Understanding the Phases of Growth of Your Coaching Practice

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Coaching is an extremely rewarding profession on so many levels, and it’s also one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Through this sequence of short videos, I’m going to teach you the key fundamentals you need to know to get started as a coach, and to create a fun and thriving coaching practice that’s in perfect alignment with who you are, what you value, and what you most want to contribute to others.

When it comes to life coaching, I have a very unique vantage point, because I have worked in literally every capacity within this expansive field. I started out coaching part time, and then after my private practice had grown as big as it could in that form, I began training other coaches to create successful businesses for themselves. In the 10 or so years since I founded the QSCA, I’ve trained and certified over 3,000 coaches all over the world. One of the programs that I developed along the way is something I call “Where Are They Now?,” which tracks the success of each of the individuals who we’ve trained. So it’s fair to say that I have experienced the ins and outs of this profession from hundreds of different perspectives. And from all this collected experience, I’ve come to understand that the growth of every business – whether a coaching practice or any other venture – unfolds in four logical, consecutive, predictable phases.

In this short video clip, I’ll walk you through each phase that you’ll likely experience on your way to building a thriving coaching practice. I think it’s really important that you understand this natural unfolding – not only so you’ll have a realistic idea of what to expect if you decide to take this path, but also because each phase builds upon the one that came before. As I briefly describe each phase of growth, it might be helpful to remember that every act of creation – whether we’re talking about the blossoming of a plant or the gestation of a human being – mirrors these natural, predicable phases in the process of its becoming.

So, the first stage is Preparation, and the most important thing to consider in this phase of growth is making sure that you receive the highest quality training in a coaching ideology that has a track record of producing reliable results. In a previous video clip, I went over in detail the various criteria to look for when it’s time to actually choose a training program, but in short, you want to make sure that the program you choose is philosophically sound and in agreement with your own, and that the technology being offered is both up to date and easy to implement.

Your training is the foundation on top of which all of your future successes will be built. It should equip you with both the skillset and the sensitivity to successfully lead a client through a succession of coaching calls, and to know what processes to use in which situations. A truly exceptional training program doesn’t just teach you about coaching; it provides ample opportunities to coach others, and to get plenty of feedback on your coaching. This is where the saying, “practice makes perfect” definitely applies.

Once you’ve received your training and have a little experience under your belt, it is then time to declare, first to yourself and then to everyone you know, that you are a coach. So we could call this phase of your becoming as the phase where you Hang Your Shingle, so to speak.

This represents a giant step forward in your development as a coach, because as you make this declaration to yourself, and come to think of yourself as someone who has already realized the success you desire, you allow an internal momentum of passion and excitement to build within you that is not only life-giving to you, but can also be felt by everyone who might benefit from working with you.

When you share with certainty about the fabulous results that you and others have created, people can see the fire in your eyes and hear the conviction in your voice, and this is powerfully magnetic. Your happiness; your success; and your belief in the coaching model that you provide are the keys to your continued success.

At this stage, I always recommend to my new coaches that they put into place some kind of structure of ongoing and regular support, because in the process of hanging your shingle and putting yourself “out there,” it’s likely that you will encounter doubts and fears about the value of what you have to offer. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s that nagging internal dialog that asks you things like, “Who am I to be doing this?” And if left unattended, that voice may stop you in your tracks. In those moments, the support of a coach or a mentor is there to remind you of your bigger vision and the reasons you were called to do this work in the first place.

The third phase of growth is what I call Speeding the Momentum, and it comes about as a natural result of putting your new skills to use and proving to yourself that what you have to offer is, in fact, of great value. You’re achieving measurable results with your clients, and as a result, you have the confidence of knowing what to say in conversations with potential clients, and the certainty that what you have to offer can benefit them.

The success you’re achieving with clients is leading to referrals, which in turn leads to your feeling even greater success. This kind of positive momentum is kind of like an upward spiral.

The only thing to be mindful of in this phase is giving into the idea that in order to keep the positive momentum going, you have to continue doing things exactly as you have been doing. In truth, the exact opposite is true. The successes you’ve created so far are the result of your commitment to expanding yourself and your abilities, both personally and professionally. The more traction your coaching practice gains, the more important it is to reassess your strategy, and to make adjustments where needed. And this brings us to the fourth and final phase of growth: Pruning.

In the same way that it’s important to continue to expand your vision of your ideal client base and coaching practice, it’s also essential to pay attention to signs that its growth is being slowed because you are investing energy in things that no longer yield a return. Everything in life is always in a process of becoming more – and your coaching practice is no different – so it’s necessary to periodically re-evaluate what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Sometimes the best way to support your expansion is by making a conscious decision to change course or cut back.

Releasing that which is no longer a match to our continued success is an integral part of healthy growth, and yet most humans resist this natural process. We view letting go as a loss, so we cling to the old rather than release it to embrace what’s next. We hold onto old friendships that no longer serve us, because we fear that no one else will be drawn in to fill the void. We stay in relationships that no longer fulfill us because we are afraid of speaking our truth. We even stay at jobs that are not serving us and don’t pay us for the value that we bring, because we’re afraid of stepping into the unknown. But if you look anywhere in nature, you’ll see that releasing the old is as natural as taking a breath out. Cutting back on what doesn’t serve acts as a catalyst for new growth. The more you prune back the old, the more resources you free up to put toward aspects of your coaching practice that are fresh and life-giving.

By understanding these four predictable stages that your coaching practice will undergo, you can surrender to the process because you’ll have the confidence that comes from knowing where you are along this continuum. I’ve known many people who were really great coaches, but allowed their ambitions to get derailed by the notion that they should be able to go directly from point A to point Z. When you can see the natural process of becoming that is occurring at each phase, you can relax and enjoy the journey.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions about the information covered in this video, so please write to me in the comments below.

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