Ep 46// #AskAkua - 3 Things I Would Do Differently If I Started Over Again with my Coaching Business

Ep 46

This #AskAkua episode is densely packed with helpful information for aspiring business coaches. Tune in as Akua pulls back the curtain on her own coaching business to tell you what she would do differently if she had to do it all again. Find out if she would have invested as much in courses and the important metric to tell if you’re getting the most out of them. She also shares her thoughts on social media and whether having a website is necessary to get clients.

Akua also gives great advice on how to complete your 100 hours of coaching for your International Coaching Federation (IFC) credential. Finding clients is a frequently asked-about topic, and in this episode, Akua gives you five specific ways to get clients (even if you’ve never had one before).

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What's Covered in this Episode About Leadership Coaching

  • Akua suggests jumping into paying clients right away. Contrary to some beliefs, offering “free” services doesn’t often lead to paying clients and sometimes even causes anger when you start charging.
  • It is important to get used to charging and setting the mindset that your coaching is worth something.
  • Akua explains her rationale for creating a website and social media channels and talks about whether or not they are necessary for you to succeed as a coach.
  • Coaching programs and courses are sometimes a good investment, but are they imperative?
  • Are you leveraging what you’re learning to your benefit or wasting time and money on courses? Akua gives a metric to help you make that determination.
  • Learn methods on how to get your 100 hours of coaching in order to qualify for the ICF credential.
  • Ways to get clients: coaching trades, utilizing WhatApp groups Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, and even a ListServe.
  • Don’t limit yourself to 1:1 coaching. Group coaching/workshops are the fastest way to get hours, and group participation takes some pressure off while making it fun.

Do you have a question for Akua? Submit it here: Submit your question HERE

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "I really think that if you can, if you have the confidence, that you have people invest in you right off the bat, so you can start at a really low investment amount if that works for you. But you should always ask for something in exchange, because I think that it really is a muscle to be able to ask people to invest in you." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "You don't need a website, or even you don't need to use social media. So I am someone who decided to have a website in the beginning. And I will say that it was a bit of a cost. And I don't think it's necessary." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "You don't need to invest in dozens of courses and programmes. And once again, as someone who provides courses and programmes and services that might seem counterintuitive, but I think this is a really key thing." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in #AskAkua - 3 Things I Would Do Differently If I Started Over Again with my Coaching Business

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 46 about 3 Things I Would Do Differently If I Started Over Again with my Coaching Business

