Ep 98 – How to Handle Difficult Coaching Clients

This is part of the series about Managing Coaching Clients. Find the show notes for this episode at prosperouscoach.com/98 and the whole series at prosperouscoach.com/manage.

This subject isn’t talked about much in the coaching world. But it is a real thing. I decided to be brave and broach the subject with you because I know, as a new-ish coach, you’ll appreciate the straight talk.

What I’ve discovered having conversations with therapists, lawyers and other coaches is that all professionals that serve people in a fairly intimate way, especially one to one, are likely to have difficulty with some clients.

I’m talking about the kind of difficulty that can ruin your day and raise dread for future conversations if you let it.

I’ve had my share of upsetting coaching sessions and coaching relationships over 20 years as a coach. I’ve flubbed up so many times, was inarticulate and cloddy in my attempt to clear the air.

Some situations have resulted in significantly improved — even excellent relationships. And some have ended the coaching relationship altogether.

You might be surprised that sometimes the best thing to do is part ways, hopefully respectfully.

Over time, as I’ve enrolled clients into longer term VIP and higher ticket programs, there’s been an increasing need to attract clients who are the right fit. I put a fair amount of energy into assessing fit.

And, I’ve made errors in judgment. What I mean is that I thought I’m a good fit for them and they are a good fit for me but I was wrong. This is a delicate balance because coaching or mentoring is an honored role and trust must go both ways for it to work well.

In the past, some of my clients have put me on a pedestal – not something I want or encourage. Perhaps it’s because I have a podcast and speak authoritatively or because I have decades of expertise and I’m helping coaches to launch their own business … there can be a perceived power differential. I did an episode about this which you can find at prosperouscoach.com/89

I prefer a collaborative relationship. More and more I verbally encourage my clients to self-advocate and to give feedback throughout our professional relationship.

I’m a highly sensitive person so if I let it, a difficult client relationship can literally make me sick. My body is a sensitive instrument that alerts me quickly if energy is off. So, true to my teacher archetype I’ve been studying this challenge and creating a process for myself.

I hope it will be helpful to you or that it sparks your own creation of a process you can rely on.

Avoid Labeling and Instead Reflect

So first, it’s best NOT to think of any human being as DIFFICULT. That or any label will bias your experience with the individual and inadvertently give you permission to turn off self-awareness.

Every coach knows this … it takes two to tango. There are two personalities in the room and each brings their communication weaknesses and crystalized beliefs, which are unhelpful.

Every coach knows this too … the only person you can change is yourself. So that’s your locus of control.

As soon as you realize something is off between you and your client, reflect on your own beliefs and behaviors first.

What is YOUR part in the difficulty?

4 Steps to a Clean Perspective About Your Coaching Relationship

#1 Separate facts from interpretation

This is a tried and true coaching technique. Jot down what has really happened, what was actually said and done by both of you. Separately write down your interpretation of that – your feelings and what the voice inside your head tells you is so. Look at this dispassionately and realize how far your interpretation goes to escalating the drama.

#2 Release your ego and attachment

It’s likely that whatever is going on is not directly about you. So release beliefs like “They don’t respect me.” “They don’t like me.”

#3 Raise compassion for you and them without assigning a story

Realize that your client has many things going on in their life that could affect coaching sessions. And realize that you too bring baggage to the table.

#4 Think through your next step

There are a few different things you can do when energy is awry with coaching clients, including doing nothing, saying nothing. With some of my clients time is the healer. We get to know each other, recognize and respect our diversity and find common ground without any kind of intervention. It’s just a matter of learning each other’s ways and making micro adjustments.

But sometimes intervention is needed.

Could it be very light? For example with one client I realized I wasn’t receiving feedback and she wasn’t celebrating her wins. There was a sense of dampened experience so I simply encouraged her to celebrate her wins and share her feelings. Soon, feelings of all sorts rolled out and the logjam was broken. She was real with me and took excellent care of herself. The energy shifted beautifully.

It’s important to remember that your clients are highly intelligent. Each individual is differently skilled. You and they may be compatible through difference rather than similarity.

