Ep 31 – The Coaching Niche of Least Resistance

This episode is another ON AIR Coaching Session where I coach a coach to help her click on the certainty button for a unique target audience and then we formulate their coaching niche.

It’s clear from reviews that you really like these coach the coach sessions, so it’s my goal to do one every month.

Ellen Fowler has worked in the field of training, organizational and leadership development for over 25 years. Her experience includes work in the public and private sectors as well as academia.

She lived and worked in Ireland for 12 years, so she has firsthand understanding of the challenges of cultural diversity and radical life change.

She is also an ordained Christian minister. Ellen’s career has always involved working with individuals whether as a counselor, teacher, consultant or coach.

When I help coaches choose a profitable coaching niche, I always start by asking about their background so I can guide them to pull in experience, expertise, interests, gifts and passions into their niche.

Ellen’s background includes:

  • Itinerant minister
  • Training and organizational & leadership development
  • Change & diversity management
  • Teaching adults returning to the workplace on how to make their companies more efficient

Want to Be An Entrepreneurial Coach?

Then, I asked Ellen if she was interested in being an entrepreneur because it’s a certain type of person who does.

Ellen wants to run her own business because she wants it to be portable so she can travel. However, she feels a bit intimidated by the marketing side of things.

I was intimidated by marketing at first but when I learned to put the spotlight on exactly what my target audience wants, it became fun.

Two Potential Audiences That Seem Equal

Ellen had 2 main ideas for her target audience:

  • Mid-career professional women
  • Church leaders

I asked Ellen if it was okay with her if we focused on Church Leaders as a possible target audience first.

I made this choice for 4 reasons:

  • Ellen is an ordained minister and much of her career has been as a church leader. I felt that gave her credibility and gravitas with this audience.
  • Her faith is very important to her.
  • She’s currently coaching 10 clergy and staff from a church group in Pennsylvania and getting more referrals from that group. So she already has a toehold there.
  • She loves the work she’s doing with this audience.

Ellen shared that the work she’s doing with the Church Leaders is based on an instrument called Human Synergistics that she’s certified to use. It helps people identify effective and not so effective behaviors in the workplace and to develop action plans for changing those.

Is The Target Audience Viable for You?

I also felt that the audience — mid-career professional women — is not the most viable audience for Ellen because:

  • They are in corporations and hard to access.
  • They might expect their company to pay for coaching, and that’s an uphill battle to get a foot in the door with corporations.
  • There’s a lot of competition and marketplace noise for that audience already.

Passion and Fit Are The Best Coaching Niche Indicators

I asked Ellen:

What do you love about working with clergy and what do you enjoy about the Human Synergistics instrument?

As Ellen described how she uses Human Synergistics in her work with clergy, I heard her enthusiasm louder than her words.

Then, I wanted to check whether Ellen was earning well with this current gig with clergy because more and more it was sounding like a viable audience for Ellen.

Ellen explained that she felt blessed because the way she was connected with this particular group was that the church leader who hired her was part of the Human Synergistics training she took. He said:  “I’d like you to do some work for me.”

And he gave her carte blanche about what she’d do with the staff and how she’d price.

Right time – right place opportunities happen when you target a unique audience and focus your niche on their big problems.

So, I bee-lined to the bottomline question:

“Ellen, of the two audiences — church leaders or mid-career professional women, which is more attractive to you?”

Ellen said that she could go both ways. Her inability to commit comes down to how she’ll get in front of the audiences.

I spoke to the difficulty with gaining entry to corporations where with her background and current active church leader clients she already has a strong entry place.

I pointed out that if she were to have an international business, especially with her desire to travel and her experience in other countries, that the pond to fish in would be bigger. She could target larger churches and religious organizations with bigger coffers.

I explained that the Church Leader audience would likely mean more offline marketing than online marketing. I asked how she’d feel about that and she said:

“Oh, I like that!” More enthusiasm.

I pointed out that that’s the old fashioned way, right? Not everyone has to use social media channels to build their business.

  • Ellen knows this world.
  • She understands their challenges and goals first hand.
  • She’ll be able to speak their language.
  • They’ll be more accessible because she’s been in their shoes.
  • And she’ll have testimonials from her 10 current clients.

For Ellen, the other audience is less viable. Viability is determined by 5 factors:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to access
  • Eager to evolve
  • Willing to invest
  • Narrow enough (to help you stand out in the crowd)

Ellen added another key reason that Church Leaders are more ideal for her that spoke loud and clear:

“The spiritual side of life is really a bonus for me.”

I asked Ellen to do a check in with herself. Is church leaders the audience she can get fully behind with your heart, mind and spirit?

“Yes!”

Beautiful!

Then we shifted to talking about her niche for a moment … I asked Ellen what is the number one challenge and what is the number one tangible desired outcome that church leaders want?

Ellen said the most acute thing is how to avoid burnout. There’s always somebody needing something and they’re often understaffed and overworked. They feel called to the work, so it’s a burden of responsibility. They get into it because they want to help other people transform.

Burnout can begin to wear away their faith, which is critical for their position.

She felt the Human Synergistic instrument is a so effective in uncovering what’s really going on for the leader and the team.

Each time that Ellen spoke about Church Leaders and working with them I heard passion and compassion — a depth of understanding and certainty that she could help them thrive with her knowledge and the instruments she’s trained in.

She said: “Thank you, Rhonda, for helping me think it through it. It’s been really enlightening.”

Ep 30 – How to Transition from Your Job to Full-Time Coaching

This episode is part of the Start Smart series. It’s worth the listen because this topic is eye-opening. And, if you’re planning to transition from your job to full-time coaching, I’ve given you a 5-step plan near the end of this episode.

Creating a smart transition plan to move into full-time coaching is an important step. If you’re serious about making your dream happen, this is something you’ll want to do with the help of someone who has transitioned.

Sometimes coaches hire me when they don’t have a current job. They’ve been raising kids or were laid off or they quit a job to create their coaching business. They have plenty of time to work on building their business foundation and launch in a systematic, organized way.

