Business Platforms, Tools and Apps to Support Your Coaching Business: Part1 – Marketing Platforms

In this Article:

  1. Key questions to ask to help choose the best platforms for your business
  2. Website platforms
  3. Email marketing platforms
  4. Tools of marketing engagement
  5. Digital & print media creation platforms (images, eBooks, podcasts, video, etc.)
  6. e-Course platforms
  7. Integrated marketing platforms – all-in-one

*Disclaimer: This article and the platforms mentioned is for information purposes only. Neither Delaney Tosh, Emma-Louise Elsey nor VI Coaches endorse any of the platforms discussed in this article, nor are any of the above named affiliates of any of the platforms mentioned here. 


Emma-Louise Elsey (The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness) and I (SquarePeg Leadership and Phoenix-Hearted Woman) were asked to create and deliver a presentation to our local ICF Chapter on how coaches could harness digital technology to support them in streamlining and automating some of the processes involved in running a thriving coaching business.

Both Emma-Louise and I have each been running our respective businesses for quite some time and, as technology advanced and our businesses grew, it became clear that a lot of time could be spent just logging into and out of the various platforms (websites, email marketing platforms, spreadsheets, etc). It also became clear that trying to puzzle together the various apps and platforms into one workable set of solutions could be quite frustrating. My own journey as a business person in an ever increasing digital world has been guided by keeping things as simple and savvy as possible and my hope is to provide enough information here to help guide others on this journey.

There are quite a few platforms for each business process and there are a few things to say about each, so this will be a series beginning with marketing processes.


What do we mean by the term ‘business platforms’?

These are the digital tools, apps and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms that you can either subscribe to or download to help you organize, systematize and automate your operational and marketing activities.


Key Questions to Ask Yourself:

The overriding message across this series will be the same: Your choice of platforms to invest in should be guided by these key questions:

  1. What is my business model (link to definition), now and in the future?
  2. What are the processes that drive my business?
  3. How would my business benefit from increased automation of at least some of the required tasks?
  4. Is it a set of apps and tools I need, or would a more integrated platform be a more streamlined and better investment?
  5. How technically savvy am I?
  6. What can I afford that will support my business growth as it grows? (grow into it)


Why is it important to be systematic and to automate some of your operational tasks?

When you launched into the coaching profession, you likely didn’t quite understand all the tasks that would come along with this career.  Being a coach, as it turns out, means learning how to be a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Technical Officer, Product and Services Development team, Chief Financial Officer, Marketing & Sales Director, and the Administrative Assistant.  Oh, and there is being the coach and managing your client work and relationships, as well.

It makes sense, with the technology available to us, to try to streamline and automate as many of these tasks as you can.


What are the typical marketing processes of a thriving coaching business?

Presence and engagement are the essential marketing processes and are supported by the following, each of which will be discussed further in this article:

  • Website
  • Newsletters & Email marketing
  • Thought leadership – blogging, e-books, video or podcasting
  • Social media
  • Digital & print media
  • Product – programs, e-courses, webinars and other info or physical product

Website Platforms


“A good website builder is one that helps you succeed in your project.” ~Nate Shivar


What you should know:

There are essentially three different categories of website:

  • Self-hosted/open source platforms
  • All-inclusive website builders
  • Online Store builders

What you should ask:

  1. What are my goals for this website?  How do I want it to support my marketing?  How do I want it to integrate with my other marketing tools?
  2. What features does this website need to help me attract and convert prospects?  Do I need a blog, lead-building pages, contact form, ability to sell digital and physical products?
  3. Will this website builder/platform be able to grow as my business grows?
  4. How important is it to me to completely own 100% of my website?
  5. How tech savvy am I?


1. Self-Hosted Website Platforms: WordPress and Drupal

One of the world’s most popular website building platforms, there are two versions of WordPress available – and – and it is important to know the difference. aka “the real WordPress”, is the popular website platform that you have heard all the great things about.  It is open-source and 100% free for anyone to use (well, not quite, but I’ll explain that later). All you need is a domain name and web hosting. This is why it is also referred to as self-hosted WordPress.  When it becomes not free is when you opt to purchase a ready-made theme or template from a third party that has been built on WordPress open-source. A pre-made template means that a lot of the design, layout and functions have been chosen and the template allows you to make some limited design options. All you have to do is plug in your logo, content and photos, and organize your navigation bar and associated webpages.

It also becomes not free when you realize your technical abilities are stretched and you have to hire a website developer.

The benefits of is that you have full ownership and control over your website, and if you didn’t purchase a template, you have the ability to customize it as much as you want.  You can integrate other platforms into your website with third-party plug-ins – a shopping cart, calendar, or a membership site, for example.  If you have the time and know-how, you can build yourself a website for a rather low cost (<$100)

The cons are that you are responsible for maintaining regular updates, backups  and security.  You are also responsible for knowing how to ensure all the plug-ins and third party themes keep talking to each other when updates are run. Alternatively, you can pay to have a web developer create a WorPress website for you and pay for them to maintain it (updates, security, backups, support).

I manage a WordPress website that was built by a developer and I do not enjoy the experience. I find it all clunky and it is frustrating when the various plug-ins stop functioning after an update. I find it time consuming and requiring too many phone calls to the web developer – with the associated invoice. is much the same as  There are many developers who prefer Drupal because, as they’ve told me, it is more powerful and flexible.  I had a Drupal built website years ago and I found it just as frustrating as WordPress.  But, keep in mind that I am not counting myself among the tech savvy.

Further Reading:

TIP: is a hosting service created by the founders of WordPress.  Many hobby bloggers use this and you will notice the strange ads filtered throughout their blogs.  This is because if you use their free hosting service, they get to run ads for their benefit. You are not allowed to monetize your website. The other con is that you cannot customize your website.  It comes as is based on the package you choose.  Also, they can delete your site at any time if they should decide you have violated their terms of service.  This is likely not the website builder to choose for your coaching business.


2. All-Inclusive Website Builders: Squarespace, Wix, Weebly

These are three of the most well-known website builders. They are known as all-inclusive website builders and do not require you to know any code (HTML/CSS).  All-inclusive refers to providing you with the drag and drop interface (they convert it all into HTML and CSS in the background), along with hosting, security, customer support, integrations, media storage and marketing tools.  You will want to choose a good website builder that provides excellent SEO (search engine optimization).

