Ep 37 – 8 Powerful Coaching Questions to Ask Any Client Anytime

This mini episode is part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series and a continuation of the Client Management Topic that started with Episode 34.

These are powerful questions that are standard in the coaches toolbox.

The right question can really help anyone zoom past obstacles and into a power zone of awareness and action on their own behalf.

That’s why questions are so valuable to coaches and in coaching.

So the first question unlocks a lot for your clients:

What do you want?

Well, sometimes people have a hard time answering this question, but with probing questions beneath it, you might be able to get them to it.

The second question is:

What’s holding you back?

As human beings, we do generally have a sense of this. We might be in denial about it, but we generally do know what we’re doing that’s either sabotaging ourselves or what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling that is lingering too long for us to be able to transform.

So what’s holding you back?

That question will cause your coaching client to go inside and really look at the truth with a capital T.

The third question is:

What is it costing you to continue holding back?

I don’t know if we normally as human beings think about what the costs are of our actions, of our thoughts, of our habits, but to ask someone that causes them to look at themselves from a place of self responsibility.

The fourth question is:

How could you show up differently?

Presumably you’re talking to them about a circumstance or a situation and this question allows them to wonder, Oh, I’m at choice here. How could I show up differently?

I remember this one time where I was going to be speaking in public at a pretty big event for coaches and I was just so nervous. I called my husband for support and he has asked me: How do you want to show up, Rhonda?

I paused and I thought about it. Well, I want to show up standing in my power, believing in myself and being open and vulnerable to my audience as well as delivering something that is actually valuable to them.

Those four answers just grounded me. They made me feel good again, made me feel ready again. And I realized that it was okay to be vulnerable with my audience. It’s okay that I was nervous and I didn’t have to try to obliterate that nervousness before getting on stage.

The fifth question is:

What is a new perspective that you could adopt right now?

Oftentimes when our coaching clients are telling us how they feel or what they think about something, it might be a gripe. It might be the raw feeling and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As a matter of fact, I invite my clients to share their raw feelings.

You can respond to that raw stuff with the question: What’s a new perspective you could adopt right now about that?

You’re inviting them to pick themselves up out of the situation and get a 30,000 foot view. Look at it from the other person’s point of view. Or from their highest self point of view.

The sixth question is:

What is the most meaningful action you could take right now?

So often when our clients are stuck, it’s because they’re unwilling to or afraid to take an action and when you put that word meaningful in front of action, it helps them think differently.

Meaningful to them could be journaling. Or it could be having a conversation with you or someone else. Meaningful to them could be deciding not to do it at all and to take a different direction.

The seventh question is:

What new habits will you put in place right now?

Habits are amazingly powerful in our lives and in the lives of our clients.

We all have bad habits. If you take any aspect of our lives on the life wheel, we’ve got bad habits in those areas, whether it be finances, or how we behave at work … how we feed or exercise ourselves.

We all have habits that can be improved and habits are amazingly powerful if we put the right ones in place.

That’s partially why I’m talking to you about client management because these are habits that we can have in place with our prospects and our clients.

 And the last question, number eight is:

What new skills or support systems will ensure your success?

We want to teach our clients and ourselves to realize that sometimes we have to learn something new or go get help in order to ensure our success.

I always ask my prospects about their support systems. I want to know do they have a family? Do they have a partner? Is that partner supportive of them building a coaching business? Do they have childcare? Do they have ways that they’re going to be able to segment parts of their day to work on their business?

With your own target audience around the niche you have, the ultimate outcome you’re going to help them achieve —be sure they have support systems in place and not just you. You don’t want all of the help and succor to be on your shoulders.

Going back to the skills too, of course everyone who is undertaking something new or trying to do something big.

Hopefully, you’re helping your clients achieve something big to get past or solve a big problem they have or to achieve a huge goal they have. Because if you’re doing that with your clients you may not be able to earn enough as a coach

New skills might something like developing a stronger intuition. It might be developing greater awareness of themselves, of their body, of what their mind or emotions is telling them. Or it could be something really nuts and boltsy such as taking training in order to succeed.