Obviously, there are some huge advantages to that scenario. But there are also some hidden challenges. If you’re not currently in the rhythm of working for a living, you might have trouble finding that rhythm and dedicating time to your business.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the person who currently has a full-time job, kids, and a busy life who wants to become a coach and shift to full-time coaching “someday.”

If you’re this person, you’ve put time into training as a coach and into business development but haven’t made the shift.

Maybe you’re dabbling at coaching and have a low fee client or two.

But leaving your regular paycheck and benefits, especially when you have a family, is a risky step to take. It requires a big dose of courage and chutzpah.

Some coaches never get off the bench and into the game. That’s not you! That was the apt metaphor used by a coach I spoke with recently.

The truth is that entrepreneurship — and that’s what becoming a coach is — is risky business.

No doubt you’ve heard the odds. They say 1 in 5 make a sustainable livelihood and that goes down over time.

Entrepreneurship has a bunch of rewards that frankly I wouldn’t want to live without.

  • Freedom (I truly set my own schedule and work a lot less than I did in corporate.)
  • Being your own boss
  • Getting to bring your whole self to what you do
  • Innovating and creating
  • The huge feeling of accomplishment

A Common Myth About Coaching Business Startup Busted

The beauty of a coaching business is that there’s no real barrier to entry except having the grit and focus to take the risk. The truth is you don’t even have to have training or certification, although I think it’s a good idea to be a trained coach.

There’s a common misconception that I run across and it’s what inspired me to do an episode on this topic.

Recently, I was having an On Air Coaching session —which hasn’t aired yet — with a smart, confident man who has been coaching on and off (more off), while raising a family and engaged in a successful mid-management career.

Odell was encouraged to become a coach by his pastor and friends. He took training and then found it hard to nail down his coaching niche. That’s what motivated him to start Googling for help and he found me through Prosperous Coach Podcast.

Odell said that he expected to replace his current income by coaching as a side gig for two years.

I wince when I hear people say that they’ll transition from their full-time job to full-time coaching when they replace their income from their current job.

Why? Because I’ve never seen anyone successfully do that.

When coaches hire me to help them build their coaching business from the niche up, one of the first things I do is to assess how well positioned they are to become an entrepreneur. I ask:

How much time can you dedicate weekly to building your business?

If I hear less than 20 hours a week, we’re having a different kind of conversation.

But I also check for their expectations.

How much money do you expect to make in the first couple of years?

Do you have savings set aside to invest in your business and to aid the transition?

That phrase “replace my income” as a condition for transitioning always stops me in my tracks.

Time is the ultimate limiter. So I asked Odell:

With your full-time job and kids to raise, how much time do you have weekly to dedicate to growing your business?

15 hours.

Uh oh. That’s a yellow flag. And possible a red one.

I felt for Odell because how could he or any new coach know what it takes to launch and run a business? Unless you’ve been an entrepreneur before, there’s no reason why you should know what it takes.

Sometimes, I don’t love being the truth teller, although it’s part of my integrity. I don’t like to see that “making a bundle is going to be fast and easy” lightness be weighted down by a reality check.

And that’s why there are so many people streaming into coaching because they don’t know the realities. And, it doesn’t have to be the dream killer. In fact, I believe that seeing a path clearly can raise your courage and make you more successful more quickly.

The average amount of marketing time you’ll put into your business to enroll clients is 15 hours a week. That’s true even for a veteran like myself. Although I do market a lot less than I did in my first 10 years because I’ve built up a leads list, collegial support, and expertise in marketing.

Here’s an eye-opener for you … producing my podcast with strategizing, recording, editing, writing, creating graphics, and promoting through social media takes an average of 12 hours each week. Sometimes it’s half that, sometimes it’s double that depending on what type of format I do.

I’m lucky because it’s the only way that I need to market to attract a steady stream of pre-sold clients to my website.

Odell was shocked by this news. Bless him.

He thought that because the barriers to entry are low and the word on the street was overhead is low for running a coaching business, that meant that earning a bundle quickly was also fairly easy.

It’s an understandable deduction. And yet, it’s not at all the average experience of a new coach.

That said, I’m not saying it’s not possible to become an overnight phenom and rocket to high six or seven figures as a coach. It’s rare though.

After 20 years, I don’t know anyone who has done that or replaced their income from their job before they step away from their job.

We often see a phenom and think their success was overnight, but it really was not.

Coach, Do the Math

Few coaches I met have done the math. I didn’t when I first started.

It’s smart to do the math, not just to plan for your startup, but throughout your business planning.

How will you achieve those stretch income goals?

What will you do, how many coaching clients will you get to ‘yes’, and at what price to make your vision a reality?

Back to Odell … I asked him:

How many clients could you handle while still working in a full-time corporate job?

10 clients was the number he always had in his mind.

His income is about $90,000 annually. So with 10 clients, one model would be to charge $9,000 per client per year to replace his income.

Now, those kinds of high-ticket fees are not unheard of if you have:

  • Gravitas
  • Enrolling savvy
  • A ready network of well-heeled people who already know, like, and trust you.

There are new coaches that have all those things. It’s a kind of privilege, whether earned or born into it.

But, even before Odell gets to that challenge of enrolling at high-ticket prices, there is the barrier of his time. 15 hours of leg work per week to find, attract, and enroll his target audience plus 10 hours minimum serving clients adds up to 25 hours each week.

He doesn’t have 25 hours, he has 15.

And, think about it … even if he had 25 hours to give on top of his 40-45 hour a week corporate job, he’d be exhausted and alienated from his family in mere months.

Not a winning plan, especially for a family person.

Odell and I discussed a more reasonable new coach plan which was to work with 20 clients yearly at $4500 each for a 6-month program. That earns his $90,000 annual income.

It’s still going to take 25 hours a week to build and maintain that business model.

Group Coaching Programs Take a Marketing Machine

Eventually, he could increase fees or perhaps do group work.

But it’s important to know that group programs, while they do extend your time and reach, actually take more of your time, money, and infrastructure to successfully enroll people. You need:

  • A significant leads list or someone to promote you
  • Smart marketing campaigns and conversion processes
  • Technical support to pull it all off

Doable, but it’s a down-the-road plan not a startup plan, unless you already have all of these things in place.