Basically, the more complex your website and marketing needs, the more you will want to consider using, and possibly a good web developer. That said, for ease of use and decent functionality, these all-inclusive website platforms can be a good choice. Keep in mind that with these all-inclusive website builders, you are essentially leasing space and ‘decorating’ it with your own content, but they own the infrastructure.

I haven’t used Wix or Weebly, but I have created beautiful websites in Squarespace, which offers many beautiful default designs/templates with access to some coding features. What I like about Squarespace is its ease of use, that it offers me just what I need for my business model and I can have my own website/email hosting (I needed a website hosting company that was wholly Canadian). If you use their hosting, you are guaranteed good website speed and redundancy (this is important). The other pro is that included in the monthly fee is that they take care of all the security, updates, etc. And, quite frankly, their templates are beautiful.  You will want to use high-resolution images, though.

My advice is to try out a few of these website builders’ templates during their free trial period to get a feel for the differences in their various templates and how intuitive each is for you to figure out.

Further reading:

TIP: GoDaddy also offers a hosted website builder, but it is quite limited, yet pricey when compared to what you get with these other all-inclusive website builder platforms. Their websites also don’t integrate well with your social media and social sharing and they apparently tend to bog down in loading due to a lot of JavaScript files.


3. Online Store Builder:  Shopify

The focus of the Shopify website builder is mainly on eCommerce.  Shopify offers an all-in-one platform to build your online store for product sales. If your business model focuses solely on the sale of lots of products, this may be an option to explore, but if you are primarily focused on coaching and you want to offer a couple of digital products for sale, you can do this with more ease via Squarespace, or just install a PayPal button, or you can use the Woocommerce plug-in for WordPress.



Zenutech – Canadian/Montreal-based and data is stored in Canada – great customer service.

Islandnet – Canadian/Victoria-based and data is stored in Canada and I’m fairly certain they fixed their lack of redundancy problem. Great customer service.


All-inclusive website platforms offer hosting (and even domain registration) as part of their packages, but in my experience the pricing is a bit higher than just purchasing hosting separately from a provider of your choice, but the trade-off is that your website and hosting are all through one platform.

TIP: Choosing a wholly Canadian host (company and server location) means that you will enjoy better privacy protection.  As well, ensure you host your email through your Canadian website host so your email data is not property of the US-NSA.
TIP: Make sure your website is being backed up wholly and regularly by your service provider (or web developer) in case it is hacked or corrupted in some way

Further reading: If you are not concerned with your data and email privacy, here is an article with comprehensive info on what to consider when choosing web hosting and reviews of many of the big names in hosting:


The Alternative:  Integrated marketing platforms that include a website builder

The alternative is to choose an integrated marketing platform, such as Simplero or The Coaches Console, and build your website within their platform which includes many other integrated solutions such as e-course builder, product sales, email marketing and customer relationship management, and more.

*See the section further in this article on Integrated Marketing Platforms for more information.

Email Marketing Platforms

These are platforms that help you manage contacts and email list opt-ins legally and effectively with automation.  When you sign up for a company’s digital newsletter, you are opting in to their contact management platform giving them permission to send you that newsletter via email.  Your information is now in a database that helps that company connect with and market to you.

What to look for in an Email Marketing Platform:

  1. Provides enough tools (flexible opt-in, automations, drip, newsletter templates, etc.) to really manage and ENHANCE your client/prospect relationships by helping you expand your knowledge of them in some meaningful (to you) way and by providing you with useful client history that supports you in your client relationships and marketing.
  2. Provides flexible opt-ins so you can market to different people in various ways: newsletters, downloads/freebies, programs & e-courses, specific info and updates.
  3. Should have solid CASL & GDPR compliance protocols making it easy for you to be compliant with these powerful anti-spam laws.
  4. Allows you to group prospects and clients (current and past) into separate groups so you can interact with them differently and more meaningfully based on their history with your business or on their interests and preferences.
  5. Should include the ability to set up automated emails and provide drip emails based on factors you can specify.
  6. Has good reporting with lots of details so you can monitor the success rate of your newsletters and campaigns and so you can see who is engaging with your emails and who isn’t. Good reporting helps you manage your bounced emails, as well, which ensures your emails aren’t poorly ranked, and therefore, don’t land in inboxes.
  7. Has a solid track record of deliverability – meaning that your emails actually land in people’s inboxes.


Examples of email marketing platforms:

There are many platforms and most are expanding their services to integrate more functions beyond simple opt-in management and some of these functions can be purchased as add-ons as you grow your business and your budget allows.  The one you choose will depend on your budget and you business model and marketing strategy.

Keep in mind that some of the website-building platforms discussed above have now expanded to include an email marketing add-on (Squarespace, for example).

The integrated marketing platforms (Simplero and The Coaches Console, among others) also include robust email marketing and customer relationship management along with several other marketing solutions that make these attractive options to consider, especially if e-courses and digital marketing and engagement are going to be a part of your business model.

Here are a few of the platforms we are aware of, including the ones we each use:

The ones that usually show up on the Best Platforms lists:

Integrated marketing platforms with robust email marketing included:

Robust and pricy platforms for the serious online marketer (with lots of time to try to set these systems up, or a tech team on hand):


Further reading:

Tools of Engagement

Social Media

Before jumping on the social media bandwagon, give thought to who your target clients are, how clients typically come to you and also your business model – how you plan to make money.  It may be that you don’t really need a big social media presence, aside from LinkedIn, perhaps. But if you plan to offer e-courses and attract clients from around the world for your coaching and programs, you will likely need to consider social media that can support you in this.

Here are a few of the typical social media platforms that may be appropriate for reaching and engaging with your target audience: 

  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit
  • Medium
  • Your own blog

Managing your Social Media

This is where streamlining and automation are important.  If social media engagement is going to be an integral part of your marketing strategy, you can save a lot of time by adopting a platform that allows you to create, schedule and cross-post across all your social media.

