An actor, speaker and coach, Nicky specialises in helping people bring their portfolio careers together, so you can do what you love and help work not feel like work. All the skills you have don’t go to waste. Nicky can help you bring them all together to make an income from your scattered skillset

I’ve hired coaches since starting my business to help me in a variety of ways, mostly as a way to brainstorm and gain clarity. One lady who helped right in the very beginning by providing a bridge between my training and lack of confidence, helping me to feeling motivated and with a sense of purpose, was Nicky Raby.

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F: Nicky, how do coaches help business owners?

Business Coaching is a funny thing. It’s something that I never thought I’d be and I never thought that I would need! But, actually, sometimes it’s just about having a straightforward conversation about what you want and where are you right now. How can you get there and what does that sort of wibbly wobbly path look like? Because it isn’t straightforward and quite often there are other things in the mix as well.

I’ve found it invaluable myself. I’ve always worked with coaches sometimes they pull up those things that you don’t necessarily want to hear or they want to push you out of your comfort zone. One thing I’ve found really useful is just showing what is possible.  Lots of us grew up without the internet. I mean, I think I had Encarta 96 that my dad ordered from a magazine, you know, it was in and that kind of world. So, having somebody who’s done what you want to do has been really great.

I said on Instagram a little while ago of the beauty of the fact that you can sell your services and build your personal brand on the internet and not feel like in November that you have to do a bulk run of mouse mats or pen holders, which is what we used to get around Christmas time!

F: When did you begin in your career and how did you transition to becoming a coach?

Well, I moved to London 20 years ago actually and I trained as an actor. It was something I always wanted to do and it still continues to be a slice of my income pie. However I very quickly realised that I would have to do other things, because being an actor ultimately is contract work.

I was spotted in my third year at drama school when we did like our West End showcase and so I got two jobs back to back and an agent. I ended up leaving my course five months early and had a good chunk of six months of work. Then I was, like, oh my goodness how do I figure out the next bit because I don’t really know how to do this!

Throughout my 20s I was just going from job to job of doing you know some really lovely acting work. But in between I was just sort of doing this pay by hour, you know, doing a day of work here there and everywhere. And I just didn’t feel like I was in control of what I was doing. Then I went on this weekend course to learn more about coaching.

I was suddenly like, oh hang about, this is it. It feels like a strategy that I’ve been missing, which was this is how you plot what you want. This is how you get there and how you kind of map out the plan.

At that time in my creative career it felt like exactly what I needed. Because otherwise what I was doing was just waiting for the phone to ring.

The coaching has really developed over time in terms of not only is it helping my brand, but I’m helping people. I guess what I do now is really helping people to pull together that portfolio career.

It’s made up of all of the things that you really love to do. Your skills, your experience, your expertise and how you piece them together to actually earn an income from it so you can make them work with your lifestyle, with your circumstances, with your personality.

Now I earn money from acting, coaching, writing, speaking workshops, masterclasses, online courses… It’s a real mixed bag and it feels really good. I mean, I’m not going to pretend that I just woke up like this and suddenly all fell in my lap because there have been a lot of ugly cries along the way.

There’s been a lot of trial and error and experimenting, but I’m really happy to be in the spot that I’m at now.

F: What can we do to build a business around the skills and the interests that we’ve got? You’re proof it doesn’t have to be just one thing; you can think about building a business around a lot of your different skills. But you need to work out how to build that business and how to make it successful.

Yes, it took me a long time to get there. When I started acting I felt like I had won a competition, going from a village in Lincolnshire to living in London. When I first started in the TV and film and theatre industry I just felt like I’d won a competition or I couldn’t believe that I’d dreamed about something and worked so hard at it and actually done it.  

There is also this thing, especially in that industry, of the starving artist or you know you have to work until your hands are sore or you have to just give everything and then the rest of the time you’re sort of slaving in the background.  Actually, I realised with my personality that I don’t like it when I’m living in extremes.

I don’t like going from, ‘Oh my goodness, my life is amazing’ to barely getting out of bed. I knew quickly that if I did that stuff behind the scenes to continually make myself feel good and have money in my bank account, that was a big thing. It just gave me options and it gave me possibilities. So that when I got on set or when I went for a meeting, I had that really fresh infectious energy of, like, ‘Hi I’m good to go!’ Rather than desperately hoping that I get the job.

