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When is a coach not a coach? By Karen Williams

Life, business and executive coaching is becoming a popular career and business profession for many individuals. Every year, thousands of people undertake coaching training to become professional, experienced and knowledgeable, and many of them go on to run a coaching business.

From my research over the last 18 months, I have established that there are many reasons why people train to be a coach. Here are a few of these:

• They have experienced coaching themselves and realise that they could do the same
• They want to make a difference to other people’s lives
• They want to incorporate coaching skills into their current role or skill set
• They want a flexible work choice to fit around other things in their lives
• They want to create a fulfilling and profitable business using their coaching skills

If you are already a coach or currently in training, you may have experienced any or all of the above. Or possibly some other reason prompted you to train as a coach.

However, of those who decide to make coaching a business choice, statistically only 5-10% of these will make it as a successful business.

So why is this?

There are all sorts of reasons why people don’t create a successful business. Not everyone is suited to being an entrepreneur, and others face isolation when they work for themselves rather than with others in a team environment. Here are 3 of the top reasons I’ve uncovered and would like to share with you:

1. You see yourself as a coach rather than an entrepreneur or business person

Although you may have trained as a coach, if you are running a business, you need to see yourself as a business person first. I’m going to be blunt here, if you don’t see yourself as a business person, these are some of the implications:

• You will not be taking the business skills seriously, and will find it difficult to get clients
• You will not be taken seriously by others, for example in networking situations
• You won’t be learning the business skills to run a successful and profitable business
• You will spend all your time and money striving to be a better coach
• You will find it hard to turn your passion into a profit

If you are experiencing any of these situations, you will probably be finding it difficult to get into the right mindset to run a successful business, as you won’t be getting the results you need.

2. You don’t use your expertise

Most people who decide to become a coach have had extensive life and work experiences, and other knowledge and capabilities. So it makes sense to use these skills in your business to help others.

From my experience of spending time with over 20 top coaches, most of these people have a niche or area of expertise. So if you want to be achieving this type of success, you will need to do this too. Just like you would do with your clients, take time to understand your strengths and your skills, and work out how you can use these for your business success.

3. You don’t collaborate with others

If you want to make it as a successful business owner, you need to realise that you can’t do everything yourself. To be honest, it can be a lonely life running a business by yourself and your collaborations and relationships with others can make or break your own business mindset. Start by building relationships with others at networking events, create joint ventures and find support, such as a Virtual Assistant, to support your ongoing business growth.

So when is a coach not a coach?

The answer to this question is simple: when they are a business person who is focused on the outcomes they get with their clients. That is not to say that it isn’t essential to be a great coach too, but you may find that coaching is just one of the tools in your toolkit.

When you are a business person, you can help more people as you will be focused on making your business profitable through helping those you want to help, measuring your success and tweaking what needs to be changed to transform your business.

The morale of this story is to work out what you need to do next to become a great business person as well as a coach. Use your expertise and your contacts and you will soon create your ideal business success.

by Karen Williams

4 Responses to "When is a coach not a coach? By Karen Williams"

1 | Rhonda

June 2nd, 2011 at 1:40 am


There is no reason not to become a trained coach. It absolutely makes you better in everything you do. It increases your relational IQ and creates more discipline so you can excel at everything!
Great post!

2 | Gillian Flegg

June 2nd, 2011 at 3:57 pm


A new approach to the question that was raised on linkedin. This perspective has an exciting twist as it challenges the notion of being a coach first and foremost, as being the most important thing. This is a reflection which new coaches would really benefit from.

For me a coach is no longer a great coach, when they do not apply their coaching philosophy to their own end game; be that business or egalitarian rationale.

3 | Karen Williams

June 2nd, 2011 at 4:32 pm


Thanks for your comments Rhonda and you are so right! I’ve often suggested my career clients do coaching or NLP training and it normally changes their lives.

4 | John

June 21st, 2011 at 11:49 pm


Thanks for the blog – very good and thought producing reading!!!

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