Name of Business: Big Leap Coaching Company
Your Name and Age: Suzy Greaves, 41
Tell us about your family: Newly separated single mum with one son, Charlie, 6.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea/retraining and how was it making the transition?
I was a freelance journalist working for the national press and went on to be health editor of OK! magazine and New Woman magazine. The transition was very easy for me as I started coached in the evenings and then built up my practice enough so that I went to being freelance journalist again and then would coach and write. My coaching practice built slowly so I could stop writing so much and build 90% of my income from coaching. It took me around 3 years to do that.
How did you train as a coach?
I trained via telephone for 18 months with Coach University (www.coachu.com) It was great – I was trained by experienced and qualified coaches in America. I love the Coach U coaches. 90% of the coaches I use for my own development have come out of Coach University.
When did you launch? I started my coaching practices in 1997 and launched my Big Leap business in 2000.
How did you get started? I coached for free for one year to get my coaching hours and get my coaching qualification. I coached in the evenings. Slowly people started to recommend me as I started to become more experienced and confident. Then I started charging once I got my qualification and slowly built a database of clients.
What research did you do before launching? Not much! Coaching was quite new in the Uk when I started. It was really an intuitive feeling that I was on the right track. Life coaching was seen as something quite woo-woo when I started out but now it’s practically accepted as a personal trainer is at the gym.
How have you funded the business? Initially, I worked as a journalist to bring in enough money to support me as I built my clients but then as my business slowly built, I would put any extra income into building the website/the database.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Because my background is journalism, I have been very lucky so have written my articles about my journey/coaching/tools and techniques for a better life. I’ve also invested in internet marketing and finding out how that works. I have a database run by something called profollow.com and it costs me around £10 a month and it’s the best £10 I spend! It means I can have a live, dynamic, ongoing conversation with my database – about books I’ve read, new tools, and of course, let them know about workshops/retreats/coaching packages that I run.
Another thing that has lifted me that I coached Nicky Hambleton Jones, of 10 Years Younger fame to start her own business from scratch and then get on TV. And she has been very kind and dedicated some of her books to me.
I was also named as ‘the top ten guru to change your life around’ by the Daily Mail – which upped my profile somewhat! (if I only knew what gurus are supposed to wear!)
What has worked well about your business? I love this business because I’m inspired and passionate but it also works practically, I work on the telephone with people as far as Australia and New York but do it all from my office at the top of the house in Sussex. This means I can pick my son up after school and run a vibrant business, love my work but also be there as a mum to my son.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it? Cash-flow. In the early days, before I built a database, I was constantly looking for new clients and that was exhausting. I’m good at what I do so clients move on quickly. Also people found they couldn’t afford coaching month after month. I came up with a ‘golden ticket’ idea where people pay £275 for a golden ticket of 6 months coaching with me – it’s very affordable for them and works for me. And since introducing this package, I have always met my income targets.
How do you fit in work with the family? I take my son to school and then start coaching at 10 and finish at 3. On Monday and Tuesdays, I also have late night appointments. It works well although I can get tired on Monday and Tuesday! School half terms, I tend to take off and arrange half day childcare in the summer holidays so I can coach in the holidays part time. But August is usually very quiet anyway.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Create a niche that you are passionate about and create a model (5 step process/set of tools that you have created yourself) Write a book and create an ‘expert’ profile in that niche and then create lots of free but brilliant products that people can get to know you through. No one trusts anyone any more and people want to get to know you before they buy – you can do this by creating free online taster packages – include Mp3 recordings, online coaching programmes – and make them brilliant. You want others to think – ‘wow, if she gives this away for free, imagine what it will be like if I pay for a product/service)
Your website link: www.thebig-leap.com for career transition coaching.
www.thebigpeace.com for a free online coaching programme to find your missing peace.
Special promotion for Family Friendly Working readers: Buy a golden ticket and receive 7 coaching sessions instead of 6 (over 6 months one to one with me Suzy Greaves.)