Ep 6 – Four Mistakes I Made in Coaching Business Startup

This episode covers 4 big mistakes I made during the start up of my coaching business. Maybe you can relate.

Yes, I made all of these mistakes and more and I lived to tell the tale.

But I’ve experienced multiple magical turning points in my business as well. Wonderful things I never could have imagined came my way because I did not let my mistakes stop me.

And that’s the key, right?

My guess is that, as I talk about these pitfalls, you’ll recognize yourself in some but also realize that you’re much more savvy than I was at startup. Coaches seem to get smarter every year.

Mistakes are still the best way to learn. It’s a time honored tradition. And growing a coaching business, like any business, is a total experiment. It’s a long term gamble.

When I was able to see my business in that light it became easier to power through mistakes by making small adjustments instead of over reacting.

If you can teach yourself to think like a scientist or an innovator and play the long game, you’ll be golden. That gumption and grit will pay you back many fold.

Okay … enough preamble … now to dish the dirt.

Mistake #1 — Holding High Expectations

There are schools of thought about expectations.

Me? I’m with Shakespeare who purportedly said: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

That’s wisdom similar to the Buddhist belief that craving is what causes suffering. Sounds right to me.

See, I expected:

  • to replace my income before I quit my job.
  • to immediately get dozens of referrals from friends and family.
  • for everyone to get the value of coaching with a single free session.

The weight of those expectations and others crushed me. Because when things didn’t work exactly as I’d hoped, disappointment set in. I was certain that it meant I wasn’t good enough.

It didn’t mean that. It never means that. It only meant that the experiment was still alive. And, I needed to chill out emotionally while still taking action on behalf of my business.

Then, I realized pretty quickly that exchanging high expectations for low expectations was just another type of self sabotage. It’s totally de-motivating.

So it’s best to check expectations entirely. The winning attitude turns out to be another buddhist principle. Live in the present moment. Let love drive you in your business and show up as a professional. More about that in a minute …

I know now that for my first 2 years of coaching, I had been holding my breath until I arrived at an imagined destination.

Where did my high expectations come from? Well some was arrogance. Some was ignorance. And the rest was because …

Mistake #2 — I Drank the KoolAid

At the time, when I launched my coaching business there was a lot of hyperbolic messaging about coaches earning high 6 or 7 figures coming from rock star coaches.

As if that was the norm.

I’m glad to see that rhetoric has toned down. And several people who are earning high revenues these days are more transparent about the significant investment of time, sweat and seed money it takes to get there.

I was just listening to Natalie Eckdahl of Biz Chix, one of my favorite podcasts. She generously admitted that her first whole year of business, she had zero profit.

Four years later though, she is one of those phenoms. And I can tell she works very hard for it.

I appreciate her transparency so I’m going to pass that forward now.

My first year in my coaching business I grossed a whopping $10,000. Not enough to pay for my coach training, equipment and mentoring.

My second year I grossed $35,000. My third year — which was the year I figured out the right way to niche, brand and connect to a unique target audience with a specific problem — that year I made $75,000. And from there I took off.

I truly believe you will move faster than that if you thoughtfully design your business rather than just stumble into it like I did.

Six years into my business I started pushing hard for those big numbers.

Eight years into that race I found that the costs of doing business at that level were too high for me. But that’s me. You may have the stamina for it.

Now, if YOU have big number goals, you absolutely have a chance at it.

Consider though, before you climb the highest mountain, get strong on the smaller ones. Be strategic and patient with yourself or you’ll burn yourself out fast.

If you’re feeling like a loser because you’re not at the 6 figure place yet …

Don’t treat yourself that way.

That “American Dream” thing or the equivalent in other nations keeps us in a scarcity thrall — always looking for easy money. And feeling unlucky if it doesn’t happen.

That’s the real cause of suffering. True prosperity is about feeling the blessing of what you have while you still grow.

The healthiest approach I’ve found is to aim for stretch revenue goals that are appropriate for your phase of business.

Then, strategize each step you will take to reach that goal. Do the work. Evaluate how you’re doing from time to time and make incremental adjustments based on what your audience wants and what’s best for you.

In other words, experiment!

Mistake #3 — Staying Too Long in Student Coach Mode

While I both held absurd expectations and drank the KoolAid on the one hand, on the other hand I clung to student mode for nearly a year after coach training.