Here is a quote from a coach I know who has a robust social media strategy to attract clients and build her brand and niche:

“As a master freedompreneur, there’s no way I do things manually on the fly. I bulk tasks and schedule/automate everything. SkedSocial is the best social media planner and scheduler for Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. For $25/month, it has every function I could possibly need, from IG carousel to hashtag manager.”
~Ellany Lea, PCC, Founder of Guide to Grace

Our best advice is to look at reviews, pricing and features of some of the examples of social media managers listed here and determine what features will serve you best.  And please don’t think that posting to each of your social media individually is going to serve you well. If social media engagement is how you will bring in clients or sell online product, you will need a platform to streamline your efforts – schedule in bulk, manage comments and track engagement across all your socials media platforms.

Engaging People to Opt In to Email Lists

This is about list-building – engaging people to sign up for your newsletters, value-added downloads, etc.  The purpose is to capture attention and encourage opt-ins to your programs and products. If your business model includes e-courses and other online offerings, these can be helpful to your marketing efforts.

1. Landing Pages:

  • LeadPages
  • or your own website – simply create a new page and call it a landing page

2. Quizzes:

TIP: quizzes are an awesome way to both invite people to give you their contact info and find out about them so you can further develop your marketing – either to them directly or in general.
      • Survey Monkey
      • Google forms
      • Quizzes – LeadQuizzes, Riddle, Thrive Quiz Builder

Creating Digital & Print Media


Stock Photography & Graphic Images:

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Many people respond better to images and are more likely to pay attention to your webpage, social media posts and other marketing or resource media if they contain an image.

Free:  The obvious benefit is that these sites offer free royalty-free images. The drawbacks are that image quality may not be of a high enough resolution for print of large display images and search functions can be frustrating and very time consuming.

Further Reading:
Review of free image sites:
Guide to Using Stock Photos in Your Marketing:

Fee: These websites offer subscription access to high quality, royalty free photos and images/graphics and have robust search functionality that allows you to filter down to several specifications to help you find what you are looking for.

Affordable Freelancers: Professionals to help you create the media you don’t have time or know-how to create (like favicons, logos, etc.)

DIY Design Tools:  Create those attractive memes you’ve been seeing on Instagram.  Design a poster or cover page for a document. Design a better slide presentation.

    • Canva: for anything, really – print, digital, social media, cards, infographic, video….
    • Picmonkey
    • Word Swag: simple app for mobile devices to create simple memes for Instagram, etc.
    • Photoshop & Indesign: for the intrepid designers with patience to learn

Physical Media:  brochures, business cards, tradeshow displays, etc.


Make an eBook:

Further reading:—A-Step-by-Step-Guide

Create a Video:


Easy Video Editors:

Many of these are free online services or downloads, and some have a fee option offering more features.


Creating Podcasts:

Record your podcast:

Podcast Hosting Platforms:

  • Podbean – good for beginners with a free and pro version; good controls
  • PodOmatic – good for beginners with a free and pro version; partnered with Patreon and AdvertiseCast, so there is the possibility of monetizing your podcast.
  • Art19 also helps you monetize your podcasts

Further Reading:

Creating & Marketing E-Courses

Developing E-Courses can be a great way to extend your products from one-to-one coaching.  If you create a highly relevant e-course, it can become an evergreen product on your services/products mix.  The primary benefits to develop e-courses are:

  1. Expand your reach – reach new marketplaces and new clients
  2. Monetize your skills – what do you know really well and can share in the context of a course with modules that is saleable?  This can become an evergreen income source that, once you get your digital marketing right, almost sells itself.
  3. Create multiple streams of income – When the world hits the big pause button (ehem, pandemic), it’s good to have multiple streams of income in case your primary revenue source dries up. E-courses proved to be good products that actually gained relevance as the world hunkered down.

E-Course Platforms:

You can easily develop an e-course using your email marketing service – simply create a series of emails, each containing course modules and set them up in your email platform to automatically go out at regular intervals (weekly, perhaps).

However, for those wanting to incorporate a more swish user experience using video and graphics and membership forums, the following learning management systems (LMS) will serve you well. But, be sure to understand the differences of each:

Stand-alone platforms:

Software that allows you to create, deliver, market and sell your online courses.

All-in-one platforms:

E-course design and delivery integrated with other web services – website, email marketing, CRM, payment systems and more. Note: these integrated marketing platforms are discussed in more detail in the next section.


You love your WordPress website and have the time and tech skills to integrate an e-course plug-in.

Marketplace platforms:

You author/deliver your course; they market and sell it and you get a cut of the deal.


What you want an e-Course platform to do for you:

  • Ease of setup and ease of use
  • Registration and Payment
  • Scheduling and Content Delivery
  • Audio and Video: Hosting & Streaming Content with good storage
  • Learning Community and Discussion Forum (membership areas)
  • Progress Tracking
  • Live Calls or Webinars with Recording

Communicating and Collaborating with Ease:

Communication is key to developing good client relationships. The platforms you choose can help streamline both your client and partner/staff collaboration processes and create ease.  From choosing the platforms for your coaching calls and webinars, to creating an easily accessible hub for documents, information and resources, the platforms you choose can either facilitate trust and ease or frustrate people.

I’ve been using the free version of Yammer (Microsoft) to create private client spaces where I can post files and resources that both of us can access easily.  I consider these spaces my clients’ individual coaching libraries.  When I begin to develop e-courses, I will likely choose an integrated platform like Simplero or Coaches Console so that I can consolidate my email marketing platform, my website, my e-courses. This integrated platform will have built-in membership sites that will allow me to also move away from Yammer.

Here are a few platforms that facilitate communication and collaboration in a digital world:

Communication/face-to-face collaboration:

Collaboration/Shared Documents:

  • Yammer – part of Microsoft 365, but can find the app for free online
  • Slack
  • Google Docs
  • Dropbox  – free or fee
  • Membership Sites/Client Areas (various: either as part of an integrated platform (see below), or as a plug-in for your website)


Using Integrated Platforms to Avoid Multi-Systems Chaos


I currently use Constant Contact, Squarespace, Yammer and if I add e-courses to my offerings, I could also be using a platform like Thinkific, and I might add a scheduler, and perhaps some sort of landing page tool to enhance my marketing. And I might need some sort of shopping cart or payment system.  All this adds up to multi-system chaos.  It can also become expensive to pay for these platforms individually and become time consuming trying to patch them together to talk each other in some sort of streamlined way, which then means I might need to add Zapier to the mix (another platform and another expense).

Or, I could create systems integration by migrating everything over to a single platform that integrates many of these marketing communications tools into one streamlined package. I would be able to access my website, products and commerce, marketing, community, and more from a single dashboard. One log-in, one help-desk, one invoice.

