When Do You Know It’s Time To Hire A Coach?

Yet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homepreneurs a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

Have you worked with a coach? If so, how did you choose the right one for your business? If not, have you considered coaching and why?

Cindy Bidar from The Educated VA says: 

business coachingI have worked with a coach on two occasions. Both times with the same coach, who is a personal friend and long-time mentor. I chose her because I like and trust her, but I did have some requirements as well:

  1. Our personalities and beliefs had to match.
  2. I wanted a coach who ran a similar business or who reached a similar audience.
  3. I wanted someone who would hold me accountable, not just let me slide when I didn’t do the work.

I got all three in my choice. My coach is very practical and down-to-earth, which is a perfect fit for my personality. She’s not one to make airy-fairy suggestions about “manifesting success” or tell me how wonderful I am when I’m clearly not. I have friends for that kind of unconditional support, so I wanted a coach who would push me to be better, not allow me to be satisfied where I am.

But, what is more important than that is the fact that she is intimately familiar with my market. While you can say that businesses is business, and marketing is all the same regardless, I feel it’s still critical for a coach to be truly connected with the audience you’re trying to reach.

I feel that every business owner can benefit from a solid coaching relationship. It allows you to see possibilities you may not have considered, explore new paths to success, and stop operating in a vacuum. I think as long as I have a business, I’ll continue to work with a coach in some capacity.

Samantha Pointer-Foxx from Get It Together

business coachingI currently work with a coach for my business. She is a women’s wellness coach so she also helps me with getting healthy. We have been working together for 2 months now and it has really helped me reach new heights in my business. I had on my goal list for about 2 years to hire a business coach. How I choose this particular coach was she was part of a Facebook group that I am in and I watched for over a year how she talked to others online and what types of things she shared. I took her up on a complimentary call and we just clicked. I liked that she started the call and ended the call with prayer, which was truly important to me. I think any person wanting to take their business to the next level should consider getting a coach. Whoever you pick should line up with your values and goals. It should not be a codependent relationship. They should bring out the brilliance that has been locked away inside of you the whole time.

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

business coachingBack in 1999, I used a coach to help me decide whether I should go back to college or not. She helped me figure out what I really wanted by asking the right questions. She was awesome. Since then, I have not used a personal coach. However, I am involved in Solo Masterminds, which offers a lot of group coaching and coach-like interaction with people ready to kick my butt when I need it.

I haven’t hired a coach since 1999. I finished college, earning my Masters in 2011 and sent my youngest off to college in 2012.  I was super focused on that goal for quite a number of years. In the meantime, I built my business, raised children and just moved on with life. At this point I don’t feel like I need a coach, as I am moving forward with my business in a manner in which I am satisfied. I’m busting through fear inducing boundaries, and staying laser focused on my niche,

I believe coaching is very helpful in helping people solve specific problems so that they can reach their goals. I will more than likely hire a coach again at some point in time, I just haven’t identified who that might be or what issues I need to work on. Coaches can help you take your business to the next level if you’re willing to follow through on your agreements. I’m very thankful to the coach who helped me make a life changing and altering choice about college. I will definitely do it again.

Tishia Lee from Tishia Saves Time says:

Business CoachingMy answer to this question is more than likely going to be a lot different than how others answer it because my coaching experience probably isn’t one of the ‘norm’. So, to answer the question – yes, I have worked with a coach – and still do – but it’s not on a regular basis even though I know it should be and I should hire her to coach me full time…I just haven’t done it.

Choosing the right coach for me didn’t take a lot of consideration or effort on my part to find one. You see, my coach is someone who was already “coaching” me years before she started working online and began doing business coaching. She’s a personal friend and has been ‘coaching’ me in life since my son was 3 or 4 (he’s now 15). In fact, she’s the reason I ever got started as a solopreneur in the first place (but that’s a story for another time).

