Are you an explorer?

Are you an explorer?

Building a coaching business can feel like being lost in the wilderness at times, and it doesn’t have to. There are so many people claiming to know what is best for us and our businesses that we can feel confused, stuck, and possibly even give up the journey altogether.

Rather than give up, how can we turn the feeling of being lost into an expression of exploration? How can we keep moving forward regardless of what others suggest we do? What permission do we need to give ourselves to stop asking and start doing? When walking in a wilderness we can make use of a guide who helps us get to a clearly defined destination, we can employ a detailed map or a plainly marked path that takes us from trailhead to the end of the trail, and we can work with a compass.

· Guides take much of the thinking out of our journey. These are the business gurus. They know where to go to get to the decided destination, and if we do what they say, we can get to that destination.

· Trails and detailed maps take us down well-worn paths. These are the go-to steps to building a business (e.g., mission, vision, values, niche, etc.), and we can follow the steps to get to well-known destinations.

· A compass, on the other hand, opens the opportunity to go where we want to go. This is what successful entrepreneurs in new and emerging industries and businesses, like coaching, do. They explore. Using a compass can be daunting, and it can be exhilarating, full of adventure, and wonderfully satisfying.

Many of the coaches I work with are explorers, compass in hand. They are clear that they want to coach. How they get there or what the coaching business will look like when it’s complete, however, is not clear. Coaching as their livelihood could be considered their true north, and it is where their compass points. While they have an idea of their dream, they don’t know what the journey will look like—and more importantly—they don’t really know what the destination will be. They start with a dream and the financial investment they can afford. They get clear on who they are, what they know, and whom they know, and they head out into the wilderness.

  • Explorers get clear on who they are: what their tastes are, what their tolerance for risk and ambiguity may be, where they are experts, where there is more to learn, and who they are inside.

  • Explorers get clear on what they know: what their backgrounds are, what their education and training has been, what their life and career experiences have given them.

  • Explorers get clear on whom they know: the breadth and depth of social and professional networks, who might be a potential client, and who might be a co-traveler.

  • Explorers are open to what comes along and build their businesses as they go. They walk into the wilderness and find what is there. They incorporate what they find, or they leave it and continue their journey.

If this resonates with you, and if writing a business plan, mission, vision, values, SWOT analysis, marketing plan, etc. does not resonate with you, you are likely more of an explorer[1]. Building your business will require being in the wilderness exploring.

To get started, answer the following questions.

  1. Who are you?

  • What is your personality? (MBTI, Enneagram, NEO-PI, etc.)

  • How do you want to share your dream with others? (face-to-face, TED talk, small group conversations, newsletters, etc.)

  • How do you like to interact with people?

  • What are you really good at?

  • What would you rather not do?

2. What do you know?

  • What coaching training have you received?

  • What books have you read?

  • What education have you engaged in?

  • What workshops have you attended? (no matter how far back)

3. Whom do you know?

  • Whom do you know socially that may be interested in your business?

  • Whom do you know professionally that may be interested in your business?

  • Whom do they know?

Once you know where you are starting from, get moving. Share what you are doing as you go, get feedback on what potential clients and customers want, alter your path as needed, and follow your compass. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Start exploring.

[1] This article is based on the research into successful serial entrepreneurs by Dr. Saras Sarasvathy. For more information, see Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 243-263.

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