The Self-employed Wellness Coach and Market Development – Part Two: Being So Much More.

Growing a business means lots of personal growth as well.

In “The Self-employed Wellness Coach and Market Development – Part One: Closed Doors, Open Doors”,, we shared three keys to opening up coaching markets and improving what you deliver:

#1 – Help others realize the true potential of wellness coaching.
#2 – Realize the true potential of wellness coaching ourselves!
#3 – Create even more value by considering specializing in helping people with specific health challenges.

Now, let’s take a further look at how the Self-Employed Wellness Coach can put themselves out there more effectively by looking at these three ideas:

#4 – Be more than just a coach.
#5 – Become part of the “treatment team” without delivering treatment.
#6 – Treat your business like a business.

#4 – Be more than just a coach.
One of the first things I usually tell aspiring self-employed wellness coaches is that they will need to do more than just attract one client after one client. If you are going to be a wellness coach then “be wellness”! Be what you are coaching. You do that by having integrity and living a wellness lifestyle yourself, with your entirely human, but sincere, fallibility. You also do this by promoting not just your coaching business, but by promoting wellness. Become a recognized wellness resource in your community. Become a go-to guy or gal who people think of when they want to know more about wellness, when they want a speaker at an event, etc.

Do this by writing articles for media that reach people. Professional journals are nice for academia, but if you want to bury some wisdom that has become the place to do it. Instead, put yourself out there online (blogging for example), on the radio, talking at the local “whatever you can think of” club or writing in local papers, magazines, company or organizational newsletters, etc.

You are more than your coaching. You have more to offer the world. If your name is Mary or John Doe you have “Mary or John Doe-ness” to share with the world! Do so in whatever spheres your skills lie. Consult, speak, train, write and network. Your work as a consultant or a speaker can lead to coaching work. The free talk you gave at the “Whatever Club” luncheon shows the world that you are competent, and, very importantly, likeable. You get a chance to attract the kinds of clients who will work well with you. The consulting job with a school system gives you contacts that land a flow of clients from the school’s employee health program. Sharing valuable links and information on your blog connect you with a potential client half-way around the world.

Help rehabilitation patients keep going at lifestyle improvement.

#5 – Become part of the “treatment team” without delivering treatment.

Evidence-based medicine is conclusive: lifestyle profoundly affects the course of an illness. Treatment professionals know this, but often are discouraged by the lack of success they see in their patients that attempt lifestyle improvement. They write “lifestyle prescriptions”, but upon just being told what to do, patients seem to rarely follow them. What’s the number one rule of business? “Find a need and fill it!”

Your “market development” here is all about reaching your target market…the healthcare providers themselves. Remember “market development” is not the same thing as “marketing” or even “attracting”. It’s more. It’s education and connection.

Like the challenge you face with potential coaching clients, healthcare providers often need to become acquainted with just what a wellness coach does, and most importantly, what a wellness coach can do for them! Basically our message is always the same: “I help people succeed at lasting lifestyle change.” Coaches do not deliver treatment, but we are the behavioral change experts that help treatment be more effective. You have to tailor that message to the particular professional you are connecting with.

A wellness coach can help rehabilitation clients continue to exercise and follow a healthy diet long enough after rehab is over to make the lifestyle improvement last. A wellness coach can help diabetic patients with medical compliance (self-testing, medical appointments, etc.) as well as helping them lose and manage their weight, follow a diabetic diet more rigorously, and ultimately get their “numbers” under control. Get clear about your own niche and be able to explain what you do fluidly. Then point to how disease management and insurance companies, hospital and corporate employee health programs are hiring wellness coaches to hold down healthcare costs because they are effective at doing so.

Just like in behavioral change, tracking helps avoid self-deception.

#6 – Treat your business like a business.

If you are a coach you do not have a “practice”. You have a business. The ICF (International Coaching Federation) ( urges all of us coaches to call our work a business and not refer to it like it was a treatment practice. We don’t “practice” coaching. WE COACH! And if we don’t make our own mindset shift to see what we do as a business, and act like it, we will be out of business very shortly.

There is an endless supply of books out there about business, but I would say the challenge is to find the ones that help you build a business that still reflects who you are. Your values, dreams and aspirations still need to be front and center. Then you really do have to see how that merges with the world around you. “Do what you love and the money will follow.” does not mean it will follow “magically”, or “effortlessly”. The challenge is to discover what you love doing and see how the world values it. Then it’s about learning the how-to’s of business. We can get down to some details in a later post.

To start with, allow yourself to identify as a business person. That was tough for this child of the sixties, believe me! But when you really want to help people and realize that the greatest way to make a difference may be to keep the doors open and lights on by being a successful business it’s a whole lot easier to embrace.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Henry David Thoreau

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