My Biggest Mistake As A Life Coach

Want to know? The single biggest mistake I made as a life coach was trying to sell coaching. I didn’t realize that few people seek out coaching as a solution. Add to that, I was trying to attract big groups of people that weren’t easy to reach — women in transition and later, midlife women.

Just thinking about it makes me tired.

I didn’t know any better. All my peers were picking a topic they felt passionate about as their coaching niche. I blindly followed them onto that rocky road and never stopped to question whether that was the way to make a good living as a coach. Turns out, it wasn’t.

missed target

After two years, very few clients and paltry income later, I did shift to targeting a niche market — women entrepreneurs — which was way too big of a market with massive competition. And still I was scraping by, feeling like a fraud, and running frighteningly low on resources.

Still, whenever I did get a client, they valued my coaching. And I loved it. But I knew what I was doing wasn’t sustainable. I was working too hard for poor results.

I remember the day I finally let go of my resistance and narrowed my niche. I observed that the coaches who had plenty of clients, profitable products, and big ticket programs also had distinguished themselves, not by being an expert, but by focusing their attention on a small group of accessible people. They had become THE go-to person for a very small, accessible group of people who seek out professional support to grow personally and professionally.

And here’s the thing: they weren’t trying to convince people to buy their coaching. But they were in high demand as a coach. It was only one simple mindset shift away all along.

This life lesson falls into the already very full “if I only knew then what I know now…” bucket.

When I narrowed my coaching niche to targeting one viable market was when I became truly committed to my success, not just to the idea of coaching. That real commitment, as well as the pinpointed focus that came with it, was a huge breakthrough. An immense RELIEF.

It felt like the blindfold and hobbles came off. And I realized I could market much less and have a bigger impact. In fact, clients started calling me ready to hire me!

Fast forward to today. The last time I had to convince someone to buy my coaching is a dim memory. In fact, I haven’t given a sample session in eons. Free coaching? Only as a conscious gift, never as an act of desperation to get a client. I can afford to be very choosy about who I give my time to, since I targeted a niche market that will go the distance.

As the demand for my coaching grew and my bank account filled, I breathed a sigh of relief — the relief I thought would come to me when I quit my JOB to become a coach was finally mine! And the freedom… it’s as good as they say it is.

I’ve gone on to make other classic mistakes as a life and business coach. Most have been character building and beautifully tested my resolve. But YOU can skip most of those mistakes. There’s just no need to waste your time and heartache on client attraction methods that don’t work.

Speaking at the Chamber, endless live networking hoping someone will do more than smile and nod their head when you tell them about coaching. That’s what I call “selling your wares”. I won’t do it any more and you don’t have to either.

No more beating the pavement for you. You can coach more, have more long term clients, get more referrals and leverage every bit of your time because the way you’ll enroll clients is so efficient.

Ease and grace. True service. More soul-satisfying coaching.

Want to make this transformative shift for your own coaching biz? Let me show you in a few steps what it took me three years to learn.

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  • Oh Rhonda…It's no wonder I attracted you as the perfect coach for me. I found you precisely when I was getting burned out, trying to “sell coaching” to anyone and everyone I met. What an exhausting exercise. Worse yet, the return on my time, effort and energy was almost nil. I was giving away “introductory coaching sessions” to anyone who would “nod and say yes,” as you put it.They hardly ever hired me. Embarrassing, really.

    When I found you, I was really ready to make some changes. And through your coaching, I am delighted two years later that I have a very clear target market and a well-defined niche. It's like I don't have to try so hard anymore. I never sell my coaching. I attract ideal clients to me in a variety of strategic marketing platforms that reach my target audience and tell them what I can do to solve their problems. Turns out that's exactly what they want to hear.

    I'm grateful for the coaching I received from you that helped me figure out how to turn my passion (coaching mompreneurs) into a business (with a full pipeline that makes money and uses my natural gifts and strengths).

    YEAH!

    If you're reading this and haven't figured out who you are ideally suited to coach, run, don't walk, and hire Rhonda!

    With much admiration and respect,

    Lara Galloway
    The Mom Biz Coach
    http://www.mombizcoach.com

    • It has been so much fun to see you become a top coach for mompreneurs, Lara. Having a viable market made all the difference — plus your own brand of brilliance!

  • Lvngstncnn

    Rhonda, really appreciate your transparency around what's worked and not worked for you in your own practice. Great advice for those of us just getting started!

    • My pleasure to be transparent and pass it forward!

  • Rhonda, thanks for the article. Though I have 20+ years of marketing and sales experience, my recent foray into the coaching world has me questioning my focus. Your article definitely helped validate some of my current direction, as well as helped me reign in some wayward notions. Thank you!
    Matt Schoenherr
    Lansing, Michigan

    http://Levaire.com

    • So glad I could help, Levaire. Any questions about anything related to building a successful coaching business?

      • Oh, you know.. the usual, Rhonda. Tools/scripts for approaching prospective clients, what the first meeting (free consultation?) looks like, contracts to use, how to set the pace for the relationship, the blurry edges between mentoring, coaching and counseling and when to avoid mentoring/counseling, etc.

        I only just discovered your site today in preparation for a coaching round I have coming up. Another coach–more seasoned than I–has offered to barter coaching insight in return for my business development and marketing assistance, so I was studying the coaching niche from a “how to market them” perspective. Google led me to you, Rhonda!

        I suspected the “riches are in the niches” principle was alive and well in the coaching industry, but your article articulated my suspicion.

        Thoughts?
        Matt

        • Thanks for letting me know what you want, Levaire. Some of what you’re looking for is in my archives. Go to the right column and click on Topics. For example:
          Coaching Business Tips:
          http://prosperouscoachblog.com/topics/coaching-business-tips/
          Coaching Tips:
          http://prosperouscoachblog.com/topics/life-coaching-skills/

          Generally, my advice is about how to get the clients and expand your business — niching, marketing, revenue streams. But as a coach for 15 years I’ve got a wealth of knowledge about client relationships and the practical how-tos.

          Here’s a fantastic free consultation process for you to enroll clients:
          http://prosperouscoachblog.com/powerful-questions-enroll-coaching-clients/

          And, if you email me I’d be happy to send you Word doc templates for your intake packet including an agreement and a way to express how you work with clients. Your welcome to take them, tweak them and make them yours.

          As far as the blurry edges between coaching, counseling and consulting. It has mostly to do with your come from. Coaching is about being curious and asking open ended questions to draw out client’s wisdom. If in a session, the topic comes into an area of your expertise then mentoring/consulting may be appropriate if it can “short cut” your clients to results. Say something like: “Would you be interested in hearing a suggestion based on my experience?” If they say yes, let them know you’re putting your consulting hat on for a moment. As fast as you can, get back into drawing out their wisdom. If you Google this topic you’ll find a lot of theory. Some may be helpful. I find that being in the present moment aware of your own come from is what teaches you best.