Leanne Cooper had a successful career and a family, but she felt completely stuck and lost. It took reaching a mental breaking point for Cooper to realize that something had to change. She started working with a personal coach and felt the effects of deep inner work immediately. She transformed her life and decided she wanted to help other women do the same. Today Cooper is a certified coach and runs her business You First Coaching from her home base in Baildon, England. The journey to get her business up and running during the Pandemic wasn’t easy. She had to juggle getting her qualifications in order while also homeschooling two children. Today Cooper is proud of her achievements: her bravery to leave her full time corporate job, to go after her dream and to succeed in helping other women get un-stuck and live more fulfilling lives.
Cooper’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
A few years ago my life was completely different to how it is now. I felt very unhappy and stuck. I had a successful career and was in a position of authority but I felt powerless. I was deeply unfulfilled but far too afraid to admit it for fear of sounding ungrateful. It took me to essentially reach a breaking point to speak up about how I was feeling. Fortunately I discovered coaching and it was exactly what I needed. It supported me to reprogram my entire mindset, figure out exactly where I wanted to be in life and to create a plan that got me there. It enabled me to feel truly heard and supported. It allowed me to put myself first for the first time, in a long time.
The reason I founded You First Coaching was because when I finally figured out that change was possible and that this forward facing support existed (and worked!) I wanted other women to experience the transformational effects of coaching that I had experienced.
How do you define success?
I know that many women work so tirelessly meeting everyone else’s needs that they don’t make time for themselves and what matters to them. This then results in frustration, resentment and feeling completely disempowered. I am proud to be recognized as someone who is making a difference for women of my generation and beyond, through my services as a coach. Success to me is being able to empower women to achieve their personal goals and find happiness and fulfilment in their lives, whatever that looks like for them.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
My biggest success has been to be brave enough to leave my corporate career behind that was not fulfilling me and pursue my passion of becoming a coach. It’s not been an easy journey for me as I juggled a demanding full time role, had commitments as a mental health volunteer, had to study for my comprehensive coaching qualification, support my practice coaching clients and build a business from scratch all whilst homeschooling two young children through the pandemic. I set myself a goal of doing this in 12 months and I’m extremely proud to say that I achieved this and was awarded a distinction for my coaching qualification.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My biggest challenge has been knowing how to even approach setting up a business as I had no experience at all having always been employed. I have been able to overcome this challenge by working with a business coach and mentor, being prepared to step out of my comfort zone even when I didn’t feel ready and having a strong mindset and belief system.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
The biggest thing was the juggle I mentioned before. When I signed up to my course I intended to work part time in my corporate role and have two days per week for my business but Covid stopped this and I had much less time to dedicate to my business. I was determined that nothing would stop me achieving my goal though and I made it it happen regardless.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Don’t wait until you are ready or you will be waiting forever! Just start. Progress over perfection.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I never lose sight of my why. I spent a long time feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in my life by settling for less than I deserved or was capable of achieving. I don’t want that for any other woman! I believe no woman should live a life that’s anything other than amazing and I’m determined to show as many women as I can that they do deserve to be a priority in their own lives. I am committed to being someone who makes a difference for women of my generation and beyond.
Who is your most important role model?
An important role model for me is my business coach and mentor Karen Kissane. She has been on a similar journey to mine and retrained as a coach a few years before me. Since qualifying she has achieved a phenomenal amount of success in her business and is now sharing all of those learns and empowering other women to be successful in their businesses too. She is a big inspiration to me.