It could be that a more earnest discussion may be needed. Invite your client to a conversation outside of session. Be direct while also owning your part. It’s not easy but you can do it. It might sound something like this …

“I’ve noticed this and also noticed it’s affecting me this way. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed anything and if it’s affecting you too? That will get the discussion going. You may be amazed at what comes out.

Encourage honesty. Share your truth without blame. If it feels possible, work towards specific agreements and encourage creative options.

For example, an option would be to take a short hiatus in the work for an agreed amount of time and both consider if the relationship and program is a good fit. If you come back together, make sure new agreements are in place that allow for honest feedback and healthy interaction.

If you decide to end the professional relationship, negotiate a partial refund.

I know this sounds very hard to do. But, as with all relationships, allowing dysfunction to go unspoken only causes more heartache.

I choose to believe that difficulties with clients are a wake up call for me. I clearly needed a nudge for some reason. Most often it’s about giving my power away. That may sound funny but when we give our power away it causes all sorts of upsets.

I’m not talking about power in the sense of lording it over someone but rather personal power in the sense of maintaining self-respect, integrity and self-love. A big life lesson for me is learning to stand fully in my power rather than second guessing my intuition or letting my desire to help others become a power leak.

I believe I’m not alone in this life lesson. Coaches are heart-full helpers and often over givers. I hope this helps you in some way with your clients. We are all creative, resourceful and whole even within a challenging relationship situation.

Ep 97 – What If Your Coaching Client Has Strong Emotions in Session?

This episode is super short and it’s part of the series called Manage Your Coaching Clients, which you can find at prosperouscoach.com/manage.

As a new coach, it can be unnerving if a client displays strong emotions.

Anger, frustration, guilt, grief, sorrow, intense excitement — they are all natural feelings that usually move on when a person can express them.

They don’t define your client or their future and rarely indicate that something is wrong.

And here’s the thing … even if something seems “wrong”, it’s not up to you to make it all better.

Don’t Take On Your Coaching Client’s Feelings

Deep and even dark feelings can herald the beginnings of transformation.

When your client feels deep feelings during a session try this:

  1. Hold space for them metaphorically to fully express their emotions.
  2. Don’t TAKE ON their feelings. If you notice that your body or emotions are affected do your best to release the energy while in session and then also after the session.
  3. Verbally share that this is a safe space for their feelings.
  4. Sense when the energy is shifting and check in with them.

Always validate your client’s feelings even if they make you uncomfortable or the feelings seem to be about you.

In another episode I’ll talk about processing your clients feelings about you. And for now I’ll emphasize that I’m not encouraging you to let client’s verbally abuse you. More on that another time.

Let Coaching Clients Cry If They Need To

Tears can be cleansing and healing in themselves. They can help emotions move out of the body.

Let your client know that you welcome their tears and consider them a self care practice. Encourage them to take their time. If through their tears and rants, you continually hold that they are creative, resourceful and whole, they will come through to the other side.

Ep 96 – Can You Want Too Much for Your Coaching Clients?

This episode is part of the series called Manage Your Coaching Clients, which you can find at prosperouscoach.com/manage.

I clearly remember a moment in the first few years of my coaching business where I was sharing with my mentor coach some feelings I was having about a client.

Then she asked me a powerful question:

Do you want more for your clients than they want for themselves?

That woke me up! I began to examine my motivations and set healthier boundaries for myself with clients.

Have you ever sensed that you might want too much for your clients?

Most new coaches fall into this trap on some level.

The trick is to let go of your desire to effect change ON your clients. In other words, don’t try to fix them or heal them.

Build up within yourself the belief that your client alone drives their desire and ability to change and grow. They have to want it!

2 More Powerful Questions

You can never know the path of another person.

If you try to anticipate and course correct for your client’s potential mistakes, are you keeping them from valuable experiences that may bring success more quickly?

Or, if you jump in to solve their problems and salve their hurts too vigorously, are you diminishing your clients personal power and inflating yours?

You can only answer this if you stay aware during your sessions and regularly examine your own motivations for what you say and do with your clients.

The real beauty of coaching is the co-creative relationship. Both coach and client focus collaboratively to draw out and utilize the client’s wisdom toward high payoff actions.

You, as a coach must trust that your client is creative, resourceful and whole. In other words they are fully capable of taking care of themselves.