I was in perpetual student mode with my coaching business.

I kept giving free coaching. Or, I charged pitifully low fees.

I kept taking more coach training. I also spent a lot of money on programs that were teaching tactical approaches that I wasn’t developmentally ready for.

Have you ever enrolled in a program and finishes having nothing to show for it. Chances are the information was just too advanced for where you were in your business them.

That was the case for me. I hadn’t narrowed my niche enough or learned the psychographics of my audience. I didn’t know how to market without being salesy.

It’s part of the reason why I serve coaches in the start up phase to help them believe in their experiment and set themselves up well for the journey.

I have a lot of compassion for myself in that perpetual student mode. It’s a big deal to launch a business. I guess I needed that year to get ready for it mentally.

In the meantime I made …

Mistake #4 — Blindly Following Other Coaches

… down a rocky, barren road.

Yep. I pretty much did what I saw other coaches doing. I didn’t consider whether what they were doing was actually working for them. It looked cool. It sounded cool. So I was inspired.

I admired someone’s website and rushed to put one up that was equally pretty and honestly pretty vapid. It addressed everyone, prosthelytized about the wonders of coaching and had no conversion process.

My third website was the charm. I also spent a lot of money on a logo and a business card. I abandoned that logo long ago and never really needed the business cards for my almost entirely online style of marketing.

Basically, I invested in the trappings of my business without considering my overall strategy.

I think I’ve made all of the mistakes I possibly could have made in the start up phase.

My saving grace is that I’m tenacious. When I say I’m going to do something I don’t stop until I make it happen.

The silver lining of my impetuousness is that when I fall flat on my face I get up with curiosity and study the right way to do something until I can teach someone else how to do it.

So I hope that you’ve enjoyed me roasting myself today.

If you’ve gotten caught in a start up pitfall and want a hand to get back to ground level, I offer a Strategy Session. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click the button STRATEGY SESSION.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Natalie Eckdahl of the Biz Chix podcast.

My next episode is called Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?

Ep 5 – The Simplest Coaching Business Model

This episode is part of my Start Smart Series. A listener asked me to talk about the simplest and least expensive way to get a coaching business off the ground. Great question!

I love it when listeners tell me what they want to hear on the show. If you have a specific request, go to my contact page on —ProsperousCoachBlog.com — and get in touch.

High Profit, Low Tech and High Touch

The answer to the easiest coaching business model is ultra simple! It’s 1:1.

If you’re charging enough and enroll your clients into a longer term package, you won’t need many clients each year to make a good income. I only work with 20 – 30 clients each year.

Your marketing could be minimal if you have ready access to your chosen target audience. And because expenses are incredibly low for this business model, 1:1 is the most profitable option.

Think about it … You don’t have to have a website (although you may want to.) You won’t need a team or even a Virtual Assistant to help you with all the tasks because admin is minimal. You don’t need big coordinated marketing campaigns, a strong presence on social media or a bunch of apps with monthly fees.

Literally all you need is a phone and a private place in your home to take client calls. And maybe an inexpensive business card for networking.

You know what I’m describing, don’t you?

It’s the way every service entrepreneur did business before the internet. Don’t roll your eyes. It’s still the way a lot of service entrepreneurs operate.

Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t easier than all the online stuff everyone, including me, does now. But an online business model does allow you to have an international audience, and I love that.

For that analog way of business, you have to be an active networker, go where your clients are, be a good conversationalist and a non-salesy enroller.

When I started, I only offered private coaching. I found all of my clients through networking and speaking.

It was only in my second year that I added in face to face group coaching. Then started doing VIP days – that’s 3 to 8 hours of working with one person in one day.

It was only in year 6 that I shifted to online. I created a Membership Program. Honestly, a huge amount of work for poor returns. Then, I added a high ticket online Mastermind with two yearly retreats. And I sold two self-study online training programs. For one of them, I took a group of 20 – 50 through it quarterly as well with a closed Facebook group.

It was fun doing all of that stuff and I made good money. But it was soooo much work keeping it all rolling. And so much of my income was going to expenses!

That’s often overlooked when coaches choose a business model. The more complicated or technical you go, the harder you work, and sometimes the less money you keep.

