Recently, on March 6, 2023, our business turned 4 years old. It’s been 4 years since I officially launched my first paid offer ever into the world, side hustled for 3 years, and went full-time into the business for the past year.
Needless to say, there’s been a lot of highs and lows as an entrepreneur. But it’s a journey and a career that I am tremendously grateful for.
To be able to be a coach and to build my own online coaching business is truly an opportunity of a lifetime.
And I’m so grateful to have access to tools such as a laptop, the Internet and social media to allow me to build this non-traditional career path.
The way I see it: building an online business is essentially quitting the traditional for the exceptional. I really, really believe that.
Let’s be honest, at the time of this recording, building an online coaching business is not traditional.
Now, for many of us who are immersed in the online coaching space, it might feel like everyone is building an online coaching business because that’s who we’re following.
But if we really take a step back and zoom out, it’s likely that only a few people, at most, that you know in real life, are building an online business.
In my very humble opinion, building a coaching career is an exceptional decision. We truly are leaving behind the traditional to do something exceptional.
This applies to you even if you’re currently in a traditional full-time career. You still are diverging from the traditional to create something truly exceptional.
This is exactly what I want to dive deeper in today’s episode.
For some context, I’ve quit two arguably prestigious career paths.
In 2018, I quit law school because I had this deep inner knowing that becoming a lawyer just wasn’t it. It was the career for me to really do my best work, to be of service, and it’s just not what I want to do to make money.
At the time when I quit, I still didn’t know what career I wanted to pursue. So I tried multiple things. I got a full-time job as a research assistant. I also tried part-time gigs as an English tutor and being an assistant to a coach/entrepreneur in Hong Kong.
At the same time, I started my own online coaching business.
Even though I was still figuring things out, I kept moving. Ultimately, I decided I really enjoyed both research and building my own coaching business, so I kept both of these careers for the next few years.
But it all started with the decision to quit law school. That’s the first “prestigious” traditional career path I quit.
The second one, was more recent, in 2022, when I decided to quit my PhD to move to Singapore to be with my husband, and hence becoming a full-time entrepreneur.
For those of you who have been following along in 2021, you might know that it was a combination of strict pandemic-related restrictions and regulations in Hong Kong that made it extremely difficult for me to see my husband and to travel to see my family overseas.
For example, because of Covid and travel restrictions, I didn’t see my then boyfriend and now husband for 19 months. And we finally saw each other for the first time in September 2021.
I personally struggled a lot emotionally because I really missed my family and loved ones, and I saw my performance as a PhD student dip as a result.
So, in December 2021, I ultimately decided to apply for a leave of absence for 7 months just so I can go spend time with people I really, really miss.
During this leave of absence from the PhD, it really hit me that my priority, at this current season of my life, 100% is the people who I love and who matter most to me. That is my top priority.
I realized that right now, in this season of my life, continuing my career as a coach and entrepreneur would allow me to be there with my loved ones because of the location and time flexibility that being an entrepreneur offers.
Ultimately, in 2022, I formally quit my PhD and became a full-time entrepreneur. I have since moved in with my husband and also have the flexibility to travel overseas to see family whenever I want.
I cannot be any more grateful for this lifestyle and to have built a business that supports this lifestyle.
Although I quit each traditional career path for very different reasons and under very different circumstances, the common thread between the two is that I was quitting the traditional for the exceptional.
For the former, I was quitting a traditional law career to figure out what truly is the exceptional career for me which will allow me to do exceptional work, be an exceptional version of myself, and to create an exceptional life.
For the latter, I was quitting a traditional academic career to go full-time into a coaching career, which allows me to do a few things:
That’s exactly why I believe that for anyone committed to building a coaching career and business, you are truly creating something exceptional and paving a path away from the traditional.
I hope that we will always remember that, even though all the highs and natural lows that are expected of entrepreneurship. What we’re doing really is exceptional.
I recognize that when you’re building this business, there are typically times, and sometimes prolonged periods of time, when you aren’t signing clients. Now you are wondering what are you missing, what are you doing wrong, and you feel really frustrated because you are posting consistently but you’re not seeing the results that you want.
So here’s a perspective I want to offer: careers take time.
And exceptional careers? They sure as hell take time to build.
Among traditional careers, it takes time to go through the training and practical work experiences you need to get paid for what you do and really become damn good at your job.
Whether it’s becoming a teacher, a doctor, massage therapist, social worker, banker, or anything else, I’m sure it takes years of education and practical training before you ever get paid to do what you want to do.
In the context of your coaching business, what if it also takes time?
For example, it takes time to cultivate a culture among our audience and to build trust with our community. It takes time to develop your own sense of identity as a coach. To sharpen your coaching skills, how you work with clients and how to get results for your clients.
It takes time to become known for your unique thought leadership. To fine tune your soft launching skills. To really, build a uniquely differentiated brand that stands out in your industry.
Exceptional careers take time, and building an exceptional career as a coach is no different.
Let’s normalize the journey and experience of being an entrepreneur and building a new EXCEPTIONAL career that you’re proud of.
Let’s normalize all sorts of timelines to see results. We can’t hustle our way out of the lived experiences of building a business or outwork our way from building the foundation that is required of an exceptional career.
That said, I’m still a firm believer that results can happen quickly.
Let me explain what this looks like by using myself as a case study:
I launched my first paid offer ever on March 6, 2019. On March 19, I signed my first client ever at $1,497 USD and they paid in full that day. That’s… pretty fast. To sign my first client ever in less than 2 weeks.