Interestingly, I’ve never worked more as an actor since having my children, which goes against everything that the industry would tell you.

My energy and my perspective and my mindset on it has really shifted. And it’s really paid off. There’s hope for us oldies of 30s and 40s and 50s and beyond!

Productivity Planning

F: I hadn’t realised that’s the case, but then there’s a lot to be said about feeling confident and working on your mindset that that is a very important thing especially when you’re running your own business as well. Now, I want to talk about what your typical day looks like. I’m fascinated by what other people do.

There isn’t really a typical day. Both my partner and I are freelance so there are some points where he’s away and I’m at home with the kids. And I guess it’s important to say from the start that we do have childcare. My mum lives down the road.

I just want to make that really clear because I think sometimes when people say where they are, it makes other people just feel like they haven’t got it together. Believe me there are days where it does feel chaotic. I think for me it’s really about working with my own rhythm of how I work best.

I work really well in the morning. Quite often, if we’ve had a good night’s sleep – and that’s not always the case – I’m very happy and naturally awake at around 5am. I can get two hours of work done before the kids wake up and that feels really natural to me. That doesn’t feel like a struggle. But if you said I had to work at eleven o’clock at night I would be completely hopeless.

I’ve learned not to tack things on, so I really try and focus. I’m not kind of filming and then thinking, ‘Gosh I’ve got to rush back. I’m seeing a client in the evening.’ That doesn’t necessarily work for me. And then there could be days where I’m simply filming back-to-back content, so video really works well in terms of growing my personal brand.

So if I’ve kind of gone to the effort of doing my hair and make-up then I’ll try and film six videos back to back and then I sort of can use them going forward. Then there’s times where I’m working with clients. So I really like to be able to give that space to people.

It’s basically about trying to work in a way that feels really good and also that’s involved, certainly during lockdown, because bizarrely my work has been very busy during this time, is trying to explain to my four-year-old what this looks like. It’s been quite fascinating because he’s been watching me enjoy my work. 

I guess in terms of that daily activity, I really have to notice and go back to that data and the evidence of what is a really good use of my time. So, I know if I consistently show up with my podcast or my video content and I’m really visible, I know that that ultimately will always lead to clients coming my way.

F: I’m glad that you talked about that because you are very visible and obviously you’re busy with your podcast that’s hugely successful and your videos so you mentioned about batch producing those. How often do you produce videos and podcasts?

I had my daughter last August. So in terms of the interviews they take a lot more organization in terms of pulling those together and I’ve actually got quite a library of ones on my computer that are good to go.

When I started my podcast I did interviews because I almost didn’t let the thought into my head that people would be interested in mini episodes of what I had to say. I did interviews because it was safe. 

But one thing I found since going forward is actually I’ve got a big toolkit of things that I can share and they’ve been equally as popular. Not only do you benefit as a business owner when you batch create, but I always think about how can I do something once and then it produces again and again for me.

It’s thinking about how you can make that the activities that you do on a day to day basis work for you again and again. Sometimes that takes a move out of your comfort zone because it takes time to really sit down and think about how do I want to sell my services or how do I want to package things up, because sometimes that’s the stuff that you want to avoid.

I like to see it as a garden. If I can put those foundations in place even though sometimes it felt like it was heavy lifting or I’m worried about how I’m going to sow these courgettes, but

if you get it right in the beginning it will grow for you time and time again.

So like when I was really formulating my speaking page, for example, I had all the ‘slightly chubby ginger child’ limiting beliefs in my head. Like, ‘Would anybody be interested in what I’ve got to say?’

‘Oh I don’t know what I would charge’ or ‘What would I even talk about anyway?’  But once I kind of pushed myself and said Right come on put it together it now it now just works for me time and time again I get inquiries. It’s really easy from somebody finding me in somebody booking me and that’s a lovely place to be in. 

What I do with my work is help people really go back to basics of what is this thing that you want to build and what’s going to feel really good to you because that’s really magnetic especially online. If you’re feeling like you’re in your lane you’re going to attract the people that you want.

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