There really is no passive revenue except royalties. I was lucky to have the opportunity to co-write Coach Training curriculum for a royalty and that curriculum is still being used.

Market Less, Serve Clients Longer

But you know what I like the most? Getting to know my clients well and doing deeper work. The 30 hour work week with a 4 day weekend isn’t bad either! That’s my lifestyle choice.

So in my 20th year in business, I’m back to working privately with client in a 5 month comprehensive coaching business building program. I also offer a 90-minute strategy session.

So how do you find and enroll 1:1 clients? That’s a question for another episode. But I remember hearing what I thought was an urban legend, when I was in coach training …

Sandy Vilas, the then CEO of Coach Inc, supposedly worked with 80 clients each week, all of whom he enrolled simply by calling colleagues and inviting them to become his client. (To me 80 clients each week is 8x too many.)

That takes confidence plus a large and eager network. And my guess is that Sandy was an extrovert. LOL!

Every Coach Gets to Build Their Own Marketplace

The reality in today’s distracted world is that all coaches will need to find and develop their own tribe or target market. That’s why the wisdom is to fish in the smallest, most specialized pond, that you can.

The more you narrow your audience and then offer specific solutions to that group’s biggest problems, the faster you’ll build a network of fans who don’t really need to be sold on working with you. That’s the best!

And there’s a lot of joy in building a community.

What It Takes to Succeed with Online Programs

When people hire me to help them choose their coaching niche and build a business foundation I always ask them what they want to offer. Many say they want to quickly move into online programs.

I understand the attraction. You help more people transform in less time, which is especially great if you don’t have much time to give to your business right now.

But to succeed with online programs you need several things set up first, which takes time.

You need a fairly robust list — 5,000 people minimum in your target audience and probably more like 10,000 people who already know, like and trust you.

Develop joint venture marketing relationships with other people targeting your audience but who have a significantly different offer. That will help push your enrollment numbers up. (Another reason to narrow your audience and niche.)

If you’ve been listening to my previous episodes, you might have caught the idea that there are developmental stages in a business.

Start Up is the time to walk not run. That’s why 1:1 is the best way to start out as a coach.

Nothing will teach you faster about yourself and your audience than working with clients privately. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll figure out your secret sauce — a talent you have that’s unique and leverageable.

And, once you’ve worked with a few dozen clients privately who are all in the same unique target audience, it’s easy to create online programs that more of them will buy.

Mentioned in this episode:

Contact me if you’d like to request a specific topic for the Prosperous Coach Podcast.

The next episode is: 4 Mistakes I Made in Coaching Business Startup (and I lived to tell the tale!)

Ep 4 – How to Feel Less Isolated in Your Coaching Business

This short episode is part of the Start Smart Series. I share 4 ways to get relief from feeling alone and isolated in your coaching business. And, I make a plea to all coaches to be good to each other in your peer groups. Let’s help each other grow instead of strutting and competing.

Ep 3 – Do You Really Need to Be Certified?

This short episode is part of the Start Smart Series.

Let’s explore a sticky question today. Do you really need to be certified in order to say that you’re a professionally coach?

It’s sticky because there are two camps — the yeas and nays — with strong opinions.

Ultimately though, whether you certify or not is your decision.

2 Types of Coach Certification

  1. Certifying through a coach training organization. You enroll, complete training and certify through some sort of review process when training is complete.
  2. Independent certification such as through the International Coach Federation (ICF). You work towards it by completing requirements and paying an application fee. You’ll need a certain number of hours of paid coaching, completed training with an accredited organization, and being mentored by people who are certified at the master level.

To maintain or advance your ICF certification you have to re-up every few years. It’s a significant ongoing investment in time and money.

NOTE: The ICF and other certifying bodies often change requirements for the various levels of certification. So, if you’re on route to certify, stay in touch with the requirements so you’re not blindsided by changes.

Independent certification helps to mature emerging fields and garner acceptance in the marketplace. ICF launched in 1995, when life coaching was burgeoning, and now has a presence in 140 countries and over 30,000 members.

There is a segment of the coaching industry who will firmly say YES, that you must be certified to be considered a professional coach. I was in that camp when I first became a coach but I’ve softened on this over the years. Let’s look at the reasons proponents give …

6 Main Reasons to Certify with an Independent Body

Reason #1    That coaches who certify are more likely to earn more and not drop out of the profession.

