How To Make The Leap From Having A ‘day Job’ To Being A Full Time Health Coach
If you’re at the beginning of your career as a health coach, and you’re currently working another job, you probably find yourself sitting at work, daydreaming about when you’ll be able to put your whole self into your health coaching business.
You may be wondering when it’ll be the right time to make the leap … in 6 months? a year? when you have a certain number of clients?
Whether you’re a new coach or you’ve been doing this for a while, the desire to quit your job and work on your business full-time is probably very strong – but it can also be overwhelming and a bit scary!
Your mind is likely doing somersaults thinking of all the potential outcomes:
I can do this!
This will never work…
But other health coaches make a good living.
How can I earn enough money to do this full time? How many clients do I need?
What if I quit my job and then have trouble attracting clients?
If I had these 40 hours to put into my business every week I’d be making so much more money!… or would I?
The uncertainty can be anxiety inducing!
Based on my own experience of taking the leap, the way to overcome the anxiety is to make a plan – one that outlines how much money you need in the bank, how many clients & how much revenue you need to be bringing in, and how you’re going to manage your time to get there.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to do everything all at once! There are no rules and everyone’s situation is different.
What should you have in place before leaving your day job?
1. An understanding of your financial situation
Determine your Minimum Monthly Income – the bare minimum that you need to make each month to keep the lights on – and how you’re going to reach that income number.
This is completely different for everyone. Your monthly expenses are going to be vastly different if you live in a small town vs. living in Manhattan.
Decide if these expenses need to be covered by your job or if you have another means of covering your expenses while you build up your business. For example, do you have savings or a significant other can cover expenses for a period of time?
Either way, write that number down. This is your revenue goal.
2. Clarity about your desire to be a health coach
Before you leave your day job, you want to be clear that health coaching is truly something you enjoy and want to do for a living. While you may be certain that you’re passionate about health and nutrition, it’s impossible to know if health coaching is for you if you haven’t yet worked with clients.
I have a personal story about this…
Many years ago, I decided that I wanted to be a postpartum doula. I’d had a rough start as a new mom, and I was incredibly passionate about making the process easier for other moms. I thought it would be great compliment to health coaching.
So, I got trained and started working part-time as a doula.
While I loved the moms and babies, I found that it was very physically draining. (At the time I was a nursing mom of a one-year old.) I realized that what I loved, talking to and coaching the moms, it was only a small part of the job.
I never would have known this if I hadn’t tried it out.
So, the best way to get clarity is to have experience working with clients. This doesn’t have to take long! Even working with a small handful of clients for 3 months will give you great insight.
When you leap into full-time entrepreneurship you are going to be the boss! That means you need to be able to self-motivate. This is much easier to do when you’re clear that this is your passion and what you’re meant to do.
3. Confidence in your ability to sign-on clients
While some people thrive from the pressure of no safety net, having at least some certainty and confidence in your business (before taking the leap) will make the process much less stressful.
While it would be amazing if clients could be hand delivered to you, health coaching isn’t just about helping clients, it’s also about being able to market yourself and sell your programs.
I was working a full-time job when I started health coaching. I was eager to leave my 9-5, but before I did, I wanted to prove to myself (and my husband) that I had a viable business. So, I started marketing myself (mostly through giving talks and word-of-mouth) and I signed on 10 clients before graduating from nutrition school.
That gave me a huge amount of confidence to take the leap.
So, before quitting, I think it’s best to have signed-on a few clients. This will not only mean that you’ll have some money coming in, but you’ll also build your confidence in yourself – and your ability to attract and “close the deal” with potential clients.
Working with several clients before quitting will also allow you to collect testimonials and start getting clients through referrals.
How can you get things rolling while you are
still in your day job?
1. Make time for your business
Building a business takes time, so it’s a juggling act when you’re already working 40+ hours a week at another job.
Get creative! Can you get up 1 hour earlier in the morning? Can you take your entire lunch break from work, leave the office and get 45 minutes to an hour of work in? Can you work for an hour or two in the evening? How much time can you dedicate on the weekends?
When I was starting out, I found it was important to have a plan. Otherwise, the time will fly by and before you know it weeks or months will pass by.
Decide how much time you have (even if it’s 2 hours per week) and when during the week is best for you. Make that time sacred. And, be clear how you’ll use that time. When you have limited time, it’s more important than ever to focus on the most important client-getting tasks.
While working 2 jobs can feel intense and mean sacrificing some social time, remember this is temporary and it’s for building your dream. It will pay off!
2. Don’t sacrifice self-care
When you have a lot on your plate, and you’re looking for a way to “create” more time, often self-care is the first thing to go.
You might decide you no longer have time to exercise, or that you need to stay up working until midnight. You might drop your daily meditation practice and start eating out more because you don’t have time to cook. Or you might feel that you need to work the whole weekend instead of spending time with your family.
As someone who desperately needed this tip years ago, know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
You might decide to scale back on certain things, but be sure you’re still taking care of your personal needs. If you don’t, you’ll end up drained, exhausted, and lacking creativity and motivation. That’s not a path you want to be on — for the sake of your happiness AND your business.
My advice: decide what’s most important to you for self-care and make that non-negotiable. Maybe that means that you always go to sleep by 10pm… that you always do dinner and bedtime with your children and you don’t work on Sundays…. And you shorten your workout, but you make sure to get it in four times per week.
To fit in self-care and time for your business, it can be a huge help to enlist the support of family and friends. If you’re like me, this doesn’t come easy. You probably feel like you *should* do it all yourself, but you and your loved ones will be much happier if you can lean on them.
For example, one night a week you might want to go straight from work to a quiet space where you can get several hours of work in. If you have children, then you’ll want to ask your significant other to take care of dinner or bedtime. Or line up childcare. It can be hard to step away from these aspects of your personal life, but keep in mind your end goal and how that will ultimately benefit your family.
3. Block time & batch tasks
There are a lot of moving pieces to a business – administrative tasks, marketing tasks, creative tasks, and client work. If you’re trying to do each of these types of work every day you’ll burn out and be much less productive.
Task switching slows you down, but focusing on similar types of work for longer, uninterrupted periods helps you get more done.
Depending on your schedule, try to use time blocking to batch similar tasks. For example, schedule all of your client work for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, use Monday and Thursday nights for admin work, and use a couple of lunch breaks each week to write blog posts or marketing content. Perhaps Saturday mornings can be dedicated to preparing, scheduling and promoting your talks.
With a busy schedule, it helps to have a structure, but it’s also important to remain flexible. This means being open to opportunities for giving talks or networking with potential clients (even if you normally do administrative tasks on that particular night).
4. Transition from full-time
When I was building up my health coaching business, I was able to negotiate with my boss to go down to part time hours. First I went down to 4 days a week, then 3, then I left completely (and moved to a new city).
This meant I still had a paycheck coming in every month, though smaller than what I had been used to, but I also had an extra 2 full working days to focus on building my business. This took the pressure off needing to replace my full income immediately.
I used this time to really ramp things up and ensure that I could meet my minimum monthly income number from my coaching practice. I had 10 clients by the time I left my job and I was so thankful for the safety net I’d built up.
If your current employer isn’t open to the idea of you reducing your hours, another option is to look for something else with a more flexible schedule.
Building your business up before making the leap to doing it full time will help you in more ways than just financially. It gets you into the business mindset, gives you practical experience to take into your new profession, and helps you begin to build your reputation as a health coach.
Everyone’s situation is different when transitioning into their new role as a self-employed health coach. Find the schedule and systems that work for you.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
Have you made the leap to coaching full-time? If not, what’s holding you back? If so, what advice would you give to other coaches?