When I heard Todd Henry from the Accidental Creative outline the 3 stages of artistic growth, the artist in me immediately recognized the truth of these stages. The big aha came when I realized these stages are also true for business growth and product development. Building a coaching business is a creative process and it's helpful to know that it will go through predictable stages of creative growth. Artists don't create masterpieces the first time they pick up a lump of clay or a paint brush and the most successful coaches didn't start out as stellar entrepreneurs, they grew into it.
The 3 Stages of Creative Growth - and What it Means for Your Coaching Business:
- STAGE 1: In the first stage of artistic growth the artist is exploring materials, mediums and techniques. Similarly, new coaches are engaged in learning how to master coaching skills and build a business. In terms of business growth, the new coach has their hands full as they experiment with things like pricing, length of sessions, what phone system to buy, basic marketing and a first website. During this phase you might even try your hand at an ebook or a teleclass. In this stage you are just starting to take yourself seriously as a coach. This is exactly what you should be doing in stage one - you get to explore possibilities and try new things.
- STAGE 2: The second stage for artists is about imitation. Artists copy the masters and imitate different styles. Huge learning can come from studying those who are successful. Once a coach gets a beginning foundation in place it's really helpful to find role models. It's okay to emulate those you admire. This is the time to try on different business models, begin to create products, offer teleclasses or workshops and package your offerings in ways that are similar to your chosen role models. You may even purchase ready made programs to deliver. This stage can really help build confidence, generate revenue and help you begin to find your core message and your style.
- STAGE 3: It is not until the third stage that the artist begins to develop their own voice and artistic style. This is true for coaches as well. This is where you really begin to differentiate yourself from others – including your role models and mentors. Outwardly this might translate into developing a signature program, creating a system or your own unique process. What strikes me as core to this stage is the message. What you take a stand for becomes crystal clear and everything you create reflects that stand. It means knowing clearly who you coach and what your unique gift is...
These three stages are not entirely linear. As the authentic voice is taking shape, the coach, like the artist will cycle back into the first two stages as needed.
So, where are you in this creative process? Are you trying to run before you can walk? Or perhaps you need to get out of your comfort zone and show the world what you're truly made of? Wherever you are in this process, it's OK, you are where you need to be.
So, what creates the shift from imitation to full authentic expression?
In stage three business growth, the real work, the real shift, happens from within. It involves a shift in your relationship with your own value, a clear understanding of your clients and full ownership of your own deep wisdom. In the process of imitating others you will begin to hear your own opinions bubbling up. You may question the approach of your role models. Underneath that you will hear the hunger and the call. There will emerge something in you that wants to be created, something that is uniquely yours. Creating from stage three goes deeper than previous creating and it is more intentional. It reflects a powerful sense of congruence, confidence in who you are as a coach and a passionate stance for your clients.
How do I hurry up and get there?
Building your business is a creative process and it cannot be rushed. There is a natural rhythm for this process and it will be different for each person. There are however steps you can take to be more intentional about your progress towards full authentic expression in your business.
In the following article, we explore this in more detail: Learn to Trust the Creative Process and How to Use the 4 P's to Intentionally and Authentically Grow Your Business.
Contributing Author: Marcy Nelson-Garrison, MA, LP, CPCC is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, master’s level licensed psychologist, Choice Magazine feature writer and visual artist. She is also the founder of the Coaching Toys online store which features innovative tools and products for personal development, workshops, retreats, team building and client work. Marcy is also a product mentor and helps heart-centered professionals create authentic products and programs aligned with their personal manifestos. Learn more at www.coachingtoysstore.com and www.pinkparadigm.com
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