Reason #2    That certification distinguishes you from all the people who co-opt the term ‘coach’ but who have not been rigorously trained.

Reason #3    That maintaining certification requires you to stay in tune with best practices.

I’ll chime in here and say there’s a logic to these reasons to certify. A professional path does help you stay in the profession. However, independent certification does not necessarily mean you’ll earn more.

Your income largely depends on your coaching niche, target audience, offers and your ability to market and enroll.

Reason #4    That the public will perceive you as being a more skilled coach if you’re certified.

Reason #5    That your clients will require it.

If you go into the executive or leadership coaching track where you’ll provide services to people within corporations, coaches that are ICF certified will likely have a competitive edge.

But for many other tracks, niches and audiences, certification is a non issue as far as clients are concerned.

In my 20 years in the industry, only 2 people have asked me if I was certified and that was early on by representatives of ICF. None of my potential or actual clients has ever asked me.

And, I’ve checked recently with experienced fellow coaches, who either have never certified with ICF or haven’t maintained it. We agree that for most niches the client does not require or even ask about certification.

Reason #6.    That you may be legally required to be certified in the future.

This could happen, however, I don’t see a lot of energy being put forth to move in that direction.

Regulation would likely only come about if coaching, as an industry, becomes a nuisance. In other words, enough coaches irritate enough clients that those people lodge complaints or sue. If there’s a push for regulation there will likely be a ramp up period and it will be licensing rather than certifying. Although the ICF will definitely lobby for certification to be a part of the regulation. And who can blame them?

The Bottom Line

Here’s what I tell my clients … why not work towards certification?

Research the requirements and work diligently towards them while growing all aspects of your busines. It will keep you on a professional path.

Then, as you grow in your coaching business, if your integrity tells you that to feel legitimate and be valuable to your clients you must maintain certification, then you’re ready. If not, trust yourself and find other ways to walk a professional path.

I keep records with the number of hours I coach/mentor each client. I also have a Terms & Agreement document that I ask each client to initial and sign that gives me permission to share their name with ICF as proof of our professional connection. Although I’ve heard that ICF eliminated that requirement.

Know that independent certification is a significant and continuing investment of time and money. I’ve been through it and I respect the rigorous effort and institution.

On the other hand, through the years, some of the best coaches I know are not only NOT certified but some are not even trained through a coach training organization. They are financially successful, highly respected and doing great work.

In any case, some sort of familiarization with what coaching is and is not is critical if you’re going to call yourself a coach.

And here’s something to ponder …

How will you learn and maintain best coaching practices?

How will you challenge yourself to higher levels of skill and integrity in your services?

Because it’s only through maintaining your integrity that you’ll achieve true professionalism in any field.

Mentioned in this episode:

International Coach Federation (ICF)

Click here to download an example Terms & Agreement document. Note: This is not a legal document. Have your lawyer assess your own final Terms & Agreement document.

The next episode in this series is: How to Feel Less Isolated in Your Coaching Business

Joel Bass created my theme music. Thanks Joel!

Ep 2 – What It Takes To Be Successful In Your Coaching Business

This episode is part of the Start Smart Series. It’s about how to think of your coaching business as an adventure, manage your states of mind and enjoy yourself.

You’ll hear 2 critical mindsets, 2 character traits to grow into, and 2 main actions to set yourself up for success in the marketplace.

I am often asked what does it really take to be good at this … to earn a good living at coaching by running your own business. And it’s a great question.

And I’m inclined to ask back …. do you really want to know?

Here’s why I ask … sometimes knowing what you need to do and who you need to be gives you a reason to forsake yourself and decide to say ‘no’ to an incredible opportunity that you feel called to, that’s essentially asking you to go on a transformational journey.

You hear parents say that if they had any idea what would have been required of them to raise children they might not have done it. But at the same time, their children have brought them so much joy and purpose, gave them such a clear direction to their lives.

Building a business is a journey. Sure you have goals. You want to make a good living at this, to help people, to be the director of your own career, to make your mark, to build a legacy, to be more free than perhaps you have been so far in y our working life.

And your coaching business can bring you all of those things and more.

