A recent conversation with a fellow coach came to something rather interesting.Â Â Our argument is that in order to the job well, a practitioner (on people development e.g. coach, OD consultant, facilitator and even therapist) need to have some kind of secondary source of income. He / she cannot rely solely on such developmental work e.g. coaching. Â The side-business could be something like trading of marker pens, workshop venue rental, etc. Â Ideally, the business is not face-time dependent and generates relatively stable income across the time.
The alternate income source is not only to diversify risk, but also to make the developmental work better. Â There are 3 other reasons why so:
Helping by Not Helping â€“ Our work is a lot about pushing people out of comfort zone.Â Real learning (especially on self-awareness) comes with some pain.Â Â Yet, if our living relies solely on the work, we are vulnerable to collusion.Â Â It is well illustrated by a quote mentioned in my earlier post â€˜Unconscious Collusion with Learnersâ€™â€“ I’ll say nice things about your workshop / coaching if you spare me the pain in learning about myself.Â Â Â Or when we are not finally desperate, we can turn down facilitation work which is actually a cover-up to deeper organizational problem.Â Â See another post â€˜Facilitation Work as a Cover-Upâ€™
Capacity Constraint â€“ From the business perspective, the only asset is ourselves. Â Â The scale of this business is constrained by nature e.g. there is only 365 days in a year we can work. Â It is not scalable.Â Â On the other hand, there is a huge key-man risk.Â Â I knew a facilitator who suddenly lost his voice.Â Â The problem lasted for a few months.Â Â He got to cancel all his workshops, arrange substitutes, negotiate against possible compensationâ€¦. without jeopardising client relationshipâ€¦Â and his voice!Â Â Â And at least equally important, he did not have income during that time,
Time Out â€“ This is especially important for those practitioners doing deep psychological work like therapists.Â Â When they are going through life trauma e.g. divorce, loss of important person, it is not useful for them to continue the work.Â Â A secondary source of income can definitely help here.