When choosing systems integration you are choosing:

  1. simplicity versus overwhelm
  2. single-platform automation of multiple tasks
  3. streamlined expense versus multi-system expenses (less bills, less logins)

What to Look for in an Integrated Platform:

  • Automates the key tasks that run your marketing and operations
  • Provides a solid Email Marketing platform and CRM with enough controls to manage customer relationships:  history, downloads, segmentation
  • Provides individual and group membership spaces to allow info sharing, collaboration and subscriptions:
    • large file storage
    • media share-ability (videos, podcasts,  image-rich documents)
  • Supports sales of info-based products and e-courses
  • Simplifies the e-commerce experience:
    • Caters to sale of digital products, but allows for physical product sales
    • Large file storage
    • Security
  • Many testimonials that provide excellent reviews of the:
    • Impeccable customer service
    • Levels of support catered to your budget and business size
    • Ease
    • Value for price

“The company of the platform you choose should interact with you like they are partners in your business.”

~Ellany Lea, PCC, Founder of Guide to Grace


Examples of Integrated Platforms:

Simplero: “Your entire online coaching business in one place.”

Simplero was designed by a Danish coach and programming wiz. Simplero is built on its own code by one person (Calvin) and so it is cohesive and runs smoothly.  Other platforms seem to be built on a combination of WordPress and plug-ins with some coding to patch it all together – built by teams.

Simplero gives you a CRM, email marketing, with sophisticated auto-responders, opt-in forms and popups, marketing automation, payment processing + recurring billing, landing pages, website and blog with comments, plus the ability to host and sell e-courses and other info products (+physical products, too). And it is simple to use and affordable compared to its direct competitors. A coach I know who switched to using Simplero appreciates the simplicity, yet robustness of the platform and the excellent customer service she receives. Simplero is top of my short-list of integrated platforms that I’m considering.

What it includes:

  • Website + Landing pages
  • Email marketing + Newsletter
  • Contact management +CASL/GDPR
  • Auto-responders
  • Automations
  • Tagging
  • Affiliate program
  • Helpdesk
  • Storage
  • Products
  • Upsells + Downsells
  • Simplified payments (automated invoices, recurring, consolidated revenue reporting)
  • Online course builder & delivery
  • Worksheets + Quizzes
  • Membership Sites + Subscriptions
  • Concierge migration


The Coaches Console:  “The industry’s leading tool to organize & automate your professional coaching business – in a single, all-inclusive application.”

The Coaches Console is built by two coaches, Melinda and Kate, who wanted to get the world coached and wanted to help coaches create thriving businesses.  Many coaches in my coaching forums recommend Coaches Console. What I notice is that it includes a calendar/scheduler which I don’t think Simplero or Kajabi include.

  • Website
  • Email marketing + Newsletter
  • Contact management
  • Auto-responders
  • Automations
  • Helpdesk
  • Products
  • Simplified payments (automated invoices, recurring, consolidated revenue reporting)
  • Online course builder & delivery
  • Forms & documents
  • Membership Sites
  • How to tutorials
  • Client Support – scheduling, client log, coaching notes, documents


Kajabi: “Everything you need to grow in one place – no plug-ins, no integrations”

Kajabi was not built specifically by or for coaches, but is definitely known as an industry favourite which provides much the same features as Simplero and The Coaches Console.

  • Website + Landing pages
  • Email marketing + Newsletter
  • Contact management
  • Auto-responders
  • Automations
  • Tagging
  • Analytics
  • Helpdesk
  • Storage
  • Products
  • Upsells / Bundling
  • Simplified payments (automated invoices, recurring, consolidated revenue reporting) Integrates with Stripe or PayPal
  • Online course builder & delivery
  • Membership Sites + Subscriptions


Pricing comparison:

Systems Integration: ~ $89 – $247 per month

  1. Simplero: $89 – $124 per month
  2. The Coaches Console: $147 – $247 per month
  3. Kajabi: $119 – $159 per month


Multi-systems Chaos: ~ $182 – $566 per month

  • Constant Contact: $65/month or more
  • Squarespace website: $18 – $26  per month
  • Membership Sites: ~$25 per month
  • E-course platform: $49 – $99 per month
  • Acuity scheduler: $25 per month
  • Zapier subscription to patch all the apps so they communicate with each other: 27.19 per month

Looking at all the systems you would need to patch together and the costs involved, one begins to see the appeal of investing in an integrated system.

Further reading on Integrated Online Marketing Platforms:


Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series
for information on platforms to support coaches
in the operational side of business
(financial management, productivity, online scheduling, etcetera)

Contributing Member: Delaney Tosh, CPCC, PCC

Delaney believes women do leadership differently and envisions a world fundamentally changed by the contributions, the voices and participation of women who are living and leading from their unique strengths. Delaney helps clients navigate the hurdles unique to women in leadership so they can radiate with confidence and thrive as leaders. She delivers Resilience at Work® toolkit and Resilience at Work® Leader Scale, and is the co-creator of the Phoenix-Hearted Woman leadership retreats. Connect with Delaney at SquarePeg Leadership or on LinkedIn.


Contributing Member: Emma-Louise Elsey

Emma-Louise is a professional life coach, NLP practitioner and founder of The Coaching Tools – and recently, Fierce Kindness. She has been a life coach for 16 years and has combined her passion for coaching, creativity and love of systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. Connect with Emma-Louise at The Coaching Tools Company, Fierce Kindness, or on LinkedIn.

The Resilient Entrepreneur – Count Yourself Into Your Coaching Business

by Rhonda L. Margolis and M. Beth Page

Author’s note: This article was written before the current global crisis. We are finding these resilience practices helpful as we re-imagine our businesses. We hope you will, too, and we send our best wishes for staying safe and well.

We are successful entrepreneurs with years of experience as coaches, consultants, authors, and facilitators. We love what we do and have made deliberate choices to embrace our entrepreneurial spirit. As leadership and coach educators, we have the great pleasure of seeing new graduates strike out on their own business journeys. We are often asked, “What does it take to run your own business?”

