I invited Alicia Forest to participate in this weekâ€™s interview because I have been a fan of hers for almost a year now. When I began my coaching business, I found the information in her weekly free ezine to be helpful as I set up each phase of my online business. Hereâ€™s a bit more about my favorite teacher, colleague, and now friend: Alicia M. Forest, MBA, Multiple Streams Queen & Coach, is an author, entrepreneur, and expert marketing coach to coaches, consultants and other solo professionals in over 40 countries. As the founder of Client Abundance, her mission is to be the lamplighter for other solopreneurs on the path to abundance in business and in life by leveraging the power of the Internet to make more money in a meaningful and sustainable way.
After struggling to attract an abundance of clients and customers to her own consulting business, Alicia immersed herself in learning how to attract an abundance of clients and customers, quickly and consistently, and now teaches other entrepreneurs how to achieve the same success in half the time.
Alicia teaches solopreneurs how to attract more clients, create profit-making products and services, make more sales, and ultimately live the life they desire and deserve through her one-on-one VIP mentoring, group coaching programs, and teleseminars, as well as through her best-selling 21 Easy & Essential Steps to Online Success Systemâ„¢, the Search Engine Marketing Success System, and the forthcoming Ultimate Guide to Building Your Email List for Solopreneurs.
Alicia recently finished writing her first print book, 6 Steps to 6 Figures for the Solo Professional, which is slated for publication in early 2007.
Alicia lives in a converted barn overlooking a river with her husband James and daughter Chloe in Walden, New York, a tiny village about an hour north of NYC, where she loves her life, both online and off!
What is your niche and how did you find it?
Like most coaches, I started out as a generalist, but quickly learned that trying to be all things to all people was going to make building a very successful business much more difficult and take much longer than I wanted it to! So, I started life and business coaching for work-at-home moms, and had some success with that niche. But I learned that I was more naturally adept at teaching the business side of things (glad that MBA came in handy J), particularly the marketing piece, and from my background in working on the web, with the technology pieces. Over time, my expertise in combining the two into a clear focus on online marketing for solo professionals emerged.
This is something I tell my clients often when they are just starting out. I encourage them to pick a niche (and we do several exercise to help them do that, both based on their own personal desires and experiences and well as using some pragmatic tools to find out if a certain niche is viable to build a business around), but to not get stuck on getting it perfect the first time. As their business evolves, their niche will, too. Iâ€™ve seen it happen over and over, and I can often sense the relief from the client that they donâ€™t have to get it right right away.
So to answer your question, my current niche is solo professionals, most particularly service professionals like coaches, consultants, virtual assistants, therapists, speakers, authors, and others in the â€˜helpingâ€™ professions, and my specialty area within that niche is teaching them how to use online marketing to attract an abundance of clients and customers and create passive income streams for their business. Iâ€™ve also started working with a sub-group of this niche and that consists of those solo service professionals who want to build a 6-figure business within three years.
Why did you decide to be a coach? What does coaching mean to you?
Iâ€™d wanted to become a personal development coach from the moment I bought Tony Robbins first release of Personal Power in 1989. I wanted to live the life of my dreams and not have anything from my past hold me back, and I wanted very much to help others do the same. Over time, as my own dream of running a successful business of my own became a reality, I decided that I wanted to help others do the same. I am passionate about helping people who are passionate about working for themselves, because to me, there is no better way of life. Being able to help other people follow in my footsteps or forge their own to reach their greatest vision of what they want for their lives and their family is one of my greatest sources of joy.
What training did you take? Would you recommend it to others?
Iâ€™ve always coached to some extent as sort of a side-profession, if you will, continuing to learn from Tony and some other founders of the coaching profession, like Thomas Leonard. I joined Coachville soon after it launched, and took more classes than I can count, signing on as a Schools of Coaching member soon after, which gave me access to much more learning, including the Graduate School of Coaching track. I also became a certified teleclass leader at that time. When I decided that I wanted to become a small business coach so I could help others achieve their dream of owning a successful business of their own (like myself), I joined Chris Barrowâ€™s Coaching Business School for one year and boy, did I get an education from him. At that point, I had the coaching skills and the practice-building skills in place, so I then joined Andrea Leeâ€™s coaching group to learn about multiple streams of coaching income and voila â€“ Client Abundance was born.