After 20 years growing my own coaching business I’ve realized that it’s been the territory of my greatest personal transformation. I’ll go so far as to say it’s been a spiritual journey because to me any challenge taken as a spiritual journey gives me courage to stay in it and ride all the waves.

You might not use the S word — spiritual. That’s okay. I’m not talking about religious beliefs. It’s just a way to think of things from the 30,000 foot view.

How am I doing?

Am I learning from mistakes?

Am I becoming the best me I can be incrementally over time?

Am I in good habits of continuous improvement?

And with compassion for myself. Releasing judgment.

Those types of questions asked every now and then as you’re growing this coaching business help it to be a more personal adventure.

So there’s my invitation to you. If you’re going to do this … build your own coaching business … go for it. Stay the course. Keep the faith. Believe in yourself even and especially through the down times when you’re not meeting your goals or you’re stuck and confused.

What does it really take to build a successful coaching business?

Let’s look at this from a couple of different angles:

First, HOW you’ll need to think — your mindset.

Then, we’ll talk about WHO you’re going to need to grow into.

And, we’ll talk about a few nuts and bolts, WHAT you’ll need to do.

Think about these things in terms of your POTENTIAL.

So rather than consider these things as a mirror to look into and ask yourself if you are this person now or if you think like this now or if you have done or been doing all these things … INSTEAD think about if this is the type of person you want to become, the mindset you’d like to grow into, the types of actions that you’d be willing to learn how to do.

I’ll tell you, when I launched my business, which at the time I mistakenly called a coaching practice, I was very far away from being the person, thinking the thoughts and doing the actions that I’m saying are critical for your success.

I’m 20 years in now and I have done so much, grown in ways I never knew I would or could. My coaching business has morphed and morphed over the years. The only constant was me.

So now, HOW do you need to think to be successful in your own coaching business?

Embrace being a beginner

If you’ve taken coach training you’ve already begun a major transformation. That’s just the beginning.

To embrace being a beginner is to learn to be okay with not knowing everything, with being bad at doing some things and being ways that are foreign to you now.

There are so many learning curves when you’re growing a coaching business. If you’re beating yourself up for being a beginner you won’t have the resilience to climb the learning curves.

Thinking like a beginner is thinking like an explorer or a scientist. You summon courage, you move forward. You might meet with a little disaster or you might discover something wonderful by accident.

I’ve never liked the phrase “fake it til you make it” because you can be totally authentic while you’re learning things. Be transparent.

You can tell your clients that you’re new to coaching. (That doesn’t mean you’re new to life or don’t have deep skills.)

You can flub up and just bounce back up like a kid learning to walk and try again.

You can apologize for mistakes and learn from them.

No one will mind. In fact we’re living in times where vulnerability is appreciated. You know this — there’s no such thing as perfect but there’s a bit of trance out there in the coaching community that you have to pretend, that you have to perform. No you don’t.

Don’t perform, connect.

Don’t judge yourself. Allow yourself to grow.

If you’ve got an overactive JUDGE inside you. Ask that part to take a permanent vacation. Replace it with the compassionate part. This might be a big reason why you were meant to grow your own coaching business.

By the way, I have a print in my office by Sandra Bierman of The Planting. I’ll put it up on my show notes so you can see it. I got it because I wanted to remind myself that my business and me deserve to be lovingly tended. We were a little seedling, now we’re an oak putting out acorns.

Let your business be your teacher

Your clients will teach you how to be a better coach. Your marketing mistakes will teach you how to be a better marketer. Your peers will teach you how to be a better community leader.

If you’re willing to do a quick little exercise right now, think about circumstances or events that repeatedly take you down in your life. I call these things my Core Lessons. Some people call them Core Wounds because usually it can be painful. You’ve come by these things naturally — born with them or been wounded in your young life.

One of my Core Life Lessons … I seem to need to continually learn about boundaries and power. The right use of power. How to stand in my power. How to hold healthy boundaries. I’ve come a long way with this and still have a long way to go. My business has been my best teacher for these things.

I have a meditation … How did I stand in my power today? How did I give away my power? How are my boundaries holding up?

I have to watch this with clients because I’m a 2 on the Enneagram — The Helper. My tendency is to give and give and give and give. I need to monitor that and see how I am thinking about giving. If I’m starting to feel resentful of the time I’m putting in …. If I’m over-delivering and starting to feel icky about that, I know I’ve given away my power and it’s time to alter my ways.

