Are you in the process of starting or growing your own academic coaching business, and, if so, I wonder if there are some ways that you are limiting your ability to show up as your own big, bold, beautiful self and draw in even more clients?
Today I’m going to talk you through four sneaky ways we hide in our business building and some things to do instead! I’m even going to give you some example language from the coaches in my Anti-Boring Educators Community about how you really can show up even more as yourself.
Just this morning, I led the monthly Rock Your Biz call in which all of the folks who are starting or growing their academic coaching businesses under my guidance show up and we connect in community together. I never know what’s going to happen in those calls–it depends on the questions people have. Today, people didn’t actually show up with any questions, but instead what I noticed was everybody was showing up with these big, open hearts and the conversation moved in the direction of:
“How can I be more my authentic self in my business? Starting a business can be scary and hard, so what’s the point of starting a business, if I can’t be more of myself in something I created for myself then I could as a teacher in a school?”
Afterward, my eyes were wet with tears, and I wasn’t the only one who had been moved during that call. I immediately sat down to unpack what are the sneaky ways we hide our true selves when we are working to build or grow our businesses as academic coaches…and I came up with four that I noticed seemed to be prevalent today among my Rock Your Bizzers in the Anti-Boring Educators’ Community.
How We Hide
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One of the coaches today said, “I’m trying to balance being myself with being professional.” Do you hear yourself saying, “I’m trying to be professional?”
Why do we have to balance that? Why is being professional different than being yourself?
I understand, because I buy into that story, too, and I’m constantly noticing myself in that balance. But what I’m discovering in my own business–and as I watch countless other educators start their own businesses, and as I watch students learn how to study more effectively–is part of overcoming that is to stop trying to be professional as if it’s something outside of yourself. Instead, how do you treat “professional” more as something already inside yourself?
- Using General Words to Describe What Yo Do
When you’re just starting your business, it’s easy to stay general because you don’t yet know how to get more specific. I used to say (which was actually very effective) “I help students who struggle in school with time management, organization, and study skills.” That’s a fine thing to tell people you do, but it’s still general. If, on my webpage of Licensed and Trained Coaches, everyone was saying the same thing about helping students with time management, organization, and study skills, a parent or student visiting that page wouldn’t don’t know how to differentiate between them and choose somebody who’s actually a good fit for them.
- Getting Caught in a Spiral of Wordsmithing
I really notice coaches have a hard time getting their first drafts of their marketing materials finished. This includes their one sentence “what I do” statement or their “elevator pitch,” as well as the longer copy for their website and their outreach letter to potential referral partners. They struggle and struggle and struggle. If this is you, at some point you have to take the leap and send something out, even if it’s not “perfect.”
- Not Wanting to Bother Anybody
Sometimes people in the Rock Your Biz program will send something to our community for other coaches to look at almost apologetically, saying “I was trying to keep it short” or “I didn’t want to bother anybody.” When we’re worried about keeping our communications short or not bothering people, there’s a part of our deeper self that we’re hiding.
Why not bother people? Don’t people deserve to know about you, especially the truth about who you are and this gift you are providing students?
What to Do Instead!
- Instead of trying to be professional, be personal, emotional, or vulnerable.
What’s the most personal detail you’re willing to share right now that is related to the topic of academic coaching and why you’re doing that? Start there and be as specific as possible.
- Take imperfect action by creating some basics that will get you into motion.
In 2013 when I went to my very first marketing training, the objective of the training was to take imperfect action. My mentor actually said, “Build the plane while you’re flying it.” That phrase struck fear in me, but I really took it on and realized I needed to pay attention to my own comfort and my own nervous system regulation.
It became clear I needed to create some “basics.” For example, in deciding to make the video that accompanies this post, my basics were making the white boards–that was my imperfect action. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to say, but I knew the whiteboards would hopefully keep me moving through the video and help me figure out what to say. Without the whiteboards, I would have stayed in the wordsmithing spiral for too long and not actually gotten a video created.
- Start with being relational.
If you notice yourself wanting to keep it short or not bother anyone, think about “what is the heart-connected relationship with the person or the group of people I’m communicating with right now, and how can I lead with that?” Then maybe keep it short, but don’t don’t hide the relational part of the communication. Instead of just saying, “hey, here’s this opportunity that I’ve put together–will you attend?” take the time to connect with them, let them know why you’re inviting them, why it’s important to you, and why you think they’ll benefit.
- Get specific and personal.
Next, I’m going to share some of the specific, powerful language different coaches in our community came up with today to talk about their specialty and what makes their coaching more meaningful and connected.
One of the coaches said that he really excels at working with boys generally, but then specifically boys who don’t know how to be themselves because they’re trying not to buy into toxic masculinity. He specializes in helping them learn their academic skills while also reflecting how to be more and more yourself related to masculinity.
Another coach responded that, because he is a first generation college student himself who made a lot of mistakes, he wished he’d had some guidance when he was going through school. He’s passionate about helping other first generation college students who want to be there because they know it’s the only way they can create change for themselves and their families but they also need someone to guide them and mentor them along the way.
Several other people said they specialize in working with students who feel misunderstood for a variety of reasons: maybe because they are twice exceptional, they have a couple different kinds of diagnoses, or maybe it’s because they’re gifted in some way but they’re just not motivated by school. Each of the coaches who mentioned this told very personal stories about how they were misunderstood at school, what that was like, and why they are passionate to help these students now.
Another coach talked about helping students who have an intimate experience of anxiety and or depression because this particular coach has had to struggle through that.
What I truly want you to see when I list all of these–and I left several out–is how each of these are examples of how the coach in question identifies in some deeply personal, vulnerable way with the kind of student they want to work with in their business. The more we can connect ourselves to our marketing language, the more successful we will be…and the more filled with a streaming flow of clients our businesses will be!
So I am here to tell everyone who is curious about starting a business to please be brave! Notice those little voices that keep you trying to be professional, general, wordsmithing too much, and trying to keep it short or hold back in some way.
If you’d like some specific guidelines for how to create inevitable success for yourself, I actually have a wonderful downloadable chart of my seven tips for how to make these mindset shifts so you don’t fall prey to some of these signs of not being your true self. You can put it on your fridge or in your office space, and I highly recommend you use this list to guide you as you create success for yourself in a business for yourself or something else you’re working towards in your life.
Lastly, I invite you to strongly consider joining my Anti-Boring Educators’ Club, perfect for coaches building businesses or educators in search of additional support in being the best they can be. When you join, you’ll be surrounding yourself with loving community who are practicing together deepening, and deepening, and deepening…so we can show up as professionals in the world, but as professionals who are our true selves. When we get to be our true self and we get support in community to be that, oh my goodness, having your own business is joyful, it is meaningful, and it is connecting–and I want that for you. So please consider visiting my webpage for edupreneurs to see if my program might be right for you! And, by the way, that webpage has the information you need, but it’s also kind of ugly because I’m taking imperfect action right now–I put it up there without hiring a designer–so you get to see modeled what taking imperfect action can look like 😉
Go out and be your big bold beautiful self, and if you want support with that, come talk to me!