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The Real Journey of a New Life Coach

Last updated on July 8, 2023

I started my coaching business from my dining room table in 2014. At the time, I didn’t have the financial resources to open an office, let alone furnish one. It was a risk that paid off.

But this isn’t one of those stories where I quit a high-paying job, networked through my LinkedIn contacts, made some audacious proposals, and then *poof* created an instantly successful coaching business. Or a story where I emptied my 401k to hire that one coach who magically made all of my dreams come true. If this was your experience, good on you. Seriously. We all have our way of arriving. But my journey was a bit more windy than most of what we see shared from big stages or social media feeds.

Have you ever read a single book on the business of coaching that really takes you behind the scenes or that fills in the gaps between having a profitable business and actually creating one? 

The beginning stuff, which we often skip over, matters. Because success is created in the micro, almost-too-small-to-consider, moments. It’s in tiny daily decisions and the intent to go forth no matter what. It’s in the whispers and callings that poke at you at 3 am. It’s in the thousands of failed ideas and your first, “Yes!” And it’s in the stuff no one talks about—so let’s talk about it.

Behind the Scenes of Starting a Coaching Business

Creating, growing, and sustaining a business is something I tend to daily. This means that, in a given year, I will have spent more than 103,000 minutes in the messy details of my business. So will you, and this isn’t even a 40-hour work week. But it’s important to remember that on the other side of every success story is a messy origin story about throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick. That’s exactly how my journey into coaching started. 

No one knew who I was prior to 2014. No one associated me with coaching or had sat in a single room where I could give talks or teach classes. No one had spent a single hour in a coaching session with me, let alone as a member of my community. Being known is not a prerequisite for success. But choosing to have something worth being successful for? This is a prerequisite and it’s where we must all begin. 

I didn’t know if my business would work in the beginning. But I sat at my dining room table every single day as though it could, and would, work. Because I had zero dollars to start this thing with, I had to find other resources and give them a new job. I knew how to cobble together a website, so I did that. I knew how to write, so I started a blog. I knew how to coach, so I started giving away sessions. I knew how to put together presentations, so I started offering free classes and seminars. I knew how to reach out to people, so I did on every platform popular at the time. I knew how to read, so I read tons of books that might help my business.

Being known is not a prerequisite for success. But choosing to have something worth being successful for? This is a prerequisite and it’s where we must all begin. 

I didn’t really know if it would actually work for another year. That first year, I made $4000 from my dining room table. Not exactly a living wage, but it was my money from my business. The next year I made $35,000. This may not sound like much but it was more money than I’d ever made in my life in a single year, so at the time it felt like a dream income. 

And then I did the thing I couldn’t afford but was ready for. The thing that helped me see myself as someone who not only could succeed, but would inevitably do so. I hired my first coach. 

Something in me said, “What if…” That was enough for me to get curious so I cracked open my journal, and wrote a list. A very long list. I wrote out every single thing I would need from my business to make the $800 each month a worthwhile investment. I went back to my coach and gave him the list. 

He looked it over, item by item. Then he did what great coaches do: He turned it around and slid it back to me. “This is your list of requirements and I can’t guarantee any of them. But what if you could for yourself?” 

I signed the agreement. The next year I made $175,000.

I want to be very clear: This required sustained effort and a whole lot of trial and error. It was the action of hiring my coach that helped me expand my creative thinking, move beyond my past limits, and start treating my business as a serious endeavor. Then, I focused on what I already knew how to do: hosting coffee dates and small gatherings, getting on the phone with members of my community and asking them about where they were struggling, joining Meetups where I showed up with a beginner’s mind, asking people to hire me, and so much more. 

Many don’t take this approach. Maybe you want more assurance before saying yes. Maybe making small bets with yourself about what you can do doesn’t motivate you. This is in no way an instruction manual, but it is how it started for me. I worked with my coach during that year-long program not once, but twice—and those two years changed me. My coach saw me as capable before I did. My coach believed in my vision before I knew I had one. My coach wasn’t afraid to challenge my edges and ask, “But what if?” 

Top 5 High-Performance Coach Certification Programs

There were no tricks behind the scenes. I didn’t master Facebook algorithms or crack the code for growing my email list. I had referrals, I networked, I gave talks, and I went on a lot of coffee dates. And when I had a consultation, I fumbled through it and kept trying until they were good. And I got a lot more of no’s than yeses.

My coach saw me as capable before I did. My coach believed in my vision before I knew I had one. My coach wasn’t afraid to challenge my edges and ask, “But what if?” 

For whatever reason, I wasn’t afraid to put ideas out there, even if they were half-formed or not totally perfect. Often, when peeling back the curtain of anyone’s origin story, it will look a lot like this: unrehearsed, messy, and random—but also with a unifying sense of purpose. It is only in looking back, in retrospect, that my path and choices make sense. In the beginning, I didn’t have clarity, but I knew I loved coaching enough to let it be my guidepost for how to grow my business.

Remembering your Coaching Journey’s Purpose 

I didn’t set out to be wildly successful, I just set out to not quit and really see what would happen if I actually tried. You have an origin story too. Maybe you’re living it right now and feeling like it isn’t big and grand, which it likely isn’t. You are putting one foot in front of the other, doing your best not to quit. Only when we look backward does it feel like it makes sense.

I will tell you this though: It isn’t enough to just love being a coach. You also have to love having a business, which requires a daily commitment to sharing your ideas and inviting clients into your process.

​​As coaches, we are already more prepared than we often realize to succeed at our business, too. Not only are we trained in high-tact skills like communication, social awareness, deep inquiry, and creating new futures, but we are also selling something that quite literally creates miracles in our clients’ lives. 

There will be plenty of days when your belief in your work and why you’re doing it has to be strong enough to keep you going. You will need this conviction. Please find a way to put it in your pocket and always have it available because it won’t always be easy. And that’s okay. I am not successful because I am innately brilliant at business. Business is a skill, and all skills can be learned. Your business is no exception. Business isn’t something you accomplish, it’s something you practice. I am only where I am because I keep practicing, learning, and persevering. So what will keep you going? Once you find it, put it in a special place and peek at it as many times as you need to.

Editor’s Note: Want to read more by Andrea? Discover her other articles on LCM and check out our interview with her.

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Andrea Leda - Brave Coach - Guest Author
Andrea Leda

Andrea Leda is a sought-after master coach, teacher, and mentor with over 10,000 hours of coaching experience since she began her practice in 2010. She is dedicated to helping each of us learn to trust our own innate value and worthiness so that we can show up for the work we’re truly here to do.

By harnessing her deep and practical knowledge of powerful coaching techniques—including NLP, journal therapy, mental emotional release work, and BodyMAP coaching—Andrea supports heart-centered coaches and visionary change-makers in reaching their fullest potential in both life and business. In her coaching work, she has been called "a force to be reckoned with and a brave woman who truly makes this world go round.”

In 2022, Andrea founded Braver Coach—a mission, a community, and an educational platform for coaches who are reimagining coaching by bringing forth all of who they are. As a certified training organization through the Association of Coaching, Andrea equips coaches so that they feel empowered to do the work they are called to do—and help their clients and communities do the same.

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