These questions are useful for coaches, for nearly any client at any time, so I hope you use them for your success!

The Next Episode is: Should You Give Gifts To Your Coaching Clients?

Ep 36 – Ten Big Questions for Intake with Your New Coaching Clients

This episode is part of the Smart Mindsets and Habits series. And it’s a continuation from Episode 34 about client management systems.

This questionnaire I’m about to take you through is one piece of a good client management system.

This episode and the next 3 will be mini episodes because I’m moving house! So you’ll get a bitesized idea in a short time. I hope you find them valuable.

By the way, Prosperous Coach Podcast just passed 10,000 downloads! That’s one sign among many that these episodes are landing well with coaches. Thank you for listening and sharing this with other coaches! We are growing a community.

If you’d like to be part of that community, join us in the Prosperous Coach Club on Facebook

Questions are the life blood of what we do with clients. Open ended questions are so powerful that a single one can evoke a positive shift.

It makes sense that the coaching client intake would include powerful open-ended questions!

Here are the 10 questions I have in one document of my intake packet:

  1. What are your strongest beliefs about yourself?
  2. What are your strongest beliefs about the world?
  3. What wisdom has come out of your greatest life lessons?
  4. When in your life have you felt the most generative?
  5. What does prosperity mean to you?
  6. How do you define your success?
  7. What is your BIG WHY for creating an ongoing business?
  8. How might you sabotage your own success?
  9. What do you want me to do if I notice sabotaging behavior?
  10. How can I best empower you?

The Next Episode is: 8 Powerful Questions to Ask Coaching Clients Anytime

Ep 35 – 2 Powerful Shifts To Enroll More Committed Coaching Clients

This episode is an ON AIR Coaching Session with David Smith.

David Smith is a Washington DC – based career coach. He is a Fulbright scholar. After 30 years in law, as a University professor and  overseas working for a think tank, he came to realize that his collective experiences provide insight into inside DC careers.

For two years he has coaching two different audiences:

  • people 20 – 30 emerging into international or policy based careers inside the beltway
  • people 50+ looking for their encore career

Two Problems Related to Coaching Client Engagement

David said he was looking for some wisdom. Specifically he was having two challenges in his coaching business:

  1. Sometimes clients disappear without notice.
  2. Younger clientele are difficult to engage into a longer term coaching relationship.

These classic challenges are related. And both are things that David can fix with a shift in his approach to enrolling.

I asked David to describe what he tells prospects about his offer.

He offers a Discovery Session and admitted to a common problem coaches have … over-delivering in the discovery call.

Shift #1: Stop Coaching in Discovery Sessions

Some coaches offer a sample coaching session to enroll clients. I used to do this myself and found that, much of the time, prospects would walk away from that experience feeling satisfied and uninterested in taking a next step.

I was so intent on showing my value that I over-delivered. And the prospect would say: “Thanks!” But she had no interest in taking a next step.

Can you relate to that challenge?

I remember feeling sort of demoralized by the lack of interest in coaching, something I felt so passionate about.

That’s because coaching is a hard sell.

People don’t wake up knowing that they want coaching. Instead they seek out solutions to specific problems.

So, unless you’re offering a sample coaching session that focuses on a very specific coaching niche — a specific solution to a specific problem — then your sample coaching session is going to feel general and not highly relevant to people.

Even if you have a specific niche, a sample session isn’t the most effective tool for enrolling a committed long term coaching client who pays you well. Because the tendency to perform and over-deliver is strong in that type of session.

When I shifted away from offering sample coaching sessions to offering discovery calls, I immediately started enrolling more ideal clients and earning more from coaching.

Here’s the thing … a Discovery Session isn’t meant to be a coaching session.

You can absolutely use the coaching tools of asking powerful questions and listening in a Discovery Session. But you don’t want to step into the Co-Creative Relationship with a prospect because they have not paid a fee for the coaching. That’s part of the client’s responsibility.

Instead, a Discovery Session is a get-to-know-you call. Ultimately, it’s about assessing fit between the coach and prospect.

