Building a career and community as a coach

Meet Katie, a coach and meditation leader based in Portland, Oregon. She’s the creator of Ebb + Flow, where she offers one-on-one coaching, leads workshops, and holds free meditation circles with the goal of supporting busy, creative people through the inevitable, emotional ups and downs of their lives.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to become an independent coach or consultant, you’re in luck: Katie offered to share her experiences with the Azlo community so other entrepreneurs (current or aspiring) can learn from them.

How she chose coaching as a career

Like many entrepreneurs, Katie decided to start her own business because she had an unexpected, nagging feeling that the direction she was heading wasn’t quite the right fit.

A year ago I would have told you I was on my path… and I was, just not how I imagined. I had just completed my second bachelor’s degree and was heading toward a full-time career in Speech-Language Pathology.

Then it hit me—as much as I loved the idea of helping people, the white coat, the letters after my name, and being like the amazing women I had shadowed, I was dreading insurance paperwork, limited client contact, and spending most of my time away from my family.

The more I thought about the career I had planned, the less it resonated with who I actually wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my life. I truly desired a slow, sustainable life full of love, connection, and growth.

Her dad, Tim Colman, who is also a coach, had mentioned a few times over the years that he thought she’d love being a coach as well … so when he learned she was thinking of doing something new, he invited her to co-lead a workshop. There she was able to experience facilitating a group around breath and self-exploration. She loved it, and decided to pursue coaching as her new career. After making this realization, Katie hired a coach to explore how she could make coaching her own.

The first few months

Around the same time she decided to become a coach, Katie also moved to an entirely new place: Portland, Oregon. Starting a new business is almost always hard, but it was especially challenging, she says, without having a familiar home, community, or work to ground her.

“I spent the first few months in my business writing, designing, emailing, and generally resisting putting myself out there. To be honest, there was a lot of fear to work through. Shouldn’t I get a supplemental job? Will my new community support me? Am I really sure this is going to work? Do I have what it takes to run a successful business?

Moving forward and building a community

Once she worked through that fear, things started falling into place.

One day I decided enough was enough: I was going to show up fully committed and see what happened. The next morning, I woke up to a note from an old friend who would become my first client.

I acknowledged that I needed to go out and take bigger chances so that I could grow as a human being and business owner, so I started my meditation circle (a free weekly offering) and in the first 6 months I led over 200 people in meditation, which was a lot for someone recovering from a debilitating fear of public speaking. I started going to community events and found an amazing mindfulness community called We Myndful. I signed up for a master coach training with Andrea Leda, which began with a 6-day retreat on the Oregon coast with 8 beautiful people who I now consider dear friends.

By November I was introducing myself to 80 people a month and the more I showed up, the more connected I became.

Her advice for other new entrepreneurs

Don’t be afraid to change course.

Katie started her coaching career after spending many years pursuing education and developing her experience in other fields. Many people and businesses find it hard to change courses after spending a lot of time, energy, and love traveling in one direction.

It wasn’t easy for Katie to make the decision to change course just when she planned to start her career as a Speech-Language Pathologist, but once she made the choice, she found she wasn’t really starting from scratch.

The amazing part is that everything I’ve learned and every skill I have developed has furthered my coaching: my studies in non-violent communication, becoming a certified yoga teacher, my training as a behavioral tech, and even my degree in Speech Pathology have been SO beneficial. With this knowledge, I’m able to check in with my clients on a much deeper level of awareness. My best advice is to follow your heart and trust that you are more creative and adaptable than you could possibly imagine.”

The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to try something new just because it feels like past work would be wasted. When you’re building a business or career, your holistic experience can become a competitive advantage because it makes you unique.