Maybe you can relate to that because a core wound or lesson for many coaches is about learning to stand in your power and right use of your power. It’s not a matter of stopping being a giving person, it’s a matter of being aware of how you’re giving and how it makes you feel then modulating your ways.

What are your Core Life Lessons? Write them down because they will be a guide for your growth. Doesn’t it make sense that whatever challenges you to the core will come into this journey of building your coaching business.

And here’s a secret, the same will be true with your clients. Their Core Lessons will be the blocks and challenges that trip them up over and over in whatever you’re helping them achieve.

Let’s talk now about WHO you need to be to become a successful coach and earn well.

Become endlessly courageous

My new clients say they don’t feel confident about coaching, marketing, selling, writing — any number of things. That’s totally understandable and forgiveable.

I would be surprised if someone said they were confident at something new. Confidence develops as your comfort zone grows. Do things over and over and suddenly there’s confidence and you probably don’t even notice the confidence coming on.

If you’re not feeling confident, that only means more time and experience is needed. That’s it. Allow yourself to grow. Reach out if you need help. Be courageous every day with your business. It’s right there inside of you. Just wake it up. Give it the energy that you’ve been putting into fear. Courage is the other side of the coin from fear.

Looking back, each year of my coaching business felt like a decade of growing. As long as I summoned courage no moss was growing on me. And like I said that’s when the magic happens, those incredible opportunities or connections, your favorite all time client might be the next person you talk to.

Become resilient!

Resilience is the key to staying in the game. And it’s good by the way to play the game of building a successful coaching business. When you make it a game you bring a good natured attitude. It’s more like play.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back. So if you’re enrolling and you get a ‘no’, resilience allows you to not take it like a hit. Move on.

I’ve become really good at this over time. If a prospect says ‘no’ I think nothing of it. I enjoyed our conversation and truly can wish them well.

I know … a steady flow of no’s can feel bad. If there’s no break in that it’s more about making a small set of changes than an indication of your ability to do this.

Stop yourself from getting discouraged or disappointed. Those emotions become toxic fast.

A fellow coach, Tom Daly, shared with me a great way to stay clean and clear from those toxic feelings that can come with what seems like rejection. “Bless and be blessed.” You may need different language than this. For me it works. The idea is no matter what happens in your business with anyone, bless them and bless yourself. All is well. There is no hit.

Okay let’s get to a couple of actions you’ll need to take to be successful in your coaching business.

Clear space and put aside funds to build your coaching business

Time, money, energy — your fledgling business needs these resources to thrive.

Did you know that most cottage industry business owners put $25 – 75,000 into their business in the first 5 years — just to get off the ground? You can get away with less if you keep things super simple, and I’ll be talking about how to keep costs down and build a simple business in a future podcast this series.

But if you catch yourself thinking … well I spent a lot on my coach training and I should have paid that back before I put any more money into my business … take a breath and think about what you’re saying. Vocational training is a first step, not the end to the building part of building a business. And if you want your business to have an internet presence there will be more costs — some monthly, some initial.

A business needs your regular resources — time and money to get off the ground.

A good time investment guideline is a minimum of 20 hours a week to spend on content creation, getting the word out, having Discovery Sessions and then on top of that working with paying clients.

The Startup phase has lots of moving parts, decisions to make and structure to put in place. And, if you’re like I was, this world of marketing is fairly new. Funny thing was that I came from marketing but marketing a coaching business was a whole new approach I had to learn.

You will need to NICHE down further than a type of coaching

Now this is where you might be stuck.

You might have thought you’ve already niched by choosing a type of coaching — life coaching, career coaching, relationship coaching or some of type of coaching. But what you’ve actually done there is chosen a track. Your track is only 1 of 3 parts of a smart coaching niche.

A side note here … Life coaching does not give you, the coach, enough of a clear direction because it is vague. Life includes everything so there’s not enough narrowing going on with that track. And I’m sorry to say I have never met a person selling life coaching that has made a good living. Please contact me if that’s you! Don’t worry though, you can land a niche that fits with life coaching.

In any case, there’s more to your coaching niche than your track. I have a free guide for you about choosing a niche. See below for the link.

