Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What do you need to be in business?

I regularly work with people who want to become self employed. These days, I am often told that before they can start trading, my clients need: a company name, website, business cards (complete with logo); perhaps even brochures or branded materials. One client insisted she needed printed, letterhead stationery before she could consider marketing her business!
Sometimes I wonder if they really believe this, or it’s a way of working on their business that is less scary than selling.

In my experience nothing says you are successfully in business better then generating your first sale.

Most often, your first sale will come from someone you know. The potential customer already trusts you and has a good idea of what you can give them. So, is it really likely that they will refuse to buy from you because you don’t have a website or a professional brochure?

You might think, “This is obvious, why is she telling us?”

Because.... business start up activities can be great forms of procrastination. You can genuinely say you are busy developing your business whilst not getting out selling your services. It’s clear which activity is more likely to earn you money and build your confidence but we are all capable of avoiding those tasks we feel least comfortable with.

So, in my opinion what do you really need to start your business as a consultant or coach?
  • A phone
  • A company name or trading name ( check out what options you have in your country)
  • An email address – ideally not a free gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc account as these tend to look less professional
  • A business card – doesn’t have to be perfect – use one of the online cheap printers to get 250 cards.
  • A bank account – it’s better to keep your business earnings completely separate from personal money
  • Professional insurance
These shouldn’t take you long.

Then, put your time and energy into marketing and business development and get CLIENTS!

I still have a photocopy of the first cheque I earned as a self employed Coach. It felt fantastic to get a sale. I was in business.

Beverley Grant, PCC
So, be honest with yourself – what activities do you have planned to get your business started?

More importantly, what actions will you take today, tomorrow, next week, next month to get your first paying clients? Then you can truly say you are in business.

Beverley Grant, PCC, is a very experienced career coach who has helped many people find the right role and excel at work they enjoy. Learn more at www.realmsofpossibility.
Follow Beverley on Twitter.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The (sometimes) tough decision of choosing a coach training program

Last month, we asked our Facebook fans “coaches, with so many options out there for coach training, it is often difficult to decide where is best for you. What factor was most influential for YOU when it came to choosing a coach training program?”
Several responses were shared and all are listed below for your reference. If you are searching for a coach training program, the below insight will show you how other coaches determined which program was best for them:
  • “One that helps focus on the core values of my niche and gives the marketing techniques to really get your practice off the ground.” (Shay DivineGlow Love)
  • “Core values/philosophy.” (Francine Kolacz Carter)
  • “Integrity and reliability!” (Detre Webster Tarbert)
  • “I chose based on flexibility and the variety of niches they offered. I wasn’t clear going in what I wanted my niche to be. I had the opportunity to experiment with a few before making my choice.” (Nicole Avery)
  • “I agree with Shay. The Core Essentials are the foundation of a great training program. In addition, it was important for me to have instructors who had a variety of coaching backgrounds as well as being ICF Credentialed.” (Jennifer Howard)
  • “Ok, so I want to say core values but when it comes down to it, it needed to be affordable and flexible.” (Melani Luedtke-Taylor)
  • “The degree of practicality-behavior base; the capacity of taking me out of my comfort zone; and no or little ‘tools’, a.i. marketing-based frame of reference.” (Mihai St─ânescu)
  • “I chose CTI on instinct and it was the best decision for me.” (Janice Cunning)
  • “Accredited program, that is flexible (online) and relative. Also, price is an influence. Its more about education to do a better job at coaching than it is having a certificate.” (Robert Crawford)
  • “I chose a flexible, affordable accredited program that was well known and online. After years of graduate school, I didn’t have too much time or money to give.” (Shannon Kearney Lessard)
  • “I needed an online program; moreover, I continue the training. So much to learn…” (Tafari Educational Consulting, Inc.)
  • “An accredited program with a scientific basis, i.e. a brain based approach—Results Coaching Systems, global organization.” (Diana Pettie)
  • “Shaping the industry, including the ICF standards, experiential learning in small groups, amazing course leaders, a powerful model, extensive support and business mentoring—CTI.” (Laura Ahnemann)
  • “I wanted one that I could do coursework from home since I’ve got 4 kids. And I like being able to telecommute to conference call classes and presentations. It was fun, fit my schedule and helped me learn technology that I use as a coach now. Bonus!” (Living Power Life Coaching)
  • “I researched three program in depth and chose iPEC, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. It’s an ‘all-in’ program that includes 4 weekend intensives, weekly teleclasses, peer coaching, -peer groups, mentor coaching and even books for the book reports. iPEC centers their training on coaching a client’s core energy, moving it from negative to positive. They teach ICF competencies and ethics. They have the best instructors I’ve seen and I’m a trainer. Check them out at www.ipeccoaching.com and tell them I sent you! I’m a recent grad.” (Laurie Battaglia)
  • “I wanted the most expensive accredited program.” (Andrew Carter)
What about you? How did you choose the coach training program you used? We’d love to know—share it with us on at Facebook.com/ICFHQ.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Joint Venture Your Way to Success Using Social Media