There are many resources targeted at helping entrepreneurs make a six-figure income from their coaching business. It is important to know your market, determine your niche and brand, define your social media presence, and set income goals. We offer an alternative path to success as an entrepreneur. A path that invites you to count yourself in, as you reflect on what will be good for you and good for your business. All businesses experience cycles of abundance and cycles of scarcity. Navigating through those cycles, we have discovered there is another key ingredient to long term success and sustainability for entrepreneurs: resilience.

In this article, we offer a framework for entrepreneurship and resilience. The model we find useful is the Resilience@Work scale, comprised of the seven elements outlined below, that emphasizes psychological, emotional and physical well-being at work (McEwen, 2016).

In sharing this framework, we invite you to ensure you are counting yourself in fully to your coaching business in a way that enables you to support yourself and your clients.


Living Authentically

Starting a new business can bring both excitement and uncertainty. At the beginning, it can be easy to say “yes” to most invitations. A full calendar is one indicator that the business is doing well. The question becomes, how well is the business owner doing?

As coaches, we emphasize the need to be ‘reflective practitioners’. In the throes of building a business, it can be easy to forget this. In the early years, as the separation between personal/family and work time became difficult to maintain, we found it helpful to take a step back, revisit what drew us to being entrepreneurs, and consider how to make choices and decisions aligned with our values and strengths.

We invite you to take a pause when seeking out or responding to new opportunities, to reflect back to your values and consider your strengths. What sparked your interest in starting or growing a business? What are the values that ground you? What are the strengths that align with the work you seek?

Finding Your Calling

What is your purpose in starting your business? When we started out, we were clear that we wanted to be ‘masters of our own time’ and ‘creators of our own endeavors’. Through generous conversations with colleagues and mentors, we fine-tuned our purpose and mission; we reconnected to what mattered most to us. These values became the touchstone by which we make intentional choices of how to use our time, where we could be of service to clients in a meaningful way, and how we could grow our businesses in the direction that brings benefit to the people and organizations with whom we work.

As you contemplate finding your own calling, what brings you profound joy? When you feel “in the flow”, what are your best moments? What awakens your heart to a sense of possibility?  When do you feel most belonging and connectedness?

Maintaining Perspective

How do you respond to challenges, risks and setbacks? This aspect of the framework invites you to consider the points of view from which you make decisions and act in the world. Like any work environment, entrepreneurship can have its share of frustrations, difficult moments, and uncertainty.

Running your own business may have the added stress of external forces that result in uneven distributions of work. We may experience a sudden surge in business where so many clients are seeking our services that the task of managing the marketing, administration, and doing the work, becomes overwhelming. Or we may encounter a fallow period in which client contacts are quiet, or a time when a potential client chooses to work with someone else, or a client meeting to ‘pitch’ our services that didn’t go well.

Finding ways to develop an optimistic perspective and skills to reframe negative patterns of thinking can help us survive and thrive over the long term.  If you find yourself thinking, “maybe it’s time to get a ‘real’ job”, or “I just don’t have the right connections to make a go of this”, what self-coaching questions could help you look at the situation in a new way? What actions could you take to re-engage with what is working and build on that? When is the last time you revisited your values and purpose, and celebrated a success? What beliefs and feelings can you bring forward that can uplift you in difficult times?

Mastering Stress

Mastering stress invites us to put routines in place to manage time and energy, to take care of ourselves, and to practice mindfulness. This element of the framework invites you to reflect on the personal routines that serve you and identify your strategies for maintaining these practices amidst lives that are often all too busy and jam packed with personal, family, and other professional commitments.

As entrepreneurs, sometimes the line between work and personal lives can become blurred. Establishing boundaries between work and home requires attention, particularly for home-based businesses. Setting clear ‘office hours’, with specific times to respond to business phone calls and emails is one way of creating the space between two worlds. What self-care strategies nourish and refresh you? What is one regular practice you could add to sustain your optimism, energy and well-being?

Interacting Cooperatively

As coaches, we learn to explore our own personal mastery and to bring our best selves into our work. Interacting cooperatively is really about offering help and making requests. As independent professionals, we sometimes forget to make requests that will support us and our business. Look around at the people that are in your professional and personal networks. Is there someone that could help you with your business? What might be a request that you could make of this person that would allow them to contribute to your success? What might you offer to someone else?

Staying Healthy

As you reflect on the strategies that you currently have in place that support your physical, nutritional, and sleep health, what could benefit from some additional attention? In the early days of building a business, physical activity may not get calendared in; nutritional eating can be forgotten; being energized by business building ideas can interrupt sleep and a host of other impacts can be experienced as you seek to build your business. Establishing a baseline set of routines that support your health will nurture you in times of challenge and success. What is one action you might take that would support you today? Consider if you can establish a pattern of repeating this activity for the next 30 days.

Building Networks

In our own work, and our work with clients who are seeking greater success, one of the possibilities to explore is actively building networks. Here, the option exists to contemplate what you are doing to expand your professional and personal networks. For example, for one of our colleagues who does not typically seek out social situations, it was useful to identify a specific goal when attending networking events. This goal was to meet three people, learn a few things about each one, and give themselves permission to leave after achieving their objective. If they were feeling engaged and wanted to stay longer, then that’s what they did. What one action could you take to help you expand your personal and professional networks?

Final Reflections

Our hope is to invite you to contemplate what specific approaches and strategies would support you in building a coaching practice that will add to your resilience. What are the strengths you can build on, the shifts you can make, and the processes and relationships that would support your bold dreams? Perhaps applying the resilience framework will spark additional considerations as you seek to build your business using an approach that will also be resilient over time.



McEwen, K. (2016). Building your resilience: How to thrive in a challenging job. Openbook Howden Print & Design, St. Marys: South Australia

Rhonda L. Margolis, EdD, PCC, CEC, is a consultant, coach, and facilitator known for her leadership in creating welcoming and inclusive workplaces. She is committed to supporting individuals, leaders, and teams to bring out the best in themselves and each other, and to building the capacity of internal leaders to transform the quality of conversations in organizations. Rhonda was instrumental in the creation, launch, and sustainability of the Organizational Coaching Certificate program at the University of British Columbia, where she is a coach educator. To learn more, visit


Beth Page, PhD, PCC, CPHR Author, educator, international speaker and Dream Catcher Consulting founder Beth helps support people and organizations to honour the human dimension of change. Her books include Change Happens, Done Deal: Your Guide to Merger and Acquisition Integration.  She also collaborated on a co-authored chapter in Leading with Spirit, Presence and Authenticity published by Jossey-Bass. Beth holds degrees from Pepperdine University, Western Illinois University, and Carleton University. She completed her PhD at the University of Victoria. For further information about her, visit her website:

The ICF Code of Ethics is Your Fundamental Coaching Tool: Are you up to date?

