A Health & Wellness Coach who turned their passion into a profession.
Coaches in our community describe their passion for coaching in great detail. Yet, we find there isn’t always the same passion for owning a business. Granted, owning a business is not for everyone. However, we at Wellspired Co. believe there is value beyond filling a market need when a health coach becomes an entrepreneur. Today we will share one specific coach’s journey from full-time non-coaching work to being a full-time entrepreneur.
Megan Hadley, MA, NBC-HWC shares her story with humility and acknowledgment of her white, cis, generational wealth privileges. Much of what led her to the position to take this career leap can be attributed to her privilege, and, she is a fierce advocate for health equity and diversifying the field of health coaching to better serve communities and align with their cultural backgrounds. Her lifelong work is at the intersections of culture, nature, health, equity, and expression.
Below is Megan’s writing contribution to this topic.
Please note we are cognizant of the danger of a single story. This example does not make any guarantees, nor does it pretend to be a solution ready to be implemented. I am humbly sharing one story that has been inspiring to new coaches in the field, and I hope you will join us at Wellspired Co. as we build our community to fold in more representative stories of coaching challenges and successes.
In this blog, I will cover:
- Leaning into transformation
- Starting a wellness coaching practice
- Overcoming challenges as an entrepreneur
- Building on businesses successes
Leaning into transformation as a Health & Wellness Coach
To be a health coach to me is to be committed to the idea of transformation. Transformation for our clients, transformation for our field, and transformation for healthcare more broadly. As I considered my job prospects in the middle of my NBHWC-accredited health coaching program, I recognized that the job I may actually want likely does not exist yet. I am dedicated to cultural humility and public health, yet I do not have a research background. I am highly organized and strategic, yet I do not want to be pegged into administrative work. I am down-to-earth and customer-oriented, yet customer service does not even scratch the surface of my interpersonal skills. I value people over profit, yet I still need to make a living in a heteronormative capitalistic patriarchal society.
I do not claim to know the answer to any of these queries, instead, I commit myself to the practice of reflection and transformation – both within myself and my career. I began by embracing the idea that a full-time 40-hour-a-week job with benefits was not going to be the path that let me be as creative and explorative with my career and skill sets as my transformative goals necessitated. So entrepreneurship was the next step.
Starting a wellness coaching practice
In 2019 after taking a business class through my program, I let go of my historical pattern to strive for perfectionism and I took my business plan and slapped my mission and vision on a basic website, and let the world know I was open for 1:1 coaching business.
If you build it, they will come, right? Well, this wasn’t Iowa (or The Field of Dreams), and it turns out I needed to put in some work.
I had vaguely identified a niche to work in, and set the personal goal to gain 1 client per month as I was still working full-time as an admin. I started a basic social media presence on Instagram and had posts auto-update my business Facebook page as well. I made a few posts on LinkedIn, and the clients started rolling in.
As a millennial with the TROPE dozen jobs or so on my resume in the last decade, I had several circles and networks at my fingertips. I ended up paying for a basic scheduling system, which saved a fair amount of time (even for an adept admin), and had no structured onboarding process.
Many prospective clients knew they wanted to work with me, but didn’t know what health coaching was really. So I formalized a 20-30 minute “Discovery Call” that was free of charge and could be booked by anyone with internet browser access and the capacity to find my website despite its lack of SEO optimization.
By the end of 2020, I was preparing to graduate from my program and recognized my 1:1 coaching model alone was not going to make ends meet, so I began the search to diversify my client referral avenues, as well as my other streams of income beyond 1:1 coaching.
Overcoming challenges as a health coach entrepreneur
A classmate was working for a start-up that integrated with a clinic, and I reached out to learn more. Turns out, with connections as viable as the local University and learning from leaders in the field set us up to have many close connections with exciting projects in our area in the Twin Cities. So my friend hired me, and I began to shift from full-time work to part-time work in 2021 as this new referral partner ramped up.
