When I learned about David Steele’s new book I was intrigued by a title that promised answers to questions that many of my coaching students bring to class. From Therapist to Coach: How to Leverage Your Clinical Expertise to Build a Thriving Coaching Practice focuses on counselors but it goes further. It deals realistically with the challenges of becoming a coach and includes practical guidelines that apply to any new business startup. Steele gets dull at times (don’t we all?) but overall he writes with energy, passion, humor and a wealth of experience in building a private practice. Among the insightful conclusions:
- Carefully choose your niche. A niche identifies the individuals or groups with whom you work most effectively and passionately. Your niche sets you apart from others and makes you the preferred “go to” person for a specific group or segment of society. Selecting and building a niche takes time and should build on careful research. Find people who might be in your potential niche. Spend time with them. Find what they need and want. Determine why you are the best provider for your niche. Many coaches fail because they choose poorly or don’t connect with their niche group and the group’s real needs.
- Don’t assume that marketing is enough. The author includes helpful marketing principles, starting with the “three primary forms of marketing:” public speaking, writing, and networking. But marketing only attracts potential buyers of your services. Equally important is converting prospects to clients or buyers. Marketing does little if you don’t enroll interested people into signing on for your services.
- Get coach training. Steele is a trained therapist who built a successful private practice. Even so, he argues persuasively that experience or training in therapy or any other occupation does not qualify one to be a coach. If you want to be a competent coach, consider reading this argument in support of quality training.
Does this sound too much like turning coaching and other forms of people building into a cold business venture? Maybe so, but few coaches (especially private practice coaches or counselors) become successful if they overlook business principles. Please comment with your perspective.