I’ve done it!  I’m launching my coaching program, and I’m totally stoked.

I’ve delayed it long enough. Like three long years.  I launched it then, but it was a time when I needed all my hours dedicated to doing things that would bring in the dough, not on taking chances at ventures where I might fail.

Now, I’m ready.

If you want to say goodbye to your 9 to 5 job and Say Hello to Entrepreneur Life, this is for you.  

But there is a caveat.

If you really want life-changing results from your coaching experience, realize up front that this is a team effort. You are not being “taught” by the expert: You and your coach are going to be working together to create a paradigm shift in your life that is utterly transformative—for the better.

These 18 ideas will help you do what over 90% of all other would-be business owners fail to do: Make the absolute most of the money you are paying, your time and the time of the expert you’ve hired (I hope, mine)—before the two of you have even sat down for module number one.

1. What’s the burning question you want answered?

This is what you need to work on first, so you will be able to accurately fit the type of coach you need to your central, core question.

For example, if you are really, hopelessly stuck on what you want to do with your work life, you don’t need a lifestyle coach or a business coach—you need a career coach!

If you know exactly what you want to achieve in your business but obstacle after obstacle miraculously appears every time you set yourself to a task (and we’re not talking about procrastination here), you need a business coach.

If your biggest question is “why don’t I care about anything in life any more”, you most likely need a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or trauma counselor (depending on what brought you to that pass).

If you realize that your biggest question is “how do I get my husband to stop belittling my business and throwing up real obstructions”, you may need a marriage counselor rather than a coach!

2. Take honest, candid assessment of yourself

Are you going to sit passively, waiting for your coach to point out areas of your personality or business habits that need to change… or are you going to be ready to start achieving results, without having to spend time trying to change habits that don’t work for you?

Not doing some candid self-assessment before investing in a coaching program is like arriving at basic training after a year on the couch, eating potato chips: You’re going to have a much harder time than the recruit who has been at least attempting to eat healthy and even just going for a brisk walk every day.

Ask others for input, if your ego can handle this. Ask your friends: “What one thing do I do that you wish I would not?”

If you can handle that, you can handle some tough love from your coach, too.

3. Know the end result that you want

You will achieve far more—as well ensure you hire the right type of coach—if you identify your most important goal in advance.

Be both specific and realistic. Coming up with answers like “I want to make more money” is not a goal—it’s a daydream. Ditto for “I want to be a millionaire this time next year”. While there have been a few people who have achieved the latter, it’s not a realistic goal for the average person; particularly if you don’t have one strong, identifiable product or skill that sets you above the rest of the field.

A measurable, quantifiable goal might look like this:

“I want to identify a signature product I can create and have it set up, ready to launch, by the end of this program.”

or

“I want to identify at least three specific niches that I can develop and package as a service by the end of the first module.”

4. Interview your coaching candidates

Choosing the right coach is all about the mix. It’s part chemistry and part process. Make sure you and your potential coach (ahem!) fit together well by asking key questions. You don’t have time for coaches who behave as if you are lucky to sign up with them.

It’s your life, you’ve worked hard for the money you’re investing: Make sure you get the right fit. Tell your candidate what you want to achieve, and ask what he or she can do to help you achieve it.

Most of all, ask about your candidate’s coaching philosophy and core values. If you hear anything there that doesn’t fit, he or she is not the candidate for you.

5. Identify mini-goals per module

You have a limited budget for coaching. After you’ve identified what your main goal is, break that down per module, estimating the number of modules you need or can afford. (It’s like planning to prepare a gourmet meal for company: You need to figure out the total time it will take you for food prep and work backwards.)

You may not have a clue, really, but if you make the attempt to plan your programs, achieving one specific mini-goal per module, you can discuss this with your coach at your initial consultation and ask for feedback on how realistic your expectations are.

Dealing with mini-goals per module can often really laser-focus your thinking. For example, if you’ve decided to deal with your biggest habit (let’s say it’s “procrastination”) in module number one, you won’t procrastinate on tackling other things by talking endlessly about procrastination for your next module.

6. Ask yourself with each step: “How will this get me closer to my goal?”

For example, you might be planning to spend a session with your business coach talking about organizing your physical office. Asking yourself the question, “how will this get me closer to my goal”, may help you realize that while she could certainly provide you with some great ideas, this perhaps isn’t the most effective use of your hard-earned investment.  Instead, you call on your left-brained, hyper organized bestie to help you on that aspect.

7. Realize that coaches do not come with “Get Rich Quick” guarantees

Rather, a coach can help you remove blockages so that you are free to proceed towards your financial goals without further obstruction. She can help you strategize, analyze and come up with a viable plan you can put into action.

Remember, coaches do not do it for you: They help you free yourself up to achieve goals by yourself.

8. Create a coaching proposal

You should be able to create an actual plan with your coach, but before you both get together, sit down ahead of time and figure out:

  • How long you think the process should take
  • How many modules you can afford

Discuss these expectations in your first module or consultation. If you and your coach are on board with the same plan, you will get far more out of your coaching experience.

If you can’t afford all the modules you want, narrow your goals. Zero in on the most essential one, starting with any goal that can help put you in a position to increase your income.

Remember, if you remove one blockage and increase your income because of it, you will be able to afford more modules.

9. Take a break

Do you find yourself enrolling in workshops, buying e-courses, and never have time to work through the program? You feel as if you are stuck endlessly peddling a hamster wheel at full throttle. You plan time off for personal business growth—but the need for income or client demands have you putting in overtime instead.

