By Jo Permaul
In 2010 I began my journey into the world of wellbeing; I’ll be honest with you, I thought that when I got to that moment of qualification I’d have people knocking at my door. After all, my passion was infectious, I was brimming with case studies and could talk ad infinitum about health and wellness. Thirteen years later I look back on that version of myself and wish I could have told her all that I know now. That working in coaching, therapies, wellness and healing involves a little more than passion and good stories (although we’ll come on to that in a bit!).
I turned to people I knew who were established in their field and asked them for sound advice about how to get more clients, how to earn more money and how to not burn out. I accepted that I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone continually and that this was going to be a lifelong journey.
1 – Treat your work as a separate entity from you from day 1
It’s a rollercoaster being a self-employed wellness professional. The highs are super-high, you feel like you won at life: the new clients, the healing transformations, the referrals, testimonials, expert opportunities or new friends you make along the way. The lows can be really low: feast or famine finances, cancelled bookings and no pay if you are off sick. Now when challenges come I remind myself that my business is not me. It is not a reflection of what else is going on in my life. My work is at the core of who I am but it is not me. I am separate and have boundaries with my time and energy. It allows me to tap into outside work interests, and maintain good relationships with others and myself.
2 – See your work as a business, not a hobby
How wonderful if you are in a position whereby the money is an extra. However, I’ve never met anyone in that position, you see most people work because they need the income. Many wellbeing professionals are crossing over from one career to another and wish to maintain a lifestyle, have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Seeing your work as a business and stepping outside of the hobby mentality will serve you well. This means you need to get confident with charging, creating packages, products and doing budgets. Your future self will thank you for asking yourself basic questions like; how much do I want to earn, how many clients do I need to see in order to cover that? How might I build in some passive income?
3 – You are stronger when you connect with others
The best thing I’ve ever done as a wellness professional is get networking and collaborating. Maybe there might be another person doing exactly what you do in your local area, but trust me, these people will become your allies and help you bounce ideas around. Networking introduces you to ideas you would never even think of, jobs you’ve never even heard of and the talks are inspiring, uplifting and encouraging (especially when you have moments when you feel like being self-employed is hard). During the pandemic maintaining a sense of collaboration, connection and general morale boosting was super-important; these other coaches and therapists became trusted friends. I’ve found out about PR, marketing, products I can sell to get a passive income and attended workshops based on my networking adventures.
4 – Your business will change, evolve and grow just as you do
So when I started out I was passionate about supporting children who had eczema. You see I knew the journey. Yet I came across new clients with other health and coaching issues, I ended up niching in anxiety for a while (that was a biggie over lockdown!), I’ve also done a lot of work with teenagers, as well as those who are super-sensitive and interested in a more esoteric approach to mind, body, and spirit. I’ve also spent three years coaching coaches, therapists and healers. Do you niche or not niche? Do you stick with the same stories or do you allow yourself the flexibility to see where this journey takes you? If you choose to evolve do you have the support systems in place to get you there?
5 – Think about tools to add to your repertoire
Ok, so I’m a homeopath, Intuitive and Coach, and of course a teacher. But I know coaches who do reiki, who do aromatherapy, yoga, massage, and meditation. Some do photography or flower remedies, I even know of students who do legal work or banking on the side. What I’m saying here is that you are unique. Why not do an audit of your skillset and think about how you might integrate this into your coaching or wellness role? Don’t be focused on just selling one modality. People buy time with you because they like you. That know, like and trust factor is real for sure!
6 – Better to get something out there than be a perfectionist
Here I’m talking blogging, social media, offers and packages. So maybe it isn’t perfect. Then beta test it. Maybe the second time around it still needs work – that’s ok. Better to try it out and evolve it than sit at home wondering what if. But who can help you develop those skills? We are not all good at everything; if you can get a branding expert, a designer, a business coach, a copywriter, a photographer then pick what you really want to invest in the most.
7 – Your stories are absolute gold
Tapping back into your ‘why’ your reason why you started this journey, your passion and enthusiasm is all part of the motivation. How are you using that in your marketing, your website, and your connections? How might you share the stories of those that you have helped effectively in an authentic way? Future clients want to hear about the value you added to your life and the lives of those around you. Don’t sit on the tales, share them and rejoice in the fact that you have been of service. (although maintain confidentiality!)
8 – Don’t lose the passion!
Who is there to lift you up? To remind you why you do this? Do you have a community of those in similar roles in which you can lean in and be brutally honest? The kind of people that will say ‘I think you are a fabulous coach’, you helped me, I really like this idea of yours, or actually, that is not your best idea but let me support you in developing it… These people are the absolute best! It can be a lonely road when travelled alone. Lean in, share, be honest about what or who you need and then watch it all unfold.
Jo has coached many coaches, therapists and healers. During Lockdown she set up Resilient Therapists and ran group and solo coaching programmes for those who wanted to create sustainable, resilient practices. She is hugely passionate about supporting those who are on this journey. After all, she never had this and knows what it’s like to do things the hard way!
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