It’s been 2.5 years since I left my executive role in the corporate world and started my own business. I have learned so much during this time, that I want to do a couple of posts on what it’s REALLY like to start your own business after a successful corporate career AND what it’s like to be a life coach and business coach.

Many people dream of quitting their jobs and following their dreams. Often, that includes moving to some tropical paradise, just like Joel and I did. Truth is, while it works for some, it may not be for everyone. This post will give you some ideas about whether leaving the rat race is for you.

While coaching is one of the hottest growing fields, it’s also not for everyone, so these tips can help you decide if you want to be a coach yourself and what it takes to get to that coveted six-figure coaching practice.

Part 1 of this serie focuses on becoming a coach, because I get hundreds of e-mails asking me about coaching as a career, coaching on an island, etc. So here’s the nitty gritty on becoming a life coach and business coach.

First, Decide What You TRULY Want to Do
Let’s face it, most of the time, when you’re dreaming about leaving your job for the simple life, you really just want to ESCAPE. This desire to escape can often lead us to look at just about anything and think the grass is greener. I’ve had many clients who had a history of leaving one job for another and after the honeymoon period, they are unhappy on that new job.

Whether looking for a new job or new place to live, a lot of the yearning is for a better, happier life. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know what it is that would REALLY make us happy.

We often think of our vacations, hobbies, outdoor activities and think — wow, if I could only do that for a living!

And then the voice of fear sets in: Yeah, but will I be able to make money at that?

The first step in deciding what to do, whether it is coaching or something else, is ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes my heart sing?
  • If money were no object, what would I be doing?
  • How do I want to feel every day?
  • What kinds of people do I want to work with (qualities, characteristics and attributes)?

You can get my vision exercise from my Success Summits website, which guides you through the whole exercise I give my clients. This is the process I used to successfully leave my corporate job, become a life coach and business success coach, buy my home in the Caribbean and live the life of my dreams.

Writing your vision allows you to dream BIG. You get to identify what is the most fulfilling for you, regardless of what you think is possible. Most of the time, we worry about HOW we’ll accomplish something and back off because we don’t know the steps to take.

When I work with my clients, I have them first identify what they want, then we can get really creative to make this happen successfully.

It’s like The Secret and law of attraction. Once you get clear on what you want, the how just starts to show up. For those who don’t buy into law of attraction, consider this: it’s about getting CLEAR. Most of us are not really clear about what will truly make our hearts sing. If we were, there wouldn’t be so many people in their 30′s, 40′s and up, who ask themselves, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

Once you remove limiting beliefs about what you can do and what’s possible — and combine that with clarity about what you truly want to do — making it happen is much easier!

Is Becoming A Life Coach or Business Coach for You?
If you DO find that becoming a life coach, business coach, success coach, executive coach (there are many specialties!) is for you, the next thing to consider is that to become a coach, you are staring a business.

So many statistics say that businesses fail, that coaches can’t make money right away, etc. I don’t buy into these statistics because when you approach your business with my 10 business success principles, you can be successful in your business. I will outline these 10 business success principles in antother post.

The main thing to be clear on is that a successful coach has excellent coaching skills, plus excellent business skills. The good news is that these can be learned. You can also get support from hiring your own coach, who will keep you in action toward your goals and can teach you the skills you need in both areas.

Gain the Perspective of a Customer – Hire Your Own Coach
When I was toying with the idea of becoming a coach, I knew it would be a major change for me. How could I make this change without experiencing coaching for myself?

I wanted to find out how coaching worked for me, what I liked about it and even how I might approach it myself based on my own relationship with a coach.

Bottom line: I wanted to first be a CUSTOMER before I decided to become a coach.

My first job out of college was managing an inner city Toys R Us. I managed 50 employees and was chiefly in charge of the sales floor and warehouse. One thing I learned was to always walk through the store with the eyes of a customer and to BE a customer in my store and other stores. I learned to look for things from that perspective and it was why I excelled at that job.

