You’ve got the latest iPhone, the bright shiny iPad, the funky shirt and polished shoes, the runs on the board and now you’re ready to take on the world!
Whether you’re new to the coaching profession or taking a fresh new look, check out my FIVE key questions to stay at the top of your game. Together with some bonus resources and links
1. What Makes YOU Tick?
The skills that got you the job or brought to you to this point in your career, won’t be enough to sustain you into the future. You’ll be questioned, challenged, pressured and outmanoeuvred on more than one occasion. Change will come at you rapid fire and with more and more employees leaving the workforce to become small business owners, you and I need to be extra clear on why we do what we do and how we’re going to do it.
Start with these:
- What are your values? Once reaffirmed, use them as the foundation for your business decisions.
- Consider at least 10 objections you think potential clients will have about working with you. Address them, write them down and make a note to develop your FAQ page.
- Who do you picture yourself working with? More than a marketing avatar and the problems you’ll help solve, unpack the positive and negative behaviours you imagine these people will demonstrate while you’re working together. This exercise helps you to build stronger professional boundaries and equips you for better negotiations. Say no, when it’s appropriate as not everyone who wants to work with you should.
- Examine your ideal working hours in light of what it’s really going to take to grow your business and serve your ideal client. A four hour working week? Hang on while I stop laughing and pick myself up off the ground. If building from scratch, be realistic. This baby is going to take some time unless you can employ a team and leverage like crazy.
HOW DID I BECOME A COACH
I was inspired to become a coach through my first client Antonia and my own past coach Phil Daly from Pinnacle Business Solutions in northern NSW. Phil gave me incredible perspective while I was in my role as senior executive of a $55 million company and it was here I experienced personally the very real difference a coach can make in complex environments.
Antonia, walked across the room at the end of a speaking event I’d presented at in Brisbane, 5 years ago. Neither of us knew at the time her simple question, “How can I work with you one on one?” would lead me to expanding our suite of services to include executive coaching and represent close to 45% of our company revenue stream by June 30 this year.
Find out who’s doing what you aspire to be doing and sit at their feet, humbly learn and soak up their knowledge and the way they engage with their markets. Often more is ‘caught’ rather than taught’. It’s called ‘impartation’. If it’s virtual learning, pace yourself. It’s easy to regard the internet, and professional development generally, as a buffet and over eat. Pace yourself. Learn, process, implement, review and consolidate before racing out to do another course.
2. What are the tools you have to work with and how do you stay ahead of the pack with your knowledge of emerging trends and technologies?
Time to do an inventory! Take a look at those devices you’ve got in your hot little hand. Your iPad, smart phone, laptop or desktop and consider what are the apps are serving you or is it just more white noise. How are the tools that you currently have going to serve your future?
I knew I didn’t want to become a slave to follow-up notes and activities. I’d learnt how to be effective in meetings during my executive roles and took action there and then, before leaving a room. As an entrepreneur I have the same focus. Deliver great value there and then, before distraction gets in the way.
Want to know my favourite iPad app? It’s called NoteShelf. The Pro version costs around $10 from the app store. I can use a stylus or keypad. I can email a single page or the whole coaching journal to my client. I can insert files, photos or draw models to highlight points.
3. What is your strategic framework for success?
If you’ve elected to embark on coaching as a business through franchising, you’ll have a model to follow. But what if you don’t? What if you’re a pioneer, a renegade, an innovator and you’re leading the charge?
You might want to sit down with your life or business partner, a mentor or your financial advisor and answer some of these questions:
- Have you considered exactly what success looks like to you?
- Have you conducted market research?
- What financial constraints will you be operating under?
- Exactly how does your business structure look? Are you working for someone else and sub-contracting? How long will it go on for?
- What is your rainy day fall back?
- What financial platforms will you be using to manage your business?
- What risks exist for you in your business, in the niche that you’re planning to operate in?
- Who could be a potential strategic partner?
My husband is an advanced care paramedic. A day in the office can be pretty rough for him and his colleagues. I knew at Corporate Cinderella that combining structure with flexibility was a priority for me so we could enjoy our downtime, while honouring my speaking, coaching and consulting schedule.
Every day of the week is themed and each day, two hours are focused on one of my core seven leadership elements. I stay true to these whether I’m in Australia or travelling internationally for work or play. You’ll also see it reflected in my social media postings and conversations. Every action is ‘on purpose’.
