Even though Elaine Rogers was brought up with a traditional educational and career mindset, her travels around the globe opened her eyes to alternative career options and ideas. Read on to see how Elaine finally made the leap into entrepreneurship and what tips she has for aspiring entrepreneurs like you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
Coming from a standard educational and university system, I was conditioned to be an employee from an early age. Unfortunately in Ireland in the early 90s, there were not many opportunities for new graduates. So after working in an office job for a couple of years, I met my (now) husband, and we went traveling together for five years through Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, North America, and Canada.
We traveled independently with a motorbike with a sidecar and worked along the way to support our way of life. This style of traveling posed many challenges, and we overcame each one as it presented itself. Our work involved running a safari lodge in Namibia for a year and then in various self-employed roles in San Francisco for another year.
I believe this experience helped me become independent in my thinking about work and career, and I knew at some point after my return to Ireland, I would become self-employed. It took a couple of years, but eventually I “made the break” and I haven’t looked back since.
What did you do before launching your business?
I’ve had three consecutive businesses over the past 15 years, all involved with Training, Development & Coaching at some level. Before that, as I said, I spent five years traveling with my partner.
Both have been amazing journeys in their own right. Traveling as an independent traveler on a tight budget hones many skills needed to be a small business owner.
I worked in many servicing and caring roles throughout my early career, so becoming a trainer and coach was a natural progression.
Do you have any special training?
Yes, with my primary degree, I obtained a Training Diploma and was initially able to secure contracting work. Then I enhanced my training qualifications and became a qualified Corporate Trainer. After that, I trained and qualified as a Business and Personal Coach and NLP Practitioner. One cannot work in these areas without qualifications and accreditation.
Give us an example of how you landed one of your first clients.
From my early days of contracting, I secured my first big client through word of mouth. In fact, it was a training company I was contracting with, who contacted me after I went out on my own. I always had a very good professional relationship with the owner, and I think he secretly loved that I drove my own bike J.
We collaborated on a project together, and then he passed to me another client that required my expertise. This provided a serious boost and helped my confidence when I started out. It is imperative to build a solid network, and collaborate with complementary industries.
How are you currently growing your business?
Because I have recently moved from my home country Ireland to France, there is a huge language barrier for me in business. I have had to diversify and now work solely online. This has been a very positive move, and the way I work now is completely in line with my value system. It feels right, it works right and is a win-win for everyone.
What have you done to boost your yearly earnings?
I have created an online store to sell content I had previously created. I transformed blog series into eBooks and created workbooks in areas that clients always have challenges with – Goal Setting for example. I provide videos on managing MS Office documents better as a direct result of issues I came across in my corporate training sessions.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own coaching business?
Because of the “self-work,” a trainee coach needs to go through to qualify; they are very often left with a qualification and big tunnel to find their way out to the other side. It can be daunting and discouraging. Firstly, I would recommend a new coach to build on the pro bono work they did during their training, but immediately begin charging for it. Always request a testimonial from pro bono clients when you are training, and begin building your network before you qualify.
Be careful about undercharging because of your own insecurities around money and your ability – be your own Coach and “Act as If!” You will be a great coach in no time, so you may as well start acting great. It will boost your confidence, and that will provide confidence for your clients.
Get yourself an accountability partner, maybe a peer from your coaching course, or from a networking group you belong to – help each other push yourselves, and be accountable for each step of growing your business.
On those “don’t feel like it days,” what motivates you to keep going?
Certain days like that are as they need to be. Allow yourself a day like this, but with a plan in place to come out the other side. Perhaps after a knockback, allow a day to let it process itself through your system and body, and have a plan ready to come out fighting, and a reward for following through.
As a busy entrepreneur, how do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I have come to a point in my life, where my work must fit in with my personal goals, and my value system. I don’t believe in the cliché “work/life balance.” If you love (or at least really like) what you do, it does not work. If you hate certain tasks, outsource them. Don’t let them pull down the other fun areas of your work. If you are not having fun, you are doing the wrong thing, or for the wrong reasons (or for the wrong people).
My calendar shows both work and play – they dance around each other. Managing is planning – if you plan your month, week or day, it then becomes a process and easier to manage. White space is also important for the urgent things that happen in our lives – leave space on your calendar (and your head) for these inevitable urgencies.
Thanks to Elaine Rogers for sharing her story!
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