Referrals were not as regular as I had hoped, so I decided once again to diversify my income and put my admin skills to work in an environment that benefited health coaches. I reached out to my networking connection Jen Wright (you know, CEO and founder of Wellspired Co.), and began supporting administrative operations for her company that served wellness entrepreneurs.
At the same time, the clinician partner desired to have an educational course for our approach to coaching that could be taken by fellow NBC-HWC board-certified health coaches. So my classmate and I co-created a CEU course under the umbrella of yet another connection and former faculty from our program, who at the time was one of the few board-approved CEU providers in the region.
Additionally, in 2021 I was expecting my first child, so I was planning as best I could to give myself a 12-week maternity leave and pause my contract work and private practice at the end of that year.
Coming back in 2022 was much harder than expected. It took almost 6 months for the same number of clients to get back into the habit of scheduling with me.
Lucky for me, I had a new niche in mind to fold into my referral partners: new mom’s! With the help of my network yet again, I joined a local group practice where I could try coaching this new-to-me population, and yet not own all the work of the business side of things.
That summer, I had the honor of attending a training in a mindfulness-based intervention in which I could eventually become a facilitator. I had seen the effect that embodied self-care practices had on my clients, and said yes to this amazing opportunity that had been presented to me in 2020 but that I had to delay training due to the pandemic.
I also took Wellness Coach Business Academy with Wellspired Co. My business had been running for 3 years, but I hadn’t adjusted my ideas on my niche, how I was best serving them, and the programming I wanted to pull together for my private practice. So my wheels began turning, and I began working on a new, updated website.
Building onto my health coaching business successes
2023 began, and with a 1-year-old and 1 year of motherhood under my belt, I felt ready to tackle my next growth opportunity – teaching and facilitating. My mindfulness training is well underway, and I should be ready in the coming months to officially begin expanding my outreach of this service.
My administrative work at Wellspired grew to full-on operations management, and I have been thriving under compassionate leadership and partnership with Jen and the team. I am slotted to present several Keynote Series Classes this year and have an idea for a group program that I know would be so valuable to bring to this community once I get the time to dedicate to its creation.
I joined yet a third referral partner contract through a network connection, again in the motherhood space, supporting pregnant clients through their transition into and out of maternity leave.
And I am humbled this month to be joining the teaching faculty at a local University to instruct a course in their health coaching program.
I am weeks (or months, lol) away from trialing my new beta program with the help of WCBA, and sharing my new SEO-optimized, blog-filled, professionally-designed website with the world. I’ve been open to letting that process take as much time as it needs to since I’ve been in this growth spurt of getting my arms wrapped around new contracts.
As I consider my entrepreneurial journey and the value it may have in a blog format for other health coaches, my hope is that it affirms the seemingly zig-zag approach to making ends meet that can actually lead to viable business outcomes:
- I followed my intuition and networked with people who were doing what I wanted to be doing.
- I noticed when my eggs could have been in more than one basket and diversified my income streams.
- I re-framed my success measures from 1 client a month to continually pulling on these threads of interest and development I have that end up leading me to the next contract, gig, partnership, or offer.
Yes, the job I want may not fully exist yet. Yes, I am looking. Yes, I am finding fulfillment, peace, and flow in my weeks as I navigate a structure for my business that allows for flexibility and coordination. What is important is that I feel a part of the transformation that moves the field closer to the jobs we want actually being possible, plausible, marketable, and valuable.
My hope for you, reader, is to believe that wildly imaginative and fulfilling work activities are available to you as a health and wellness coach. As mostly an independent contractor, I absolutely needed a business entity to make any of this happen. So it all began and comes back to the heart of my business – the health coaching business.
If you are at all interested in launching (or re-launching) your own business with intention and support, I highly recommend you join us for our next free webinar, where you will learn 5 Steps to Jump Start Your Wellness Coaching Business.
Photo by Illuminate Boudoir.