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  • Jenny Stallard

"What can a coach do to help my small business?"

Updated: Feb 28

Right now, it seems our Instagram feeds and inboxes are full of coaches. And, if you follow me on social media, you’ll see I’m one of them. YAWN. Right? I know what you mean. “My name’s Jenny… and I’m yet another coach…” My nerves lurch each time I post it.

I’ve begun to joke to potential clients – ones who might post on a group looking for a coach: “How do you know someone’s a coach? They’ll tell you!” but it feels very true right now. Coaching is a saturated industry that many see as a load of 'woo woo' nonsense. Coaches just tell you stuff you already knew, right?

And I know how we all sound. We sound like a bunch of evangelical religious converts, who are all singing and dancing and praising the coaching gods! It's changed our lives! Our clients say we have changed their lives! Coaching is the answer!! But, well, it's true.

I remember the first time, over ten years ago, I was a 'guinea pig' for someone who was training as a coach. I didn't see why it was something you might charge for - what, just talking? Why would I pay for that? At the end of six sessions, I'd made some decisions about my career, and whether I wanted to be freelance at that time. The seed was sown... Was I being conned, or converted? I was sceptical, and can see why people still are.

So, what is it about coaching?

I had no idea how in-depth the intricacies of coaching were until I began to learn the art – yep, I’m calling it an art – of how to run a coaching session. Of how to weave in and out of sentences and feelings, to read body language, to talk but not to lead, to query but not to give an opinion. It’s quite magical – and, having experienced it as a client, I love seeing it in my clients.

I find myself writing about ‘clients’ and I feel a huge wave of imposter syndrome. I know I am at the beginning of the coaching journey and many are years and years down the line, including those who I first experienced coaching with. But I do have clients, and that excites me. I’m listed on the website for the academy I trained with, and I have spoken as a coach in the press.

There is such a power, and a privilege in being there with someone while they unpick the things that are bothering them and come to a conclusion or a lightbulb moment.

To see their energy rise as the moment comes, or to see their hands go out in joyful release as they accept something isn’t for them, or a sigh of acceptance, of realisation, of clarity.

As freelancers, we can call on any number of freelance friends and ‘colleagues for advice. There are podcasts, newsletters, workshops, Facebook groups, slack communities, what’s app chats… they’re all invaluable. I rely on many as a freelancer, too!

But they often come with advice that is laced with personal feeling, or kind intent. It can be hard to find the answer for ourselves in the noise of the ‘what I’d do’ from other people.

That’s where coaching can be different, and has been in my experience. A coach doesn’t know you, not at first, anyway! They have no pre-conceived idea about you, your emotions, your life or your hopes and dreams. A friend, who might know how much you crave a dream or experience, might offer advice accordingly. A coach will mirror it back to you – what do you think, why do you think that, and what’s going on for you? Indeed, one of the most powerful things I’ve learned after a lifetime of being the person asking the questions as an interviewer and journalist, is to listen. To not lead the conversation but to let it flow.

So why now? And why train?

What you may not realise, is that you don’t have to do anything to call yourself a coach – it’s an unregulated industry. I wanted to train for a few reasons – first of all, because I wanted to know what I was doing! Secondly, I liked the idea of going back to ‘school’ in my 40s. And thirdly, to set myself apart as someone who knew what they were doing! As a writer I am often approached by people who call themselves coaches – and as a podcaster. Most are, but some have decided that they are a ‘coach’ and, for me, that’s not enough. I wanted to be able to say I’ve done the hours, I’m committed to this new career move.

For me, there was a turning point with my career that I could no longer ignore, too. Partly discovered through coaching, I realised I didn’t want to be a journalist forever, that I’d written so much and covered so many stories and topics – I was also the classic early 40s ‘disillusioned with career’ type. I’d dabbled in alternatives to writing before, doing a Tefl qualification in 2011, and taking time out in a ski season. Writing worked its way back into my life, but I still found myself craving change, especially when the pandemic hit.

Fast forward to May 2021, and I ‘graduated’. Woo hoo! I got a certificate, which, for the inner school geek in me, was probably the most exciting part…

I now run a coaching business as well as writing articles on freelance life and the challenges that come with it. I’ve been shortlisted for a wellbeing award, I have a whole world of coaching friends who I can call on for advice, support and friendship. I’ve qualified as ‘ACC’ – Accredited to the International Coaching Federation. No mean feat – it requires more than 100 hours of coaching and a long exam!

I still have coaching, as a client, and every time I have a session, I am reminded of the power a session can bring. And there it is – the feeling that I sound like such.. an evangelist! I’ve seen the coaching light! Everyone, get coaching! OK, let’s calm down a moment. The thing is, yes, I have. But it’s very personal. It has to be the right time. Sometimes it’s not the right time for coaching. Sometimes someone isn’t the right coach for you.

Personally, I am trying to bring some 'normal' to coaching with my approach. I am not all about the six figures and the 'change your life' so much as 'feel better about who you are' and just ‘love your business and work… most of the time’.

I can see why coaching might be perceived as 'woo woo' and indeed a ‘waste of money’. Coaches offer to change your world, to help you see the light... it's hard to see how unless you've worked with one. I can see that, for sure.

My answer? It sounds quite evangelical but I stand by it: 'Try it'. Try it, and see if it can work for you.

If you'd like to enquire about coaching with me, head to the coaching page and fill out the short form. I'd love to hear from you!

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