When women have children their priorities often change and they look to alter their career path. To do so, many consult coaches or mentors to aid the transformation process. For some, that process makes such an impression that they become coaches themselves. But for those who set up in business as coaches and who target mums like them there can be several pitfalls, several of which are shared by anyone setting up on their own. Amanda Alexander of Coaching Mums, who has been a coach for 10 years, mentors mum coaches and has just run a free webinar on the seven sins that mum coaches commit. Workingmums.co.uk spoke to her.
When women have children their priorities often change and they look to alter their career path. To do so, many consult coaches or mentors to aid the transformation process. For some, that process makes such an impression that they become coaches themselves.
But for those who set up in business as coaches and who target mums like them there can be several pitfalls, several of which are shared by anyone setting up their own business.
Amanda Alexander of Coaching Mums, who has been a coach for 10 years, mentors mum coaches and has just run a free webinar on the seven sins that mum coaches commit.
She says the first “sin” is hiding behind your pc. “Some people think that having the perfect website is what it’s all about, but that’s a load of codswallop,” she says. “You need to get out and talk to people. Coaching is about connecting with people.” Having a good website complements this, but it’s not the primary focus when you are starting out, she says. Her own first client came from going to a family event and giving someone she got chatting to her card. “Now more than ever selling is not about business to business or business to consumer contact. It’s about people to people contact. More and more we are buying individuals so you need to get out and have powerful conversations,” she says.
She adds that she has coached a number of mum coaches over the year and she can tell which ones will succeed. “They are the ones who get out there.”
The second “sin” is lack of confidence, a major one for many women setting up their own businesses. Amanda suggests beginning by taking baby steps. “Courage comes first. Just get on with it,” she says.
The third sin is being a generalist. Amanda counsels researching a niche for yourself and “being a big fish in a small pond”. “If you say you coach anyone you sound desperate and needy,” she says. “You need to be clear who you are targeting.”
For Amanda, the fourth mistake mum coaches make is to treat their business as a hobby. She advises at the very least drafting a one-page business plan which points out why your business is important and what you want to achieve. That should not be about wish lists of things you can’t control like how many clients you have, but about specifics like how you are going to get there, for instance, how many networking events you are going to attend. She adds that it is important to track your progress and be accountable.
The fifth sin is one that is familiar to many working mums: spinning too many plates. Amanda suggests sticking to one simple project at the start and seeing it through to the end before you start another.
The sixth sin is another big one for many women – being too hard on yourself. “We tend to beat ourselves up. We need to acknowledge the multiple roles we play,” says Amanda. She says she gets a lot of questions from mum coaches about time management issues. She suggests overestimating the time it will take to do anything, adjusting your goals to the time you have available and not comparing yourself to others who are, for instance, doing a 50-hour week.
She adds that you have to be realistic about how long it takes to build up a business. “Rome was not built in a day and neither was a sustainable coaching business,” she says. Coaching experts suggest it can take up to two years to build up a successful coaching business when you are working full time.
The seventh sin is getting the right support from like-minded people, which can include another coach or mentor figure. Amanda says many of her clients have come as a result of referrals from her close peer network of coaches. “I’ve had thousands of pounds of work from coaches who are friends referring people on. We all have different approaches and niches so referrals make sense.”
She adds: “I’m surprised by the number of people who want to be coaches who have never had coaching. How can you sell something that you have never felt strongly enough about to buy yourself?” she asks. “Without a mentor I would not be where I am now and I have not met a single successful coach who does not have a mentor or supervisor to lead them and who has not experienced the benefits of coaching themselves.”
She thinks working mums can make good coaches since most coaches tend to have had a certain amount of life experience which gives them credibility and empathy. For herself, she says she needs to have a connection with her clients. She has turned down people she does not have that chemistry with. “I have to want to put my heart and soul into being their coach,” she says.
*If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a coach, you can contact Amanda by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.