What are all the ways a coach could earn, let’s say $100,000 yearly —that nice round 6-figure income everyone wants at a minimum? You could enroll:

10 clients into a $10,000 program
20 clients into a $5,000 program
40 clients into a $2,500 program
200 clients into a $500 program

Interestingly, the simplest coaching business model is to serve fewer people for a higher price. After trying all the other business models, that’s what I do now. And I love the simplicity!

  • It takes less time to market and enroll.
  • It costs less in infrastructure and is lower tech.

Discovery Sessions are the most effective way to enroll people into high-ticket programs.  

5 Step Transition Plan to Full-Time Coaching

Now … do NOT let these realities of coaching business startup and what it takes to manage business models stop you from your dream of making a great living as a coach!

Instead, let it fortify your resolve, so you can wisely plan and be in that 20% who make it and keep making it happen!

If I can do it, you can do it! What I believe is, that if you’re listening to this podcast, you’ve been called. Don’t let yourself chicken out now. Put on your entrepreneur hat, step in to your CEO shoes, and take these steps to transition.

1. Start saving money.

2. Let your family and friends in on your plan. Ask for their support. Help them understand you’ll be happier working for yourself and doing what you love.

3. Do the math and create a transition plan. Reduce your expenses. Put away 6 months – 1 year of your income into savings. Or, whatever you can.

4. Clear time for your side gig.

Consider negotiating incrementally reduced hours at your job. I was able to turn my full-time salaried position into a part-time consulting gig and choose my projects. I told my boss that I’d train my replacement and be gone in 6 months. Who knew that she’d say ‘yes!’

5. Get VIP help to launch the right way from the get-go.

Yes, I’m talking about me as your VIP support. If only I’d found a person like me when I launched my coaching business, I would have saved 3 years of heartache and wasted investment in so many group programs and masterminds that were lovely and entertaining, but that didn’t help me build a solid foundation and momentum earning well.

If you want to test me out and see what all the fuss is about, grab a Strategy Session, it’s a great way to take a leap and see if we’re a good fit.

Know that building a successful business takes time and determination. All the businesses you know about and patronize put a lot of time, money, and energy behind the scenes into making everything work and still do.

When people say it takes money to earn money … it’s more than a truism.

But it’s totally WORTH IT!

I love my business. I love my clients. I would not work for someone else!

The Next Episode begins a series called Coaching Business Checkup. It’s for those times when you know something is missing and something’s not working but you need help to diagnose and fix it.

Now, stay inspired and make things happen!

Ep 29 – Set Smart Boundaries with Coaching Prospects and Clients

This episode is on a challenging topic that’s critical for all coaches. And it’s part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series.

I’ve been a life long student of boundaries. That is to say, boundaries have been a core issue for me in the past and now it’s much less of an issue. When I sense myself leaning in too far, trying to do too much, to people please or over-deliver, I rein myself in.

Still, I occasionally fall into old patterns, even in coaching relationships.

I’m a 2 on the Enneagram. That’s “The Helper.” More than anything, I want to be of service to others, to help them better their circumstances. It’s a good fit for being a coach. And a strength overused becomes a weakness.

In the past, it’s often meant that I gave too much in all of my roles and relationships. And, I allowed some people to step on me… repeatedly.

Powerful Questions to Uncover Boundary Challenges

What about you? Do you like to fill in the holes and make sure everyone is taken care of? Are you a natural helper or people pleaser? A lot of coaches are.

Here are more specific questions to ask yourself:

With coaching prospects…

Do you reduce your fees habitually to suit prospects?

Do you bend over backward to prove your worth in Discovery Sessions?

With coaching clients…

Do you habitually go over time in sessions?

Are you charging enough to cover your investment of time outside of sessions?

Repetitive Over-Delivery Hurts You and Your Coaching Clients

Early on in my business I attended an International Coach Federation conference and met Cheryl Richardson.

She was asking a group of coaches… Do you want more for your clients than they want for themselves?

Bam! That was an aha moment for me. The answer was ‘YES’… always.

I learned from Cheryl that ultimately your client must choose transformation for it to happen. They must want it with all of their heart, mind and be willing to take action outside their comfort zone.

If you want something for them more than they do for themselves, it creates an imbalance in the co-creative relationship and the reality is, you’re going to be pushing them and they won’t appreciate it.

Later on, a friend of mine created a training based on years of research called Right Use of Power and I attended one of her first workshops.

Another huge aha. Let me explain…

When you are in a practitioner or authoritative or helper role, that role carries a certain amount of power. Hopefully, as coaches, we believe we are our client’s equals, but even so, they may hold some deference for us.

It’s up to coaches to do our best to equalize the power in the coach-client relationship. And this requires a lot of self-reflection and self-awareness.

Right Size Yourself

You might be kind of surprised that the answer to balance the power is not to give clients more, more of your time or make it easier for them by taking some of their responsibilities your own shoulders like giving them discounts.

Those kinds of things actually increase the power differential. And they do something to you too. You’re inflating your role and deflating your own power.

The answer is to invite the client to stand in their own power by making their role clear to them. And to stand firmly in your role without inflating or deflating your power.

Learn how to be right-sized.

Treat your prospects and clients as responsible people who are creative, resourceful and whole. That means:

  • Charge fees that pay you well. Don’t discount those fees to enroll a client.
  • Set and maintain time boundaries for sessions. If you’re about to go over time, acknowledge that you’re purposefully going over time and set a reasonable time boundary that you stick with.
  • Hold your clients accountable for paying their fees on time, showing up on time, being ready to coach, and doing their own work in between sessions. Don’t do their work for them unless that’s explicitly part of your program.

To know if you’re being right-sized, notice if you’ve over-inflated your role by taking responsibility from them or under-inflated your role by not owning your own power.

It is a dance that requires self awareness.

Set Boundaries Early On

If you clearly show prospects and clients your boundaries early on in relationships, you have a better chance at a mutually satisfying relationship.

If they are empowered, they will take leaps.

“We teach people how to treat us.”
Phil McGraw

With prospects, that’s as simple as holding the time boundary on your Discovery Sessions and by not stepping into the coaching role in that session.

