It’s no secret that the economy has been through – and is still in – tough times. The self-employed have been especially affected. And language professionals above all.
The language world has changed dramatically in the last 24 months. In the UK, Brexit has impacted attitudes towards language learning and the Covid pandemic has squeezed and changed the shape of linguistic education, driving lessons online and increasing competition in the digital space.
I’ve been flexing my own language businesses in response to these catalysts while also continuing my coaching – but the tremendous shifts that have been seen in the industry since early 2020 have given me pause for thought and provoked a revaluation of the services I offer.
I’ve been mulling over what brought me to coaching in the first place. Having worked in the language industry for 20 years, from private tutor to head of a language academy, there aren’t many experiences I haven’t had – or mistakes I haven’t grown from. Throughout my career, I’ve had a continuous approach to learning and development, and a lack of inhibition when it comes to asking for help! I’ve always loved helping others and passing on the lessons I’ve learned has always been second nature. The logical conclusion to all these factors was to begin coaching other language professionals – not for the love of money, but for the love of helping give others a leg up.
What started as a project on the side of my VICI enterprises became a major workstream in its own right with Nathalie Danon Coaching. One on one sessions lead to webinars, half and full day alignment sessions, masterclasses, events and the Keystone Club and I have been lifted and energised by the experience.
But at the same time, something has been gnawing at me, and for a long time I couldn’t work out what. When the economic challenges forced me to consolidate, I found myself relieved to refocus on the VICI Language Academy and VICI Languages France, stepping away from the coaching side. I was puzzled by this, and it took me a long period of reflection to get some answers.
The advent of lockdown forced several self-employed language professionals to diversify to make ends meet, resulting in an explosion in self-styled “language professional coaches” in an overcrowded digital space. Seemingly overnight I found myself being badgered by countless targeted ads from other coaches, touting their world-renowned, tried, and tested programmes, guaranteed to deliver business growth and increased revenue. My coaching industry has become oversaturated.
I keep seeing ads promoting coaches with programmes that promise to deliver 150 new registrations a week, with a set conversion funnel and social media promotion package.
I have no desire to compete with this kind of proposition. I’ve never been interested in pumping huge numbers of sign-ups into my business – I’m driven by customers who have a lifetime value – parents who come to me when their kids are 3 and are still students at 12. For me, the core of my strategy is built around meaningful relationships, and an ethos that doesn’t have that at its heart is of no interest to me.
That was my eureka realisation.
I’m not interested in running a business purely based on registration numbers, and I’m not interested in selling a coaching approach that way either. I want to be able to provide quality, tailored support to individuals. During my career I’ve made such amazing connections it has truly had the power to change my life, adding richness, positivity, and opportunities I couldn’t previously imagine.
That’s what brings me joy.
Not selling a one-size-fits-all customer recruitment campaign to countless punters. And with the burgeoning marketplace of one-stop, silver-tongued, cheap as chips, faceless online coaches out there I’d prefer to take a step back and re-position myself in a totally different space.
So, after much deliberation, I’ve changed my path. Nathalie Danon Coaching still exists, but with a change in direction.
I am still very much here to provide 121 help and support to anyone that asks for it, but, stepping away from set programmes and packages, what I want to focus on right now is a business club.
This business club will be a round table for language professionals, uniting the things I really care about:
bringing people together
... and all with the aim of promoting learning and positive growth.
The Business Club for Language Professionals will be launching in October with sessions on the 4th and the 8th, and you can expect opportunities to make business connections, participate in mini mastermind sessions, share observations, learn from struggles and successes and – above all – ask questions.
I can’t wait to see you there.