When small business owners talk about having success with online marketing or social media, it usually has to do with getting more clients or customers on their own. While that is a wonderful result of course, there is another way the top success stories online are growing their businesses—joint ventures.

With more and more business owners jumping into social media especially, it’s good to keep in mind that all those people you’re connecting with out there are not just potential prospects, but possible strategic partners as well.

What is a Joint Venture?

Joint ventures are sometimes known as strategic alliances and generally involve two people entering into a partnership in order to leverage what both parties bring to the table.

A joint venture can be where you promote the other person’s services or products to your target market, and your partner promotes your services or products to their target market in order to share the resulting profits.

It can also be where you partner with another business owner to jointly provide a product or service that both of your target audiences have an interest in—even if those audiences initially look like two totally different groups.

Why Joint Venture?

First, you are obviously able to provide your market with a valuable product or service that enhances their life in some way. However, the best joint ventures benefit not only your target market, but also your own business. Because you are being exposed to an entirely new community, you’ll often gain more website traffic, list subscribers, friends, followers and even new clients and customers.

It’s also a great way to boost the credibility and authority of both parties. When a community sees someone they perceive as an expert recommend you by way of your partnership, you often immediately gain credibility in their eyes as well.

Similarly, when you are in effect “endorsed” by a reputable and respected joint venture partner, this raises the level of trust vested in you and your own capabilities and integrity.

Finally, it’s a simple example of “two heads are better than one.” You both bring your own strengths to the partnership—whether that’s knowledge, ability or sheer numbers of list subscribers, fans, followers and friends.

How to Joint Venture?

Here are a few ideas for how to structure a joint venture:

You could partner on a workshop, teleseminar or webinar on a topic that would be of interest to both of your audiences. The great thing about this is that as long as you record it, you’ve got an instant information product for each of you to sell on your respective websites.

Another popular method is to recommend each other’s newsletters or freebie offers. This is very much a “set it and forget it” strategy. For example, when a new subscriber signs up on your site, they are re-directed to a thank you page that also includes a recommended resource—your partner’s free offering or e-zine.

Lastly, you could pool your expertise and resources together and create a product. This could be created once but sold over and over—the very definition of leveraged income! You could either both sell it separately or have one of you sell it and split the profits.

Ready to get started collaborating? Begin by building relationships with others in complimentary niches or with target markets that might need what you offer, and you’ll be well on your way to a creating a win-win situation.

I myself have connected with several really great peeps via social media and created successful joint ventures with them, so I can attest to its power. Have YOU been able to hook up with others through social media and form strategic alliances? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments—any questions on this topic are welcomed as well!

Christine Gallagher is founder of http://shesgotclients.com/, a company dedicated to teaching women entrepreneurs all over the world how to use authentic relationship marketing and online strategies to attract raving fans, enroll more clients, and enjoy more income and freedom in their business, all while sharing their gifts and their message in a much bigger way. After applying Christine’s proven online marketing methods, her clients typically experience a significant increase in traffic, subscribers, clients, affiliates and lucrative joint venture opportunities.