  • Be transparent on your website and in emails about what they can expect from your Discovery Session. It’s a get-to-know-you conversation where you’ll each assess fit for working together.
  • During the session, ask them open-ended questions. Let them talk.
  • Understand what they want right now and what’s keeping them from it. Then apply that to your signature program.
  • Share your fees and stand behind them.

With new clients, give an orientation at the beginning of your first session.

  • Set ground rules about cancelations, showing up on time and time boundaries.
  • Tell them your role and responsibilities and explain theirs. They send a Session prep. They set the agenda. They show up truthfully. They take action between sessions.

If they fail to bring an agenda, illustrate what an agenda is and reinforce it’s their role to set a specific bite-sized takeaway for each session.

These are small things. And they set the tone powerfully.

And still, there will be tests.

Red Flags That You’ve Inflated or Deflated Your Coaching Role

How can you tell if your boundaries need fortifying?

1. You feel desperate to enroll this prospect.

  • That desperation will deflate your power while tempting you to inflate your role and discount your fees.

2. You feel overwhelmed by a client’s energy.

  • The client may not be a good fit. Maybe you’ve said ‘yes’ when your intuition clearly said ‘no’.
  • Or, you might need to make requests for them to slow down. Consider doing a grounding meditation at the beginning of the session.

3. You feel emotionally tapped out after working with a client.

  • The client may not be a good fit.
  • Or, you were over-delivering. You might have inflated to prove your worth. Get right sized. Stand in your power. Hold your boundaries.
  • Try an energetic disconnecting exercise to release energy after the session.

4. You are beginning to feel resentful toward the client.

  • You likely inflated your role while deflating your power by taking some responsibility from the client such as charging too little or repeatedly giving too much for the fees you’re charging.

Only some people will be ideal coaching clients for you. And it takes time to realize what makes you a good fit for them and them a good fit for you.

Pay attention to ease and to your reactions to people to inform you. When you think of enrolling clients imagine your avatar — the ideal client for you.

The ultimate boundary is to learn how to say ‘no’ when you’re clear something is not right for you. Do it in an honoring way. Take it onto yourself. You might say something like:

“I feel strongly that I’m not the best resource for you.
And, fit is really critical in the work I do with my clients.
I’ve learned over time that I’ve got to listen to my integrity
and sometimes not take on a client, even if they want to work with me.”

Have some coach colleagues or other resources to refer those non-ideal people to. If they are not right for you doesn’t mean they won’t be right for someone else.

If you’re struggling with boundaries and need support, consider grabbing a Strategy Session with me. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a sounding board to set the best boundaries for you.

The Next Episode is: How to Transition from Your Job to Full-Time Coaching

Ep 28 – Getting into a Rhythm in Your Coaching Business

This episode is short and sweet. And it’s part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series.

In these early days of your coaching business, before you are booked with clients, it may be tempting to fit your coaching business into whatever time you have left in the day.

The truth is that you can’t build a business on fumes. And you certainly can’t grow a business that way.

There’s a mindset that goes with that fit-it-into-the-downtime approach. And it’s usually not a conscious one.

It’s the hobbyist mindset. Or the perpetual student mindset.

Please know that I get it … if you’re a stay-at-home parent, adding in a new business to your day is totally disruptive. You have a rhythm of what you do day to day. You know your priorities. Now, you have to re-make that rhythm to a new beat.

It’s also super challenging to add a new business in when you’ve got a full-time job.

And, if you’re adding a business to a full-time job plus caring for children, it’s downright heroic, if you ask me.

Even so, if you want a thing to thrive, it needs regular care and feeding. It needs a rhythm. Find one that works for you now and build up from there as you can.

Coaching Business Office Hours

When I decided to become a coach, I negotiated my job into a part-time consulting position to have time to build my coaching business.

But, I’m embarrassed to say, even with the clear boundaries on my job and more at-home time, I didn’t use my “free” time well on behalf of my business.

And I didn’t make much progress for that first year.

I realized that I needed office hours. That I needed to think of myself going to work for my business. That made an immediate difference in my earnings and satisfaction as a coach.

Setting office hours was my first step into the CEO role of my coaching business.

It signaled to my friends and family that I was no longer in student mode. And it motivated me to get creative and productive on a higher level than I was before.

Now, you may only have one hour each day for your coaching business. If that’s the case, that is your office hour.

Tell your family, your friends and colleagues that you’re not available to them during that hour unless it’s a true emergency.

Then do the power hour.

Know before you sit down to your desk what you’re going to do with that hour. Make the most of it. Turn off your phone, close out your email and get focused.

Block Your Time

Obviously, the more time you find for your business day to day, the faster you’ll grow so that you can replace your job with coaching.

You’ll need time for serving clients, client management and in first few years, you’ll need significant for marketing and getting the word out to your target audience that you have something valuable for them.

Having a rhythm for your coaching business means you’re highly productive and work less.

Here’s my rhythm:

  • I’m open for client calls only Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8:00am to 3:00pm my time.

Sometimes coaches worry about having to work weekends and nights because they think that’s the only time their clients will be available.

I’ve come to learn that clients will make themselves available when I’m available.

  • I never take clients on weekends or after 4:00pm.
  • I use Mondays for creating podcasts and other projects.
  • On Fridays, I just check and respond to email, otherwise I’m free.

That makes it really easy to take a 4-day weekend whenever I want to. And I schedule doc and hair appointments only on Monday or Friday.

  • When I am working on tasks, I break my time into power hours.
  • I fit the small tasks in between client sessions.
  • I leave at least 1/2 hour between my sessions.

I check in with my body to determine what’s full for me right now. If a day or week is starting to look too full, I mark the day as busy in my Google calendar so that no one else can book the time with me through TimeTrade.

What could your coaching business rhythm look and feel like?

What would fit with your natural rhythms?

How could you set office hours and block time for specific tasks and appointments?

What boundaries will you set on your time to safe guard it?

If you’re in the Prosperous Coach Club, my Facebook group, chime in there about your set rhythm. And if you’re not in the group, you can easily join. Go to https://prosperouscoach.com/fb.

