The Coaching Solopreneur™ - What’s this step all about?

20th February

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This last chapter is the roof of your building and will guide you towards having a self-care and support plan with methodologies for sustaining you in running your business and coaching with presence. The house model has a roof window as a metaphor for letting in light to your business through reflection and continuous learning, and I will share an exercise that will help you to surround yourself with the right people once you are the CEO of your business.

The concept of self-care is important to share with you, as coaching is a lonely profession and you give a lot to others to help them with their working lives. Often coaches forget that, to do this work, they need to also receive support to be at their best.

I was struck recently by a quote from Jackie Viramontez, who trades as an energy therapist, that ‘Self-care is not a waste of time; self-care makes your use of time more sustainable.’

I believe that by setting yourself up with a plan for your self-care, you will be able to manage time better, which is the most limited resource in your business. You can connect with the steps to manage your resilience in the tougher times and appreciate your measure of success along the journey to enjoy the good times whilst taking in the learning points along the way.

Why is it particularly important for you?

The coaches that survive in business for the long term are the ones who look after themselves, know their limits and are happy to ask for help when they are doubting themselves. It’s important that you find ways to manage your energy and ensure your self-care needs are being met. Building up your own self-awareness and reflecting on your solopreneur skills is a good place to start. Be honest with yourself on what you need to develop and learn. You can prepare to invest time, and at times money, for you to be at your best and move forward.

If you have stepped out of a team environment, being self-employed and self-reliant can come as a shock to the system. In the first year you will have a lot of thinking space and will need to find ways to manage your limiting beliefs, particularly if you are working with clients on theirs! Finding supporters and cheerleaders who can build you up and yet still challenge you is like creating a virtual boardroom of people who are invested in your business and in your personal development. Inviting them to a role on your board and being clear on what you need to lean on them for applies to all parts of your life once you are on your own.

Coaching is emotional work and you will have your client stories sitting on your shoulders, and it is hard not to care about how you are helping them to move forward. On top of this, you will have the pressure of making the business work. Finding ways to restore your energy for the maintenance of yourself and your house is critical if you want to love your work and not let the build or the bills consume your thinking!

What’s the cost of not sorting this out?

By not sorting out a clear self-care and support plan you are risking burnout. You are not planning for the greatest risk that your business has, which is you being on form for coaching. You are the business and your best work drives the growth of your business.

So, can you afford to not take this seriously?

You may no longer have the time to be unwell and yet, for the majority of the cases I see, the coach has contributed to their own burnout by not putting in boundaries to their working lives. You are now in the business of supporting other people’s heads and are ethically bound to ensure you do no harm to your clients or yourself. So, what will it take to stay at your best and to be prepared to have these steps in place? Don’t wait until it’s too late to respond, as it’s your responsibility to be proactive.

How to address the Self-Care Process step:

STEP 1: SELF-CARE PLANNING

STEP 2: LEARNING

STEP 3: SOLOPRENEUR SKILLS & PERSONAL GROWTH

REFLECTION

STEP 4: SUPPORT

Step 1: Self-care planning

Construct a self-care plan without delay that you can build into your business plan, annual plan investment and into your diary management. By exploring what you may need to be at your best you are more likely to create space in your time and investment pots for living your purpose, holding to your values and working with others to sustain yourself for the long haul.

In constructing the plan, consider what you need to do to coach at your best and to run a business. Reflect on your patterns to date, and what you want to achieve in your self-care plan annually, in the same way that you target yourself financially – what other measures of success are important here?

It may help to reflect back on your individual purpose and your purpose for having a business. To be able to sustain your purpose, what are the guardrails or boundaries that can be identified now as sacrosanct to you?

You may also want to reflect on your values to remind yourself what to look out for in your decision making and where your self-care needs to be protected to give yourself permission to course correct if they are out of line in this new pursuit. This may result in how you set up your working environment, your goals, reviews and reflection and – significantly – your time management, all of which is in your gift to work through.

A good reflection exercise to help you construct your plan is to step back and plan for what happens when you are not living your values and not coaching at your best – what is this telling you that you need?

