During a recent cohort of our Business Development for Coaches Programme, a question arose about whether, as you consider your Coaching Practice, coaching is something that you are going to Integrate into what you are currently doing or are you Transitioning into doing something different from what you have been doing? Further, does it matter and is there a difference? Let’s look at those different aspects of a coach’s practice and reflect on what might be useful to ensure that the integration and/or the transition is successful.

First let us look at the definitions of Integration and Transition…

Integration or integrating: to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole, to make up, combine, or complete, to produce a whole or a larger unit.

Transition or transitioning: a change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another.

From the perspective of developing a coaching business it will depend on whether you believe you are integrating or transitioning as to how you might look at your business and the things you might need to consider to make it successful.

Let’s take Integration first and offer some examples where someone might want to integrate their coaching practice into something else.

Example 1: Someone employed by an organisation who has trained to become a coach.  This person (often people in the HR function) may want to add coaching as an offering as well as their ‘day’ job.  Therefore, they would be integrating their coaching practice into their existing Job Description.

Example 2: Someone who is already running their own business, perhaps as a consultant or trainer, who trains to become a coach and wants to offer coaching in addition to their other services portfolio.

As it says in the definition or meaning of integration, it’s about combining the new skill into the existing skills and services offered. So, three ‘simple’ questions might be:

  • Why are you integrating coaching into your role or business? (The purpose)
  • What will your role or business now look like? (The offering)
  • How will you do it? What needs to happen to make it work? (The logistics)

In order to answer the three questions, the following might be helpful:

  • What was my intention for becoming a coach? (always useful to go back to the ‘why’)
  • What will this new service give me, the company, my clients?
  • How do I fit this new service in to my current job/service offerings?
  • How many hours of coaching will I offer? How much needs to be integrated?
  • How will that impact the work I already do/offer?
  • What might I need to let go of to create space (if it is possible to do so)?
  • How will I market this increased portfolio offering?

For an external consultant or trainer integrating coaching into their portfolio there may be financial questions around:

What might the financial impact (positive and negative) be (both short and longer term) of offering coaching services?

  • In the short term there might be a drop in turnover, whilst you manage the integration but, in the long term, that may well change.
  • How will you handle that period of change?
  • Therefore, this also becomes a transition within the integration…

The financial and logistical impact may also be a wider question for the internal coach to review with the organisation.

  • Will the organisation need to employ someone to pick up some of the work that the internal coach needs to let go of?
  • Will the internal coach look for additional compensation for potentially additional hours they may do?
  • Will it need to be on top of the role they are employed to do (Job+)? If so, how will that work?

Finally, what might be the ‘watch out’ for integrating?

When integrating a new service, if the focus is not on ensuring it is offered and marketed, then it is easy to simply carry on delivering and ‘selling’ those things you are more commonly known for, and the opportunity may be diluted. When I am mentoring coaches who are integrating coaching into their ‘day job’, I notice a common problem in that they don’t have enough clients to ‘practice’ with. In the case of internal coaches, I would always suggest finding coaching clients outside of the business as well, so that the coaching muscle can be exercised regularly (so long as the contract of employment allows for that.) The key is to understand what and why you are doing it and focus on the how without losing sight of your intentions.

Let’s move on to explore what it means to transition, rather than integrate, and what is the difference or are the differences?

The meaning of transition is to change or shift from one state to another.  For many people starting their coaching career may mean leaving their current employment and starting up their own business. It could also mean changing their existing business from, for example, one of consulting to one of coaching, transitioning from offering one service offering a different service. As we saw in the above example, even when integrating coaching into a business or role, there may be a transition element.

A word of caution: try not to leave existing employment to start your own business without some sort of financial support or cover while developing the business. The same would be to not drop a service you currently offer unless you have enough income to allow for a short-term reduction in income. Many coaches can complete their coaching education ‘on a high’ exciting dreams of what they want to do. Taking a ‘leap of faith’ can result in wonderful changes and cutting off your existing resources without a plan can also result in problems and disappointment or even worse…

The change or shift needed for a successful transition is one that normally takes time and planning.  Similar questions could start the following thought process:

  • Why are you transitioning to a coaching practice? (The purpose)
  • What are you transitioning from & to? (The shift)
  • What will it look like? (The offering)
  • How will you do it? (The logistics)
  • How long do I have before my finances are depleted? (The budgeting)
  • What does your business plan look like? (The plan)

What therefore might be the difference between integrating and transitioning and why is it important?

For many, the transition into a coaching practice may mean starting a business. There are many more things to think about and action when starting a business. The time and energy needed to do this can reduce the focus on seeking much needed coaching clients. With an already ‘in place’ business, the impact may not be so clearly felt, whereas transitioning into a new business, the focus on finding clients and income may be crucial.

When transitioning out of a job within an organisation, it can be challenging to create a structure and discipline for yourself. Within an organisation, you have tasks and roles that you understand and know how to do complete. When transitioning to your own business, it is necessary to create new disciplines and structures. Having the freedom to manage your own time and diary, can sometimes lead to taking more time off as you enjoy that space and  freedom… and that may lengthen the time to have the business that you want fully established. This is where the business plan helps to keep you focused and moving forward.

There is always the question: “Why do you want to run your own business?”. For many of us, it may be the freedom to create your own life, in which case make sure that the transition business plan allows you to take the time off you might want as you focus on how you want your life to look like. The transitioning business plan needs to have a focus on the vision you have for yourself and your coaching practice. That may also change over time as your business grows, however by having a clear initial vision, you will keep more focused on building and creating the business and the lifestyle you desire.

I would offer that the ‘watch out’ for transitioning into a new business is again: focus. However, the focus may be more about enjoying yourself with new found freedom, rather than keeping working on the existing business.

In essence, whether you are integrating or transitioning it is important that you:

  • Have a vision for your business – The WHY
  • Focus on what you want – The WHAT
  • Create the structure and a discipline that works for you – The HOW

And finally…when it comes to stopping, whether that is to return to working within an organisation again or perhaps to retire, the process will start over again and it is possible that transitioning may well emerge for the first time at that point in your career and life: transitioning out of your business into something else. The lessons you learn now about integration and transitioning will help you again then!

Is there a difference between these two concepts? In my view, they are two sides of the same coin, and it is important to know which one you are doing, so you can ask yourself the right questions to keep focused and move forward successfully.

If you would like some help, support and resources to assist with your transition or integration of your coaching practice, take a look at our Business Development for Coaches programme, it might be a great step to get you on track for success!

Hilary Oliver, MCC

Hilary Oliver is a Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is also a trained Coaching Supervisor and Mentor Coach. Hilary trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an International Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organisations. Hilary also specialises in working with organisations to support them develop coaching culture. She has been the President of the UK ICF Chapter and is a Past Chair of the ICF Global Board.

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