To get Christine’s popular, free “Online Exposure Kit” as well as her weekly e-zine on success, marketing and mindset for entrepreneurs, visit http://ShesGotClients.com.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Got five minutes? You can refresh your member profile.

You are only a few minutes away from an up-to-date member profile at Coachfederation.org. To begin, you will need to be logged into Coachfederation.org. Forgot your password? No worries; have us send it to you.

Update my profile today.

This task can be done in five easy steps:
  1. Add a photo. If you do not have a photo included in your profile, this is one of the biggest (and easiest) changes you can make! Or perhaps you have a photo but it hasn’t been updated in a while. Whatever the case, a new photo can refresh the look of your profile.
  2. Add or change your privacy settings. You can select how much (or how little) of your personal information is displayed in member searches. Choose from full profile listing, contact listing, geographical listing or unlisted.
  3. Update your coaching information. There are drop boxes where you can select your years of experience, your coach training and your leading coaching specialty. Keep these up-to-date so potential clients perusing the website may have your most current coaching experience and specialty in mind.
  4. Update your personal and contact information. Here you can add a prefix to your name, list non-ICF Credentials, add your business name, address, email address, telephone number, fax number and website url. Keeping this information current is vital!
Other profile items you may choose to update include:

  • Chapter affiliation: Belong to a local ICF Chapter? Add your affiliation.
  • Coaching types: You can select from career, corporate, personal life, small business or wellness.
  • Language preference: The ICF is currently translating select member communications into French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. To receive these translated versions, your language preference must be selected. Even if your language is not one currently translated, selecting your language preference is a great way to make your preference heard!
These items may be updated from the main membership profile page.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

QR Codes Demystified

QR codes (or quick response codes) are popping up all over marketing campaigns—and chances are, you’ve seen them on the packaging of your favorite foods in the grocery, on pages of the magazines you read or even on the back of a peer’s business card.

These simple codes may prove to be the next technological wave of marketing future.

The basis of a QR code is to capture the intended audience at the peak of interest. They are basically two-dimensional bar codes, similar to what you would find on a clothing tag at the department store.

QR codes can be scanned using a scanner or reader on your smartphone—and they instantly take you online (be it a Twitter page, YouTube video, website, profile, etc.—anything with a dotcom address.)

If you own a smartphone and haven’t yet downloaded an app to read QR codes, do so today! There are numerous free options; simply search for “qr code reader.”

So how can you use a QR code to market your small business? There are three basic concepts you will need to think about to use these codes effectively to connect and engage your audience.
  1. Content. Where will the QR code take your audience? How will it be used? What is your customer call to action?
  2. Position. Where will the QR code be placed? Where will it be used?
  3. Share. Don’t just wait for people to stumble upon your code—find a way to share it! (Perhaps via email or social media.)
When it comes to actually creating your QR code(s), there are plenty of free options available online. Simply search “qr code creator” in your favorite search engine.

If you are looking for creative ways to use QR codes, check out this article by Fast Company.

Are you currently using QR codes in your marketing ventures? If yes, what ways have you found most effective? If you aren’t, how would you be able to incorporate a QR code in your marketing plan?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are you fit for the job?

You will have experienced that moment - a silence when your question landed and then…. a light bulb sparks, a Damascene flash, when your client gets a life changing insight. They come in many forms - it may be one that lifts a fog and something suddenly makes sense; or it may be about a destructive pattern of behaviour and they realise what they have been doing to themselves. The personal power that insight gives them is the real magic of coaching and the one that can get me so excited I can’t sleep afterwards! (OK, yes, maybe I should get out more!)

So my question is how do you keep yourself ‘fit for the job’? Make sure that you are not ‘infected’ by your coaching – be it the excitement of discovery, dark things that have been shared with you, your clumsy handling of a situation or something uninvited triggered in you. How do you keep or get all this out of your head and your heart and get on with life, without losing your humanity and capability with future coachees?

