As with many other solo-preneur type businesses, coaches find they do better when they focus on a small, specific area. As an expat, coaching other expats is a natural niche to choose.
Evelyn Simpson has been a serial expat for over 20 years. She’s narrowed her specialty down even further — she coaches the accompanying partners of expats who’ve been sent overseas by their companies.
Recently I caught up with Evelyn again to talk about changes she’s seen in the coaching business over the past year.
More Competition, Tighter Budgets.
“From a client perspective, there are more and more coaches coming into the market, so clients have more choice,” Evelyn explained. “On the other hand clients often have more limited budgets and are looking for more specific coaching programs with specific projected outcomes rather than more nebulous ‘coaching’ (this is a phenomenon that is occurring across many segments of the coaching market.”
More Accompanying Partners Want to Work
Back in the good old days of expat overseas work assignments, salaries and budgets were generous and often the accompanying partner (sometimes called a “trailing spouse”) didn’t need to work. That’s not so true today.
“I have also seen more clients looking for coaching to help them to work out what they want to do and to help them get into/return to the workplace.
“Some of this is driven by women who are educated and used to working wanting to have a purpose or means of fulfillment while they are overseas. Another part is driven by the fact that many companies are cutting back their expat packages making it less financially lucrative to be an expat and more likely that the accompanying partner will want to earn an income.”
The demographics among working expats are changing slightly as well, with more women taking overseas assignments. While a larger proportion of expats are single, there are also more men who are now the accompanying spouses.
Anne Egros, another expat coach, explained that more and more companies are not offering relocation packages. She’s also seeing shorter assignments (i.e., less than three years).
More Clients Want Coaching Programs
Because of budget constraints, many clients are looking for coaching programs to purchase, rather than one-on-one coaching sessions. Evelyn explained:
“Many clients are looking for more packaged products (I’ll be launching some myself in the autumn).
“Selling a defined program where clients can understand what they can expect to get out of it is increasingly important. As in the rest of the coaching industry, expat coaches are beginning to offer a wider range of products, group coaching, online self-study programs and defined programs.”
Companies are Paying More Attention to Accompanying Partners
Companies are seeing that a successful expat assignment is very dependent on the accompanying partner’s happiness. In fact, the biggest reason for cutting an overseas assignment short is the partner’s dissatisfaction.
But while companies are starting to pay attention, they’re not doing much about it yet, according to Evelyn.
“There has also been a notable increase in the amount of attention that the corporate Global Mobility function is paying to accompanying partners as they realise that an accompanying partner’s happiness is key to the success of an assignment. While there is more discussion, it hasn’t translated to additional support for accompanying partners as yet.”
If You’re Considering a Portable Career As a Coach
Be prepared for a more competitive marketplace and more group coaching. Learn to create saleable coaching products instead of relying on the more personal, traditional coaching methods. The need for expat coaching is still strong.
If becoming a life coach is part of your plan for supporting yourself overseas, take a look at the training that ICoach Academy (aff) offers.