So, over the last eight years in business, she’s been coaching me off and on. I know she’s always there to help when I’m stuck on something or when I need to brainstorm some new money making ideas. I also work with her as her Virtual Assistant. It’s just kind of a natural fit for us. And in case you’re wondering who she is – it’s Kelly McCausey from SoloSmarts.com :-)

Alicia Jay from New VA Advice says:

business coachingWhen I started my first online business, I had absolutely no money to invest in a new business. I’m not suggesting that you start out with a zero budget; I just want to be honest here. Therefore, the thought of hiring a coach was so far from the front of my mind.

But I knew that it was an important step. I also knew other people online who completely took their business to another level by working with a coach. And I knew I wanted that too. I made it a priority to put money aside each time I brought in some income with the intention of using it to reinvest in my business. It took time to build up that “extra” amount, but I knew it would be worth it.

I was finally able to work with the awesome Kelly McCausey, and working with her did more for me and my business than I had initially intended. I’d need another blog post to write all of my thoughts on this, but I’ll try to sum it up a bit.

Here are some benefits that I’ve found working with a coach:

  • Goal setting—you get clear!
  • Accountability
  • They know the path
  • Will connect you to their awesome contacts
  • Help you see the forest for the trees

Let me give you some tips on how I managed things before I got to the point of one-on-one coaching:

  1. Forums and groups in your industry are a great place to start. There are some good free ones out there, and inside them, you’ll find people who are further along the path that you’re traveling. They have great knowledge of how to make it in your industry that they are fully willing to share with you.
  2. You can find a mentor. Look for someone in your industry who is exactly where you want to be with your business in the future. Some people offer free or paid mentorships, where they take you under their wing and teach you exactly what they did to get where they are today.

When you’re ready to make the move of looking for a coach, find someone whose teaching style resonates with you. What are their core values? Do they match your own? If you can’t afford their one-on-one coaching right away, do they offer a more affordable group-coaching program that you can join? There are some fabulous benefits to group coaching. You are able to gain access to that coach you really want to work with and you glean so much good information from other members in the group.

My Insights

business coachingWhen I became open to the possibility of starting an online business, I made the assumption that the only way you can really do business online was by selling a physical product. I then began to do some research on what I was going to be selling and eventually came across several blogs. At the time, I didn’t know what a blog was but I followed a few just for inspiration purposes. Then I realized some of those blogs were actually businesses and my awareness heightened to all things business in the online space.

I was clueless in the process but was very good in researching information. After one year of planning, I realized I needed some help in actually getting something launched. That’s when I decided it was time to work with a business coach.

As a professional counselor, I knew the value coaching had to offer. My understanding of coaching was that it provides you with guidance in your pursuit of personal, professional, and/or business development while primarily bypassing the clinical focus of disorders and diseases, which was the focus I was used to working in with my counseling clients. Coaching allows you to utilize your personal qualities and abilities while learning new ways of facing challenges in any particular area of interest. For me, that area was online marketing.

coachingAs I reflected on my successes in the past, including my most successful offline business startup, I knew what was missing –  structure and accountability. Not only did I need the accountability piece and a plan to follow, I also wanted someone who was not afraid to call me out if I needed it. I began my pursuit in finding a coach that can help me shine so I started following a few people online. I signed up for their newsletters, attended Webinars they produced, purchased some of their products and followed their podcasts and videos. I went with the person who I resonated with the most and it was worth the investment.

With that said, do you need a business coach? Well, I think it depends on many factors including your specific personal and business needs. I agree with all of the recommendations offered by the Sparkplugging mentors above. Two other tips I feel are relevant as they were important factors for me are:

  1. Find a coach that has expertise in a few defined areas. No one is a master at everything in business.
  2. Finding someone to motivate you is not enough if you’re looking to achieve tangible results. You should find a coach who will get you to take some action or help you make an important decision quicker so that you can take action sooner.

Related Reads:
Four Signs Your Freelance Business is Ready for a Coach



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Three Reasons NOW Is The Time To Put Yourself Out There


I want to convince you of this:  NOW  is the time to put yourself out there.