It’s no different with coaching. I wanted to have the experience of a customer, so I hired my own coach and had a long-term experience of being coached individually and then, as part of a group.

What I learned confirmed my desire to be a coach because of the amazing changes I made in my own life with my coach’s support. In addition, I got to learn what makes a coach great, which was very valuable. At this point, I knew that signing up for a coaching certification program was worth the investment. I was hooked on wanting to bring to others the success I had in my own life with coaching!

Get The Righ Skills – The Best Coaching Schools
My next step was to look for a coaching school. At this point, I had worked with my coach for 1.5 years and had put all of the pieces in place to make the transiton from my executive corporate role to starting my own business. With 4 months left in my corporate job, I enrolled in a coaching school…after a LOT of research.

I researched EVERY coaching school out there.

Here were the requirements that were important to me:

  • Accredited with the International Coach Federation, a professional association that sets consistent standards, regulations and ethics for the coaching industry.
  • No travel (or limited travel) – I wanted convenience so that I could attend from any location, especially since I wanted to live in the Caribbean and still get my certification!
  • A high quality program.
  • Plenty of practice coaching.
  • Feedback from Master Certified Coaches.
  • An intelligent, supportive, friendly community of students and teachers.
  • Experienced, excellent teachers.
  • Curriculum that teaches me how to set up my own coaching practice.
  • A balance between live contact (via the phone was fine with me), reading and assignments.
  • A program that got good reviews from others in the industry.
  • A reasonable and affordable upfront investment in the program.
  • The ability to determine how long it would take me to finish.
  • Ongoing support after I finished my certification program.
  • The ability to meet peers I could learn from and stay in touch with.
  • An international/ global focus.
  • A good balance of male and female students.
  • No cookie-cutter, one-size-fits all approach to coaching – allows you to REALLY learn how to coach in all situations, with all types of people.

After all of my research, I was weighing my decision between CoachU and the International Coach Academy (ICA). Very quickly, ICA became my first choice.

ICA is the only school that fulfilled ALL of my requirements.

I finished my professional coaching certification program in just under 1.5 years, but had started my coaching practice before I even finished. I had 5 paying clients from 5 different countries right out of the gate, a great website, a marketing program and my business plan done before I graduated.

I admit that much of my business skills were already honed from my corporate marketing and product development days, but ICA gave me everything I needed to develop my skills, create a successful business foundation — and more important, practice and feedback so that I had the confidence that coaching WORKS!

Along the way, I made wonderful friends, joined an ICA networking group after graduation and am still supported by being able to attend classes for free, weekly networking calls and monthly alumni calls. In ICA, I have found a wonderful community with AMAZING people from all over the world.

If you are going to select a coaching school, I HIGHLY recommend ICA. It was one of the most wonderful learning experiences I’ve ever had and I would do it all over if I had to choose again.

YOU are the Source of Your Business
One of the great benefits of ICA is that you work on clearing yourself of limiting beliefs and creating your own successful lifestyle as you are learning to guide others to do the same.

Having a successful business requires YOU to be at your best. As you create the life you love and clear what’s holding you back, you will see results in your business that reflect this. Working with a coach is another way to clear limiting beliefs that keep you stuck, which is why so many individuals and businesses are hiring coaches today. The results speak for themselves.

A Rewarding Career
If becoming a life coach or other any other speciality in coaching is for you, I believe you will LOVE your job. When you decide that you have a passion for inspiring others to create successful lives of their dreams, being a coach can be a dream job. I love every minute of it. I am blessed to work with the most amazing clients, from entrepreneurs and coaches to executives. This is more than a good life…it’s a GREAT life!

As far as my corporate days, I look back on them with gratitude for what I learned. But I never look back with regret. I have made a choice that fulfills me and the rewards of seeing my clients create amazing results is the greatest value of all.

Learn more about ICA for your coaching career — you’ll be glad you did!