One of the most fundamental tools available to coaches is the ICF Code of Ethics.  The ICF, through a collaborative process, has developed the Code of Ethical Standards to help elicit the best in each and every coach.  Understanding and applying the Code of Ethics to your coaching practice will elevate your professionalism and translate into enabling deep trust between you and your clients.

The importance of ethical standards and practice has led the ICF to undergo a process of regular revision to ensure the ICF Code of Ethics continues to support coaches in being their best, while establishing trust across our stakeholders.

The most recent update went into effect January 1, 2020.  This article provides some highlights and links to where coaches can find the complete Code of Ethics and the associated resources.

The Update Process:

The revised Code is the embodiment of many hours of work, incredible dedication and a tremendous attention to detail. The ICF Code of Ethics is reviewed every three years. The most recent update began in 2018 and involved a large Code Review Team with individuals from 16 countries.  The ICF Board of Directors approved the revised Code and it went into effect January 1, 2020.

The Changes:

While there continues to be 28 standards, the language has been clarified in many of them and the standards have been regrouped into four new categories:

Section I: Responsibility to Clients

Section II: Responsibility to Practice and Performance

Section III: Responsibility to Professionalism

Section IV: Responsibility to Society

On first reading the updated Ethical Standards may seem similar to the previous, however, there are changes throughout and it is important for coaches to read through all the standards to ensure we are in compliance and being our best in our profession.  Therefore, I am not going to outline the changes I found in my comparison, but invite my colleagues to visit the updated Code of Ethics and re-familiarize yourselves with these important tools of our profession.

The Supporting Resources:

I am delighted to see that the ICF has provided more resources to support coaches in interpreting the Ethical Standards, understanding the complaints process, and accessing a community of practice.  These resources all support coaches in putting our Ethical Standards into practice in our daily interactions, marketing and coaching.

1. Understanding how to Interpret Each Ethical Standard:

This link to the Interpretive Statements is very useful as it provides an expanded explanation of how to interpret each of the ethical standards:  

2. Ethics Water Cooler Conversations:

Join in the one-hour Zoom conversations which take place the second Wednesday of each month (English) at 11am Eastern/8am Western (Canada and US).

Register here for upcoming Water Cooler Conversations.

3. ICF Ethics CCE Course:

This is useful for coaches renewing or applying for their ICF Credential, but also useful as a refresher.  The ICF Global Ethics Community of Practice will update the video to align with the updated 2020 Code of Ethics. In the meantime, this link is still useful for CCEUsAs soon as the ICF Global Ethics Committee makes the update available we will update this link here. 

Three Reasons for Coaches to use Assessments to Forward Your Client’s Action

By Delaney Tosh

There are thousands of assessments on the market that coaches could consider using in their coaching business.  Part of a coach’s role is to determine, in conjunction with the client, if an assessment would be useful and to determine best fit for their client in helping that client gain awareness and forward their learning and growth.

What are the reasons a coach would consider using an assessment and how would it benefit the client?

A starting point and a structure for the coaching

An assessment helps identify the current state – it establishes a baseline. The coaching relationship is a journey and the client in on a journey of learning, self-discovery and growth. An assessment can identify some starting points and provide the coach with something to structure the coaching conversation towards learning and action. With the coach, the client can establish a road map for their growth and for setting actions.

Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

Clients come to coaching with some goals and a desire to make changes that will support them in achieving those goals. An assessment can provide information that supports the client in examining how she operates. It is an opportunity for self-reflection and the window to self-awareness.

Central to growth and change is the ability to see how you operate in the world and in relationship with others, and the ability to see yourself as others experience you. This is the key to developing emotional intelligence.

Measuring success

Using an assessment to identify the current state provides a baseline from which to measure growth. The client has an objective set of data that can show where attention and actions are needed and then where growth has occurred,and where further attention is needed, especially if the coach uses an assessment to re-assess after the coaching relationship has progressed over a period of time.

Once a coach has determined that using an assessment will be of benefit for the client, the next question the coach would consider is:

  • Which is the best assessment for the client?

A few examples of assessments:

Myers Briggs (MBTI)
DiSC Profile
Barrett Personal Values Assessment (PVA) – It’s free
Barrett Leadership Values Development Report
EQ in Action
Strengths Deployment Inventory
Leadership Practices Inventory (360)
StandOut Assessment
Strong Interest Inventory
Barrett Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT)
The Leadership Circle

And there are hundreds more!  You need to explore with your client what will be most meaningful for them and which type of assessment will help deliver that meaning. Some assessments require the participation of colleagues and superiors, while some are self-assessments, so the logistics require discussion with your client. Another factor to consider is budget.

Finally, the coach would ask:

  • What is the best way to use an assessment throughout the coaching relationship?

The answer really depends on the type of coaching you do and the needs and goals of your client, as well as whether or not the coaching is sponsored by the client’s employer.  An important thing to consider is that an assessment only becomes useful towards growth and change when it is used throughout the coaching process as a dynamic tool.

For answers to these questions, tune in to VI Coaches’ upcoming webinar on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 when Yvonne Mann will lead a discussion on choosing assessments and how to use assessments to lead your client to action. Click here for details and registration.


Coaching Tools: 10 Fresh Ways To Use The Wheel of Life in Your Coaching Practice


Click image for larger view


By Emma-Louise Elsey

Sometimes I think we coaches get so used to seeing “The Wheel of Life” that we forget it’s still new for most of our clients. Not only that, but the “Wheel of Life” may just be the most powerful and flexible coaching exercise in our coaching toolbox! So, as it’s one of my favourite tools I’m excited to share some new ideas below for how you can use “The Wheel of Life” in your coaching practices.