David knew this. He just had not framed the Discovery Session that way to prospects. And, because he is passionate about helping his prospects he would “give away the farm”.

In your Discovery Sessions ask powerful open-ended questions to:

  • Learn basic information about your potential client, especially as it relates to your niche — the specific problem you solve for a specific target audience.
  • Connect the prospect emotionally to what they want most and what’s in the way of that outcome.

Then, once you’ve heard all you need to hear to fully understand what motivates your prospect and what’s been holding them back, share how you work with clients.

And this is where my second recommendation to David came in.

Shift #2: Offer a Signature Program Tailor Made to Your Target Audience

David has been charging for session-by-session coaching.

No wonder he was having trouble with clients “ghosting” and not responded to his check ins!

Part of David’s background was as a lawyer where most clients would pay an hourly rate. So it’s understandable that this is the practice David applied to his coaching business.

When I started as a coach, I charged for monthly coaching and I had similar challenges where clients would suddenly disappear.

Have you ever experienced something like that?

You’re going along, thinking you’re doing good work together and then suddenly the client doesn’t show up or respond to emails.

It’s weird. And it feels awful!

But then I realized that, monthly or session-by-session coaching isn’t positioned well. It’s not oriented around big enough outcomes for clients. So they aren’t motivated to keep it up.

More on that in a minute …

For now, what is a Signature Program and how can it possibly work with coaching?

It works better than you might think.

You can still let clients bring the agenda. You still use coaching skills to serve them. The difference happens when you enroll clients.

Instead of selling coaching when you have a Discovery Session, you’ll connect the desired outcomes and challenges your client is having to a structured program.

Milestones Are the Secret to Enrolling Long Term Coaching Clients

Let’s say you’re a coach and you want to be successful but it’s not working out the way you thought it would.

And then you hear about this podcast that supplies all sorts of helpful tidbits about mindset, habits, tactics and strategies to build your business.

You realize this person putting out these episodes could help you. So you go to her website, check her out and there’s even more free valuable information there. You fill out the form on the website. And you’re invited to a Discovery Session.

In that Discovery Session, you’re asked a bunch of powerful questions that help you articulate what you really want and what’s been in the way of that.

And then, you hear that there’s a program you can enroll in that would help you accomplish all the tasks you’ve been struggling to do on your own. It’s accomplishing those milestones in a step by step fully supported way that turns you on.

So you go for it. You enroll into that Signature Program because it’s clear there’s a structure and it’s thought through.

On the other hand, if in that Discovery Session you heard that you could have session-by-session or monthly coaching and no milestones or outcomes were clearly laid out as part of the value, you might just walk away.

Because you weren’t inspired.

It’s All Related to Target Audience and Coaching Niche

The reality is, you cannot create a Signature Program as a coach until you:

  • Have narrowed to a specific target audience.
  • You know exactly what they want so much they’ll invest in help to get it.
  • And you’ve made it your niche to help that audience achieve that goal or set of goals.

I invited David to eliminate one of his two audiences, because having two was keeping him from creating a Signature Program. It was keeping him from getting specific on his website, in his marketing and Discovery Sessions.

Even people who referred clients to him would be able to send him ideal clients if he would target only one audience.

An amazing bunch of things happen when you target a specific niche and make sure that everything you do — every email, social post, your web copy, your free offer, your programs — are tailor made for that audience.

You KNOW exactly what they want and what’s challenging them.

And that intel, applied to every aspect of your coaching business, makes the difference between whether you succeed and earn well or not.

It also would solve David’s two problems.

Once a client is enrolled into a Signature Program and they invest up front for the whole thing, their mindset shifts.

No longer will they think “Okay, I’ve gotta pay for another session with David.” Instead, they are thinking:“I’m on a complicated journey and David is helping me get there, step by step with ease and grace.”

David agreed he’d drop the older audience he was working with because his passion was about helping young people emerging into international or policy based careers.

David reported feeling great after our session. His mind was buzzing with ideas for his Signature Program and he sounded determined to make the 2 shifts that would solve his 2 challenges.