Here are some of the things which help me:
  • Journaling – what happened and why, how did I think, feel and behave, what have I learned, how will I take that forward.
  • CBT – examine my thoughts, feelings and behaviour triggered and find more helpful and positive ones.
  • Mentally celebrate if it’s been a positive experience.
  • Do something afterwards with a different energy – exercise, lunch with a friend – something else I love!
  • Supervision – discussing what happened with a fellow professional is very reassuring and affirming.
What are your tips for keeping ‘fit for the job’? Share them with us at Facebook.com/ICFHQ.

Caroline Talbott

Caroline Talbott coaches and develops leaders, especially those who have had success in a profession (eg lawyers, chartered surveyors, engineers, HR specialists) and then moved into a leadership role.

Twitter: @CaroCatalyst

Friday, August 12, 2011

ICF Strategic Plan: 101

The ICF is constantly working to advance the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches. But do you really understand the reasoning behind everything the ICF does?

Most associations work according to a strong strategic plan. Without one, it would be very easy to get wrapped up in work that may or may not have anything to do with the goals the association hopes to achieve. In fact, they may not even know what their goals are or how to get to where they want to be.

By having a strong strategic plan in place, the ICF remains focused and prepared to work toward the goals members have identified as important.
Rather than pursuing a lot of good work, the ICF Board is making sure the association is clear on what activities will produce the best value for members.

The ICF Strategic Plan is set up as a living document [meaning that it will constantly be reviewed and measured against] that assists in the guiding efforts of association staff and volunteers. In other words, it is the ICF’s road map. It keeps us on the path we want to be on as an association, ensuring that we reach the goals we have identified as important.

Our long-term strategic plan was first prepared in 2006 and faced its first five-year evaluation last month at the ICF global Board of Director’s meeting. During this meeting, an updated strategic plan was approved.

The approved strategic plan includes:

Vision statement: In service of humanity flourishing, we choose to…

Core purpose: Lead global advancement of the coaching profession

Key strategies:
  • Create attractive credible presence and voice for professional coaching; and
  • Create global strategic alliances.
Three initiatives (or areas of focus for the next 18 months):
  • Construct global standards system;
  • Build high performance organization; and
  • Become preferred resource for business community.
These strategies and focus areas will be supported and accomplished through various efforts and projects. To see a complete outline of the updated ICF Strategic Plan, please visit Coachfederation.org.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Get a handle on your to-do list

Seems like most people these days have to-do lists that never shrink. Aside from those items that are routinely added on a daily basis, there are those items that remain on your list, no matter how much time passes.

Perhaps these never-crossed-off items seem too intimidating or time consuming to begin right away. Or maybe your never-crossed-off items get shoved to the bottom of your priorities for the simple reason that they do not seem pressing enough.

Whatever your list looks like, here are three simple tips to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your to-do list manageable:
  • Chop your list into easier to handle lists. If your to-do list is so overwhelmingly long that you cannot even look at it without breakout out in a case of hives, you should begin by first categorizing and then breaking down your list. You might decide you want to rank your items by priority. Or maybe you would rather group like items together. Once you determine which way works best for you, create lists with no more than five items per list. Though you may have numerous lists, having fewer items per list will make it easier for you to work through your projects.
  • Tackle tough projects early. Before your day gets too busy, devote the early part of your day to working on a larger or more difficult project. The morning is best for these kinds of projects as you start a new day with renewed energy and spirit. Likewise, plan to take on easier projects later in the day when your energy levels begin to drop.
  • When you are working, focus on work. It is very easy to let your mind wander to non-pressing matters when more urgent items call for your complete attention. To ensure focus during your work hours, create time in the course of your day to take mini breaks when you can think about your evening plans, your grocery list or your next home improvement project. By taking frequent breaks, you will allow your mind time to focus on work when it is time to work.
One additional tip: no matter how many hours you choose to work in a day, stick to it! Having a balanced work-life schedule is key to keeping things fresh and your list manageable.