You may also find these more positive self-coaching questions helpful:

■ What hours do you want to work and what breaks from work are needed for your other life priorities?

■ What conditions enable you to coach to the best of your ability?

■ What conditions enable you to be a business owner?

■ What obstacles are currently in the way of creating these conditions?

■ What can you do to mitigate these from stopping you being at your best?

Knowing more about what drains your energy and what brings you energy, consider what you might need for your:

■ physical health

■ psychological health

■ social health.

Step 2: Learning

Forming a learning plan is also an imperative to remain safe, agile and to sustain yourself in the coaching profession.

As the profession grows in size, there are plenty of learning opportunities for you to work your learning edge. You may want to invest in new coaching techniques or gather assets for your product development or learn more background to a topic that clients want to explore. For example, whilst how you deliver your coaching does not require you to demonstrate expertise, it has been useful for leadership coaches to understand more about how organisations need to explore diversity and inclusion, climate and social responsibility issues and hybrid working challenges, to name a small number of current topics clients may want to explore. My plea is for you to challenge yourself in the learning you engage with, so that the time and money you invest will enhance your coaching delivery whilst also playing a role in your business growth.

Investing in maintaining your coaching skills is critical to your business if you wish to mitigate the risk of not feeling at your best. Staying connected to the professional competency standards through mentor coaching for accreditation stages and peer coaching are ways of ensuring you remain in line with your qualification and accreditation standards, but they are also ways of validating your confidence in your work.

Knowing what you need to invest in for your continuous professional development for your self-care plan should also have space for what you need for your mental health. As a minimum, regular supervision can affect the impact of your client work on how you are feeling, and you may also choose to budget for therapy and a coach or business mentor for your head health and the health of your business.

Learning from other coaches and investing in being an alumnus of your learning groups can be a key way of ensuring that you don’t feel lonely and that you will get a keen sense of what has been worth investing in, meaning you can explore learning some top tips for free! You may also choose to network with other business owners who are not coaches to learn more business savvy tips. Choosing to acquire memberships to accreditation bodies and coaching publications can provide learning offers, including conferences, podcasts and newsletters.

Step 3: Solopreneur skills and personal growth reflection

In addition to staying ahead with your learning needs in your self-care plans, it is also a good time to reflect on your solopreneur skills. You started this book thinking about building your coaching house and may have had a solid base of the skills needed in your foundation. You may have also worked through this book and felt exposed and in need of managing the gap.

Take a look at the phases required to get you ready to be a successful solopreneur and the associated skills.

■ Know yourself and your ‘why’ – Skill: Awareness

■ Know your product – Skill: Learning

■ Know your market – Skill: Listening

■ Start strongly where you can – Skill: Courage and Risk Taking

■ Be visible – Skill: Communication

■ Move from zero to CEO – Skill: Perseverance

Notice how far you have come already and what is left to focus on. Which areas of personal growth still need attending to? How might you add these to your development plan? How might you build in reviews and reflection time to your self-care plans to check back in on your personal growth?

Step 4: Support

The final step in your self-care management is to surround yourself with your personal boardroom. You are the CEO of your business and you need to be clear on who is in your metaphorical boardroom and what role they play in your life. The idea is to extend your thinking to cover your coaching needs, your business needs and any area of your life that needs others to help, care and guide you to stay at your best.

It is useful to think about who these people are and to formally invite them to play a role in your boardroom. As owner of your house, the following roles are likely to be the most useful to you:

■ information roles – bringing something to the table

■ enabling roles – cheerleading you to be at your best

■ development roles – supporting your growth.

Our thanks to Kate for allowing us to share this extract from her book The Coaching Solopreneur. You can purchase the book from Amazon.

Kate Freedman is an International Coaching Federation (ICF) Professional Certified Coach with a background at corporate multinational Unilever PLC, where she led a commercial capability programme and was an internal executive and careers coach for almost seven years. Kate trained with the AoEC whilst still at Unilever and took the Advanced Diploma in Executive Coaching programme on her transition to becoming an independent coach with her own practice Kate Freedman Coaching Ltd and a consultant coach with the AoEC.