So you want to be a coach? Great. What does that look like? What does a coach do all day? Whether you’re exploring the coaching field as a full-time possibility, kicking the tires on coaching as a side hustle, or imagining what it would be like to coach for a living, it helps to have a realistic perspective on what it really means to be a coach.
In this blog post, I want to describe an average, typical day. I’m going to envision a full-time coach who is working solo or with a small team (that’s the way many coaches do it). And by “full-time” I mean an 8-hour day. If you coach part-time, you can adjust the amount of time invested in each area accordingly. If you have a larger team, you’re probably not reading this. Let’s go.
Area 1: Coaching
How much coaching does a full-time coach do each day? On average, 2 to 4 hours. Sometimes you could have a day of 8 hours of coaching, but that’s rare and it’s draining. What I mean by “coaching” here is direct coaching interaction with a paying client. It does not include coaching or other conversations done as part of client acquisition or client management. It also doesn’t include logistics such as driving to a client or administrative/supportive tasks for a particular client.
If you’re doing the math, you can see that a coach will do 10 to 20 hours of coaching per week. This means that coaching is not for people who don’t like to coach. As strange as that concept might sound, I do know folks who think they will get into coaching even though they really prefer the idea of running a business more than they love to actually coach. If you don’t enjoy coaching or you’re not very good at coaching, don’t go into coaching!
Now, if you really do the math, you’ll see that coaching takes up less than half your time. This is probably the bigger shocker to most would-be coaches. Those of us who love the one-on-one time with clients can be disappointed and even disillusioned to learn that most of being a coach does not involve actually coaching.
Area 2: Getting Clients
If you’re not good at this part of coaching, you will do very little of Area 1. It’s simple reality: you must have a way to get clients. And whatever your way is, it will require time. How much time? 2 to 3 hours a day. That works out to 10 to 15 hours each week.
Yes, you will spend almost as much time getting clients as you do coaching your clients. This is especially true in your early days of coaching. In fact, when you first start out, you probably should estimate investing 30 hours every week doing the work of getting clients.
The work of getting clients can involve a wide variety of activities depending on your approach. You might network, create content marketing, develop a website, conduct workshops, be interviewed by radio and podcast hosts, etc. You’ll want to get clients in ways that feel mostly authentic to you and utilize skills and strengths you already possess. You’ll also need to stretch out of your comfort zone frequently.
Getting clients involves marketing (networking and creating awareness) as well as sales (moving potential clients into prospects and then into paying clients). Some coaches fail to find the proper ratio for spreading their attention between marketing and sales. Just remember, you must do both and you tend to not have anything to sell if you don’t first do marketing.
The amount of time invested in getting clients is a wakeup call for many would-be coaches. In essence, you are running a small business, which requires you to do the sales and marketing. While coaching is reactive (the calendar tells you when to coach), sales and marketing tend to require proactivity on the part of you, the coach. If you don’t get out there and hustle, there will be no coaching to do.
Area 3: Support
Fortunately, most coaches don’t need to fuss with HR issues or much accounts payable/accounts receivable stuff. But there are some administrative and finance functions that you’ll need to consider. I estimate about an hour a day, or 5 hours a week. What sorts of things are you doing in this slim amount of time? Here are some examples:
- Scheduling coaching sessions
- Emailing current clients about a homework assignment or prep for next session
- Sending invoices to clients and following up
- Reconciling your bank account
- Preparing and paying taxes
- Getting insurance
As your coaching business grows, there is much more of this back-office kind of work, but for most solo coaches or small practices, the workload isn’t that great. That said, most coaches despise the administrative and financial tasks. An hour a day can feel like an hour of brutal torture. We must remind ourselves of three things:
- It’s really not that bad.
- It’s the cost of doing business. I have one friend who says this is “paying the rent.”
- Having systems and partners can diminish the pain of these efforts.
The world needs coaches who are not only trained and eager to coach, but who can coach for the long haul and impact the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. For this to happen, you need to take yourself seriously as a coach and you must lean in to these three areas and do each of them to the best of your ability. Remember, your clients are counting on you!