What I wish I’d known before going it alone.
Institutionalised. In the corporate sense. That was me for twenty years. I graduated as a mature student at the ripe old age of 25 with no clue what to do, so took the first job that looked interesting. My dad, typically a hard man to please, was over the moon. I’d landed a job with the biggest hospitality company the UK. I was working with pubs, restaurants and hotels. He figured I was set for life. Of course he was right. Annoyingly.
Me and that company had a deal, I made them millions and they gave me job security, great company cars, above standard training and health care. And when I needed to cash in my health care when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, they went above and beyond. They made it so I didn’t need to worry about anything else apart of staying alive. For that I will be forever grateful.
Like a-lot of people who’ve faced something big; cancer, divorce, a death, a diagnosis, redundancy etc, it can feel so life changing, that change is an inevitable part of the recovery process. I was no different.
Armed with a new found sense of adventure and lust for life, I was desperate to get back to work. For a girl who’d worked 60+ hours a week for twenty years, having to down tools for twenty-four months was part of the challenges I’d faced through my recovery. Eager didn’t come close. Back to the office with a skip and a swagger and and the absolute shock that it meant nothing.
Stubborn to accept the emotional me had changed that much, I got my head down, worked hard and got promoted to the job of my actual dreams. Still nothing. The pre-cancer me who had worked my way up through the ranks, achieved a first class masters degree, qualified as a business coach, had been on amazing leadership courses at UCL in Florida and learnt the Covey way all to give back to the company that had made it all happen was feeling vacuous at best and that was not a feeling I’d ever had before.
I’m as intense as they come (in a good way). I’m deep and meaningful and keep it real, anything other makes my blood run a little cold. I can’t coast or lie or pretend. So taking my responsibilities seriously, meant I was left with little choice other than to quit my big job with absolute gratitude and follow my heart. And my heart was begging me to use all my skills and experience to coach people, who like me before, needed guidance to get their own results.
Sounds great, right?! I mean, what could go wrong?
Naivety was something I’d read about but didn’t think I’d experienced. That all changed when I broadcast to the world that I was starting my own business, and I was going to coach everyone in it (bless me).
Snake oil, financial distress, debt, more snake oil, searing self doubt, surgical menopause thrown in for good measure, crash in confidence and courage like I’d never actually experienced before. And I’d overcome breast cancer twice, as a single mum, with a difficult ex and a big job.
How was I going to be able to coach anyone when I couldn’t steady my own ship?It was the question that changed everything.
Here’s what I’d wished I’d known before I made that jump.
- Stay true to yourself and what you set out to do.
- Knowing your WHY is an overused term for a really good reason, without it, you’re screwed.
- Avoid shiny things and the promise of a quick fix. They don’t exist.
- You can only overcome your own limiting beliefs, by actually changing your beliefs. There is no other way.
- Another qualification won’t make you better. Get what you need to start. And start.
- Learn DIY. Website, socials, email lists, newsletters.
- Pick a platform and stick with it, WordPress / Showit are mine. I’ve tried them all.
- The empty vessel makes the most noise. Decide what kind of noise you want to make and why.
- Just because an ‘industry expert’ says it’s so, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Trust your instincts.
- You are the expert of your business. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
Okay, let me break that down a little.
Staying true to yourself and what you set out to do.
I had a burning desire to help the me’s of the world get on and live the life they were trying to live. For whatever reason, and despite the huge success in my career, my relationships were awful, and I had a nagging sense I was missing my calling. I’d struggled with love for what felt like ever and, armed with my newfound realisation that our three most important commodities were love, health and time, I didn’t want any to be in short supply, for anyone.
As opposed to coaching in a corporate setting, which was very department focused, I felt a deep connection to using my transferable skills to coach individuals to realise their dreams with love, health and time. Because that’s life, business and everything in-between.
Staying true to that was my anchor. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like I was clinging on to dear life in the midst of a storm to take coaching work that was so far removed from that, just because I’d energetically got myself in the wrong room. Every time I did, it felt painful. I didn’t enjoy it and I wanted to run for the metaphoric hills.
How can you clients find you if you’re in the wrong space – head space, physical space and creative space?
Knowing your WHY is an overused term for a really good reason, without it, you’re screwed.
Those periods of time when I was mid storm, the reason why I started this in the first place was my anchor, my mantra and my reason to keep going. Looking towards the bigger picture rather than getting caught up in the moment took some work and a lot of courage.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, it had been my biggest fear. My mum had died from breast cancer when I was 15, my own daughter was 5 and I’d dreaded that moment so much, arguably I’d kind of created it. But the system kicks in. It’s a well oiled machine that carry’s you from one appointment to the next, one surgery to the next and one treatment to the next. Once the treatment plan had been agreed, there was very little thinking on my part to be done,I just had to be there, in body more than mind. Positively getting myself through to recovery was my sole objective. And I was one of the lucky ones and did.
