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

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Show Notes

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!