If you are challenged with attracting, enrolling and keeping ideal clients, consider having a Strategy Session with me.

One session could make the difference between being paralyzed and confused and surging forward in your business with confidence.

I would love to work with you!

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.”

The Next Episode is: Would You Buy Your Own Coaching Program?

Ep 10 – Why Do Some Coaching Niches Fail?

This is the 3rd episode in the series Smart & Profitable Coaching Niches.

It’s heartbreaking but some niches never pay off. They just don’t ever get off the ground.

And it’s confusing because they are often about topics everyone cares about or target audiences that NEED so much help.

But that’s part of the problem.

When people buy support to get what they need they’ll most often turn to free resources or to known resources like therapists or doctors.

It’s WANTS that inspire investment in programs that lead to personal transformation.

WANTS drive investment in things and experiences, not needs.

Seekers and Non-Seekers

Seekers are what I call the type of people who invest time and money —from their own pocket — into their personal and professional growth.

Coaches are seekers.

Seekers:

  • Are driven by their desire to make a meaningful contribution to the world.
  • Have social personalities (even if they are introverted) and enjoy influencing others.
  • Are always actively working on themselves and their top goals.
  • Want to become masters at what they do.
  • Buy and read self help or educational books.
  • Will go to an experiential weekend retreat and invest a bundle in it.
  • Pay for vocational training, like coach training, so they can do something they really want to do.

Not all people are attracted to those things. Sometimes it’s circumstantial. Sometimes it’s behavioral.

3 Types of Non-Seekers

  • People who were taught to be fiercely self-reliant.
  • People who invest most of their time and money on things they value more than their own personal growth.
  • People who don’t value themselves highly right now for whatever reason.

So you can see it’s important to consider whether your target audience is full of seekers or not.

Popular But Usually Profitless Coaching Niches

I’m about to list some audiences who are not generally seekers, which means they are less likely to invest in hiring you to help them overcome problems and reach goals.

Full time stay at home moms

They invest time and money in their kids. Yes, they’ll love your free stuff and Facebook groups but they won’t consistently or significantly invest in support to be a better mom, live a more balanced life, or to thrive in motherhood.

A client once came to me who had put 5 years into building a coaching business focused on moms. She is a highly intelligent go-getter who diligently tried every marketing approach. She had great programs, products, freebies, an effective website. She had a big list of moms but few bought anything she sold and usually only something very low cost. It was heartbreaking for her. She had to abandon it.

Another client decide to work with mom entrepreneurs. That was different because the focus was helping them to build their business and still have energy for family. The goal to build a business shifted their behavior from the non-seeker to seekers.

Empty nesters

These people do have real challenges but the state of being an empty nester won’t inspire them to invest in programs to get through that experience unless they already know they want to fill their time with a business venture. Again the shift from empty-nester to business owner changes the buying behavior.

Divorcees

There is no doubt these people could use some help. I’ve seen many coaches try this audience and not make a good living at it. The only exception was a lawyer who became a coach. She had ready access to newly divorced individuals through her colleagues and past clients who valued her.

Retirees

Wealthier retirees might invest in experiences. But the average retiree is holding onto their money or spending it on children and grandchildren.

Doctors & Lawyers

These types of professionals have a self-sufficient personality. They might engage you IF you are or have been a doctor or lawyer yourself but aren’t likely to open their mind to working with you if you aren’t in the club.

There are also some topical niches that tend to never launch well.

I’ve seen people putting themselves out there as Fulfillment Coaches, Confidence Coaches, Serenity Coaches, Abundance Coaches and other somewhat abstract or intangible topics.

While we all want fulfillment, confidence, serenity, abundance and happiness – these are all temporary states of being and people may only invest for a short program that doesn’t cost much.

If your heart is set on coaching around these types of abstract topics focus in on a unique and narrow audience, find out what they want so much they’ll invest in your help to get it.

Then apply some of the principles you’d use to coach someone in one of those abstract, intangible topics to help them reach a tangible goal.

Now I’m not right all the time. I base what I say about coaching niches on 2 decades of experience.

