Georgia Shaffer, M.A.
Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!
“Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NCV
One area that often paralyzes coaches before they even begin is a lack of confidence. One coach, who was just launching her business, emailed me saying, “I am stressed over the idea that people are now going to be paying me. Will I give them enough value for their money?”
In an email another coach who was about to start his business said, “I’m worried about letting my clients down.”
When thoughts like this start to haunt you, remember you are not alone. Moses was called by God, but he immediately responded, “Who am I?”
If Moses were called today to be a coach he might ask, “Who am I to even think I can be a coach? Who am I to think I’m ready to launch a coaching business and be paid for my services?”
It doesn’t matter who you are. What matters is who God is. Just as he was with Moses, God will be with you. Therefore, the first step in launching your coaching business is to reflect on God and his attributes.
Reflect on Who God Is
Immerse yourself in Scripture, reminding you of the presence and power of God. Read the stories of Moses and Joshua. And just as God equipped these two men, he can equip you.
As you reflect on the attributes of God, take an honest assessment of yourself. Do you believe God is creative and powerful enough to make a coach out of you? Do you believe he has the ability to do this even if you feel as though you’re not gifted in coaching? What do you believe about God’s ability to develop your talents and to use you in the lives of others?
When you recognize your humble dependence on God and his power to enable you to achieve his purposes, that’s when he can use you to transform the lives of those you coach.
Get a Coach
Many who are first starting their business find it helpful to have a coach for support and guidance. Remember Moses didn’t go it alone either. He had his brother Aaron for support, and he took advice from his father-in-law Jethro. (See Exodus 18.)
I often find that the clients I coach need a combination of encouragement and a gentle push. One beginning coach emailed me several times the day before her first appointment with paying client. She was terrified. With some support and genuine encouragement on my part, however, she was able to push past her fears, lean on God, and take the risk. She kept reminding herself that God is powerful enough to coach her and sure enough, her first session went extremely well.
Organize the Details
Beginning coaches also need to organize their office and attend to the administrative details. Decide on the key coaching questionnaires and inventories you would like to use and then personalize them with your business name or logo. If an inventory or assessment is copyrighted, you definitely need to keep the copyright information on the document and give credit to the original author. Where possible, you want a standard look and personal to the documents you give to your clients.
For example, in the top left corner of my welcome letter, client data form, and pre-session questionnaire I have my logo with the words What Needs to Grow, What Needs to Go (you can some examples of how I personalize my documents by visiting my free resources page at www.GeorgiaShaffer.com). As one coach said, “Having a professional look to my inventories or articles builds my confidence and reminds me of the fact that I am a professional coach.”
I then store all these personalized templates in one file folder named Coaching Tools under My Documents on my computer.
Decide also how you will keep track of your clients’ emails, their completed inventories, and their pre-session forms. What system will work best for you?
For each client, I have a physical file folder stored in a file cabinet labeled with his or her name. I usually keep a copy of the life coaching agreement and other key information such as the client data form. You, however, might not have space for file cabinets or they might be filled with other documents and information. One of the coaches I worked with has her assistant scan the various inventories and assessments and store the electronic copies on her computer.
For emails, I copy or drag all correspondence into separate Outlook folders labeled with each client’s name. I also keep another folder with each client’s name in a folder labeled “Coaching” under “My Documents,” and I have an external hard drive that regularly backs up my computer files.
Because there is always the possibility of a computer crash, fire, robbery, and computer viruses, it is also important to have an offsite back up of your computer files. Whether you use iCloud or pay for a service like Carbonite, decide how you will backup your clients’ key information. One of my friends had her laptop stolen and the offsite service enabled her to retrieve all her files.
Finally, don’t forget that for tax purposes you need to keep account of the income you receive from each client. It’s best to consult your accountant to find out what format he or she prefers you to use, such as QuickBooks or Excel.
Besides the record keeping, part of organizing your details may also include signing up and offering your clients services such as voice and video over the internet service (VIOP). Skype is a common VIOP that coaches use, but there are others such as Tango. Some clients find using a service like Skype to be a real challenge, while others believe it is important to see their coach.
Another service I provide for my clients, at no extra cost, is the option of recording their coaching sessions. This gives them the opportunity to go back and listen to their conversations with me. I’ve successfully used Freeconferencepro.com. This is an account you need to set up before you begin working with a client. Once you have an account, you will need to schedule each session on their website and send your client a phone number and an access code. After the coaching session, you can download the MP3 file and email it to the client as an attachment. One thing you need to make clear up front is that if your client has limited long distance or pays per minute, in contrast to unlimited long distance, the client will have to pay for the phone call.
The advantage of attending to these details ahead of time is that later it enables you to focus more on meeting the needs of your clients and on building those relationships. The beginning stages of launching a coaching business can seem daunting, but the rewards of helping people change their lives are great. To move forward you need only take it one step at a time. The first step is to reflect on God and his attributes. Then, find a coach and get busy organizing your details. With God’s power working in and through you, you will help others to grow.
Coaching the Coach Tip:
Throughout your coaching career, pause often and reflect on who God is. Find verses in Scripture that encourage you and help you focus on God. One of my favorite verses reminds me I’m not alone: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).
Reading this book and referring back to portions of it as necessary is a good way to be coached, but also consider enlisting the aid of a professional coach.
If you dislike dealing with details, it will be easy to overlook or avoid getting your office documents organized. Resist that temptation because attending to these tasks is what helps to make a professional coach.
Georgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators To find out more, visit www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.