WHAT I DID FIRST
I leveraged opportunity, refined my process and continued my professional development by sitting at the feet of some terrific coaching leaders. People like Dale Beaumont of Business Blueprint and his community including, Taki Moore, James Schramko, Greg Cassar, and Chris Ducker.
Investigate whether one-to-one coaching or one-to-many coaching (group coaching) is your thing. Both have benefits including speed of change, active participation, peer support, sustainable community and revenue forecasting. Consider joint ventures or strategic alliances in this space or you’ll be putting in a ton of energy by yourself!
Consider how you can schedule each day of your week so you can stay in your groove and not be blindsided by pressing distractions or people that drop in to your home office.
4. What culture / experience you would like your clients and strategic partners to have working with you?
From start-up to multi-million dollar companies, from the lunchroom to the hallways of politics, workplace culture and brand perception run hand in hand.
Your brand experience is the sum of all the little things. Quality of products, beauty of design, the written word, the issued accounts, the nature of engagements, the people you work with, how you receive feedback, your follow-ups and promises kept. We can’t do everything or be everything to everyone. Just do what you can, be aware of perceptions, and embrace continuous improvement without becoming a slave to it.
Participating in a professional community that shares many of the same cultural values and behaviours has been a vital part of our success at Corporate Cinderella: inspiration, accountability, development, and from time to time, referrals from like-minded individuals. I’ve been volunteering at Professional Speakers Australia since 2009 when I left my executive role. They are my tribe. As an entrepreneur who speaks, coaches and consults, this group has helped shaped my success. Do you have a peak body that you’re contributing to?
It’s all about building your business with the end in mind. In our Corporate Cinderella world, we set the culture through our Client Qualifying Sheet. It applies to our customers, suppliers and internal colleagues. You may consider designing your own one page Client Qualifying Sheet.
Identify your preferred industry niche. Consider three providers – small, medium and large. Map your current budget and resources against the most relevant one. Zappos and Google are inspiring, but you may not have their budget. What lessons can you learn and apply to your business in designing the customer service experience? Who do you need to engage to support you with this process?
5. What’s your communication strategy for staying connected with opportunity?
In a world of hyper-connectivity, building considerate, mindful relationships that add value will help you stand out amongst the white noise of notifications, social postings and the barrage of newsletter subscriptions.
Finding a method that suits your personal style and professional objectives isn’t always easy. Some of the clients we work with are juggling big issues, full inboxes and rapid change. We found a few ways to reach our audience that’s a good fit for us. One is adapting email auto-responder programs to consistently engage and deliver value with people we meet at events. They haven’t opted into the website, but we’re using the same features of these auto-responder tools to support our database and community.
It starts with gathering the contact information and honouring these three rules:
- Don’t hoard business cards. Tag them, enter them and bin them. Honour the giver when you receive it of course
- Never spam people. Enter the contact information into the correct TAG sequence e.g. business card contacts should never be placed in the same tag sequence as someone who opts in via your website and signs up for your newsletter.
- Step out of the box and do something in real life – pause and spend time with people.
I received some moving feedback after spending time the United Nations Director for the Office of Outer Space Affairs. She said to me “You have given me hope for the future.” That was a powerful conversation that could only have happened in person.
“If content was King, then connection is now Queen”.
Here are a few suggestions to help you build your communication strategy:
- Speak Up – Do a professional speaking course with members of Professional Speakers Australia and begin sharing your message through your website with videos and podcasts.
- Utilise an email auto-responder program to execute on your good intentions: Active campaign, Constant contact, Infusionsoft, Ontraport, MailChimp, LinkedIn Sales Navigator
- Schedule your social media content a month in advance for a specific time of day using Hootsuite or Buffer. This will leave plenty of space on the clock for you to add spontaneous posts and contribute to discussions in groups on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Coaching should always be about connection.
About the Author
Tarran Deane is a Ducati riding, CEO of leadership transformation company “Corporate Cinderella”, wife, Mum & Step Mum to 4 amazing young women. An Innovative Business Award recipient, Tarran is also President of Professional Speakers Australia – QLD NT, and serves as a Non-Executive Director of Newlife Care. With more than 24,697 audience members and 43,000 hours in leadership, Tarran works with executives from mining, academia, health, government, aged care, disability and accounting.
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