The Next Episode is: Set Smart Boundaries with Coaching Prospects & Clients

Ep 27 – Break Through the New Coach Swirl & Spin

This episode is part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series.

It’s got to be said because it’s breaking my heart to see so many coaches bogged down and unable to move forward with clarity.

You know how they say that multi-tasking isn’t good for your brain? The best case scenario is that you do a lot but nothing well. It actually lowers your IQ!

Well, the same is true for your brain when you overload it with unnecessary ideas and future tasks for your coaching business.

I’ve talked about overwhelm before in Ep #20 – How to Stop Saying ‘Yes” to Bright Shiny Objects

In that episode the focus was mostly about wasting money, time and brain power on programs that you’re not developmentally ready for yet as a business owner. Advanced strategies and tactics that won’t work well for you until you have the business foundation in place.

In this episode I’m going to dig in deeper to what’s actually happening in your mind and your emotional body when you heap more and more information on yourself.

When new coaches reach out to work with me, they fill out a questionnaire on my website. I ask them to give me a snapshot of what they’re doing day to day to build their business.

Nearly every person tells me their head is spinning with all the research they’re doing.

  • They are looking at other coach’s websites. Oh no! That really won’t be helpful because it’s hard to discern coaching website that work from those that are duds. It takes experience to know that.
  • They also read everything they can about coaching and coaching business tips. They’re on loads of lists. And every day are force feeding themselves with information.
  • They’re surfing for answers to BIG questions that really can’t be answered in a free blog or webinar … things like how do I choose my niche or where can I find paying clients or what do I need to do to earn well as a coach? There’s so much complexity in those questions.
  • And, they’re signing up for every free webinar and download they can get. And sometimes investing in programs they aren’t ready for.

Here’s the truth. You can’t possibly consume a firehose of information and stay sane. It leaves you breathless with overwhelm and unable to move forward.

This is what I call the new coach swirl and spin. And those are the words that I hear coaches use. They say:

“My mind is swirling! My head is spinning! And I’m so confused that I’m paralyzed.”

I so know that place!

Thousands of bits of disconnected information have literally shut down your executive function, your creativity and intuition.

And that’s when fear and doubt surges up within you.

  • Doubts about whether you can succeed in coaching.
  • Doubts that anyone would pay you.
  • Doubts about everything you’ve been working on.
  • Fears that you’ve made the wrong decision, that you’ve wasted time and money.

And then your brain starts pulling up all the “evidence” to support those doubts.

Pretty soon you’re in a depression. Anxiety has you in its grips.

Everything slows to a dead stop. But it does not feel restful.

You start thinking about giving up. Part of you wants to give up. You think it would be so much easier.

Then your ever-helpful brain begins to justify that idea.

And shame surfaces.

That’s the new coach swirl and spin.

Of course, this doesn’t just happen to coaches. It happens to most new entrepreneurs. It happens to students and people who were unceremoniously dropped into a promotion without training.

But there’s one thing for sure and that is … you have to stop it before it gets to this point.

How to Stop the New Coach Depression from Setting In

There are mindsets and habits to address this.

By the way, there are nearly always mindsets and habits that will address nearly any mental or emotional challenge that comes up repeatedly.

First, let’s talk about good habits around this. Because these are preventative.

Wouldn’t it be great if you never got to that shame stage? To that place where you negotiate with yourself about quitting your dream of coaching.

Habit #1     Open to Bite Size and Specific Information

Reach out for specific information that will help you move forward on one specific bite-sized goal.

Habit #2     Take Action Immediately

Once you have the specific information you need, take action on the next immediate step. And pause.

Not too long ago I decided to start marketing in Instagram. And I’m not the most social media savvy person. But I found the app nearly useless in terms of how to actually use Instagram wisely. And I’m still learning. But I’m not loading myself up with all the how-tos. And, earlier in my life, I would have.

I held myself back from overwhelming myself on this goal to learn how to wisely use Instagram to get the word out about my podcast and my services. So, I learned how to set up a basic profile and then I learned how to post and started posting weekly.

Is that perfect? No. Have I learned it all. No. Will I? Eventually.

Sometimes the best training is observing and doing. Learning incrementally on a pace that your brain can support.

Habit #3     Schedule Learning Sessions

I’m a big fan of blocking time. Try blocking time for:

  • client sessions
  • client management
  • emailing
  • writing
  • marketing tasks

Also block time for learning. Put it in your calendar. Consider limiting it to one 1/2 hour at a time.

When I decided to start podcasting, I looked for a training program where I could go at my own pace but also be able to ask questions of an expert. I found the Podcast Host Academy. And I loved their lessons because they had them broken down into tiny steps. Brilliant!

And that way, if I had 1/2 hour, I could learn something new and test it out.

Habit #4     Set Up a Learning Community

Back in Episode #4 – How to Feel Less Isolated in Your Coaching Business I talked about the importance of community when you’re building a coaching business.

If you’re in learning mode around a particular task or strategy, see if there’s a Facebook group or an online forum or a meetup group you can join for knowledge sharing.

Okay, let’s talk about the mindset piece now.

Here’s one mindset to rule them all.

Slow Down and Think It Through

We live in a culture of speed. It’s not helping us. But it is the way of the collective.

You control your speed.

Slow down when you feel the first inkling of overwhelm. Breathe. Go outside.

Then, when you feel that you’ve averted the swirl and spin, go into first gear and ask yourself:

What is the next immediate, small step that I can take right now?

Then take it.

Set a timer for a reasonable amount of time and do that.

Then ask again.

Develop a range of speeds. When you’re ready, shift up to 2nd gear, then 3rd and eventually 4th and 5th gear.

Remember, you can always downshift. In your coaching business, you control your speed. You control your intake of information. You control your pace of work.

The Next Episode is: Getting into a Rhythm in Your Coaching Business

Ep 26 – Can You Attract Coaching Clients As A Thought Leader? with Je’Von Ikner

This episode is an ON AIR Coaching session where I get to work with with a real human being instead of just speaking out in the air by myself. It’s so much fun for me to do these Coach the Coach sessions and I hope you find value in them.

