By Emily Soccorsy

For the last decade, I have worked with hundreds of high-level coaches. 

Whereas other professionals may focus on creating a product, or selling a service that someone else delivers, coaches are their businesses. 

They are always keenly aware of and focused on their influence, their approach, and the space they can create and hold for their clients.

While their practices may be based upon their influence, I’ve noticed they often struggle with a few common challenges that impact influence as they grow their practices. (These challenges may also apply to other professions, and if you see some that you too face, please let me know in comments.)

  1. Time management – The coaches I know and work with are extremely dedicated to their clients. Their business is about showing up for their clients and guiding them consistently and compassionately through their struggles. While they are not neophytes when it comes to time management, and can be very well-versed at it, I find they often prioritize the time required to serve their clients ahead of other aspects of the business, or, at times, self-care. This can result in the slower progression of their businesses and practices. 
  2. Fully developing and naming your unique approach – After becoming certified and launching their practice, coaches typically use approaches they learned through their education and certification. As they continue working with clients, a new approach, unique to them, springing from the confluence of their experiences, their philosophy, education and training, does begin to emerge. But coaches have a difficult time taking a break from working with clients (see No. 1) to fully develop and name their unique approach. This is a big lost opportunity. Fully developing and naming your unique approach, and thus demonstrating your skill and sophistication will differentiate your practice from other coaches. It also gives you the opportunity to grow in terms of speaking, presenting, training and coaching other coaches with your approach. 
  3. Being out of balance between serving current clients and attracting new ones – Building off the first observation, coaches are very dedicated to their clients. Alas, what they often get out of sync with is separating time out to continually approach new clients. While in many cases, clients come from referrals from existing clients, there are so many other simple ways to support a consistent cadence that helps to bring in new clients. These include simple thought leadership shares, a monthly, quarterly or bi-weekly newsletter to your existing list (yes, this still works to bring in clients), hosting small, intimate events on a topic relevant to your client base. Sprinkling in these activities, not to mention a little old-fashioned networking with people who are in your client base, help to gradually increase a coaches circle of influence and bring new potential clients into the conversation.
  4. Leaning fully into your niche – As a unique coaching approach emerges as coaches build their practice, so does a unique ideal audience. Your ideal audience, we teach clients at Root + River, are the people who are looking for you (not the people you are looking for). As a coach, they are the audience members who are energy-positive, share a similar set of values, bring positive challenges (they make you a better coach) and who refer you on. While the coaches I work with begin to see their audience niche emerge from their work, they sometimes delay in committing to that audience, which can create more difficulty in attracting new clients and in developing a differentiated brand. 

Unafraid of unconventional thinking and thoughtful and secure enough to present good challenges to their clients, coaches are a unique, influential bunch. Already successful in their own space, they chose to take their influence and step out into the unknown.

This is truly admirable – and the definition of being influential (the capacity to have impact on).

Being people who are empathetic and thoughtful, it’s easy for coaches to get pulled so deeply into their work, they miss opportunities to build their own brand – so they can reach and support more people. 

(This happens to generous leaders in all other areas of business, too.) 

It’s a great lesson for all of us: Influence works both ways. 

We tend to think of influence as extending outward, but it is also vital to take the inward journey of pausing to consider what our influence truly is, how we put language around it, and how we can internalize it more effectively so we can share it more effectively with others. 

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