Here are 10 Fresh Ways for Using the Wheel of Life in Your Coaching Practice:

  1. The Wheel of Progress. When used on a regular basis The Wheel of Life is a great tool to measure progress. Use it monthly or quarterly with your clients, as both a check-in to see how they’re currently doing AND as a way for them to see how they’ve improved and grown. Improved scores demonstrate concrete value from coaching and create tangible progression. It’s like looking back over an old journal and seeing how far you’ve come!
  2. The Wheel of Stress (or Wheel of Frustration). Start with a blank wheel and ask your clients to list the top 8 areas that stress or frustrate them most. Then ask them to score each area out of 10 as to how much each area adds to the stress in their life. Then review and coach them around the scores. Tip: Ask, which area frustrates or stresses them out the most? Are there any surprises? How could they lower their scores? What actions could they take to lower their frustration or stress?
  3. The Wheel of Happiness, Fun or even Joy! Does your client need help to create more happiness, fun or joy in their life? Well, ask them to identify 8 areas or things that are fun or make them excited or happy. There are different ways to score this – you could ask them to score how satisfied they are with each area, or how MUCH each area excites them, or how much they WANT to ‘do’ or feel drawn to each area. Then ask your client for an action or commitment for each segment. Tip: Ask how could they bring more of each area into their lives? Help them find multiple wins – where one action raises their score across a number of areas.
  4. Going Deeper. Use the wheel to drill down into a single wheel segment and help your clients understand their lives and issues more deeply. Take one of the segments and then using a blank wheel ask them to write out a further 8 areas that make up that segment for them. Eg. a ‘Finance’ wheel could include saving for a house, budgeting, focusing on buying needs and not wants, saving for a rainy day, paying off debts, getting a pay-rise etc. Tip: This is great homework – to identify areas to bring to the session and work on.
  5. The “Skills and Knowledge Gap” Wheel. What are the Top 8 skills and knowledge gaps your client has that get in the way of that job, promotion or new career? Ask your client to identify their gaps and then score out of 10 where they are on the road to filling this gap. Then identify action steps for each ‘gap’. Tip: It helps to clarify whether each gap is a skill or knowledge gap. AND it’s also important to do a ‘sanity check’ that the gap is 1) fillable and 2) that it’s a skill they are able or want to fill!
  6. The Wheel of Compassion. There aren’t many of us who couldn’t do with more self-compassion. Ask your client to list 8 areas where they could be more kind or compassionate with themselves. Get them to score HOW compassionate they are currently – and to identify an action for the top 3 areas that need kindness or compassion most. Tip: Try this one on yourself – you may be surprised – where do YOU need to be kinder with yourself?
  7. Set MORE Meaningful Goals. The Wheel of Life is a great way to help a client who is struggling to identify goals. Low scores point to areas where a goal could be identified to raise their score. And high scores suggest areas where a goal could really give your clients a boost. When we work on where we’re already doing well – this spins off into other areas in our lives and lifts them too. Tip: This is a great exercise for business and career/executive coaches to ease clients into thinking about their personal lives – which of course will benefit their careers and businesses in the long run.
  8. The Wheel of Priorities. Ask your client to label their Top 8 priorities – across work, home, relationships – basically their priorities in life overall. Next ask them to review their wheel and identify their Top 3 priorities. Then, get them to score their satisfaction out of 10 for all the areas. You can use this approach to look at a specific area of life like their career or finances, or you could even use this exercise to prioritise their goals! Tip: Ask them how does their score for the Top 3 priorities compare to the lower priorities? Do they have their priorities ‘straight’ or do they need to shift their focus? What actions could they take?
  9. The Wheel of Sales (or Wheel of Marketing). A wheel can also be used to help identify actions rather than identify and score ‘areas’ to work on. So, take a blank wheel and ask your clients to identify sales or marketing actions to complete in the next month (or key actions to complete in the coming year). Tip: You could also pre-fill some of the wheel for them so a Marketing Wheel might include social media, networking, advertising, workshops, a newsletter and a Sales Wheel might include clarifying a sales process or funnel, writing a script for complimentary sessions, calling enquiries back, learning more about Sales. You might even like to try this one for your coaching practice…
  10. General Action Planning. The visual wheel format is also great to make action planning more fun and a great way to BREAK DOWN bigger actions into smaller more manageable chunks. So, using a blank wheel, write the goal or required outcome at the top of the page. Then ask your client to write out the next 8 actions or chunks of work that make up their goal. Tip: If you get them to put a date against each action – they can then use the segments to shade and record the % complete for each area!

Final Tip:

And whatever you’ve used the wheel for I like to ask this question when complete, “So, if this wheel represented your life/relationship/career/marketing strategy, is it a bumpy ride?”

I hope this has given you some new ideas for using The Wheel of Life in your coaching practice. Why not give one a try – it’s wheely good!

And remember – we’d also love to hear how you use The Wheel of Life – just add a comment below.

Contributing Member: Emma-Louise Elsey
Emma-Louise is a professional life coach and founder of The Coaching Tools Sign-up at to receive 549 Powerful Coaching Questions FREE by email.




**Please credit the author with any use of or excerpt from this article in any form.


Kindness in Your Coaching: The Art of Being in Service for Your Clients

February is the ICF-VI Coaches Chapter’s Kindness Month, arising out of the ICW 2012 Theme, ‘Heart of Coaching’ and due to February being heart month. As your Chapter prepares for our day of kindness this February, we found ourselves asking the question:

What is it to bring kindness into the practice of coaching?

At the heart of this question is the concept of coming from a place of service for our clients. Being kind to your clients can mean a number of things relating to how you self-manage and support yourself in maintaining your attitude of service.

How do you support clients to be kind to themselves when you hear them beating themselves up?

Being kind doesn’t mean letting them off the hook, it means holding them as fully capable to make the changes they desire.

As we (the authors) were discussing this blog’s theme we had a quick discussion on how keeping our coaching skills sharp can add to our ability to elevate our client’s experience with kindness. None of us wish to admit our skills may get a bit loose now and then, but it is certainly something to continually draw our awareness back to in service of being truly masterful coaches for our clients.

What could this look like?

Professional development – Ensuring you are keeping your craft fine-tuned and that you are challenging yourself to stretch as a professional coach.

Accountability – This could mean two things. It refers to really holding your clients accountable to their goals, their vision, their values. It also means holding yourself accountable to really being with your client and challenging yourself to have all your skills, all the core competencies, at work in your coaching.

Curiosity – Do you listen to what is being said and what is not being said and support your client in exploring their story, the judgments, distinctions, assumptions, etc., that they may be making? Do you dig in and help your client dig down into the underlying motivations or beliefs your client may be holding onto and do you do this without judgment?