If this describes you, do your best to take more than a couple of hours off for coaching. If possible, plan a sabbatical where you take an entire month off for coaching sessions—and implementation.

Discuss this with your coach and make sure this is a viable plan for both of you. But if you are able to take even two weeks off and dedicate it to what you learn in two or three coaching sessions, it will feel like a vacation—and help you break your workaholic habits. Give your own needs the attention they deserve.

10. Look for a coach who will accommodate your communication preferences

Are you more comfortable with marathon, three-hour, in-person sessions? Or do you prefer forty minute Skype sessions? Or even telephone sessions with no visuals?

Whatever your learning and communication preferences, make sure your coach is on board with these, too.

Learning in a way that feels natural to you—one that stimulates your brain and helps you retain maximum knowledge—is important to getting the most out of your coaching sessions.

11. Get out of your office

If you feel stressed in your office, have your coaching session outdoors, in a place you find inspiring. (Test it first, to make sure your WiFi connection holds!)

This could be as simple as Skyping with your coach on your deck… or down by the pool… or even deep in the middle of a forest or down by the beach, if you can get wireless reception or if you are working with your coach, live and in person.

Sometimes a change of environment can really help us concentrate and focus at our best—without distraction or stress.

12. Think big

You’re about to invest a significant chunk of your money into your coaching adventure. Don’t think in terms of “tweaking” or “fine-tuning”. Think in terms of making significant life changes.

And don’t worry.  Your coach will help you approach this in a systematic, realistic way, so every step feels manageable.

13. Create a vision board

I know, I know, even I had to struggle through this. But don’t use your vision board as a pie-in-the-sky tribute to some Hollywood fantasy: Use it as a tool and instant reminder of what your coaching experience can actually help you achieve.

Make sure it contains:

  • A Timeline
  • Achievements
  • A reward for each achievement
  • Affirmations

Use photographs of real objects, scenes or situations so your brain can perceive instant reality, rather than just words.

Choose affirmations that:

  • Inspire you
  • Encourage you
  • Feel “real” on a gut level

When you are finished with your coaching journey, your vision board should be a sparkling record of achievement—a reminder that you can do what you set out to do—any time.

14. Prepare beforehand

Don’t be scrambling till the last minute before each coaching session. At least a day in advance, set aside time to think about topics you would like to revisit or cover.

Tap into your feelings about the last session. Were you elated? Frustrated? Dismayed? Determined?

And how do you feel now? Did you accomplish your goals from last session? If not, what got in the way?

Create an agenda of items you would like to discuss. Highlight your absolute priorities and make sure the rest can be tabled to another session, if you run out of time.

Stop working early before your session—at least twenty minutes before it begins. Get yourself a drink, make yourself comfortable. If you’re using physical aids like notepads and pencils, make sure your pencil is sharp or that your pen is working.

Go over your agenda. Visualize a positive outcome.

And be ready to make the most of your session!

15. Use a checklist

If your coach doesn’t provide a checklist template, be proactive and make one yourself! Print it out as part of your pre-session preparation ritual.

But don’t worry, I do provide a checklist template.  🙂

On it you can record questions like

  • How did I feel after last week’s session?
  • How do I feel now?
  • Did I accomplish my goals from last session?
  • If not, what got in the way?

The more prepared (and less stressed and scrambled) you are, the more you will get out of your coaching session.

16. Align your body and mind with your intentions

It’s not enough to turn up for your sessions (even if you’re there early, pencil in hand). You want to make sure your body and mind are at maximum sharpness, alert, refreshed and well-rested.

Exercise daily (even if it’s just a brisk, 20-minute walk). Make a serious effort to get at least 8 hours sleep a night. Start drinking green smoothies in the morning instead of reaching for the coffee pot.

Even if the type of coaching you are investing in has nothing to do with lifestyle or health, be proactive and take your health into your own hands, so that you have a body and brain that will support the new, dynamic you.

17. Record your sessions

If your coach doesn’t suggest this, be proactive. Ask up front, right in your initial consultation if you can record each session either through web technology like Skype.

You can also use a basic tape recorder or a mobile recording app.

Stress that you wish to record the sessions only for your own use. Play them back when you are doing your post-session analysis; or you are confused about a topic.

18. Do the work!

You can analyze and strategize till the cows come home, but if you don’t take action on your coach’s suggestions, you are throwing your money away. Remember, coaches don’t do the work for you. That’s your job.

If you find it difficult to get started, discuss this with your coach right away. Figure out if there is something he or she can help you with. For example, perhaps something is not clear to you, or your old feelings of paralysis are kicking into play. These will have to be dealt with—but in the end, it doesn’t matter what’s causing what: If you commit 100% to taking action and you knuckle down and do the work, you will reap the reward.

Put yourself first. Take charge of your life—and that includes taking charge of your own coaching. Be prepared to fire your coach if he or she is not working for you.

Remember…

  • A coach that makes you feel too comfortable is a buddy, not a coach.
  • A coach who is controlling or makes you feel bad about yourself is abusive.

The reason you are hiring a coach in the first place is so that you can venture out of your comfort zone monitored by someone who has walked in your shoes and knows what you need to do.

Only outside those safe little borders do we encounter and defeat dragons, rescue princesses, achieve the impossible and see fantastic, new, eye-opening sights.

Your coach can help you become who you were meant to be, so make the most of every opportunity to gather every gem from every session.

Do check this out if you are ready to be coached, or sit down with me on an exploratory session.  This session is also a standalone module that can already give you a headstart and be one step closer to where you want to be.

HOPE TO SEE YOU!