Personal Growth Series: 4 of 5

I started tutoring in high school in 1996.  I volunteered as a math tutor in high school and later at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.  I never thought of myself as a teacher before this, but it just seemed to fit.  Teaching came naturally to me and I really enjoyed it.  It was at this time that I knew teaching was in alignment with my true purpose.

2005, Tutoring as a Business

In 2005, I started my own tutoring business and started working with a few paying clients.  This was just a part-time gig while I worked full time as an engineer.  The tutoring business lasted about 16 months.

At the time my tutoring business was just starting to ramp up.  I had built a name for myself and was getting referrals by word of mouth.  Everything was working out great.  There was a need for tutoring and I was filling this need.  Just give people what they want, right?

Well sort of.

You see in 2005 I got interested in personal development and life coaching.  This was a new area for me and I was fascinated with it.  I thought this was something I could incorporate into my tutoring business.

I ran my idea by the parents of the students first.  Once I got their approval I started doing it.  You see I would teach the kids math for 1.5 hours.  Then I would spend a half hour coaching the students on their personal goals.

My plan was to convert my math students into coaching clients, but there was one problem.  The kids I was tutoring didn’t want coaching.  They wanted a math tutor, so what did I do?

I stopped tutoring altogether.

At the time it was a tough decision for me to make.  I was doing well and starting to grow my business, but I wasn’t happy.  My heart wasn’t into it.

Do What You Love

This might seem obvious after reading my story, but sometimes it’s hard to think clearly when money is involved. I think this is an area where a lot of entrepreneurs struggle.  They get caught doing something for the money instead of doing what they love.  Don’t do that.

When I was tutoring I was really captivated by the repeat business and the money, which made it difficult for me to stop.

On the outside, everything looked peachy, but inside I was hurting.  I wasn’t happy.  At the end of the day, it was the best thing for me to do.

Failure’s hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever.” ~ Starbucks Coffee quote

2006, Life Coaching

The real neat thing about all of this is that I eventually started coaching.

In 2006, I participated in the Landmark Forum.  Shortly after this I was working with a group of people as a lead coach.  I sort of fell into it.  It was the first time that I had worked as a coach with a group.  And I immediately fell in love with it.  I knew this was what I wanted to do.

I started coaching and was doing it as a volunteer at first.  I didn’t care if I was being paid or not, I was just doing it for free because it was so much fun. If you can do something for free that is helpful to others then you know you’re living on purpose.

Over the next two years I completed training with Landmark Education and with Elizabeth Butler at NLP Possibilities.  Eventually I started my own coaching business through this blog.

See this link, to learn more about the founder of Landmark Education.

Don’t Offer Coaching Advice for Free

Don’t offer services like coaching for free.  This is my honest and most upfront advice.  If you have a coaching business, never provide it for free and I’ll tell you why.

In my experience non-paying clients are not committed.  Non-paying clients do not provide the same level of commitment when they get something for free.

You see, when I started coaching my math students, I coached for free.  I did this to provide my students with an incentive to coach with me, but here’s the problem.  People who don’t pay for services like coaching don’t have the same commitment as those who do pay.

The people who don’t pay are just testing the waters.  They want to try it out and there is nothing wrong with that.  Just let them try it with someone else.

You want to work with really committed, paying clients.

You want to work with clients who want to shake things up; clients who really want to make things happen and produce results.  People who want to produce results are willing to pay someone to help them do that.

And here’s another great reason to charge for coaching.  If your clients are making things happen and getting results, then they are demonstrating your program has value.  And that’s what you want.  You want your clients to get results and demonstrate that your coaching works.

Free Coaching has a low perceived value

If you charge nothing, then you’re telling people you’re worth nothing.  And that is the fastest way to sell yourself short.  If you’re just starting out, you have to charge something.

When you place a dollar value on your coaching it increases the perceived value of your service.  When you charge for coaching, you’re placing more value on your service.  You’re clients will perceive greater value from your service and will most likely receive greater value.

You see, when I picked my rates for coaching I wanted to make sure they were in alignment with what I was offering.  The higher my rates, the more I have to offer.

Charge something because if you don’t, you won’t be taken seriously.

Choosing a rate that works for you is really up to you.  Some coaches charge $50 per hour and other guru’s charge up to $10,000 per hour.  You have to sit down and ask yourself, How much do you think you’re worth?

In my last article in this series I’ll share with you how I got into blogging: Personal Growth Series: 5 of 5

Coach Steve


  • Melissa

    Reply Reply December 29, 2008

    Do What You Love: lately I have realized that people often think that doing what they love will require doing something completely different than what they currently do. For many of us, there are elements of our passion within our current jobs or careers. I encourage everyone to take an inventory of their current line of work and make a list of all the things you like and love about your job. Then make a list of all the things that you COULD do within your line of work that would fit with your passion. What you find might really surprise you! Happy New Year!

  • Steve

    Reply Reply December 29, 2008

    Hey Melissa,

    That’s such a great point. You see, there was a time (not long ago) where I was writing and wasn’t really happy. I loved writing but wasn’t happy, because I didn’t like what I was writing about – so what did I do?

    I started to write about stuff that I really like to write about – then what happened?

    I was happy again; and all I did was change the subject I was writing about.

    Btw, how are things going at Melissa Thinks Out Loud?

    It’s great to hear from you :)

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