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this week's podcast episode for the open door conversations podcast. And today I'm doing a hashtag ask Akua episode. So if you have a question or you have a thought you'd like my thoughts on or response on, make sure that you hit there's a link in the show notes where you can actually ask me a question. And the next time I do a hashtag Ask a co episode, it might be your question. So today I'm talking about some of the things I would do differently. If I started over again, in my coaching business, I'm really excited about today's hashtag ask Akua episode because I am focused on a different part of my business a different bits of what I do today, I'm really reflecting on my coaching business and some of the steps I took to actually create it. So if you're interested in learning a little bit more about the behind the scenes, if you want to get some of my thoughts on the things I could have done better. And I might do differently the next time I launch a business, keep listening, the first question I have here, and this is actually a question that I get quite a lot, especially as I do coaching related work for other coaches is what advice do you have for aspiring coaches. And what I wanted to do is actually share three pieces of advice, I'm going to try and flesh it out a little bit more. But I think that there's three basic things I wish I could have done differently, or I had started earlier in my business. So the first thing I have on here is don't wait to get paid clients. So depending on how you decided to become a coach or consultant, there's lots of different thoughts on this, right? There's a lot of information out there that says, hey, you need to get a certain number of clients under your belt, typically for free. So you can get testimonials. And you can use those testimonials to get additional clients. And I think that might work for some people, especially if you do have a full time job or other things that you're doing to sort of prop yourself up. But I really think that right off the bat that you should have people invest in you. And honestly, this is the same advice that I give to startups that asked me my thoughts on having more of a freemium model. For those of you who actually don't know, my background actually is doing online businesses in the space of E commerce and E classifieds. And one of the lessons that I learned or took away, at least specifically, within the region that I worked in, was that free does not always mean that providing someone a service for free will lead to an eventual paying client. If anything, it always worked against us within the particular platform that I was leveraging. And I also think that it worked against me, within my business, especially within my speaking and workshops, because so many people still reach out and are upset that it actually cost money to work with me. And I've been doing this for about four years now. So I really think that if you can if you have the confidence that you have people invest in you right off the bat, so you can start at a really low investment amount if that works for you. But you should always ask for something in exchange, because I think that it really is a muscle to be able to ask people to invest in you, right? And it's really different, right than asking someone to buy a physical product or to buy something that's more than just your time and your information. But I think asking for something in exchange and starting to build that muscle is super key. And it will allow you right to build that I'm providing a service brain even if it's just a conversation, even if it's just information even if it's just consulting. They are coming to you because they see that you can support them and you should definitely get something in exchange, right and so it can be as little as $25, or at least a testimonial, right, I also have a money mindset podcast that might be helpful for you. And so I'll make sure that I sort of linked that in the show notes. But my first thought really is if you're an aspiring coach and inspiring consultant, someone who wants to make money off of having conversations or supporting others with information, don't wait to get paid clients do that sooner rather than later. The circuit. Second piece of advice I have here is you don't need a website, or even you don't need to use social media. So I am someone who decided to have a website in the beginning. And I will say that it was a bit of a cost. And I don't think it's necessary. And I know a lot of successful coaches and consultants that have businesses, and they don't have websites, they literally use PDFs. So though a website can be helpful, it's not necessarily the way to build trust, especially if you have an information based business or the primary way in which you're providing services is one on one coaching, at the end of the day, it's going to be the relationship. I also don't think that you need to use social media. And I know, as I say those two things, you might be listening to this and be like Akua. But you have both of those things where you do both of those things. As I mentioned before, I decided to create a website, but honestly, not necessary. And in terms of social media, I decided to use social media because I felt like I didn't have a network that was ready to invest in me at the level that I was able to communicate my value. So let me break that down. Because now that I've said it, I'm not sure that necessarily makes sense. What I'm saying is that the network that I had from working within high growth startups was not willing to invest in me, there's a lot of reasons why they probably weren't willing to invest in me, one of them is probably that I wasn't able to communicate my value. And like the transformation I provide, if they did work with me, so a part of it was definitely on me. But the other part of it is that I come from an industry or a sector, you know, specifically here, the startup sector where there's a lot of free resources. And so also, I think I could have probably done a better job of distinguishing the service I provide and why that's different from going to a website or talking to a peer or having a conversation with a mentor. Right. And it is very different, right? There's a difference between doing those things, and also working with me. So really just making sure that you are leveraging your existing network. As I