If YOU don’t do it, someone else will. 

I’m not suggesting there isn’t enough business to go around.

Whatever the niche, there’s room for you – if you rise above & do what it takes.

You believe that, or you wouldn’t be in business.

So why are you procrastinating?

Why are you holding back?

Why aren’t you putting yourself out there for more people to know?

No more delaying.  Now is the time.

The First Reason Now Is the Time: There Are Only So Many Kingpins. 

If you watch gangster movies – you’ve heard the phrase Kingpin. A kingpin is a leader, someone who influences others.

There’s plenty of business to go around, but there are only so many amazing opportunities to go around and Kingpins connect you to these opportunities.

These Kingpins are people you connect with who will connect you to new circles of people they influence.

A small Kingpin might introduce you to a few dozen other people in their niche, telling them about you; saying positive things about you and ultimately sending you business.

There are some Kingpins whose circle of influence reaches out into the hundreds, and there are some Kingpins out there whose circle of influence reaches out into the thousands.

I would hate for you to miss an opportunity to connect with a Kingpin.

I have made connections with people who in turn introduced me to their communities in ways that changed my life, and gave me instant, amplified reach.

It’s not that I’m amazing or that I can do something so much better than someone else – it isn’t.  It’s just that I put myself out there. I was the right person at the right time.

If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else!

Imagine right now that there’s a Kingpin who needs something done, and you can do it.

You’ve put yourself out there.  You’re producing and repurposing content.  You’re promoting yourself.  You’re taking an extra step each day into new territory, and you bump up against one of these Kingpins, and you’re available because you’ve made yourself available.  You fulfill their needs.  They like what you do and next thing you know, they’re promoting you to their circle of influence.

If you don’t do it –someone else will.

Someone else will have that date with destiny.  They will run into a Kingpin, meet the need, and enjoy the widened reach that comes with that relationship.

That should rock your world.

What if that opportunity is right there, and I’m not the one who went for it?

I don’t like missed opportunities.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve experienced it from both sides – from the point of view of someone who was in the right place at the right time who gained benefit from a relationship with a Kingpin, and I’ve been that person who didn’t take action and watched it happen for someone else with fewer skills and experience then I.

It’s not about being awesome and being perfect: It’s about being there.

Some of you are immediately resisting this idea.

You’re thinking, “Oh c’mon Kelly.  I’m so new to all of this.  I’m not going to be of use to a Kingpin.”

Yes, you’re new, and maybe you have the greatest impact on other people who are also kind of new.

Let me point this out: Of those people you’re serving, you don’t know who among them is going to be the Kingpin of tomorrow.

The first person I JV’d with was Alice Seba.  I was new to online business and she was too.  We both came online in 2002, and in 2003, we had enough of a relationship that we forged a partnership. That relationship turned out to be key for me because she ended up becoming really well known in our niche.

There are others I’ve met along the way and forged relationships that turned into partnerships and JVs.  Nicole Dean comes to mind and more recently, Melissa Ingold.  Today they’re Kingpins with a big circles of influence – but they were newcomers once.

I benefit from those associations not because I met them when they were big, but because I met them when they were small.

Put yourself out there. Craft Relationships. Be ready for the next amazing opportunity.

The Second Reason Now Is the Time: The Lifetime Value of a Customer.

What are your financial goals for the year? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reach them.  That’s just common sense.

There is someone out there right now who needs what you have to offer – they’re actively seeking out the right person – maybe they need a VA, and you’re a VA.  They need a writer, and you’re a writer.  They need a coach, and you’re a coach.

The sooner you connect to a client, the better.

Well, let’s put numbers to it.

You’re a relatively new VA, and you’re charging $25 a month on a 10-hour retainer.  That’s $250 a month.  It’s $3000 over the course of a year.  Do you really want to leave that money on the table because you weren’t willing to go for it?