Also, know that my next series will go into depth about how to choose a smart and profitable coaching niche. That’s because your niche is the corner stone of your business foundation. If you try to build a coaching business without that, you won’t have a sustainable business that pays you well.

Sandra Bierman, The Planting

Mentioned in this episode:

Joel Bass created my theme music. Thanks Joel!

Ep 1 – Why You Get Stuck After Coach Training

This episode is part of the Start Smart Series. It’s about the 4 main reasons why you (and every one) gets stuck and how to snap out of it with a quick cure.

Woohoo! You’ve graduated from coach training. I hope you celebrated your huge accomplishment, because it IS a big deal.

But now it’s getting real. You have to choose your coaching niche, create your brand, messages and programs, launch a website and … find paying clients.

Your school glossed over this stuff. No one told you that this phase — startup — is actually more involved than learning how to coach.

In fact, even though you’ve been transforming yourself during the course, these business focused learning curves are more numerous and steep. But you don’t have to rush through it. Find your own pace.

The program gave you structure, a set schedule, and a mentor to guide you.

Now you have to make the big shift from student coach mode to professional mode.

Social media isn’t just social any more. And there are other roles to learn now, such as how to create content — a blog, a podcast — and how to be an authentic but effective marketer.

And what happens next?

Imposter Syndrome dims your passion

You’re thinking …

Who am I to coach anyone?
Why would anyone hire me?
I don’t have any expertise!

And worse, you start comparing …

Everyone else has their act together.
What’s wrong with me?

NOTHING is wrong with you. And does everyone else really have their act together? No. It’s a ruse.

The truth is everyone is a hot mess every time they hit new territory.

That’s because caution sets in and the Risk Manager inside our heads starts pulling alarm bells. And then, it’s time to freeze and hide!

Really, I want you to get this. You are not alone in feeling like an imposter. I’m going through it right now as I learn how to podcast!

You’ll surge forward again. I promise. Still, the stuck place will come up now and again as you grow so it’s good to have a few ways to normalize it and reduce the effects.

For the imposter thing, the salve is to think like a kid.

Kids are just so excited to be doing stuff even if they do it badly. They’ll fall on their bum and just get right back up because … they don’t have this big developed brain that compares how them to others. They have almost endless capacity for experimenting.

Also, don’t forget that YOU’VE GOT SKILLS!

Really, you may feel like a beginner in lots of ways but you’ve forgotten how good you are at so many other things. Own it!

Recognize that every little step you take is a victory — a little legitimizing moment on your way to greatness (again). When you’re focusing on your past accomplishments the inner critic gets bored and takes a long nap.

What else makes you stuck?

Trying to do everything on your own slows you down

Community is critical at the startup phase.

There are 2 types of support that will help you launch with confidence:

  1. a peer group of coaches
  2. and a single mentor to help you set up your foundation for your unique stand out coaching business

Remember, this is the time to set yourself up for success — your niche, your audience and the specific problem you solve for them, your branding, messaging and offers. It’s a package of creative decisions. You deserve strategizing support.

It’s tempting, but don’t just do what all the other coaches do. (I’ll be talking soon about How to Avoid 5 Mistakes Coaches Make).

Coaching is not a one size fits all type of business.

It’s personal and needs to be customized, not only to you and your secret sauce, but also to your coaching audience and what they want so much they’ll invest in your help to get it.

Which brings us to another common reason …

Overwhelm will get you stuck fast

Think about it. Have you been …

  • joining too many groups?
  • getting on too many lists?
  • jumping onto all the free webinars?
  • buying programs that are too advanced for your stage of business?

The truth is you won’t be able to apply all that you learn from those things without having your business foundation firmly set.

Consider turning off the faucet or at least slowing it down to a manageable trickle. Incremental learning gives you an ever expanding comfort zone and that feels good! No more overwhelm.

This is creation time. It’s a bit like being pregnant. (Sorry guys!)

Your coaching business is developing — much of it below the surface. But you don’t want to push it out too fast. If you throw up a cookie cutter website that’s all about coaching you’ll simply find yourself redoing it. Be mindful and patient for a healthy launch.

And that brings us to the last big reason for stuck-ness …

Some life events will derail you

It could be a family emergency, a health issue or even something as benign as the holidays. These things will always slow your momentum. But starting from a dead stop is nearly impossible without a plan or some sort of help.