So, if I’ve asserted some idea and you can prove me wrong, please, please do. Get in touch and let me know where I’ve erred and I’ll make a public correction. My listeners would enjoy that. In fact, maybe you could be a guest on my podcast and help us understand how you made your niche successful.

A note of compassion here … if you’ve targeted one of these groups or focused on one of these abstract topics I know it hurts to hear it may not pay off.

My guess is that you saw the title of this episode and it resonated because some part of you feels frustrated that your business hasn’t taken off.

Hopefully this episode shows you that it’s not about you, it’s about your niche.

Did you know that I’m accepting applications for FREE On Air Coaching?

The way On Air Coaching works is you and I have a private business coaching session that’s recorded and later that session is aired as an episode in this podcast series.

On Air Coaching is perfect for you if you are a trained coach who hasn’t yet landed your own profitable coaching niche.

It’s okay if you haven’t done anything yet to build your business.

It’s equally okay if you’ve tried one or more niches and, for whatever reason, it’s not working for you.

In our session I’ll ask you questions to uncover possibilities. We’ll identify a fantastic target audience for you, and brainstorm what they most want and how to apply your gifts and skills to help them get it.

Knowing you audience and niche will give you a profound sense of direction and focus for you coaching business.

I’d love to work with you.

Mentioned in This Episode

My next Episode is — What Coach Archetype Fits You?

Ep 9 – 12 Ways a Smart Coaching Niche Empowers You

This episode is part of my Smart & Profitable Niche Series. Hey, I know I’ve been talking a lot of coaching niches in my podcast so far.

And I know that topic might make you groan … because it’s so hard to figure out on your own.

But let me clue you in to my strategy in focusing on this topic for a while.

  • 93% of coaches struggle with choosing a smart & profitable niche. It’s a big issue.

Do you have to choose a coaching niche? No.

Some say let your niche find you.

You can just float around, stay a generalist, coach all sorts of people about all sorts of topics.

I think that’s a good way to go if you haven’t consciously chosen to become an entrepreneur. You’re just trying this coaching skill set on. You don’t expect to earn much. You just love the process.

But if you want to leave your current job and make coaching your job … if you’re serious about being your own boss and being the director of your career why not give yourself all the advantages and take the time to niche your coaching business in a smart and profitable way?

It’s a strategic approach, and an internal shift as well, away from thinking like practitioner to becoming an entrepreneur. Treating your business as a living entity that grows and changes with you over time.

I’m about to illustrate the advantages that come with focusing your business on a unique audience and niche. And notice how one advantage leads to another.

One smart decision makes everything easier and empowers you for long term success and exciting turning points in your business and life that you can’t even imagine yet.

First a quick suggestion … if you are agonizing over your coaching niche fill out an application for FREE On Air Coaching.

The way On Air Coaching works is you and I have a private business coaching session that’s recorded and later that session is aired as an episode in this podcast series.

On Air Coaching is perfect for you if you are a trained coach who hasn’t yet landed your own profitable coaching niche.

It’s okay if you haven’t done anything yet to build your business.

It’s equally okay if you’ve tried one or more niches and, for whatever reason, it’s not working for you.

In our session I’ll ask you questions to uncover possibilities. We’ll identify a fantastic target audience for you, and brainstorm what they most want and how to apply your gifts and skills to help them get it.

Knowing your audience and niche will give you a profound sense of direction and focus for you coaching business.

So apply for On Air Coaching on my website at prosperouscoach.com/8.

I’d love to work with you.

Now let’s roll out this cascade of benefits you experience when you do choose a smart and profitable niche and focus your attention on one target audience:

#1 You Have a Solid Direction and Focus

I remember when I started coaching without a niche how aimless and lost I felt. Every day was a head scratch. My brain searching around for purchase. What should I do?

First, I went to friends and family to convince them to hire me — the low hanging fruit. But those clients didn’t stay long. And I didn’t have the heart to charge them much.

I also noticed how hard it was to get them to focus. They brought weak agendas. There wasn’t a clear enough goal or a big enough why. It was as if my lack of focus didn’t inspire them to commit to serious process or changes.