mentioned before, that wasn't something that I necessarily did. So I was very intentional. And I created a social media presence that would allow me to build a network beyond my existing network. And I think I've been able to do that quite effectively, and very intentionally. So it's really about thinking about what, you know, what is that transformation you provide? What's the value that you provide, and using that to get clients, right, because for me, at least, it's really the conversations, right, they might go on my website, they might fill out a form, but ultimately, it's that conversation. So a cool website, especially when you're first starting, when you're an aspiring coach is not going to get you business, it's going to be the conversations and the network that you have. The third thing I have on here, right, and I want to just make sure that I share with anyone who wants to be an aspiring coach, or consultant, or intrapreneur, or whatever you want to call it is you don't need to invest in dozens of courses and programmes. And once again, as someone who provides courses and programmes and services that might seem counterintuitive, but I think this is a really key thing. The people who really consume, right, a lot of coaching a lot of programmes or other service providers and other coaches, right, that's just the reality. And so when I do think about what I've invested in, and I will say I have invest in a lot of coaches and a lot of programmes, a lot of courses, but you have to have the resources to do so. And I did. And you know, I worked really hard for a few years or was really privileged, and was able to save a lot of money. And so I was able to invest that into programmes, because I also just have a real interest in understanding what's behind supporting people with building new habits and new routines and new thought processes. So I had a real interest in it. But you know, when you do invest in yourself, and I do think it's incredibly important to invest in yourself. And if you're interested in some of the things that I've done, I'll leave a link to a blog post where I talk a little bit about how much I don't go into real specifics than I actually need to update it. But I talk about, like how much to a certain extent, and then like some of the things that I've done to support my own coaching, consulting, education. But you know, I do think it's important to invest in yourself. But I also think it's important to do it where it's not a detriment to your bank account or your wallet. And the key thing here is that you have to implement right, there needs to be this ratio of I've invested time and energy into learning, even if it's free learning, but I've invested time and energy into learning. And I spend three times as much actually implementing and seeing what works, right. It needs to be a ratio that looks like that, like a one to three, a one to four, one to five ratio, where it's like one hour of learning equals five hours of implementation, testing, experimenting and trying new things. Because if you don't have that ratio, what you're doing is a lot of learning, but you're not actually using and leveraging that learning to move forward and to build a better business or to build a better career or to build a better life. And so that's the key thing right here. Really just recognising that hey, yeah, I think investing yourself is really important. And I actually am looking at notes right now, right? I think that if you are a coach or consultant, or you're building programmes or courses, you can learn a lot by investing in other people's programmes courses, but you have to make sure that you are implementing it and that you're using it right that it's not just staying on your laptop or staying on your I don't know, in your notebook or on your bookcase if it's something that's physical. And I think a key thing here that I want to just also mention is that I've invested a lot of money into coaches that don't have any credential, right? That's another question that I get a lot. You know, do you have to have a credential or certification to be a coach, some of you listening to this, it might hurt your feelings. But I will say, as someone who's invested a lot into specifically International Coach Federation, coaching, that it's not necessary, it really isn't, it really just depends on once again, the type of coaching, you want to practice the type of clients you want to have, right, because there are some clients that will want you to have a particular type of certification, but it's not necessary. So really, just keep that in mind. And you know, as you are thinking about where you want to spend your time and energy, recognising that you can become a really great coach without having to go through a coaching programme. If anything, I think that sometimes going through a coaching programme can kind of limit you and actually kind of break down your confidence, because what starts to happen is that you feel like there's a certain way in which you have to show up, or that there's only one right way to do something, when in reality, that is not the truth. Okay, so the next thing I wanted to get into was how to get your first paid clients. And I will say that this particular question comes from the most one of the most found things on my website. So let me break that down. Because I'm not sure that necessarily made sense. But one of my top search blog posts on my website. So when I'm thinking about how people find me on Google, a lot of people will Google this specific thing. And my blog posts will come up. So it's one of the most found blog posts on my website. And so I actually wanted to just do a podcast episode where I added this as a question because it's something that a lot of specifically International Coach Federation coaches are looking for. So these are coaches who want to become accredited International Coach Federation coaches. So this is a question they asked a lot, how to get your first paid clients. And more specifically, and this is actually probably going to be changing within the International Coach Federation space, which I'm going to abbreviate now as IFC is needing to get 100 hours of coaching, and out of those 100 hours, I think 70 or 75, needs to be paid. And so there's a lot of coaches that are looking for ways to get those paid clients, and customers, because it's a really difficult thing to do, especially if you don't come from a