The trick is, if you can, keep a toe in your business during these events. Do one thing every day. It will help you build up your momentum fast after the derailing event is over.

Okay. Are you ready to get UNSTUCK? You can do it!

The next episode in this series is: What It Takes To Be Successful In Your Coaching Business.

Joel Bass created my theme music. Thanks Joel!

Ep 0 – What’s the Prosperous Coach Podcast All About?

Prosperous Coach Podcast is hosted by Rhonda Hess, international business coach and niche strategist. This bi-monthly show offers practical guidance and inspiration to emerging coaches who want to launch their own successful coaching business. Episodes will cover how to choose a profitable coaching niche, create authentic messaging, design magnetic coaching programs and other topics to help you get noticed by ideal clients who will pay well. The show will also delve into coaching tools, coaching client challenges, money mindset and moving beyond limiting beliefs. Rhonda has over 20 years of experience in coaching, marketing, curriculum development, copy writing and editing.

The Coaching Business Backslide: How to Get Out of Your Own Way

You’ve invested a lot of time, money and passion to become a professional coach. No doubt, you’ve already made a difference in people’s lives.

But that initial push to learn how to coach and build your business foundation can quickly turn into disillusionment if paying clients don’t beat a path to your door at the get-go.

Impatience slows manifestation. Is it time to get out of your own way?

After 16 years of mentoring, I witness 3 main ways that coaches get in the way of their own success at this stage:

  1. Allowing doubts to crush momentum after a few coaching prospect rejections.
  2. Hiding behind the computer, constantly repositioning their niche, website and messages.
  3. Becoming paralyzed, afraid to get out there consistently to build trust and enroll clients.

Sound familiar? Here are 3 ways to think differently about your blossoming business …

Check Your Expectations

Expectation is a possibility killer because it lacks the most essential ingredient of possibility thinking – being open to outcome.

Words to live by: Happiness is low expectations. The idea isn’t to settle for less or shut down when challenged.

The idea is to BELIEVE in the journey. Set goals and create a vision. Then, make it happen with courage and grit. After all, isn’t that how you’d coach your clients?

That’s why self-made entrepreneurs are so celebrated. They believed and persevered.

But, if you ask them, they’ll tell you of delays, unexpected challenges and learning from mistakes … many mistakes.

There’s a lot of rhetoric out there that might make you think any coach can and should become an instant phenom.

But, if you pause for a moment, you’ll see that the people selling that message are working very hard at their own success. They’ve got a profitable niche, smart messaging, conversion processes, clear offers, and a team working with them to build their own little empires one day at a time.

Like every other entrepreneur, they built their empire on delays, unexpected challenges and learning from mistakes.

Give Yourself the Gift of Momentum

Consistency + congruence = leverage.

Leverage rocks! After 18 months of consistently blogging to my audience with a congruent message, I started enrolling clients from Google searches! I earned more with less effort.

One day – when you’re not tapping your foot with expectation – your efforts will arrive at a critical mass and something unexpected and wonderful will happen that takes your business to the next level.

Faithfully nurture your reputation and show up consistently.

Look at it this way …

If you get a cavity in a tooth, you wouldn’t stop brushing your teeth would you? You’d improve your habits. Maybe even become an avid flosser.

If your child falls while trying to walk do you encourage her to stay down and give up? No way. You let her fall on her bum and show her how to get back up.

So get out there every day with enthusiasm for your message, your value and your offer. Enjoy people. Even if they don’t hire you … right away.

Your ideal coaching clients are out there. Keep waving your arms so they can see you.

Yes, there are ways to get attention more quickly and enroll clients more easily at higher fees. It takes congruence – connecting the dots between your audience’s desires, your message and offers. It’s an art. I can help you with that.

Timing Does Matter

Sometimes, you begin to build your coaching business but there’s not enough room in your life to bring it fully into reality.

If you’re gainfully employed or have a family you’re caring for full time, there’s often not enough drive left to stay the course and grow your coaching business into a thriving livelihood.

Your options? Create a transition plan, clear space and redouble your efforts. Or, put your business to the side until you’re willing to take that leap. No shame.

But if you want it now, shrug off doubt and expectation, and aim for leverage!

What ways have you got in your own way to build your coaching business? How have you built leverage to reach that moment of critical mass where you thrive?