I came away with some fluffy testimonials about the value of my coaching but little sense of true impact.

After exhausting people I knew, I palpably experienced that uncomfortable sensation of having to beat the bushes to flush out potential clients.

My marketing was pitiful but I worked so hard trying to interest people in coaching.

Having a solid niche replaced that aimless, listless feeling with certainty and focus.

#2 Your Message Stands Out and Grabs Attention

It’s not easy to get attention these days. Humans are more distracted than ever.

We flop around social media and websites in a trance. The only thing that breaks that trance is relevance.

Have you noticed how much of the same message is out there and how quickly you skip over it?

But when someone hits a hot button for you, you snap to attention.

How do we as coaches hit the hot button in our messaging?

It’s not going to be by talking about coaching. Because only coaches and wanna-be coaches pay attention to those messages.

What is personally relevant to you is not personally relevant to everyone.

Our brains in a constant state of overwhelm only hone in on specific words, specific problems, specific desires that are urgent to us.

When you focus your business around a smart niche with a unique target audience suddenly you’re able to speak with relevance about what those people care about.

Relevance is how your message gets noticed, liked, shared.

#3 You Know What to Do Each Day

Because you’ve focused your attention on a unique target audience and found out their urgent challenges and desires, the spotlight comes off of you onto them.

And suddenly, marketing is no longer the big scary.

You know what to do.

And if you need help learning what to do, the money you spend on training applies now, because you are 100% clear about your audience and niche.

Suddenly, you have the understanding about where to go to find these people and the courage to speak in a way that attracts them.

You know what they want. You understand their problems. You know more about why they invest in their transformation.

And you’re no longer throwing out random messaging and offers like spaghetti and hoping it will stick.

#4 Your Marketing Efforts Are Leveraged (So You Can Market Less)

Over time your consistent messaging and strategic approach gains power and momentum.

Attention becomes interest and interest becomes engagement.

#5 You Become Known and Trusted By a Community of Engaged People

Trust turns engagement into investment … in your programs.

#6 You Get More Client Referrals

Because you’ve geared your offers to fit your audience’s challenges and goals, your coaching produces more than just warm fuzzy feelings.

Your clients are getting tangible results. The kind of results you can put into a testimonial on your website.

They will refer other people in the tribe to you. Not just a casual referral but a specific testimonial about how your program helped them.

#7 Prospects Seek You Out Already Pre-sold on Hiring You

You’re known, liked and trusted. You’re on the inside of your target audience now.

They Google and find you.

And when they arrive on your website they’ll go directly to your Work With page wanting to hire you.

#8 You Know How to Enroll Without Being Salesy

Enrolling is easy now. There’s no convincing. There’s just a connective conversation that helps ideal prospects to “YES”!

#9 You Command Higher Fees

You’re a leader now. A sought after guide.

Before you tell them your fees they know it will be a significant investment in their growth and they’re ready to leap.

#10 It’s Easier to Create Irresistible Products & Programs

With your experience coaching one target audience who have a set of unique challenges and goals, you grow expertise quickly.

And it’s easy to turn that expertise into workshops, masterminds, retreats and online products.

Write the book. Launch the podcast. Grow!

#11 Big Opportunities Find You

The natural result of your commitment and focus on one smart niche and narrow audience is invitations

Invitation to speak. Nominations to lead a larger group.

It’s surprise time. Your Magic is fully awakened and alive.

I’ve had clients who because they stood out in the crowd were provided platforms to get their word out in a massive way or offered jobs in coaching firms or brought internally into an organization to coach the organization.

Those opportunities don’t show up if you’re a tiny voice in a sea of voices all saying the same basic thing.

#12 You Build a Legacy Business

Coaches have been sponsored, televised and awarded all because they had the courage to niche, specialize and become an advocate for one narrow audience.

Coaches contribute to their families and their communities in major ways.

Some coaches build a business that employs dozens or hundreds. A business that can be sold for a windfall.

It all starts with a smart & profitable niche.

Mentioned in This Episode

My next episode is W/hy Do Some Coaching Niches Fail?

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!)