You’re business coach like me, and you charge $500 a month for coaching, that’s almost $6000 in a year from one new client.

Let’s not forget that our income isn’t just coming from our hourly rates.  There are all of those delicious additional streams of income from information marketing and affiliate programs.

The sooner you develop and promote products, the sooner you can profit from them.

The sooner you identify and promote good affiliate products, the sooner you can see that income stream growing.

There is NO good excuse to procrastinate on these things and every day you let slip by is a impacting your future financial success.

Do you want to be closer to your financial goals?  If you want to get there sooner, if you want to finish out the year with higher numbers, then start sooner.

Don’t procrastinate.  Don’t think: There’ll be a better time later.

Six years ago, my niece had given birth to quadruplets, and my son and I were doing the night shift with the babies.  We were sleeping during the day, which left me about four hours a day for my business.

A gentleman contacted me about building a site for him, and my first thought was to turn him away.  It’s was not convenient, my time was at such a premium. As I listen, I realize he has big plans.  He wants to launch 300 sites in the coming year, and I decide to go ahead and take some action with him right then.

It meant working a little harder than I would have liked to at that moment, but I had a feeling I’d regret turning him away.

In the course of next year, I earned more than $15,000 from that client. The number more than doubled over the next few years.

The lifetime value of that customer was very much worth making myself available sooner rather than later.  If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else who got that client.

The Third Reason Now Is the Time: The Law of Inertia.

There is an interesting thing that happens with newcomers in the business world.

Somebody new appears and immediately rocks it.  They’re blogging, podcasting, and releasing products before you know it.  They become a rock star in a short period of time because they’re willing to go for it.

Others come along and they play a careful game of ‘when I’m more ready’.  They get caught up in an addiction to learning and don’t put enough of it into action.

It’s the Law of Inertia: An object at rest tends to stay at rest.

The person who doesn’t take action tends to stay where they are.

The person who takes action tends to go places.

I’ve got a thought for you that might be the ‘shove’ you need to get moving.

People around you are starting to think that you’re full of crap.

How many of you have said, “This is it – I’m finally going to do it!

And a few months later said, “This is it – I’m finally going to do it!”

You may believe it every time you say it, but WE (the action takers) are coming to understand you’re full of crap.  You’re all talk and no action.

Yep, as much as we’d prefer otherwise, people form opinions about us based on what we DO, not just what we SAY we’re going to do.  Once people form a negative opinion, it’s difficult to overcome – but not impossible.

Just don’t be that person anymore!

Take action and for crying out loud, follow it up with more action!

I know, it’s easier said than done – but I’m here to tell you YOU CAN finally take real action.

If you’re dead serious about it and you’re willing to make yourself accountable to others in a tangible way, I believe you can do it.

If you ARE dead serious, I’d love the chance to hold you accountable.  I love working with solopreneurs who’ve made up their mind to act and want to be held to it through a tough coaching relationship.

Interested in learning more about working with me?  Check out my coaching info here.

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Celebrating a Fifth Anniversary Ahead of the Curve

fifth-anniversaryIt seems like everybody and their guru is talking about how hot membership sites are these days.  I’m quite proud of the fact that I’m celebrating a fifth anniversary for one of my memberhips sites this month.  It makes me feel proud and somewhat ahead of the pack in some ways 😉

The membership site I’m referring to is Mom Masterminds.

Mom Masterminds is a rich internet marketing learning center and private networking forum that you pay to access for 12 consecutive months, and then graduate into lifetime free access.

Launched in June of 2004, MM was a partnership between Alice Seba (the Internet Marketing Sweetie) and myself.    Alice stepped away from the project when she widened her target market and embraced the Sweetie brand, althrough she remains as a Special Advisor to this day.

I have also been partnered with Lynette Chandler. She has been the technological brains behind the site since the beginning.  She keeps the scripts updated and speaking well with each other – something I would have no clue on how to do.  She brings a darned sharp marketing mindset too.