Today, I’m working with Je’von Ikner to help him finesse his target audience and niche.

Je’Von’s background includes 4 years in Wallstreet and a stint with Club Med working as a personal trainer, which he segued into owning a gym with a partner.

Je’Von explained that he wants to take a more holistic approach to wellness with his clients. He let go of the gym recently to focus in on developing his coaching business.

He is also a new husband and father. His son, Maxwell, is just 10 months old.

Why Not Coach People Like You?

I had an instant idea after meeting Je’Von in a Discovery Session that young men with new families could be a great audience for him. He agreed but he was a bit hesitant, thinking that he needed to have everything figured out before he could help someone else with that.

Do you worry about that too?

If you’ve had an impulse to work with people that are essentially in the same boat as you, it’s a good impulse! As long as the target audience is well defined and narrow enough that you can create compelling messaging and offers that strike a resonant chord, it can work beautifully.

1. You only need to be one small step ahead of your coaching clients.

2. Did you know that most subject matter experts became experts by making a study of how to help themselves through a challenge? You can do that too.

3. Few people have the time or inclination to self reflect enough on how to breakthrough a specific challenge. As a coach, you can do some advanced thinking about your audiences common challenges and goals. Look at your own experience dispassionately for a while. Then create a model to help yourself. Test it out. Finesse that to help others in the same boat.

Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to meet your clients where they are and coach them in the moment. But, if they’re going to enroll you, they only want to know that you’ve thought it through.

A little structure goes a long way!

I reminded Je’Von what coaching is really about. Je’Von laughed because he realized while we were talking that I would ask him that. He said:

“Coaching isn’t necessarily a how-to.

You’re not giving someone the answers so much as

helping them evoke their own answers, gain different perspectives,

then have a choice of answers that allows them to

make the decisions that are in line with where they want to go.”

Elegantly put.

What Are the Top Challenges of Your Target Audience?

Next, I asked Je’Von what are the real challenges he’s experiencing as a young man with a new family.

What he shared was poignant:

1. The biggest challenge is lack of personal time that can bring up feelings of guilt and resentment.

  • time to see friends
  • time to take care of your body
  • time to develop a new business or pursue a dream

2. The fear that he may have to give up his dream.

3. And knowing how to raise a human being is a daunting challenge for all new parents.

While every new parent struggles with these things, from the perspective of a young man there’s a real limitation imposed on him. An imposition that he both loves, his child and spouse, and that has dramatically changed his lifestyle, routine, freedom.

Through this discovery process Je’Von and I began to develop his niche around the audience of young men with new families. Specifics that he could help his clients (and himself) breakthrough.

I invited Je’Von to step into the crucible of his own experience with an objective perspective so that he could begin to develop messaging, programming and marketing.

Attempting to Narrow the Coaching Audience

I had sparked on Je’Von’s 4 years in Wallstreet, thinking it could be a way that he could narrow his target audience even further — to work with young men in Wallstreet with new families.

He had described that sense of glamor and glamorizing that is Wallstreet. All the perks and promises of money and lifestyle that go with Wallstreet. But also the longing for something more meaningful.

We explored this idea for a few minutes. I asked Je’Von directly if this idea resonated with him. He said: “It does. It actually resonates with me quite a bit.” He liked the relatability of the idea.

But as I probed a bit more, there were two objections that came up:

1. Je’Von was not keen on being yet another person who encourages people to quit their job if they’re not happy with it. He felt it wasn’t the smartest thing to do in many cases.

2. Je’Von also revealed that Wallstreet was not a pleasant memory for him. He said: “There’s a lot of negative feelings that come up for me. And so I’ve been doing my best to try and avoid anything related to that. My body is initially just like no, no, no, no.”

That was enough for me to abandon the idea of narrowing by targeting young men in Wallstreet. I’m a firm believer that our bodies provide somatic intuition that are instructive to us.

So, I checked in with Je’Von about it, and we let that idea go.

Attracting Coaching Clients By Becoming a Thought Leader

As Je’Von was sharing a different idea with me, I heard something in him that I hadn’t before.

He had a strong philosophy about the experience of young men getting out of college and chasing shiny gold nuggets. Then, later those men realize that it’s not a meaningful path that reflects their deepest and most important values.

I had an insight that Je’Von might be able to get his message out through speaking, videos, TED talks, maybe even television. It’s what I call the Icon Archetype route. It’s a way of attracting clients from the stage.

In Episode #12 — What Coaching Archetype Fits You? — I talked about 5 potential coaching archetypes:

  • Teacher
  • Healer
  • CEO
  • Pure Coach
  • Icon

The Icon Archetype is a coach who likes being on camera and on stage. They are philosophical and can see themselves as a thought leader with something unique to share with an audience.

Famous Icons are Tony Robbins and Marie Forleo.

The Icon uses their bold style and keynote speaking to attract clients.

The Icon pathway is not for every coach. While I like speaking on my podcast and in webinars, there’s no way I’d want to be on a big stage or on TV. I’m an HSP (highly sensitive person) and an introvert. Big groups are cameras aimed at me are not my thing.

You might be able to take the icon path to build your coaching business if you:

  • are bold, energetic, articulate and entertaining
  • love being on stage and on camera
  • know how to deliver a thought provoking talk
  • create a compelling message for a tribe that goes viral

And while there are some wonderful things about this pathway to success as a coach, know that it does require significant time, energy and money to be “discovered”.

I asked Je’Von if he’d like to take that path to build his coaching business and he said: “That’s exactly how I envisioned my coaching path!”

Hooray, we landed his niche and way to attract coaching clients too!

Finally, I asked Je’Von if he considered himself well connected. He said that his gym was in a wealthy neighborhood in Austin and he was blessed to have some wealthy clients who have offered support.

That’s fabulous, as often getting onto big stages requires capitol and introductions. Je’Von finished our session with clarity and a strong sense of direction for his target audience and how he would find them through speaking, videos and presentations. He can work towards compelling thought leadership, based on his philosophy of becoming a more anchored young man with a new family.

Ep 25 – The Irresistible Thing About You That Enrolls Coaching Clients

This Episode is part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series. Today we’re exploring how to show up for Discovery Sessions and other enrollment moments in a way that inspires a person to sign up for your coaching programs.

