my own (and whom you should follow for great content ideas) include Rachel Meir, Carolyn Sharp, Chelsie Harper, Matt Maynard, Meghan Englert, Kaylee Dunn, and Lea Nicole.
Showing up as the person your client aspires to become.
This one is less tangible, but still important. We want to learn from people who are demonstrating qualities we want to have. We want a trainer who’s in great shape. We want an executive coach who looks sharp and polished. We want a mom coach who looks like she somehow got a shower in the last three days, because we haven’t figured out yet how to make that happen. Putting your personal best foot forward day after day goes far!
So! After all that, are you thinking coaching might still be a fit for you? If so, great! We’d love to see you in a program or in an upcoming retreat!
And if not, no harm, no foul! Therapy is a noble profession, and if you’re still called to grow beyond the office there are a million ways to do it without the heavy lift of entrepreneurship. You’ll find your OWN perfect path.