Becoming a Life Coach - patiently building my business


As Larkspur slowly becomes fully realized, I am constantly reminded of the rewards of being patient. Becoming a Life Coach takes some effort but creating a business is a marathon. In all of my years working, this simple reminder has been critical.   Yet, I constantly forget.

It is absolutely true that reminding yourself of the worthiness of your dreams and the invaluable lessons to be picked up along the way can help sustain you throughout.   Yet, I constantly forget.

The combination of coaching and home design consulting may seem a funny mix but it makes perfect sense. Your home is a reflection of how you are feeling and thinking.  At the same time your home can directly influence how you feel. It's cyclical and when you put coaching and creating your space together, it offers the awareness and comfort to jump start some pretty amazing things in your life.

It started early

Larkspur Wellness has been years in the making, beginning when I was a little kid rearranging my bedroom over and over. I loved visiting open houses on Sundays with my parents and seeing other people's spaces. My favorite was guessing the square footage of the house after walking through and trying to impress the selling agent.  I think I was 14 at the height of my ninja abilities.

As a young adult, friends started to tell me I should be a therapist because I was so genuinely interested in what they had to say and wanted to support them as best I could. Instead, I opened my first business. What a learning curve that was! 4 years of hard work but I was creating all the time, was mostly in charge of my experiences and I soaked it up.  And I made a ton of mistakes.  Mistakes that I learned immediately and others that took me years to put together.  All of them worthwhile. 

That's me one weekend selling what was left from the weeks deliveries to customers.

That's me one weekend selling what was left from the weeks deliveries to customers.

A coaches reputation

I started coaching in 2007 after hearing about the profession at workshops and retreats.  Some of the most kind and present people I met happened to be coaches. I gave it a go, wanting to see what it was all about and whether I was any good at it. I had started for the same reason so many others had: I thought I was a good listener and gave good advise.  It was a choice born from a little bit of "can I really just.... do this?" that sent me running toward it a little too quickly. I got some business cards, found a little office downtown that I shared with a therapist and saw 4-5 clients a week there.  Although I enjoyed the work and helped my clients,  I wasn't really coaching.  Not technically.   

The coaching profession has at times gotten a bad rep but that's now changing.  It's possible for someone to call themselves a coach and then dive in head first not understanding the required ethics and how to NOT make the session about what they want for the client. That's a BIG misconception about coaching.  Coaches (according to the ICF) don't tell people what to do.  They ask questions that lead the client to their own discoveries and realizations.

How many times have you taken someone's advise vs having a huge "a ha!".  I'd bet you made bigger strides when you came to realizations on your own after something had opened your eyes and mind a little wider. 

Anyway, some coaches out there who are untrained/uncertified do amazing work. The tricky thing is that the title of Coach covers such a broad area of expertise. That said, if you're considering coaching, first think about what kind of work you want to do. Take a look at getting your credential. It may be for you or it may not but it's a great place to start learning about what the term "coach" actually means. 

Are you a coach?

According to research, many enter the field to consult, bringing with them years of a specific expertise.  That's where people get confused.  A consultant can call themselves a coach.  Part of my work is consulting and part is coaching. That said, you may actually be looking to consult.

Most coaches though, head for this profession due to their creative minds and their true interest in people.  Their heads are busy, constantly looking for a creative outlet. The structure of some jobs really can leave creative types feeling unraveled.  They look to develop personal relationships with those around them instead of hunkering down into the work because it's a more natural use of their energies. That was me.

If that sounds familiar or you simply feel coaching is a good bet for you but are maybe afraid of the stigma around it, really do your research and look to the people who love you and know you the best. Get their hit on it. When I told my loved ones about my plans to coach and what I'd actually be doing, they got it immediately. 

If you run into people who seem judgmental in reaction to your wanting to coach may need you to better explain the profession to help dispel their beliefs. Or they may need to be politely ignored.  You have to focus as much as possible on why you want to coach and what your daily experiences can be like once you're in the swing of things.

I make my own schedule, seeing some clients in person and others over the phone. I work when I'm on vacation only when I feel like it. I designed and run my website so I can create regularly.  I am very structured about the businesses in's and out's in order to be on time, present, organized, and paid. These are essential to making it work, I learned early on. Flexibility with the comfort of some structure and always having a creative outlet. That's the recipe.

It's worth getting good at coaching, too.  It can transform relationships when we learn to stop projecting all the time. You'll learn that skill above all others.   

What now?

I stopped coaching in 2008 after less than a year when I realized how important it was for me to get credentialed and well trained.  I bought a book on how to become a coach, though. I thought one day I might give it another go.

I still had this idea in my head that interior design was something I should consider pursuing but seeing as I wasn't interested in going to school for design, and couldn't afford to, I simply continued to tinker in my own homes.

Every time I have moved I have obsessed over getting the house unpacked and decorated before doing much else. I just can't do anything else. When my husband and I bought the home we planned to raise a family in and keep for many years, it became obvious that I would need to find a different way to express my creativity.  I ended up out in the yard an awful lot but also rearranged the place too many times to count.

Coaching - the best way for me

Larkspur came about after spending a solid year thinking about it.  I was at home with a new baby and had a whole lot of time to get really clear about what I wanted to do.  It came down to either going to school to become a therapist or entering a coaching program and emersing myself into schooling and training. I did my coursework in getting certified and then tested for credentialing.....and then I did a lot more.  The certification process isn't for everyone but it really did help me to feel like I was worthy of calling myself a coach. And it completely blew the doors off of what I thought I'd be doing. I was asking intuitive and also structured questions that, in my mind, magically opened up the clients perspective and got them realizing how much more opportunity there was and how clear the path could be.  My cohort became a huge support system. That was a big bonus.

Larkspur grows

I had my regular clients and referrals starting to come in faster than I had time for (toddler in the house), so I decided to set the long-term plan for Larkspur before the coaching got a life of it's own and I became too locked into it's rhythm. 

My life has little balance when my home is a mess or uninviting. The mindfulness and overall happiness I'd learned to choose to experience was one thing but when mixed with an organized, colorful and warm home, I wasn't getting in my own way as much.  I was calmer, happier and much more creative.

I had created a coaching and consulting business but there was absolutely no reason that I couldn't mix it with my love of design.  There are NO RULES.  You can make your coaching business whatever you want.  That's one of the joys of this work. 

Coaching meets thoughtful, modern living. It was right in front of me all this time so I got right to work redesigning my site, my logo, determining what kind of blogging I'd do, figuring out staff and working tirelessly on the bones and structure of the administrative side of things.   

I can't wait to see what this becomes.   Maybe you'll enjoy what you see unfolding, too.

By Allison Barnard ACC, CPC

Allison Barnard is a Certified Wellness Coach ( ICF), Interior Design Consultant, and owner of Larkspur Wellness.  She offers women's retreats, virtual interior design sessions, contract and contract-free coaching sessions, and online courses.  She regularly contributes to Larkspur's blog and resides in Bend, OR.