My View from 10 Years In as a Self-employed Coach

You know how they say you can call yourself an expert after ten years of doing something? I’m right here at the ten-year mark since I had my first paying coaching client in November 2009. I’m taking this moment to look and see what it feels like at this stage, at the end of a decade.

Val Nelson

I’m looking calmer than I used to feel. Haha.

There is certainly an interesting and different feeling at this stage than even a couple years ago, and a vast difference from the early days.

One thing for sure, ten years in feels amazing for me.

There’s a level of security, ease, and trust in my work life that I’m so appreciating. A settling in. Leaning more and more into a natural flow.

I think that ten-year mastery idea, and part of why ten years in feels so amazing, is about the concept of Flow.

When you’ve done something you enjoy for a long while, you are more likely to get to a state of delicious flow, where things “just happen,” or move through you, and you barely know how it’s happening.

It just feels.. natural.
Like I was born to do this.
Like a spiritual experience that I can’t explain in simple terms.

I call this feeling “natural flow” and when you get to know me, you’ll see that natural flow is a favorite topic. I want everyone to have this.

There’s a joy, a trust, a deeper knowing beyond what’s right in front of your eyes… if you allow this energy to move through you. It’s a mindfulness practice whose internal benefits build on itself year after year.

I don’t think it’s about “expert” or not (and I have issues with most uses of the word expert).

The ten-year mastery idea is about being able to fully rely on your wisdom and heart to lead the way, and even let yourself stake your livelihood on that! That’s a big trust. One that now feels easy. I feel so much gratitude for that ease as I write this.

It wasn’t easy at first. I had to learn to live on faith, and self-employment is a great teacher.

I’ll explain how it has evolved and continues to evolve, such as what I’m learning now. I even wrote a poem about it, in this post. It just showed up. Continue reading

How To Host a Simple Focus Group So You Can Attract Your True Clients

When I first was starting my coaching business and thinking about focusing on introverts, a colleague suggested I host a focus group for introverts to explore this idea further. Me: “Huh, focus group?”

Can you relate? My self-employed clients usually have the same quizzical response too. So I will unveil the mystery of this very simple action that can give you SO much. I’m providing a complete cheat-sheet here for hosting a focus group.

I bet you’ll even enjoy focus groups! Especially when you see what a difference it makes in your work.

My Focus Group Hosting Experience

My colleague helped me plan my first focus group. I just invited some introverts to a free discussion for about 5 people. Once there, I could see how easy and natural it was to host a meaningful conversation for a handful of people, on something that I and they cared about.

That’s all it is, really. A meaningful conversation that you and they will likely enjoy. It’s a win-win. We all enjoy the connections, and I learned a lot.

Focus group discussion - how to

A focus group is simply a meaningful conversation that you and the participants will likely enjoy.

It turned out people wanted more of these gatherings and so I hosted some more. What I learned helped me to create a solid foundation for my offerings and my marketing. I’ve since done it other times when I needed more input.

________________________
I now believe that first focus group was one of the
smartest things I ever did to get my business going.
________________________

Is It for You?

In reality, not everyone likes hosting small group discussions like I do. If you’re feeling any dread about the idea, start with reading more here about what it is and then decide if it’s for you. You can also get help to do it.

In this post, I’ll give you a cheat-sheet, with the when, why, how of focus groups. This is a simple model designed for service professionals like coaches, consultants, and healing arts professionals.

Continue reading

“My Career Is All Over the Place” – That’s OK.

Career Confusion Maze

Is it a messy maze or is it a beautiful image when seen from above? I see the beauty.

I hear this a lot: “My career is all over the place so how do I find my next step?”

The good news: Everyone has a messy career path. Life is messy, at best. You’re not alone.

The bad news: It’s still confusing in there and you’re still needing to find your way in a dark confusing maze.

More good news: You can get help to find your way through the maze. There are people with lanterns and maps to turn to. And people who can see the big picture from above the maze. Really.

My So-Called Messy Career Path

In my own experience, I thought I was “all over the place” too. I didn’t want anyone to see that wacky résumé. On some level, with each turn, it did make sense to me, because I was following what was in front of me. But I thought that picture of “meandering” would look funny to others.

In reality, people never seemed to care about all those so-called turns on my résumé, and it wasn’t a roadblock for new jobs. I couldn’t see the thread connecting the dots, but I see now that it was there. Maybe it was the exact path I needed to end up helping people with career clarity, since I’ve dabbled in many areas. It wasn’t simple and it was confusing at times for sure, but the path had a purpose, it turned out.

“What Can Help Me Find My Way?”

Just using exercises in a book or a quiz online is not enough for something like deep clarity and choosing your own specific steps on where you want to go in life. You wouldn’t be reading this if you could have figured it out on your own.

Most people can’t figure it out alone. It’s like a fish who doesn’t see the water she’s swimming in, but the water is obvious to us as outsiders. Funny how that works. A little help goes a long way, and seeing what’s right there can bring huge relief. Continue reading

Self-employment Myths and Reality. It’s OK To Be Wobbly.

When the topic of self-employment comes up, I hear two common responses:

  1. “That’s too hard so I won’t even try.” or
  2. “I should be able to get something going within a few months, or else it’s a failure.”

Neither is grounded in reality. There’s such an odd mythology around self-employment, perhaps because people don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors.

Here’s what I think is true about self-employment, in a nutshell.

Continue reading

From SOLOpreneur to SOULpreneur

You’ve probably heard the word solopreneur to describe a one-person business. But does the word inspire you? It certainly doesn’t inspire me. It’s feels so… lonely, lifeless, and businessy in a negative sense.

Now compare it to how you feel when you hear the word SOULpreneur. Are you starting to smile, or at least feel intrigued?

When I switched to seeing myself as a SOULpreneur, I felt inspired. For instance, it reminds me to let creative inspiration come from a deeper soulful place. Not just from an income-need place. And things work so much better from this angle, for my happiness and my wallet.

To give you a closer look into what I mean, here are my associations that can naturally arise with each word, and this seems to be true for many people:  Continue reading