I’m glad to report that I no longer worry about the enrollment moment, even when I’m sharing the price of my signature VIP mentoring program. There are a few reasons for that …

First, I’ve been having Discovery Sessions nearly every week for the last 17 years. Experience does count.

If this is a scary thing for you, that’s understandable.

Have as many Discovery Sessions as you can, because you’ll get better and better at it. And, it is the best way to enroll clients.

Another reason I don’t worry is that I’ve learned to detach from outcome. It’s a critical mindset for anyone who is selling something — especially when you’re selling you!

And the amazing thing is that taking the expectation or desperation for ‘yes’ out of the moment actually relieves pressure for both you and your prospect.

They sense your ease and THAT is attractive in and of itself.

I’ve talked about Discovery Sessions in episode #19, which you’ll find helpful if you missed it before. And in the show notes for that episode you can get a copy of my 10 step cheat sheet with enrollment questions and a Discovery Session process that works beautifully.

For this episode, I’m diving into more mindset pieces. And mindset truly is something you can control.

Don’t Perform. Connect.

Thank goodness that we live in a time where realness is valued. Not very long ago stiff professionalism was revered. In blogs, presentations, speaking gigs, the style was to show up buttoned up and polished.

Can you imagine?

It’s not like that anymore. In fact, most people in most circumstances prefer a more relaxed, accessible style.

So as a coach, whether you’re writing web copy or social posts or giving a presentation, the rule of the day is be yourself. Connect.

Don’t bother trying to be perfect.

That’s doubly true for the enrollment moment whether that’s in a Discovery Session or at the pitch point in a webinar.

Honor Them With Vulnerability

You know who taught me how to enroll? My clients. And also the prospects who walked away.

Over the years I noticed something that perhaps should have been obvious … I noticed that when prospects showed up enthusiastic I wanted to work with them!

My favorite clients are authentically enthusiastic people. They are simultaneously enthusiastic and doubtful. Enthusiastic and fearful. Enthusiasm can carry through and stand out over other emotions.

And so I learned from them that enthusiasm is irresistible!

And there’s something else that draws me to people who are a good fit for me … vulnerability.

Okay, you might be thinking … “But Rhonda, they are the prospect, the client. You are the professional so you have to show up differently.”

Not so much.

When I work with coaches I encourage them to say to their first few prospects something like “I’d love to have you as one of my first clients.”

That vulnerability will absolutely be appreciated. And it let’s you be where you are in your stage of business rather than having to pretend.

One of the things that listeners have told me repeatedly about my podcast is that they really appreciate that I share my mistakes and failures – past and current. They appreciate that I’m real with them.

And many of these listeners hire me for Strategy Sessions and go on to become a long term client. So you see that me revealing my human-ness did not deter them.

I want to take a moment and give a SHOUT OUT to Clive from Adelaide, South Australia who wrote to me recently, saying:

Hi there, Rhonda, I just recently stumbled onto your podcasts and immediately:

  • Listened to them all.
  • Connected to the content and intention.
  • Joined your Facebook Group.
  • Connected to you.

There is no doubt in my mind that you are probably the most genuine and candid person around. You have an incredible gift, Rhonda. God Bless you. I just believe it is appropriate that you know that your work and contribution is top drawer — a true labour of love.

When I get emails and reviews like this, I bring my hands up to my heart to take it in. I bow to the person clasping my hands together in gratitude. Because we all know how wonderful and rare it is to receive thanks and recognition.

Clive, I am honored by your beautiful feedback! It’s a classy thing to do. Thank you.

My point in sharing Clive’s note with you is that being genuine and candid is something you can do in all of your connections and especially during your Discovery Sessions.

Brene Brown, my favorite speaker and non-fiction author, said:

Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat,

it’s understanding the necessity of both;

it’s engaging. It’s being all in.

Think about it … being ALL IN is irresistible.

Your vulnerability, enthusiasm and transparency are infectious. You will be repaid in kind. And then, whatever happens — whether the person hires you or not — they will think of you as a real human being and carry away the fact that you honored them.

And I believe that being all in signals the Universe to help you with your goals. It’s good will that you’re putting out there, which is good for all of us.

No More Smoke and Mirrors

I just mentioned transparency. That’s another irresistible way to show up.

Some training programs that teach you a tactic — a way of using, for example, a webinar or some other type of group or online enrollment technique — may imply that you have to trick a person into staying for the pitch at the end of the program.

It makes you feel kinda skeevy.

I think there’s less of this than there used to be. But if you hear that from someone, don’t buy into it.

You show up smart and high integrity when you let people know what your intentions are up front.

For example, on my website, on the page called Work with Rhonda, there’s a form to fill out to apply to work with me. It’s transparent. I offer people who fill out that form a Discovery Session.

And I say to them: “Let’s talk soon. I want to learn more about your vision and share how I can help you take leaps in your coaching business.”

Transparency.

That way there’s no expectation that I’m going to coach them or help them solve problems in that Discovery Session. It’s an opportunity to connect, to learn about each other and see if we’re a good fit.

That means that they know what our mutual gift of time is all about.

Sure, there’s some other smart things to do when you’re marketing. I talk about those a lot. But right now we’re focusing on mindset.

You can apply transparency to emails, event announcements, the beginning of a webinar — however you’re going to enroll clients. You’ll feel better to being real with people. And you’ll only attract people who truly want what you’re offering.

That frees you up energetically in your marketing.

So to review … the irresistible thing about you that enrolls coaching clients is your …

  • Enthusiasm
  • Vulnerability
  • Transparency

Now, I have a challenge for you …

Do everything you can to set up weekly Discovery Sessions with your ideal audience.

If you want to enroll 10 clients in the next 60 days, you’ll get them by doing, at the very least, 10 Discovery Sessions or some other enrollment process.

Don’t wait for people to find you. Have a habit and a conversion process in place to drive people to your website for a valuable free offer and after they get that, invite them to a Discovery Session with you.

That’s how you’ll earn well, become known and enjoy your business.