Championing – How you encourage exploration of new behaviours and actions that forward your client’s learning.

Acknowledging – Who they are being, who they are becoming, pointing out their magnificence as they are stretching towards their fullest potential.

Ethics – There are so many small and big ways to let this slip. Here are a few examples:

  • The coach who encourages a client to sign up for coach training…at the same program that coach is an affiliate of and receives a kick-back from.
  • Coaching multiple members of the same work team.
  • Continuing to coach a client you have lost interest in.
  • Telling your client what to do.
  • Advertising yourself as an ICF credentialed coach when you have let your membership lapse.

When was the last time you read the ICF Code of Ethics?

These are just a few of the ways we can be of service to our clients.

  • What does being of service to your clients mean to you?
  • What have you noticed when you bring these to your attention and into your practice of coaching?
  • What do you notice when you don’t; when your skills get a little loose?

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.

~Lao Tzu

This resource article was co-written by the VI-Coaches communications committee.

**Please credit VI Coaches with any use of or excerpt from this article in any form.





Share Your “Go-To” Workshop Activities – Here Are Two to Get You Started


Submitted by Delaney Tosh & Tracy McMicking

At our Coaches Café events this year, we have featured either activities to stimulate thoughtful conversation or presented tools for your coaching toolkits. The value of this is clear to us by the continuing conversations and by the requests we receive to share more workshop activity and coaching tool ideas.

So, here is a resource article that we invite you to participate in. To kick-start this dialogue, we feature two activities that could be used in group workshop settings. Please join the dialogue on this blog using the comments section and share your “go-to” workshop activities that have served you well.

Going forward we will feature your shared workshop activities ideas in upcoming eNews editions and we’ll gather the comments together into one big resource to make available to our members on our website as a download.

Team Building Activity: Your Land – Guided Visualization Exercise

Objective: To have each member of the team form a visualization of their land for the purpose of understanding themselves, their values and their challenges on a deeper level. Each member shares what their land is like and what they learned so that others can gain a greater understanding of them and begin to create common ground.

Participants will need paper and pen to make notes during short breaks during the visualization so they can capture important aspects of their land for later.

The facilitator guides the group to close their eyes and begin to visualize arriving at their land.

Guide the individuals to notice the following: how they arrive (by what mode of transport), how they are greeted or not, what the smell is like, the geography and terrain, what the temperature and weather is like.

Have them make their way from their point of arrival to the central town or city and notice what it is like, taking in the atmosphere, how people are moving around, what the pace is like. Ask them to begin to notice how people are getting along and what the politics are, the policies and the principles that guide the way their land functions.

They walk around their land visiting a variety of areas, like their home, the streets or trails and a market place noticing what it is like, why they like it and why it works so well.

Take a short break after visiting each area for the purpose of making notes.

They also imagine that there is an area in their land that they don’t want to visit and they describe what it is like and why they don’t want to go there.

Then have each member of the group share briefly what their land was like, what stood out for them and what insights the exercise revealed about what is important for them in a well functioning environment.

After each member shared what they wanted to about their land each other member of the team offered what they learned about that person in a positive way and the new insights they had about the person’s ability to contribute.

The facilitator can then open a discussion of what positive outcomes were gained that supports them becoming a more cohesive team.

Workshop or Team Building Activity: “What I Like About Your Idea is…AND…”

Technically this is an ideation exercise – for helping groups create creative ideas. However, it is great for helping teams learn to plan more co–creatively and helps train team members how to avoid the ‘shutting down’ behaviours that can make meetings or planning frustrating. I received the idea for this activity from Vince Gowmon of Remembering to Play and have modified it and been using it very successfully since.

You can also use this exercise as a fun workshop opener. It provides a fun way to stimulate creative thinking. In this case you would tailor the de-brief questions towards the purpose of your workshop.

Recommended Group Size: Best with groups under 20 people. However, you could split up larger groups into smaller groups.
Total run time: 10 to 20 minutes depending on size of team and whether you proceed with part 2.

Objective & Instructions:

Put the phrase up for all to see: “What I Like About Your Idea is…AND…”

Provide group with something to plan, something neutral and fun – such as a circus, or a new way of presenting the Academy Awards event.

The goal is to ideate only — not to resolve or plan logistics.

How to Begin:
First person shares an idea. For example, “so, we’re going to host a circus, here is an idea – we could have it at the beach”.
Second person says, “What I like about your idea is…(and say something you like)…AND…(give your idea)”.
Third person continues, “what I like about your idea is…AND…”
Note: it can be suggested that ideas build off of the previous ideas, but it is not wholly necessary.

It is important not to evaluate the idea – just present what you like about it …AND…then add an idea to the previous person’s idea.

Let the activity go around the team enough times so that each person has at least four opportunities to participate – about 5 minutes.


  • What did you notice as you did this activity?
  • When did the team loosen up and come alive?
  • What was the sense of connection? When was this most noticeable?
  • What did you notice when an idea didn’t resonate? What was that like for you?
  • How did you keep the flow of the connection going when you didn’t resonate with an idea? How did that impact the activity overall, impact the team?
  • What skills did you have to call on?
  • What was it like to always look for something positive to acknowledge?
  • When was it hard to be creative? When easy?
  • What kind of adjustments did you personally need to make for the group to be successful with the activity?

Key learning points:

  1. Awareness – of others and of what is possible when you are truly building your awareness of the other and the shared purpose.
  2. Connection
  3. Learning what moves the play forward – this is a new tool to use in team meetings and planning sessions.
  4. Listening – you can’t share what you like about an idea if you are not listening; you can’t look for shared interest towards shaping a common goal when you are not listening.

Part 2:

You either stop here having captured and summarized the key learning points, or you can run through this exercise again, but this time in the context of their work, using a real work example.


  • What did you notice?
  • What was different this time?
  • What were you trusting from the group? From yourself?
  • Where do you notice you stop listening?
  • What do you think is possible if, as a team, you bring the energy and skills you used in this activity into your day to day planning? How would coming to the plan be different?

Key Point to sum up: The purpose of this exercise is to bring your own awareness to how/when you support the connection and energy and flow of the team and how/when you shut it down.


Now, using the comments section…please share with us your favourite workshop activities and when and how you use them. Or, share with us other ways you might use the two activities above.