Although Iâ€™d highly recommend working with Chris, itâ€™s my understanding that he is no longer works with coaches. I would recommend Coachville for new coaches, yes. Iâ€™d also recommend anything by Andrea Leeâ€¦. J
Once you started your business, how long did it take you to go from zero to a sustainable business? What was involved in doing that?
It took me four months to put all the pieces together and before I saw a profit, and just about a year before I started enjoying a consistent income, an income thatâ€™s increased steadily each month since. Basically what that involved was 1. finding my passion, 2. defining my niche, 3. discovering the problems my niche was struggling with, 4. creating and offering the solutions to those problems, 5. building my email list of potential clients and customers, and 6. converting those potential prospects into paying clients and customers. Those 6 steps are the foundational program content of the Client Abundance Coaching CafÃ©. Iâ€™ve even pulled those 6 steps apart into micro-steps that anyone can follow in my 21 Easy & Essential Steps to Online Success System. Itâ€™s the exact same system I used (and still use) to get me where I am today.
What mistake have you made that you’d like to help others avoid?
Iâ€™ll give you my top three:
1. I wish Iâ€™d picked a niche sooner.
2. I wish Iâ€™d hired help (a web designer and virtual assistant in my case) sooner.
3. I wish I put major focus on building my list from the beginning.
What is one thing you think all beginning coaches should know before they start out?
Thereâ€™s two things:
1. Marketing your coaching business is just as important as the service that you sell. Repeat.
2. It IS absolutely possible to make a great living doing this! Donâ€™t let anyone dissuade you if being a coach is your dream.
Where do you see coaching going in the future? What do you think are going to be the next big trends in coaching?
Great question! Here are some of my predictions, if you will:
I see the industry being regulated at some point down the road, so if being called a coach is really important to you, make it a goal to get certified sooner than later.
Big surprise â€“ I think weâ€™ll see a lot more â€œLaw of Attractionâ€ coaching and coaches based on the popularity of The Secret and other media like it.
I also think weâ€™ll see more coaches become very specialized and creating very successful businesses that way.
And I think weâ€™ll continue to see coaching going more mainstream â€“ on TV, magazines, radio, in academia, etc.
What do you love about being a coach and coaching?
I love helping people, and being able to make a great living at it is an added bonus. I love the â€˜ahaâ€™ moments and seeing the shifts when working with my clients. I also love learning from them as well. I love that I can be as creative as I want to be, with my offerings and the way I structure my business. I love being able to work from wherever I am, like on the dock at our cottage for the summer. I love the freedom itâ€™s given me to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, with the people I most want to do it with.
What parts of coaching do you find to be the most work? What are the hard parts?
I used to find all the details (setting up teleclasses, sending email reminders, etc.) to be the most time-consuming work, but now that I have a great virtual assistant, I simply pass those off to her. I think for me the hardest part is just having enough time to do all the things I want to do with my business!
What are the top three pieces of advice you’d leave for other coaches?
1. Learn basic business skills â€“ particularly how to market your business. Then make marketing one of your top two priorities each day (the other being your work for and with your clients).
2. Build you list sooner than later. Just put up a one-page website where you offer your website visitors a taste of your work for free (but not a complimentary session, please) in exchange for their name and email address and start building your list now. Then, when you have something to offer, you have a ready audience to whom to offer it to!
3. The more you work on yourself, the more your business will thrive. Think about that.
Your March Mentor Coach Host is:
Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed.
Life & Relationship Coach
Felicia has been a college communication instructor for the past 10 years. About a year ago she decided to expand her teaching outside the college classroom. She now teaches small business owners, sales professionals, and corporate executives powerful communication techniques in order to be successful, happy and fulfilled at work and at home. She offers a free e-course where you can discover how to Increase Business by Communicating Your Credibility.