The Next Episode is: How to Get Taken Seriously and Get Hired

Stay inspired and make things happen!

Ep 24 – Choosing a Viable Target Audience for Your Coaching Business

We’re taking a pause from the Smart Mindsets & Habits Series. This episode is another On Air Coaching Session (there are 3 previous) where you get to listen in as I work with a coach to decide on a viable target audience for her coaching business.

Today, I have the pleasure of working with Deborah York. Deborah introduced herself this way …

I am a divorced mother of two young men that are coming into their own. My younger son will be graduating soon and going off to med school. And my other son is working full time and taking classes and still trying to figure out what he wants to do.

That kind of makes me think about my coaching and trying to wrangle it in to determine which direction I really want to go into. I tell people all the time that I’m a Jill of all trade and master of some because I have two master’s degrees.

I love working with people in helping them to uncover their purpose or their path in life. And that’s, I guess what’s caused me to struggle a little bit because I want to help everyone. And I understand as a coach, you can’t help everyone.

One of my Masters is in industrial organizational psychology that has a specialization leadership coaching. So when I initially started coaching, and it’s been almost 10 years ago now, I started off coaching people that were in management or are looking to get into management. And through that, it made me look even deeper. So I ended up getting another certification in health and nutrition.

My approach is more of a holistic approach, uh, but still trying to find that right group of people that saw the value that I brought to the table who were willing to pay for it has been the struggle.

Don’t Do This Alone

Deborah isn’t alone in that struggle. Most coaches, including me, start out not knowing who is a viable and ideal target audience for their coaching business. Many simply do not choose and that often means their business doesn’t get off the ground.

And, it’s not the easiest thing to figure out your audience and coaching niche on your own.

I really admire Deborah and all women who are the primary or sole provider for their kids, plus getting advanced degrees while holding a full time job and then starting their own coaching business. Super women! You all have my deepest respect.

All Coaching Is Holistic In Nature

Deborah mentioned that she coaches her clients holistically.

I pump my fist for that!

When I’m working with coaches to help them build their coaching businesses, there are some days I’ll do somatic coaching to get them in touch with the wisdom of their bodies. Some days we’ll talk about what’s going on at home. Sometimes we’re going to talk about mindset or spirituality.

So even though I’m a business coach specifically for coaches, I coach holistically.

Every coach can coach about any topic and work holistically with our clients, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t specialize. In fact, to some degree, the more you specialize on a narrow and viable audience, the easier it will be to attract clients who pay you well.

The best way to go is to create a program for your unique target audience where you help them reach their top goal and overcome related challenges.

And coach them through it all in a holistic way.

So, Deborah was already clear about working holistically with her audience, which is brilliant!

Revealing Her Ideal & Viable Coaching Audience

Next, I asked Deborah whether leadership was a leaning for her. She’d already coached quite a bit in that track.

She affirmed that while also revealing her biggest struggle. Her sweet spot is working with up and coming leaders — what she called future leaders. I took note of that great phrase for describing the goal of her audience.

Because the leaders are up and coming, their finances may not be available to pay for her services. They’ve left home but they are just getting started in their lives. They’re not likely to have the money to invest unless they have a good salary at this point.

I asked Deborah if, in her mind, she imagined that these “future leaders” are employed. She said yes.

And, I asked if they want to stay within organizations or are they people who would want to break free from working for someone else and work for themselves in some capacity?

She said they’d be entrepreneurial.

We were starting to move in a certain direction, which was exciting!

I asked if she wanted to work with clients regionally, nationally or internationally. Deborah said nationally.

Then, I asked about her business model ideas. Deborah would love to speak and hold workshops and groups. She’d already had a number of speaking engagements when she was in sales. Fabulous!

She elaborated that she could imagine her clients straight out of college trying to get their first job. In her current part time job, she’s working in a High School and is always talking to student about their future plans. She uses coaching and mentoring to help them find their sweet spot.

I asked her about the age or stage of life of the people she wanted to work with. Deborah said Grad school.

And, that slowed down our momentum because even though people in that stage of life really could use a thinking partner, we realized it would be difficult to find grad school grads who have disposable income.

I was feeling Deborah’s dilemma and how it had her stuck.

My suggestion was to roll back the age group and work with parents with students approaching graduation to help them choose their direction, discover their sweet spot and prepare for decision making from a place of intelligence and maturity.

Deborah agreed.

When Kids Are Your Audience You Market to Parents

We discussed that the upside was that she’d be marketing to people who are holding the purse strings — the parents. Most parents are emotionally invested in seeing their children leave the nest in a really powerful way. It’s foremost on their minds so it’s an acute problem.

And they’d be likely to invest in solutions.

The challenge is that she’d have two audiences to market to because in addition to appealing to the parents, she’d also have to appeal to the students themselves.

An Audience That Aligns With Your Strengths

I asked Deborah how she is at connecting with young people? She answered that when she was in her early twenties she had a conversation with her mother and said: “I don’t know what my gift is.” Her mother laughed and said: “Your gift is young people.”

Deborah clearly has a gift for helping young people find their sweet spot. Beautiful!

Ready to Click on the Certainty Button?

I checked in then with Deborah and asked … “On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being the most, how excited are you about working with parents and their soon-to-graduate high school kids?”

Deborah said 10! I love hearing that!

My work was almost done.

What to Do Next Now That You’re Clear on Your Target Audience

Deborah’s mind starting buzzing with ideas such as how she could volunteer for some speaking gigs at the school.

I suggested that she wait a bit until she had a more solid foundation.

Jumping ahead now might burn some opportunities that are best leveraged by knowing exactly what you’re offering and having a clear next step for after the talk.

It can be hard to hold yourself back. A previous episode on this topic called How to Spot the Right Opportunities for Your Coaching Business.

We also talked about how critical it is to do market research, even though Deborah has been in the same shoes as her target audience. See the episode:Why Should a Coach Do Market Research?

Deborah and I had a fruitful conversation. And I feel good knowing that another coach who was unclear and struggling about the audience/niche question has now clicked on the certainty button and has a path for her next steps. Yay!

The Next Episode Is: The Irresistible Thing About You That Enrolls Coaching Clients