More specifically, I want to highlight two things from this experience.
First, on the application form, the client said, “I really resonated with your story of quitting law school”. Even though they themselves were not in a legal career and they didn’t quit their own career… yet.
She eventually left her career in engineering a year or two later, I believe.
She was still able to extra nuggets from my story that could apply to her, even though on the surface, it seems like entirely irrelevant circumstances.
Here’s the first perspective I want to highlight: your audience is intelligent. They will extract what’s relevant to them, from your story. It’s really the thought process and values embedded within the story that matter most, not the surface level “this is what happened” details.
So please, share your story. Especially if right now, you’re still in the process of developing your own unique thought leadership as a coach. Lean on your story. Leverage your story. Tell your story genuinely and openly. This will make a world of a difference in your content and marketing especially at the beginning.
Second, the client also told me that they liked how I was showing up, building my own personal brand, and the type of content I was creating.
That was exactly my offer at the time, to help you build your brand, create content and show up online confidently. Literally.
Honestly, at the time of launching my offer back in March 2019, I had no street cred. I had 3 screenshots from 3 free coaching sessions I did. And one testimonial from a coaching client I worked with for 5 weeks, for free.
The amount of social proof I had back then is nowhere near the quantity and quality of what I have today. But here’s what you may not know. I started creating content and building my online presence in November/December 2018.
That means I had 4-ish months of a portfolio or a body of work to show for. People could see how I was an implementer of my own process and teachings. I was embodying my own offer. I was being a product of my own product.
Looping back to the concept of results CAN happen quickly in your business. I am a firm believer of it.
It happened for me and for many of our clients, who signed clients within the first month or two or three after we started working together.
That said, there’s a lot of not-so-visible variables that contribute to results happening quickly. For example, have you been sharing your story or have you been just sharing how-to tips?
Or have you been building a body of work, whether it’s testimonials from people you’ve worked with or being a product of your own product?
Yes, results can happen quickly, but there also needs to be consideration for whether you’ve put down the building bricks necessary to showcase your unique thought leadership, fine-tune your soft launching skills, and build a uniquely differentiated brand.
Exceptional coaching businesses and brands, in my humble opinion, are built upon your thought leadership, soft launching skills, and having a differentiated brand.
Results in your business don’t have to take a long time.
But your business is a career, and it’s here to stay for the long term, right? To really build an exceptional career as a coach, that will take time.
Be open to results being able to happen quickly and continue to lay down the foundation for your exceptional career. At the same time, be willing to be in this for as long as it takes. Because to build a career that you’re truly proud of, will take time.
Which then leads me to the question: What is the way you need to show up to generate results quickly?
I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve overthinking or not posting because they think their post isn’t good enough. This isn’t a test in school where you need more information to know what a good post is.
You need to make a decision and take responsibility to make that decision the right decision. It’s not that your decision didn’t work and you should start over again by changing the decision.
But rather, take responsibility to create results from the decision you’ve made.
For example, if you make a post on Instagram, don’t spend the time second guessing the post and not posting it because you don’t have any validation to know if the post is good enough.
Actually follow through with the decision of posting on Instagram, and evaluate what you want to do differently for your next Instagram post.
The time you spend second guessing or changing the decision (like ditching Instagram for LinkedIn) or sitting in frustration for hours or even days or weeks, that’s just you not following through with your decision. You’re actually breaking the momentum that you literally just started to build.
Rather than slowing down the output or stopping posting all together, keep going.
Yes, take some time to rest and for self care. But keep going. There’s no moment to question your goals or decisions.
If you see that you aren’t implementing your plan of action the way you said you would, you’ve got to look at what’s going on, mindset wise.
It’s like you adopt a cat. It’s terrified of you and doesn’t have that bond that you were hoping for. You aren’t just gonna abandon the cat and go get a new cat. You keep trying to develop that bond and gain the cat’s trust.
You’re going to try new ways to develop trust with the cat, and you’re committed to doing something every single day to foster that connection with the cat. With time and repetition, that cat starts to come out of its shell and interact with you.
So keep it light. Keep it moving.
Being a perfectionist like you did in a traditional career, is not gonna cut it here. Continuing to flip flop between decisions and hence not posting anything, is not going to help you to build momentum and create that compounding effect that we often hear about in marketing.
The more time you are sitting in frustration and feeling sorry for yourself, even if you’re still posting something, the energy that you’re in is going to contaminate your ability to problem solve, to think creatively, and to really evaluate what’s working and not working.
Even if you are “taking action”, we can’t run away from the mindset that’s required to really put out the highest impact action.
No matter where you are in your business, you need to be 100% committed to figuring this out and making it work. Genuinely like where you’re at and who you are while building your business. And be in it for as long as it takes while keeping it light and keeping it moving.
Join us in the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program is the exact room you want to be in if your 2024 vision is to:
✨ Become known for your unique thought leadership and build your career as a thought leader
✨ Build a body of work that not only showcases the depth of your thinking and the caliber of your skills, but also compels best-fit clients to want to work with you and you specifically
✨ Attract both clients and opportunities that you once felt were out of reach for “someone like you”… But you now see that you’re completely capable of
Step into the version of you who stops following else’s playbook of “traditional success” and instead, proudly create something that’s truly of your own.
Get all the details and apply. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you and you can enroll now to get early access to the program and other early bird bonuses. The next cohort of the Thought Leader Club will take place from March to July 2024. We kick off on March 1st, 2024. 👀
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