If you need help organizing your to-do list, many smart phone app stores have to-do list and time management applications that may help you. Simply search “to do list” or “time management” in your phone’s app store to find an app that works for you. Also, if you would rather create lists on your computer, simply search “to do list” in Google for resources to assist you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Coach Those Who Are Holding Up the World on Behalf of Us All

If there's a more beleaguered group of leaders outside of nonprofits -- especially those who serve the poor -- I don't know who they are. Just when donations are down, the need for food, shelter and jobs is exploding for the people they serve.

For leaders on the front line fighting poverty, it's way beyond 'doing more with less'. They wrestle daily with how to keep the doors open to their constituents and keep their staff engaged, inspired and contributing. As for leadership development for themselves and their team, well, that’s a pipe dream.

And this is where coaches come in. If you're looking for a client base that’s hungry for what you have to offer, look no further.

There are nonprofit leaders in your city right now who can only imagine having a partner who is 100 percent committed to seeing them thrive, amidst deeply challenging circumstances.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself coaching the senior leadership team. Many nonprofits are small to mid-sized, so you’ll probably start at the top of the organization, where your impact is greatest.

Call them forth by asking, What’s waiting to happen here? What are you on the edge of? Then watch out! The senior team – and you – will be off and running.

Odds are they can’t pay you much. But times will get better. And don’t forget these organizations have a Board of Directors, often filled with influential business leaders who could use coaching in their companies. So your networking and referral opportunities may abound.

As you consider who you might serve the best, remember those who serve the most.
Cathy Perry PCC, CPCC, is founder of The InwardBound Center for Nonprofit Leadership. The Center brings leadership coaching and training to organizations who serve the poor, and envisions the day when these organizations are ranked among the finest places to work.

Registered 501(c)(3); accepts tax-deductible donations. www.InwardBoundCenter.org

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One small step for man. One giant leap for joy.

"The universe has been evolving for 13 billion years. It's unlikely that its ultimate goal is consumerism" - Brian Swimme

Now there's a thought.

At the recent wonderfully organised ICF European Conference in Madrid many speakers highlighted the current malaise in economics, sustainability, happiness etc. And wherever you are living and working I'm sure there are examples of recent environmental impact, economic slowdown/collapse, social need. If there's one thing that is apparent right now it's that in some way we're all in this together. The big question that seemed to be hanging after Madrid (beyond where are the female voices in all this - I for one would love to hear a few more) was "OK, but what can we do?"

For me this leads to a more specific question - what am I personally helping to bring into the world? Many years ago John Elkington put together the neat idea of the Triple Bottom Line - people, profit, planet. It's age old wisdom, packaged for the current era. And it's really getting traction now. Charities I'm working with are very clear about their need to be financially responsible and indeed attractive to money in order to do their good work - money is an enabler, not a fiend. And businesses I'm working with are increasingly keen to demonstrate their social and environmental responsibility, for a long list of reasons including brand, reputation, customer loyalty, security of supply, avoiding government intervention, driver for innovation, cost savings and more.

So what about us as coaches? On the one hand much of what we do is inherently good. But I find it interesting at conferences how many questions I get asked which are actually fishing for how well am I doing, how much am I charging, where are the market opportunities and what is the next big thing. It's all about money. Which is fair enough given that it can be tough to earn a living in coaching and money is important for choices, freedoms (in some senses), and providing for those we care about.

But what about our social and environmental impact - not just through our direct actions in how we travel and do we do pro bono and the like, but in the fuller picture of what our collaborative work with clients brings into the world?

For me I reached tipping point a few months ago. Frankly I'm fed up with a me/more/now client agenda. So I'm upfront now in saying if this assignment is just about performance/profitability without bringing more net good and health into the world I'm probably not the best coach for you and I'd be delighted to recommend another coach who will likely serve better. I'm upfront in discussing what they feel the legacy of this work will be, how it will be seen in a local and global context, how our grandchildren may judge it, and is our aspiration for good big enough.

It's been a "coming out" experience. I was very scared of a backlash. I was very scared of ridicule. I was very scared of starving. That hasn't happened. It's a joy. It opens whole new conversations.

With clients as experts and guides, how about we step into the unknown and begin to discover the world beyond consumerism?

