29/09/10

By Robbie Steinhouse


With more and more people considering taking up a career in executive coaching, here are 10 tips on how to make this work for you, by coach, author and entrepreneur, Robbie Steinhouse:

1.Start with a ‘portfolio’ career. It is often difficult to find enough work when you start out. Combining coaching with training, consulting or some other job enables you to make a living.

2.Find a niche. Coaches notoriously can do anything for anyone — but if you can do everything, there is no specific, compelling reason why anyone should come to you.

3.Value your experience. Many coaches want a clean break from their past life, but it is easiest to start coaching people in, or close to, your previous profession. One of the top coaches I know came from an accountancy background and spends much of her time coaching accountants or people in finance.

4.Practice! The longer coach and NLP trainings provide plenty of time to practice the techniques. But keep going even after the training is over. Keep doing peer to peer coaching, working with your former classmates, ‘free’ friend-type clients and going to practice groups. Practice on yourself, too.

5.Do some free stuff. Giving too many free sessions can attract a client base of reluctant payers. However, you can give some free sessions on the basis that following sessions are paid for. You can also offer free sessions to potential large employers or potential recommenders who will then give you referrals.

6.Charge the right amount. If you are shy about charging £300 an hour for organisational coaching, then get some coaching yourself about your beliefs around money. Such fees represent outstanding value for organisations, who stand to lose much more if the people you are asked to coach continue to underperform.

7.Do some marketing. Send articles and books to potential clients. Use the web: have a site and make sure it is optimized for your niche market — in other words, if someone types ‘coaching for solicitors’ into Google, your site comes up at (or near) the top of the list (if that is what you do, of course!) Build and keep a database.

8.Work towards having a few big clients. Most small businesses thrive because they have one or two big clients who know, like and trust them and give them lots of work.

9.Work with other coaches, not against them. Pass work onto them if you are too busy or if you think a client would suit them better; if they are decent people, they will reciprocate (if they don’t reciprocate, put it down to experience find some other, nicer coaches to work alongside).

10.Be patient. Wait for your big break. Eventually, an organisation or some other referral medium will spot you and make you ‘their coach’. This often comes through an unpredictable chain of events. My first big break was when a banker invited me to lunch; he then introduced me his new company’s head of training, who became a source of many clients.

Robbie Steinhouse is an ICF Certified Coach and Head of Training at NLP School, www.nlpschool.com. His most recent book, How to Coach with NLP, is published by Prentice Hall at £14.99, available on Amazon at http://tiny.cc/gitxe