When I began my coach training journey, the 100 hours of coaching clients required to complete the ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC) designation felt like climbing El Yunque – the tallest mountain in my native Puerto Rico.
But then, last fall, Ann-Marie had the audacity (!) to challenge me to skip over the ACC and go directly to the Professional Certified Coach (PCC)! She had done it and told me I could too! I accepted the challenge even though it meant 500 hours of coaching clients! I was intrigued but knew that this would not be a graceful afternoon hike. I needed to shift my mindset and prepare my “supplies”.
Now ten months later I am almost at the “summit”! Ann-Marie provided the vision and the belief that it could be done. But I also needed a meaningful “why” that resonated for me. This is how I made it work:
My why: My clients have experienced difficult losses and challenges and completing 500 hours would help me become the coach they deserve and would help me feel confident in my new role.
Mindset: To attract a large number of clients without spending time marketing I decided to remove the money barrier. But to work for peanuts, I needed to let go of potential feelings of resentment, guilt, or victimhood. I decided to label my work as unpaid internship.
- Purchase insurance – I like to play it safe!
- Prepare three documents: A client information form that is signed by the client asking permission for me to keep a confidential record of our work together for ICF certification. A coaching agreement (a hybrid of the ICF template and the one shared by teacher Phil). A welcome letter providing information about coaching, what to expect, and who I am.
- Brainstorm a list of past colleagues I like and trust.
- Create an irresistible offer: Six (6) coaching sessions for an introductory offer of $30 – My potential clients are Midwesterners in the US, and here you can’t pass a good deal. But I did not want the low fee to cheapen the experience, so I explained the purpose for the low fee – my feverish goal to complete the 500 hours by fall of 2021.
- Email my offer to 23 colleagues (11 accepted my offer). One asked me to coach her team of five (she would pay for their coaching), another shared my offer to her networking group of HR professionals. Clients made referrals – some people just love to help. One client brought six new clients! In just four weeks I had 25 clients, with additional ones joining over time.
- Set up simple systems such as payment options using PayPal or Venmo, prepare receipts to reflect small but taxable income, and an excel sheet to track clients, session dates and coaching hours.
- After the six sessions I offer my clients the opportunity to purchase another package of six for a slightly higher fee. Most clients engage in additional coaching and are now paying $20 – $30 per session.
- They are aware that my rates will change after my certification (but I will always extend a special rate to my first clients!)
Unexpected gifts: I have coached a diverse client base – women and men from age 20 to 70, entrepreneurs to corporate leaders, healers to skeptics. This has helped me be clear about my niche and better understand perspectives very different from my own. I find joy in being exposed to the diversity of the human spirit. I have become less judgmental in the process, even of those who hold different political perspectives than mine.
And it all started by a vision and a challenge from Ann-Marie!