Why I Work with a Business-Life Coach

As one business owner to another, I highly recommend working with a business/life coach at least once during your life or the life cycle of your business. This experience will not only help you become a budding business owner, but you will gain insight and awareness about yourself as an individual. While I realize the expense of working with a coach may be considered a luxury, the benefits you gain far outweigh the financial constraints. I am not suggesting you go into debt to work with one, but if it’s within your budget, the payoff will justify the expense. I should know because I work with a coach and this experience has made a powerful impact in my life.

I am a Virtual Assistant and owner of The Essential Office. Before my career as a Virtual Assistant began, I was an Executive Assistant in the corporate world for over 14 years. All of my jobs were in industries I had no interest in and only stayed at them because they paid the bills. I consider myself a creative thinker and lifelong learner but these jobs rarely had tasks that challenged or kept me interested for long periods of time. Every couple of years, I’d get frustrated and move on to another job I thought would make me happy, but they never did. Soon, my frustration became visible to people around me, and this prompted me to take hold of my life. It dawned on me that the reason I worked at these jobs was because they felt “safe” to me, emotionally and financially. But I figured if I wanted to be happy, I needed to find a career I loved. So I began to do some research to find out what I could do to compliment the skills I had and give me the fulfillment I was looking for.

During my research, I discovered the virtual assistant industry. A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a business owner that provides administrative support to small business owners using the latest technology from their own home office. It sounded like an intriguing concept and something I never heard of in the administrative industry. As I continued my research, I learned a VA:

–> Owns her own business, and creates standards and boundaries for the way she wants to work

–> Chooses to work in industries that interests her

–> Works with people she wants to work with, forming partnerships and creating added value for them

–> Chooses the work she wants to do, while continuing to strengthen her skills and learning new technology

–> Works from home and creates her own schedule

I identified with so many of the skills and attributes of a VA. I thought it was the right career opportunity for me to give me the freedom to explore and challenge myself, but I was scared. Could I do this by myself, as a single mom? Who was I to ask for more than I had? Could I survive without a paycheck? What if I failed? Could I do this all on my own, and did I have the strength to challenge myself to get to where I wanted to be? Although these questions swam around in my head, something was tugging at me, that said go for it, find out more! Still, this was a new industry to me and I felt like I needed some guidance. As I kept reading and absorbing more information, my research led me to my coach, Pam and her website, http://www.whatswithinu.com. I’ve worked with therapists in the past, but I never worked with a coach. Being the open-minded person that I am, I decided to find out what the benefits were from working with one, so I contacted Pam and she gave me a free 30-minute consultation. At the end of our conversation, I knew I wanted to continue talking with her.

Pam is my cheerleader, confidante, and a shoulder to cry on. She motivates me, keeps me focused, and encourages me to do things I don’t trust myself to do (we’re still working on that one!). She reminds me to congratulate and treat myself on a job well done. Best of all, she reminds me of what I sometimes fail to forget – that I can do anything I want to. It hasn’t been easy for me. I opened deep wounds and fears that I stored away for a long time. I didn’t want to deal with them, but I knew I had to in order to live in the present and forward my life. Pam is so patient and she does not judge me. I trust her enough to say anything that’s on my mind and it feels so good when I do.

During the year we have worked together, so many changes in my life have taken place. I applied and was accepted into the Virtual Training Program at AssistU (www.assistu.com), the premiere training organization for VAs. I graduated from the program and started my VA practice last year. Eventually I overcame my fear of losing a regular paycheck, and quit my corporate job. If that weren’t enough, I took an even bigger step and moved away from our family and friends in New York City to Durham, North Carolina. We know almost no one here, but we moved so I could build my VA practice full-time, live at a slower pace, and create more time in my schedule to be with my daughter whenever she needs me. It’s been almost two months since we moved here. We’ve started to meet new people and I’m making contacts and learning new things that will help me build my business. Best of all, I am able to take my daughter to and from school each day, something I was never able to do when I worked in the corporate world. Each day I feel stronger and more confident in my abilities. It’s still scary, but as I continue to work with Pam, the fear is slowly disappearing. Our sessions help me set goals and be accountable for following through on them. One of my goals is to create a full practice of ideal clients and never go back to a corporate job again!

Like therapists, most coaches receive certification. Organizations like, International Coaching Federation (www.coachfederation.org) and CoachU (www.coachinc.com) offer training programs. Some coaches work with their clients in-person, or coach over the phone like I do with Pam. They specialize in life, business, and career coaching and within these specialties are detailed niches. For example, Pam supports “career professionals, entrepreneurs, and divorcees through the transitory, stuck, “What to do now?” stages of life.”

The best part about working with a coach is that you can make it what you want it to be. Coaches are there to support you and talk about anything you want. A coach helps you concentrate on living in the present and establish goals for getting you to a life you want to live. If you decide to work with a coach, it is important you feel comfortable working with him or her. Do some research, read their website, make sure they can support your needs and that you can afford their rates. But don’t despair, if you can’t find someone you can afford, some coaches do pro bono work or offer sliding scale rates. And if you are a business owner, some coaches will let you barter your services until you are able to pay them.

The advances I’ve made in myself and in my business have been life changing. I can’t say for sure I would be where I am today if I did it all by myself, but having support along the way has helped me build confidence in myself and my capabilities as a business owner. I’ve learned so much from working with Pam, I’ve decided I want to offer my services to coaches who help other people live beyond their dreams and create the life they want. Coaching may not be for everyone; it’s an emotional commitment and you have to be willing to work at it. But for those who are looking to make some changes and need a helping hand, working with a coach will get you started in the right direction.