Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been reflecting on our year at Coachable. Something this time of year brings for many of us, both in a professional “how did we do” capacity but also reflection on personal growth outside of work too.
The end of November saw the end of our first financial year at Coachable, although we didn’t launch the website until the end of January and these first 12 months have been such an eye opening, challenging but deeply joyful experience.
We encourage our Coachable leaders to speak openly. To be vulnerable. Human. We wanted to do the same with you and to give you an insight into what life has been like in our first ever year here at Coachable.
Our co-founders, Ally and Liz have shared their (very) honest reflections on some big questions.
What’s the hardest lesson you learnt this year?
In the 6-7 years leading up to the launch of Coachable both Liz and I have had successful consultancies, both offering coaching and leadership development. So not a huge step change to Coachable. I certainly had this - albeit naive - assumption that once we launched Coachable our pipeline would quickly fill up and we’d be ready to rock and roll pretty quickly.
In reality, we launched a Leadership Development consultancy in the middle of a downturn (let’s not call it a recession). Where investment in tech was scaling back and companies were making difficult financial decisions. And, well, L&D budgets cut. So whilst we didn’t (thankfully) have any tumbleweed moments, we weren’t quite as fully booked as I certainly thought we’d be.
It took time to build our brand (thank you Planes!), to define our values and be clear about our proposition. The second half of this year was a real 180 and we have an incredibly exciting 2024 ahead of us.
I fully echo the same lesson that Ally has said above. In addition to this, my hardest lesson was learning how to offer the Coachable experience, both to organisations and to individuals who want to work with us directly.
They are very different audiences, with different needs and budgets (let’s face it, spending our own money on our development can be more painful than investing in the business). We quickly learnt that our marketing, sales and pricing approach needed to be quite different. There’s lots we will be learning and changing on this front for 2024 to reduce our stress and keep offering open programmes as they are SO insightful for everyone involved.
What are you most proud of achieving?
The impact we’ve had in such a short time. That’s an easy one. I really do believe that coaching is so much more than a skill; it’s a superpower. Yet it’s a development opportunity that continues to be so inequitable. So developing leaders to adopt a coaching style of leadership can be truly transformational, both for the individual and the business.
We’ve had the real privilege of supporting more than 25 businesses this year in developing their leadership teams. It’s really quite humbling.
I’m also pretty proud that on a coaching community whatsapp group we had people share some pretty epic feedback on Coachable. Unsolicited. It might have made me tear up. Oh - and I did actually cry (with happiness) when we sold the first hard copy of our book, The Little Book of Coachable Questions.
The thing I’m most proud of is how many risks we’ve taken this year. For me, this was the year of getting out of my comfort zone. Setting up a partnership when you’ve spent 7 years working alone, launching a brand into the world, pitching to big clients, doing an improv course, testing out new ideas and pricing, launching a book, moving house - everything has been about taking a risk and doing something different. It's actually hard to choose which of these has been the biggest achievement!
The biggest success from all these risks was launching a free eBook - The Little Book of Coachable Questions. We didn’t know if anyone would want over 100 pages of coaching questions. But we did it anyway and it turns out this has been our biggest win for the year.
Downloaded over 1,200 times and widely shared beyond that - the response has blown us away. So we took another punt that some people might want a hard copy book. We investigated Amazon publishing options (too expensive) but opted instead for the leanest approach possible - to get it printed and post it out ourselves. Why not, let’s test it? And that’s been another success. I’ve really loved our willingness to do lots of mini tests, fail, succeed and learn together. It’s given us both a new sense of energy for our work. Not everything has worked, but every lesson has been so valuable.
What do you love most about your job?
The positive impact we have. We play a small role in someone’s growth but knowing we’ve helped them to tap into their potential is such a special and rewarding thing to be able to do. I get to go home feeling good about the impact I’ve had and I go home “happy Ally”, which equates to “happy mum”. Hopefully my kids would say the same!
I feel very privileged to do something I love for work. It’s also been hugely rewarding to collaborate with someone who brings totally different strengths to the table. With a background in L&D and more operational leadership roles it’s been a real eye opener and I’ve learnt a lot from Liz’s product and design background. We’ve found that sweet spot where our real breadth of experiences have been able to build something special.
I love developing others, creativity and having an impact in what I do. We’ve created Coachable as the vehicle to allow us to do this and I count myself lucky to have this type of relationship with work and to work alongside a partner who shares the same values.
I’ve always worked in client-service roles and it’s nice to be back into that mode again working alongside L&D leaders to design and develop their programmes. As a coach, I get a kick out of seeing other people’s ah-ha moments and the diversity of our work gives me regular opportunities to witness that moment of true development.
What advice would you have liked to have been given this time last year?
Trust the process. It takes time to build a business. To earn trust and build relationships. I am so immensely proud of what we’ve built this year and I’ve loved the opportunities we’ve had to broaden our community and learn from each other.
Secondly: take a break. For the last 6+ years I’ve been a team of one (minus a 6 month stint at a consultancy) and it’s a lonely place. It also means you never really get to switch off. With Liz here it means I can go on holiday and enjoy time with my boys without the worry of being responsive and “on” all the time.
Pretty much the same as what Ally said. Keep showing up every day and trust that this will work. I’ve always known we were on to a good thing with Coachable, I just didn’t realise how long it would take to establish a brand and get on the radar of the brands you want to work with. We don’t like cold-calling tactics so brand building is our marketing tool and that takes a lot longer to establish.
What are you looking forward to next year?
We have a team of coaches and facilitators, as well as Soraya our resident Neuroscientist who have supported us this year. But next year will see our team continue to grow and an opportunity for us to lean on the deep expertise of those around us.
We also have a second book in our back pocket; so watch this space! Next year is about continuing to have a positive impact with those we work with and diversifying our product set, which will see us lean more on the technology available to us.
More learning of new technology which improves our productivity, I want to explore what AI can do for us. Developing new programmes and workshops to flex the creative muscles. Building out the team and having a business that has a positive impact on multiple people that will keep developing for many years to come. This is a fun journey and I’m enjoying the ride - yeehaw!
Multi-award winning coach, facilitator and learning experience designer with 12 years of leadership experience. Now partnering with leaders from tech, fintech and creative industries. Exhausted parent. Wine drinker.
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