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Coach In The Spotlight - Wendy Ager

My discovery of coaching started when we involved a business coach as part of a management development programme I was working on within a large property services plc. I was running part of the training day when the coach explained how her questioning techniques would help managers deal with conflicts better, aid team participation, motivation and employee development.

I was impressed and immediately saw how useful it could be in a vast range of situations. To explore it more, and as part of my own personal development, I requested to work directly with a coach. That was the real turning point.

I decided training as a coach was my way forward but it was a busy time. I was in the midst of buying a new house, half way through a Masters Degree in HRM, under threat of redundancy and found out I was pregnant! I took my maternity leave early to pursue the idea and went on the Certificate Weekend with The Coaching Academy. Then I was totally hooked on learning to become a great coach and to work for myself.

I did my research carefully and made an informed decision who to train with, taking into account my situation, learning style and the practicalities of studying. For me, The Coaching Academy was the right choice. Their reputation and thorough training courses included lots of participation, practical exercises, interactive training days as well as using methodology suited me. I saw the benefit in being examined in all these areas as part of the diplomas. Weekend training days and studying at my own pace through the other learning materials meant less pressure for me. I had no idea how motherhood would affect me.

I thoroughly enjoyed my training with The Coaching Academy, especially the training days because of the buzz of excitement and self-development that goes on there. It took me two years and I qualified with a distinction in the Personal Performance Coaching Diploma.

When I launched my business I took on board the marketing information and support to get started as a coach provided. I understood the benefit of having a niche, though, because of my HR and previous recruitment background wasn’t sure what my niche would be.

After I’d been coaching paying clients for a while, I looked at who I had been working with and what on. I have a discounted rate for trainee coaches and really enjoy spurring them on to overcome their fears, leap into business and start marketing themselves. All the people I’d coached who wanted careers or confidence coaching were actually small businesses, people wanting to work for themselves or start their own business.

Small Business and Start-up Business Coaching has become my niche. I mainly work with those who are working alone on their business.

I took a step back and looked at what this meant. As a new small business myself I needed to build credibility in this area. So, I dedicated myself to learning about what will help small businesses start and grow. I constantly improve my skills and knowledge in both coaching and for small business marketing, communication, planning and so on. I’ve embraced social media and in a very short space of time have an established great presence on LinkedIn, a Facebook page and have over 1000 targeted followers on Twitter.

I set up a coaching circle locally and now use coaching, networking, co-working and even my accountant and Twitter so that I don’t feel isolated working on my own.

I’ve always been very good at planning and organising, so that forms quite a large part of how I’ve done so much myself and how I help the people who work with me. What I’ve found for me and my small business clients is that we all want it now! When you’re ready, it is frustrating waiting for things to happen and keeping up motivation whilst getting going can be tough. You can start marketing and planning activities even before you launch. With well thought out plans, a mentor or coach and other support, you really can achieve much more than you could imagine. I’m proof of that!

In less than a year, I’ve organised two events for local businesses, learnt and applied knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). My website, at the time of writing, is number one on Google for ‘Small Business Assistance’ and on page one for other searches I’ve been working on in my area – Croydon and Surrey. I’ve had articles published in papers and magazines. The first news story written about me was in the Croydon Advertiser on 7 January and included my small business workshops. I’ve also been asked to speak, write articles and about blogging for third parties too.

One of my favourite coaching questions is, ‘What would be fantastic to achieve, if you dared to imagine you could?’ I don’t think I dared imagine this much success, activity and interest in me, even just six months ago!

I absolutely love coaching, being a coach and mostly how the possibilities of it’s usefulness are endless. It’s the most fulfilling role I’ve ever had and made me the happiest I’ve ever been, and I was quite happy before! I say, ‘My success is only in your success’, to my clients, and that’s very satisfying and I think it is a wonderful position to be in.

If you’re looking at pursuing coaching to enhance your career, make a change or just resolve some issues, I’d suggest, (as I would never give advice!) that you carefully research how you can do this in the best way that will suit you and then to go for it!

If you’re in training, started using coaching in your work or set up on your own, I’d encourage you to take all opportunities to be coached, get over any fears and anxieties you have and continue to use coaching to move you forward. This means you can reap the benefits and show others how much it can do for them, as it does for you. Take advice and support from wherever you can get it and follow those who inspire you. Sign up to their newsletters, blogs and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep you motivated, always positive and growing.

Did I mention, I had a beautiful baby girl and I love being a mum so much I decided to work only part-time on my business?!

It was worth going through with a coach how my business would fit in with my life, and it’s enabled me to maintain a great work-life balance. I have limited childcare so it’s worked really well for me, and those I work with, having sessions by phone and over the internet in the evenings.

The best bits about becoming a coach, for me, is that it is amazing doing something you love, helping others to achieve what they want too and that it really doesn’t feel like ‘work’!

by Wendy Ager

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