Neil Scotton, PCC, August 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Key Take-off Points - When Building Your Coaching Practice

For many coaches, starting your own practice can be a lot like a plane on a runway. You have chosen your course. (I want to be a coach.) You have done careful preparation taking on all the fuel and supplies you think you will need. (Taking great training and setting aside what you think is enough time and money.) You may have even fastened your seat belt in anticipation of a bumpy ride. And there you sit at the start of the runway. (Ready to commit to do whatever it takes to start your own coaching practice.)

With engines blaring, you start to move down the runway. (You commit to get out there and find some clients.) You notice you are moving quite slowly at first but the speed is increasing. It's exciting. (This is the early stage in your practice building where you are full of hope and expectation but you haven't really accomplished anything yet.)

Halfway down the runway, engines still roaring, you notice things are speeding up, there is a lot of activity but you haven't gained any altitude. (This is the stage of your coaching practice when you have been running around telling people about coaching, offering sample sessions to folks that either aren’t interested or can’t afford it. Yet you remain hopeful.)

Three quarters of the way down the runway, you have expended a ton of energy, the engines on the plane continue to roar, you are running faster than ever, and yet, you have still not gained one inch of altitude. (This is the stage in your practice building when you may start to wonder, "Am I ever going to make it? Am I cut out to be a self-employed coach? I have been running around doing everything I can think of but I still have no clients. Maybe this is a really bad idea.")

While the particulars of this experience are as diverse as the individuals involved, this is an incredibly common and problematic moment in the journey into the atmosphere of building a viable coaching practice.

In reality, there are some planes (lovely, well-trained, well-intentioned, deeply committed souls) who, despite their best efforts, will not get off the ground this time.

If this is you, the kindest thing that can happen is for someone to point out that it doesn't look like you are going to make it off the ground this time. (So you can cut your losses, learn your lessons, adjust your plans, get a temporary day job so you can build up new reserves and try again later.)

However, even for the really well-prepared, highly-determined future coach who has done everything right, (taken great training, paid attention to the marketing, found a niche, put in the hours, asked for help along the way, worked past their limiting doubts and fears, etc.,) this is a critical moment in their takeoff. Because if you falter, if you do not fully commit to going the extra mile, putting in the last bit of energy, finding your way past your mounting anxiety - you will not get off the ground.

Making this critical call, whether to cut the engines and lean on the brakes before you crash and burn, or keep your engines blaring and go for broke - is never easy. It is not a decision you ever want to make rashly or simply on your emotions. (Because everyone is scared at this point and if you let your fear make the decision, you will never get off the ground. And if you let pride or blind ambition make the call, you may be risking far too much.)

Pilots call this point on a runway V1, the agonizing point after which you are fully committed to take off because you don't have enough runway to safely slow down. In launching your coaching business, this point when you are three-quarters of the way down your launching runway is definitely the time to check your fuel (how much reserves do you have left), check your speed (what you have learned to date, what is working for you so far, does it look like you are going to make it, etc.). Most importantly, it is a critical time to check in with a few other experienced pilots (fellow coaches) who have been down this runway many times before and can help you make a good call.

It is exceedingly hard when a good coach has to put the brakes on a dream they have to build their own practice. However, if they do it right, they will survive to try again another day and they will be much wiser. (Most successful entrepreneurs have many failure-to-launch stories. Wisdom comes from experience and experience in business is just another word for many past mistakes.)

However, the biggest sadness I encounter is when I see a future coach who definitely has what it takes, who has done enough of the right things and who you just know can succeed - give up on their dream, just because they ran out of faith. (Usually right before they are about to take flight.)

It is only in the last little bit of the runway that you get enough wind under your wings to begin to gain appreciable altitude. And once you are off the ground, the sky is the limit.

Bottom line is, getting a business off the ground is rarely easy. It will usually test everything you have. You don't want to give up prematurely and you also don't want to ride a losing venture right into the ground.

Don't try to be a proud, lonely hero. Reach out and learn from a few others who have come down this runway before. (They are all around you and are usually happy to help.)

Steve Mitten CPCC, MCC
2005 ICF President
President ACOACH4U.COM