sales background or business development background. And I do, but it still was difficult for me. So what I wanted to do was to share some of my thoughts in relation to that, if right, you're saying to yourself, like, Hey, you say don't wait to get paid clients. But how do I do that. So as I mentioned earlier on, this was sort of inspired or will be inspired by a post I have on my website, I will link it in the show notes. But the title is How to complete your 100 hours for your ICF associate coaching credential. So it's a specific credential. And as I mentioned earlier on, you don't need a credential in order to be a coach. This was the track that I went down. But I've worked with lots of coaches that have no credential, but they're incredibly effective and have been very helpful. And both my career and also building my business. And I also think that this is incredibly relevant for anyone, once again, who wants to build out an information based business, they want to be a consultant, they want to be a coach. They want to support others in this way. So the first thing I have on here is just really keeping in mind right, as someone who does focus a little bit more on productivity is recognising that you need to keep track of these things. So if you take a look at the post, you'll see that I do have like a little template that's just based off of something that ICF actually gives you. But in terms of some of the thoughts that I have, I think I have here just five different thoughts to keep in mind. And the first is really that mindset of you can get clients anywhere. So I was very scared when I first started. And this was before I even decided to build a coaching consulting practice, right? So I did my coaching credential, and I thought that I would just use it within an existing company, right. I never thought I would work for myself. But I was incredibly scared to find both paying and unpaid clients. And so I started off by building my confidence actually coaching some of my other coaching classmates, so other people that were part of the credential programme that I went through, but the ways I found other paying and non paying clients. So the first was a coach trade. So if you once again are specifically doing an ICF programme, I believe this is still the case I could be wrong. But I still think this is something that you can keep in mind even if you aren't doing credential, but you do want to be able to find paid clients is a coaching trade or coach trade. So coaching another coach counts as paid hours if you do what they call or describe with an ICF which is reciprocal coaching. So I coached my coaching classmates and Then I also found other coaches online, right? There's lots of different forums, lots of different programmes, and some of them have online forums that people who aren't part of the programmes can join. So I did a lot of that. The second thing I leveraged was WhatsApp groups. So this is a great way to share a simple programme or get quick clients for a few sessions, they could be free sessions, or they could be sort of an introductory session that then would turn into potentially a longer engagement. I also leveraged Facebook groups, this one was actually incredibly scary for me to do. But I know that there are some coaches that are amazing at adding value and you know, Facebook groups, and then they sort of pitch their services on relevant post. You can also direct message right potential clients after seeing something that they've posted. And this is something that I definitely do on LinkedIn specifically. So you can definitely leverage social media platforms such as WhatsApp such as Facebook, such as LinkedIn, right? Because even on LinkedIn specifically, and I've seen this also on Facebook, people might ask, right, they might say, Hey, I'm looking for X, Y, and Z support. So that's a really great way right to sort of reach out to someone. And you can of course, reference that right? That, Hey, I saw you post this. And that's why I got in touch. Another thing that I've also leveraged as listserv. So I don't know how many of you are still on listservs. But I'm in a few. And so I actually got one of my first paying clients by posting it in a listserv, I shared a really simple programme, it was super simple. And that's another thing, you don't need to overthink what you provide people, right, so it was super simple. And then I had a few calls, right to see if people were a good fit. And I was able to convert one of those individuals, right, because they felt like the programme spoke spoke to them. So that's a really another great space where people are already there. And they're typically already open, right. And then the last way that I was able to get paid clients was sort of taking my mindset from being like, I only want to work from one on one clients, or with one on one clients to group coaching. And so one of the fastest ways that I got hours and also clients was doing workshops, right. And I described them as workshops, as opposed to group coaching, because a lot of people actually don't understand what coaching is. And it would take very long sometimes to explain it. But I use coaching tools and techniques in these workshops, right. And so, you know, group coaching is a lot of fun. And you know, each person can also contribute to each other as well, which I think is something that leads to typically really great conversations and a really great way to sort of take the stress off of some of the issues or challenges that you might be speaking to, or you might be supporting them in. So those are just some of my thoughts on how to get some additional potential paying clients. As I mentioned before, I will tag all the different articles and posts that I referenced in this conversation in the show notes. But if you do have a question whether it's about leadership, or whether it's about me being a you know, certified executive and leadership coach, you are welcome to reach out, I do have a form that you can fill. I will also leave the form in the show notes. But as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, I would love to hear your thoughts on what I've shared. Do you have other ideas? Do you have other thoughts that you think might be helpful for other people that are aspiring coaches, or consultants and stay safe and say bye? Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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