Coach in the Spotlight: Mila Muskinja

Mila Muskinja is passionate about helping her clients look forward to Mondays. Following a long career in child protection, she now focuses on working with daring women who want to embark on a new adventure. In our Q&A, Mila shares her experiences of entrepreneurial overwhelm and why her work is a playground for experimentation.

How did you get into coaching?

After graduating with a degree in special education, I worked in child protection and children’s rights.

I founded the first drop-in centre in Serbia for street children – something I feel very proud of.

I’m still unsure whether that project outgrew me, or I outgrew it, but after six years, I returned to my studies and enrolled in a Master's degree in law and child protection along with a psychotherapy course.

Numerous projects, consultations and work with international organisations and ministries followed, which brought me a lot of joy and professional satisfaction over the next few years.

But then my circumstances changed. I was now a mother. My priorities had shifted and I wanted a job that wasn’t all consuming.

I also found myself looking for my why – my purpose.

I decided to seek some support. After a quick Google search, I discovered Careershifters and signed up to a workshop.

I was reminded of all the skills I’d gained in my career and in my education that could transfer into a new career.

I also wrote to Richard Alderson (Founder of Careershifters) because I knew that not only would I need further coaching, but I also realised I wanted to be a coach myself.

After my coach training, I piloted a group coaching programme with some of my friends and my coaching business was born.


I was now a mother. My priorities had shifted and I wanted a job that wasn’t all consuming.


How have you used Firework with your clients?

I always knew I wanted to work with groups. I started off by running a three-hour career change workshop as a trial, and then I created a five-week programme.

I now have a three-month group coaching programme which is active twice a year.

I incorporated a lot of the Firework methodology into the programme.

My clients can access all the materials online and I’ve recorded seven separate modules for them to work through, which include topics like Values, Purpose, Interests, Skills, Reality and Action Planning.

They’re also supported with weekly coaching sessions with me on Zoom.


Who do you typically work with?

I work exclusively with women who are usually in their late 20s to mid 40s.

My coaching programmes are all in Serbian. I’m joined by women who are based in Serbia, as well as Serbian speaking women living in the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and America!

They work mostly in the corporate sector in areas like HR, PR and Project Management.

They’ve often been in their role or at their company for years and would like to do something different.

I also work with women from the public sector who might be teachers or more creative people like designers and architects.

A lot of them want to become entrepreneurs.

These women usually have unique interests outside of their work that they want to create a business from. It might be a physical product, or a service.

Some of them want to become independent consultants and still use the skills they’ve gained in their previous career but have the freedom to work for themselves.


I’m joined by women who are based in Serbia, as well as Serbian speaking women living in the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and America!


What outcomes have you helped your clients achieve?

I have a lot of clients who come to me when they are on maternity leave or are about to have a baby.

They’ve realised that their situation has completely changed. They can’t or don’t want to keep up with the demands of their previous job.

Some of them are fed up with corporate politics and want to be able to have control over business decisions by being their own boss.

Some of my clients end up moving from one industry to another.

I worked with a couple of people in the financial sector. One found more purpose-led work at an NGO. The other went freelance, offering their services as a financial expert for other companies.

A lot of my clients want to start their own business.

I worked with a plant-loving Italian teacher who began making and selling terrariums.

Another client was a TV camera operator and went onto launch her own T-shirt business.

Someone else used their experience as an architect to specialise in building exciting and engaging spaces specifically for children.

One client set up a business in Montenegro making sweets from orange peel, another opened a holiday home for pets!

A lot of my clients tell me the best outcome is the level of freedom they’ve gained as a result of their new ventures or career changes.

They love that they have the autonomy to manage their own time.

Many people want to be in a position where they can work a couple of hours a day and spend the rest of the day with their family.

They might have to accept that they might not earn as much as they did in a corporate job, but they can experience a better quality of life and greater self-confidence as a result.


A lot of my clients tell me the best outcome is the level of freedom they’ve gained as a result of their new ventures or career changes.


How did you build up your business? What has been the most effective way of sourcing new clients?

In the very beginning I coached my friends.

I then asked those friends for referrals.

This was around the start of the pandemic, so it was a tough time for everyone.

I initially thought I’d use LinkedIn to promote my services as I was looking to attract women in corporate roles. However, after speaking with a business mentor, I decided to focus my attention on Instagram, and this has been a very good platform for me to source new clients.

I have a Serbian language website which is well optimised, so I have plenty of visits via Google searches.

I also have a newsletter with around two thousand subscribers which is good opportunity to share content and inform people about my services.

Since then, I’ve gained more clients through word of mouth too.

I found the Firework sessions on marketing during our course beneficial.

The recommendation of focusing on one product and one service at a time was useful and something I try to stick to.

I also offer a group membership programme for those clients who’ve already worked with me.

We meet once a month, and we discuss things like how to manage professional boundaries and balance time between work and life.

I’ll conduct workshops or invite an expert or business mentor to come and speak to the group.