A Membership Site When Membership Sites Weren’t Cool

Yes, we launched Mom Masterminds in a time when paid membership sites were rare in the mom market. There was in fact quite a few negative comments being spouted around the work at home mom community.  [Read more…]

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Five Steps for Success From a Life Coach

aureliaI asked Aurelia Williams of Real Life Coaching to pop in with some advice for our Sparkplugging Interns.  They have taken on a big project working with me and the other Sparkplugging Authors for ten long weeks – on top of their own busy lives and businesses.  I want to make sure to give them extra encouragement along the way and I couldn’t think of anyone better to help me do so than Aurelia.

Are you ready to learn the secret to success?

If you follow the five simple suggestions below, you will find that you will be able to accomplish more success than you ever thought possible!

Step One: Keep your eye on the prize

You know how it goes. You start a brand new project and are filled to the brim with enthusiasm. Some time passes and you are still happy about the project, but you start noticing the difficult things.  More time passes, and you’re no longer enthusiastic at all, but keep going because you know it has potential. Finally, you start to question why the heck you are doing this in the first place. Then it happens.  A new project pops up. You feel excitement start to build again, but for this new project instead of your current one. You decide this one will be MUCH better, and jump ship to pursue this new, exciting opportunity. Sound familiar? [Read more…]

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Drowning in Work as a Solo Business Owner – Think You are Alone?

Last week, I was swapping emails back and forth with my friend Laura Fitton, otherwise known as @Pistachio on Twitter and the owner of Pistachio Consulting. Laura’s business is a lot like 78% of all US businesses – she is a solo business owner with no employees.

She sent me an amusing little note about not knowing what Sparkplugging is all about:

I need to read Sparkplugging more. Somehow I missed the shift from moms stuff to business startup stuff. I am struggling with the challenges of starting [and running] a biz more or less by myself. Some days I rock and some days I’m scattered. Today I am exhausted & staying in bed with NPR & coffee!!! :-)

I immediately recognized where Laura is at in her business – not only because I have been there myself, but because it is one of the most common problems I hear from many of our readers.

Laura is:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to run a successful business
  • Locked into earning a living by billing out her hours, and unable to bill more hours
  • Having difficulty delegating any work because even hiring a freelance assistant takes away time and resources from her ability to make money
  • Is trapped doing work that she isn’t particularly good at by doing work like bookkeeping, filing, and administrative tasks, because these things have to be done and there is no one else to do it
  • And most of all, is getting down on herself because she thinks that in order to be a successful business owner, she should be on top of every task at any given moment

While the last one might seem like a simple bothersome symptom, in fact, it is THE most frequently mentioned challenge with every business owner I have heard from in the 2 and a half years I have run this site. Some call it self-doubt, others call it fear – I call it the Impostor Syndrome:

From Wikipedia:

Regardless of what level of success they may have achieved in their chosen field of work or study or what external proof they may have of their competence, those with the Impostor Syndrome remain convinced internally they do not deserve the success they have achieved and are actually frauds. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they were more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

And while it is frequently cited as more common among women, I can’t say that I’ve noticed that as much. Plenty of men have mentioned they struggle with this too. But one thing that nearly all of these people have in common is this: they think they are the only one facing this issue, and that they are alone as they find a way to struggle to overcome it.

Laura and I had an amazing conversation-turned-coaching-session last week because I didn’t want to see my dear friend beating herself up over something that is much less of a problem than it seems to be. There are some very specific things that any business owner can do to get out of this trap which is so incredibly common that I think we could call it the Solo Business Owner Syndrome – and oh, my gosh, I think I just came across a book idea that I should pitch. 😉

On Friday, I’ll put up part two of this post with the specific solutions she and I talked about – but I want to hear from you!

Can you relate to the challenges that Laura is facing?

What other challenges do you think are related to this constellation of problems that face solo business owners?

And what things have any of you done to work through them?

