First Year Reflections: Acorns, Oak Trees & Icebergs- 10 Top Tips to Get Your Business Started

First Year Reflections-Acorns, Oak Trees & Icebergs- 10 Top Tips to Get Your Business Started

A year ago to the day, on 14 August 2017, Nikki Alderson Coaching launched. And what a year it’s been. A year in which I’ve had opportunity to grow, both as a woman in business and personally. Reflecting on the gains and areas of stretch that I have experienced, here I share my journey and learnings so far.

I have 19 years’ experience at the Criminal Bar in Yorkshire, working as a barrister from Broadway House Chambers, Bradford/ Leeds. From the outset, I had no hesitation in developing my practice in an unconventional way with a Scholarship to New Zealand (2000) and undertaking pro bono work in Jamaica supporting Death Row Attorneys in their defence of Capital Murder cases (2002-2004). Such inspiring work! On my return to UK, having become the most junior Grade 4 Prosecutor in Chambers, and unusually early on in my career, a Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Prosecution Panelists, the daily diet of Sex trials created within me a conflict as to the worth/ value of my UK practice.


  1. Business Beginnings: Be patient

It was at this point that I first experienced Coaching, understanding the benefits of going “from good to great” through the process, and was able to work with more purpose, vigour and personal congruency. That experience never left me, and so it was that, unbeknown to me at the time, over 10 years ago, my business journey began – a seed, a tiny acorn, was inadvertently sown.

  1. Use Positive Affirmations as a Motivational Tool

Such was the power and positive impact of coaching, I was inspired to re-train. In 2009, I read a book called The Guide by Dr. William Holden after which I penned an affirmation: “I am a successful corporate coach, positively inspiring my clients.” Turns out this was the careful patting down of the soil to ensure the seedling took root.

  1. Never Stop Learning

Between 2010 and 2012, whilst still working full time as a criminal barrister, I followed my own advice to never stop learning. I qualified as a Corporate and Executive Coach with the highly acclaimed Coaching Academy, and an Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner with the NLP Academy. And so the seed was watered.

  1. Work the business around the day job

Before taking the entrepreneurial leap, I strongly recommend working the dream around the day job. I already had a number of coaching clients and a strong desire to pursue coaching as a career. I also had a mortgage to pay. It certainly wasn’t the right time for me to go all in with Plan B without the right financial backing. In addition, as fate would have it, I met my husband and very shortly thereafter started a family. It was all I could manage to have a period of maternity leave and return to Chambers full time, and again, whilst keeping alive my business plans with reading and personal development when the rare quieter moments with a baby allowed. The root became a shoot.

  1. Adopt the right Mindset

After my third child, and dabbling with another business that coaxed me into the right mindset for a return to work, albeit leaving me cold on inspiration, I couldn’t shake the desire to coach. Even with all the obstacles and doubts, I had a “now or never” moment. I kept coming back to what Marie Forleo said about the key to success: “start before you are ready.”

  1. Use the Power of your Network

I had a supportive husband, networked with an incredibly motivational group of business women, and I had an overwhelming desire to help other women who had hit similar career cross-roads to me after Jamaica.

And so the Jamaican sun shone on the shoot.

  1. Niche/ Specialise

Before Christmas last year, although I was coaching individual female lawyers in one to one sessions, my workshops were pitched to a generic business audience. It was only really 6 months in to my business journey that a workshop opportunity arose to really hone in on my offering and clearly niche my business. This is what I did – and would recommend to new business start ups. The opening line to my elevator pitch, just like the sapling, sprung forth: “Specialist corporate and executive coach empowering female lawyers to achieve career ambitions whilst creating congruent lives”.

  1. Be Authentic & Congruent

I delivered my workshop specifically for legal professionals in January. Things were starting to feel more authentic. What was lacking was congruency. I still had a place in Chambers and was in discussions about a return to work. It was only really during those conversations that I came to realise that the one thing holding me back in business was the fear of going all out. Becoming a specialist coach for female lawyers, pure and simple, was imperative. I could then loose the toe-hold in Chambers which was synonymous to the outside world with my insurance policy for if things didn’t work out, a subconscious message that I didn’t have 100% faith in the success of my own business.

  1. Decide to Decide: Go All In

I left Chambers in February 2018. This was the moment the sapling became a mighty oak. With a clear focus on my client base and an authentic desire to help them, based on nearly 20 years of legal experience, suddenly, the market place “got me” and vice versa.

  1. Having What it Takes: Keep Going!

I am reminded of the image of success as an iceberg – the tiny frozen peak of success that people see protruding from the water and what really happens, the massive ice cliff hidden from view below the surface: risk taking; 100% commitment/ focus on goals; persistence; hard work; failure; sacrifice like you’ve never known; daily habits; massive action. Despite appearances, this journey has been neither short nor easy. For the last 10 years or more, a tiny idea that has been fed, watered, nurtured, and combined with the most committed action, has finally become a specialist coaching business for female lawyers of which I am incredibly proud. Evidence if it be needed that “if it is to be, it is up to me”. Happy First Birthday Nikki Alderson Coaching: it’s been a blast. And my advice for all of you wondering, “Should I?”: Keep going. You’ve got this.

having what it takes-keep going

Nikki Alderson has 19 years’ experience at the Criminal Bar in Yorkshire, working from Broadway House Chambers, Bradford & Leeds and now works as a Corporate and Executive Coach empowering female lawyers to achieve career ambitions whilst creating congruent lives. Nikki has learnt much from her successful career as a barrister, having gained great insights into the responsibilities, pressures and “expected” career paths of those, particularly women, working in law. She sees a challenge within the profession of retaining talented women role models, given the dearth of women in senior partnership roles and within the judiciary, and hopes to address these issues through the coaching services she provides. Nikki specialises in 3 areas of coaching, whether for individuals or for law firms:

  • Career Progression
  • Life Balance
  • Confidence & Communication

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