Starting your own business after a long and lustrous career where the systems are in place, the structures are secure and the finances are available and budgeted, has really obvious challenges. As a start up, working in the business and on the business, being the marketer, the budget holder, the planner, the PR whizz and then doing the stuff you’re actually good at, coaching, is a shock. My rose tinted Ray Bans were getting blurry.
Overwhelm is a sign to remember why you started. Stop, step back and explore what your feelings are telling you, let go of expectations that are down right unhelpful and focus forward (S.E.L.F.)
Avoid shiny things and the promise of a quick fix. They don’t exist.
Distraction, I love a good one! But they aren’t conducive to progress. And when you’re starting out, you’ll be drawn to all sorts of distractions. Especially ones that promise a quick fix to whatever issue you’re facing, be it emotional or practical. 99% of my issues were emotional. I’m good at the practical, coaching is second nature, I’m highly qualified and maintain CPD (continuous professional development) and I’m creative so can put my hand to most of the other stuff. Being a business owner pushes a lot of confidence buttons, triggers judgement from others and sometimes can feel like you’re the only person in the world trying to make a difference.
Working through personal stuff like that is essential to succeed, not only in business but as a coach, as I can only take my clients as far as I’m willing to go myself.
You can only overcome your own limiting beliefs, by actually changing your beliefs. There is no other way.
No-one can evolve for you. And there is no other way to overcome your own limits than to remove them yourself. As Jim Kwik says ‘if you argue for your limitations, you’ll get to keep them.’ Snake oil is rife and the quick limiting belief fix is a lie. Of course we all have our preferred methods, but I’d love to put it out there, that first understanding what your limits are and working through them to unpack their origin and then replacing them with new expansive beliefs is the only way I’ve known to work, with myself and every single client I’ve every worked with.
Another qualification won’t make you better. Get what you need to start. And start.
Get qualified, absolutely but then start. Coaching is an unregulated industry. Anyone can call themselves a coach and many do. The only way to tell if a coach is genuine is to first check their credentials but then check if they’re practicing themselves what they coach. Whatever the industry, get the qualifications you need to start.
If you fall foul of the ..’I just need more time, more qualifications, more practice’ you are living the have, do, be mindset. I’d invite you to adapt that to the be, do, have mindset instead. The first means you need to have all the stuff/qualifications/masterminds/fancy websites etc before you can do the job so you can be that successful business owner/coach (insert industry). If you live a be, do, have mindset, you’ll get yourself the standard qualifications needed then you’ll just start. You’ll be that person right now, serving others and making a difference in the world. That way, you’ll be doing it all now and before long you’ll be able to upgrade your website, join that mastermind you’ve had your eye on.
It’s a mindset shift that has the power to change your business trajectory.
Learn DIY. Website, socials, email lists, newsletters.
If you need to learn some business basics, find the teacher that feels right, there are many. Learn to do the basics yourself, it’ll save you money, time (in the long run), it’ll give you control over your message and it’s a whole lot of fun when you get going.
Pick a platform and stick with it, WordPress / Showit are mine. I’ve tried them all.
Pick the platform that you like the look of and you can use. If you find yourself swapping platforms, it’s an avoidance tactic and a sign that you’re drifting from your WHY (I know because I’ve done it). Your clients won’t know or care if you use Wix, Squarespace, WordPress or Kajabi. They care about how you can help them get results.
The empty vessel makes the most noise. Decide what kind of noise you want to make and why then stick to it.
It’s so easy to get caught up in changing strategy when it comes to messaging and socials. They’re a necessary evil in business. I did my masters dissertation on social media marketing and the impact on business leaders and of the 40K+ people I surveyed/interviewed, not many liked it but they all knew its worth. Just because someone shouts louder than you and are more controversial doesn’t mean you need to join their gang. I interviewed an ex pro athlete tuned yoga teacher. When she opened her business, she deleted all other yoga studios from her socials so she wasn’t distracted. She’s a huge success.
Just because an ‘industry expert’ says it’s so, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Trust your instincts. And You are the expert of your business. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
There are so many do’s and don’ts in business created by so many people. An industry expert is an expert how? Because they say so, they’ve had success themselves or they’ve been around along time? All great reasons to be an expert, but just because it worked for them, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Do your research, experiment with different methods to get your message out and when it doesn’t work, try something else. Failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a sign you need to tweak, adjust or pivot.
To summerise, believe in yourself, your abilities, and your strategy. Do that, and you’ll be able to avoid some of the emotional turmoil associated with making a difference in the world and you’ll get a head start on the majority of folk trying to do the same.
I use this in my business, with my health and I used it whilst recovering from cancer. When the experts said my diet was irrelevant, I proved them wrong. When they said that I’d struggle to complete my treatment, I proved them wrong. And when the said I’d struggle to keep my hair, I proved them wrong.
Trust your instinct.