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What You Focus on Expands in Your Business

Some of the best advice I’ve ever heard has come in unassuming moments in casual conversation. Moments when I was relaxed and just open to something new.

I can recall many moments like that with my grandfather. My grandfather loved birds. He used to sit for hours watching finches fly in and out of the five story bird house he built. The bird house was on the end of a pole about 30 feet above the ground. We’d lay back in lawn chairs and just watch the birds.

Every fall I’d help my grandfather take down the bird house for cleaning, repair and storage. It was huge and so high up that he’d developed a rather elaborate pulley system to bring it down.

One such day, when I was 8, we were lowering the bird house. I was holding one of the main pulley ropes. Under the weight of the bird house, my hands became strained and began to hurt. I told my grandfather, “My hands hurt, I can’t hold it.”

His response, “Don’t focus on your hands hurting. What you focus is on expands. So if you think about the pain in your hands, it’ll get bigger. Instead, focus on getting the bird house down.”

You know he was right, of course. I stopped focusing on how much my hands hurt and the pain got less. I held the rope until the bird house was safely down.

I’ve never forgotten that phrase: what you focus on expands. Through the next three decades I found it very useful. But not only useful, I’ve found it to be truth. Every time I focus on things that are negative or painful, that thing increases. And when I focus on beauty or love that’s what increases.

So how does this relate to business?

Simple, really. When you run a business you’re faced with problems and decisions all the time. Some problems can get so large that they can stop us from not only making good decisions, but making decisions at all. That’s why I consider the problem but I don’t focus on it. Rather, I focus on the solution.

It’s easy to focus on the problem – especially the large ones. They get in your line of sight and seem to become like a wall that won’t let you look through it.

But there’s always a way to look beyond the problem; to alter your focus so that you can find the space outside the problem. I focus there. Then, I focus on finding the solution from outside the constraints of the problem. I don’t let the limits of the problem hem me in to one way of thinking. Rather, I let my focus expand to the point that it contains the problem and more. And it’s in the more that I most often find the solution.

What you focus on really does matter. Give it a try and see what you think.

Have you had any experiences of an unexpected wisdom? How have they changed your life? Your business?

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Welcome Ask the Coach & WAHM 2.0!

I promised more blogs. You get more blogs. 😀

This week we are launching two channels I am particularly pleased to present to you. Both of them will cover some of the things that I used to cover on my own blog, so I do believe you will want to read and/or subscribe to them, as I’ll be writing a bit less on these topics.

Let’s just skip to the intros. I’m too excited to babble on about anything else.

Ask the Coach :: 3 Business Coaches, a Wealth of Business Answers

Regular readers might remember when I used to take on coaching clients. Readers here loved both my coaching insights on my blog as well as one on one. As much as I have always loved coaching people, Sparkplugging became a full-time job. I had to start turning away clients.

Ever since then, I have felt a little hole here on this site. I have relied so heavily on both business and life coaching in my own life I felt this site was incomplete without this resource for our readers.

I hand-picked the coaches involved in Ask the Coach, Marla Tabaka, Starla Sireno and Edward Mills. All of them have coached me at some point in time. They are a tremendous resource and they will answer your questions for free on Ask the Coach.

WAHM 2.0 :: This isn’t Your Mother’s Work at Home Business

When I realized I had to shift the focus of my own blog, I realized I couldn’t continue to focus on Moms anymore. I had a really hard time letting that go – in fact, only felt OK with that decision when the amazing Kelly McCausey agreed to write a blog for WAHMs on Sparkplugging.

Kelly has been a leader and advocate for work at home moms online for way longer than I have. And Kelly has some seriously great experience and internet business advice. She has produced WAHM Talk Radio since November of 2003.

Kelly knows that being a work at home mom today means something different than it did back in the day. And she is seriously one of the best people out there to help you get started.

I couldn’t be prouder of these two new blogs! Please give our new authors a warm welcome and get some great advice from them in the process. :)

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