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Transitioning from Full-Time Job to Coaching Business: A Guide | Bailey Balfour

Feb 20, 2024 | Executive Coaching

This is a great question and I’ve heard a lot of our students asking when it’s a good time to make a switch. More than 20 years ago, I decided to make the switch to start my own executive coaching business.  It was definitely the right decision for me. And it has been hard work and required me to grow and develop in ways I never imagined. You can read more about my journey here. 

Taking the leap from a full-time job to starting your own coaching business is a big decision that requires careful consideration and planning. While the idea of pursuing your passion, turning it into a business, and helping others may be enticing, it’s really critical to assess whether the timing is right for such a transition.

Based on my personal journey, here’s a guide to help you determine when it’s a good time to make this move:

1. Mastery is Key – Build your Coaching Expertise 

Before thinking of leaving your full-time job, it’s absolutely critical to establish a strong foundation for your executive coaching business. Before making coaching your primary source of income, you need to prioritise the mastery of coaching as your core skill – you need to get good at it! 

Start developing your competence and ensure a transformative experience for your clients. You can start doing this through continuous training and refinement of your skills as you practice coaching every day with your clients, peers, colleagues, or team. 

Personally, I’ve undergone various coach training programmes throughout my career, continually polishing my skills even as a master certified coach! Enhancing your skills ensures that you are using cutting-edge theories and methodologies to guide your clients through their challenges. It keeps you relevant, and competitive and allows you to deliver maximum value to your clients. You’re exposing yourself to more than just coaching skills but psychology, neuroscience, leadership theory, and more. 

Moreover, as your skills grow, so does your competitiveness as a coach, increasing the likelihood of client referrals. Referrals were instrumental in jumpstarting my coaching practice, and it further confirmed the importance of being a proficient coach as clients become your best advocates.

For starters, begin by pursuing your ACC (Associate Certified Coach) accreditation under the International Coaching Federation and gradually work towards higher levels of accreditation, such as PCC (Professional Certified Coach). These accreditations not only signify your expertise but also serve as a badge of honor sought after by corporate clients. You can read more about other coaching accreditations here

I do understand that acquiring these accreditations takes time, so I recommend everyone interested to start the journey while still employed full-time or if they have the financial means to do it without a job and pursue upskilling opportunities on the side. This approach allows you to build your coaching skills steadily while maintaining financial stability. 

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2. Practise Coaching and Network 

Once you’ve acquired the necessary skills, it’s time to put them into action. Begin coaching on the side to gain practical experience and gradually build a client base. I started my coaching journey while still in my corporate role, and kept practicing my coaching.

While coaching, I made it my mission to attend networking events, expanding my connections from the UK to Singapore. I actively shared my coaching services with others during these events, simply stating that I was a coach. It’s really that straightforward. I really recommend coaches join specific chapters or target niche audiences they’re passionate about and inform them of their coaching services. 

You can join executive groups, walking groups, and women or men groups. Just pick a couple and roll with it. Networking is fundamental to any successful business. Coaching is a people business and potential clients will work with you because they trust you. Take time to build long-lasting relationships within a broad network. There’s one big advantage to this. Some of my lifelong friends I met were through work networking events. 

LinkedIn is another channel you can use to grow your brand. Start by sharing your personal story, a thought piece. You might not get direct conversions from LinkedIn at the start. But, it helps to get your brand out when people see what you’re posting. Be consistent and don’t stop! For more insights on influencing and networking, feel free to explore additional tips here.

3. Preparation is Key – Start with a Coaching Business Plan

Often, coaches believe that they can immediately jump into their coaching business after completing their training. However, launching a coaching business isn’t as simple as it appears. You must adopt the mindset of an entrepreneur.

Begin by crafting a business plan, outlining your niche, identifying your target audience, strategizing your business development and marketing approaches, and establishing your financial objectives and projections. Also, ensure you have a financial safety net in place to support yourself during the initial stages of building your coaching business.

You can check out our masterclass on how you can start to build your executive coaching business. 


 4. Signs You’re Ready to Transition

Here are some milestones  that suggest you might be ready to take the leap:

  • Business viability: You have a well-thought-out business plan and a clear understanding of how you’ll generate income through your coaching services.
  • A steady paying client base: You’ve already started working with clients and have demonstrated effectiveness in helping them achieve their goals.
  • A strong passion and belief: You’re deeply passionate about coaching and believe in the positive impact it can have on people’s lives.
  • Good momentum: You’ve built some momentum in your coaching practice, and you feel confident about your ability to attract and retain clients.

Once you’ve gained that momentum and you’re confident, you can then start thinking about refining your niche. Having a niche can make it easier to connect with potential clients and establish yourself as an expert in your field. It gives you a competitive edge! 

For example, my niche is to help senior leaders in executive roles to reach their full potential. You can think about your niche. 

Stay focused and have a positive mindset. This journey is a lonely one at times as a solopreneur. Keep working on your mindset, keep learning and refining your skills, and stay on top of your game to provide the best services for your clients. 

But most importantly, do not forget to enjoy the process. 

To sum up… 

Transitioning from a full-time job to starting a coaching business is a significant step that requires careful planning, preparation, and commitment. By taking the time to build your skills, establish your business, and cultivate your network, you can set yourself up for success in the world of coaching. 

Remember, it’s not just about being a great coach; it’s also about being a savvy entrepreneur who knows how to build and sustain a thriving business. So, when you’re ready to take that leap of faith, trust in your abilities and embrace the journey ahead. Join a community of coaches to be encouraged when times are tough like our Bailey Balfour alumni network

Do you want to go deeper? Join senior leaders who take part in our Accredited Coach Training Certification and over 6 months transform your leadership with coaching skills, and add an internationally recognised accreditation to your resume. Learn more by downloading our brochure here or booking a call with our programme director Jean Balfour here.

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Jean Balfour ICF Accredited Professional Coach and Managing Director of Bailey Balfour

Jean Balfour

Founder & Programmes Director


About the Author

Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.

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