It’s nice to have an option for people to continue working with me beyond my coaching programme, and I love that I’ve been able to create a positive and supportive community as a bonus to the coaching experience.

My clients have told me that by being part of this membership group they’ve found their tribe!

For now, I only promote my group coaching programme, and then once clients have done this, they can join the membership programme for a fee.


I love that I’ve been able to create a positive and supportive community.


What have you found challenging about your role as a coach?

Marketing is the most challenging part of this job.

Because I’m not a marketing expert, I’ve invested in business mentors and I’ve learnt a lot through them.

But it’s left me feeling the need to stay on top of marketing trends, which can be quite exhausting!

I recently joined a training programme which is a mixture of psychotherapy and business coaching.

The emphasis is on how to be yourself when marketing – how to be authentic.

When it comes to running a successful coaching practice, I think authenticity is vital.

You need to be yourself because people want to work with someone who is real.


When it comes to running a successful coaching practice, I think authenticity is vital.


What have been the most important lessons for you on your coaching journey? Is there anything that you would have done differently?

Prior to becoming a coach, I always worked in big organisations and was part of a wider ecosystem.

When I started my business, I was in a completely new setting and I didn’t have a boss anymore.

I had to learn some new skills and unlearn bad habits.

In the beginning, I worked very hard and used up a lot of energy. It was very intense.

I was a control freak and I felt I needed to do everything myself. There was so much to learn – marketing, finances, budgets – and I wanted to push all the knowledge into my head immediately!

I quickly became overwhelmed and exhausted. My impatience was killing me because I wanted it all and I wanted it fast.

I did lots of training because it all seemed essential at the time.

Now I realise I can afford to learn things as part of an ongoing process. I’ve since slowed down. I realised I didn’t need to know about every single aspect of digital marketing.

I think a successful coaching business takes time and patience.

I’ve learnt how important it is to network with other entrepreneurs and with coaching colleagues.

A lot of us work independently and 90% of my work happens online so it’s vital for your wellbeing to be in contact with other people.

I’ve learnt to accept when something isn’t working for me.

I have so much energy and I can achieve a lot in the space of 24 hours. I set very high standards for myself and I’m ambitious. But many people aren’t like that.

I’ve learnt to have more patience with myself and with my clients.


My impatience was killing me because I wanted it all and I wanted it fast.


What advice do you have for new coaches just starting out?

Firstly, I think it’s important that the coach really believes in what they’re offering and is confident they’re able to help their clients. The marketing comes second to that.

I think it’s good to offer something free initially, even just a 20-minute consultation call because people need that personal connection before they can decide whether to work with you.

It’s the digital era so you need to consider how you’ll present yourself online. It’s not an easy thing to do but getting comfortable with being seen online, making videos, and developing strong presentation skills can be helpful.

When prospective clients can see and hear from you, it’s really going to help them decide whether they want to work with you.

I often have clients who’ve been following me for a year on Instagram before they reach out saying they want to work with me.

Consistency is important when it comes to marketing. It can feel like you’re saying the same thing a lot, but people need to hear about your offer 7 or 8 times before they engage and decide to buy into it.

I was greedy and needy when I launched my first programme. When I look back at some of the videos I posted online from that campaign, I can sense that I wanted and needed to earn money.

I think other people sensed that too. I learnt from that experience and my mindset has changed since then.

I see everything I do as an experiment. My job is my playground. I’m testing, testing, testing all the time.

I love that I can do what I want, and I don’t have to ask permission to try and fail at new things.

I think my clients buy into that. I’m not the cheapest coach out there but they like my attitude and my energy and that's why they want to work with me. They can see the freedom I have in my job. I’m a product of my product and that’s appealing to them.


I love that I can do what I want, and I don’t have to ask permission to try and fail at new things.


How do you see your work evolving?

I’d like to incorporate sign language into my coaching programme so I can offer it to the deaf community. It will be low cost or maybe even free if I can afford to do that.

I also want to make some improvements to my existing coaching programme and record some new content for it.

I’m also thinking about starting a YouTube channel or a podcast in September!

I’d love to collaborate with some institutions here in Serbia like the National Employment Agency. I’m always open to new possibilities.

A much longer-term goal is to perhaps become a coach for coaches, but for now, I’m enjoying the job I’m doing.


I’m always open to new possibilities.


What’s the most rewarding thing about your work?

I love that some of the people I’ve worked with have become friends and people I collaborate with.

I’ve really expanded my network which now includes a lot of entrepreneurs who share my values.

I love the freedom I have with my job. I love that I can still coach and create new content whilst I’m away travelling. I tend to get my best ideas when I’m somewhere different.


Mila Muskinja is a Firework-licensed career coach based in Belgrade, Serbia. In addition to her private practice, Mila has also worked as an associate coach with Global Connection, an organisation dedicated to supporting expats to find work and adapt to a new environment. Find out more about Mila at