But know this … you don’t have to hold back a well-placed and well-worded challenge to your client to shift their mindset or take a more powerful action. That’s excellent coaching! After you do that, let go of attachment.

In fact, I think that having a coaching business and working with clients is a never ending life lesson in letting go of your attachment. It’s a key to happiness!

3 Symptoms and Causes to Watch with Coaching Clients

Let’s explore the symptoms, causes and side effects when we want too much for our coaching clients.

Symptom #1: Over-delivering

Cause: You’re to find solutions for every issue raised, rather than focusing on one coachable moment that will move the client toward a perspective shift and the takeaway stated in their agenda.

Side effect: The client is overwhelmed.

They are overwhelmed by your desire to help them beyond their current level of commitment to help themselves. How are big problems solved? One small integrate-able step at a time. Support your clients to make leaps in their perspective and to make more progress on their own between sessions.

Symptom #2: You feel drained after a session

Cause: You have stepped outside of the co-creative role and pushed your energy onto the client in an effort to correct, fix or “save the client from themselves.”

Side effect: The client progresses slowly and you lose confidence.

At its best, coaching energizes both the client and the coach. Focus on listening closely for the client’s wisdom, using intuitive responses and questions to invite powerful shifts. Take it easy!

Symptom #3: You do the client’s work for them

Cause: You abandoned the co-creative role to influence the client from a consultative, teacher or parental role.

Side effect: The client is disempowered. You overwork for your fee.

A caveat here … I’m a trained coach and as I’ve gained expertise I’ve shifted my business to a more consultative approach. I mentor my clients and advise them on coaching niche development and all things coaching business related. I use coaching skills continuously with clients but I no longer characterize my sessions as coaching sessions because I do teach and guide during them.

If your business model and your offers deliver consulting on a specific expertise, teaching or training and you’re up front about that when you enroll a client, then you’ve covered the practical side of this. You’ve made a business decision.

But there’s still what goes on in your mind as you utilize coaching skills.

An excellent way to teach in your coaching business is through products, training programs public speaking and other forms of content — such as blogs, podcast episodes and videos —all designed for your target audience.

If your intention is to coach then as much as you can use powerful questions to draw out what your client thinks first. Provide short cuts and resources only after you’ve thoroughly drawn out and endorsed their own ideas. Never do their work for them just because you can.

In all of these cases, what’s being unknowingly sacrificed is the co-creative relationship — the very thing that makes coaching so powerful for clients!

In the Next Episode: What If Your Coaching Clients Has Strong Emotions During a Session?

Ep 95 – Is Coaching a Seasonal Business?

Recently I overheard a coach saying that her business had been doing well and then over the last two months everything came to an abrupt halt.

Prospects weren’t showing up. People stopped opening emails and engaging on social media. And her income slowed way down.

She was ready to give up on her business. And I thought to myselt, “Don’t do that! Instead accelerate and expand your efforts to attract ideal clients.”

Hearing her anxiety made me remember when I was a new coach. But here’s what I realized down the road. That daily pain I felt about fluctuations in my business came down to one mistake …

Taking things personally instead of responding strategically.

Do you know what I mean? If you are feeling blown around in the wind and like you have no control over your coaching business, it’s time for a mindset shift.

You Control Your Results in Your Coaching Business

Here’s the truth … you do have control over your business. Yes, you may need to may small incremental adjustment to help your coaching business thrive, but YOU hold the controls for the most part.

Think about it …

You control how often and how effectively you’re getting in front of your target audience. This is the first place to look if you’re not earning enough as a coach.

You control your fees, what value you deliver and can even have a significant influence over how attracted your audience is to what you offer.

If you haven’t heard it already, I have a whole series called Coaching Business Checkup with 9 episodes that go step by step into the most strategic things you can do before you launch your coaching business.

There’s also a downloadable self-assessment to test what’s working and what’s not working in your coaching business.

The Seasons of Your Coaching Business

All that said, there is one thing you can’t control. You cannot control a seasonal slow down.

But you can shift your mindset about how you respond it and even plan for it.

Depending on your target audience and the flow of their lives there may be a few times each year when paying clients will be less likely to hire you.

Typical slow down times relate to the school year:

  • Spring break
  • Late summer
  • Christmas and New Years

And then there’s events like major elections, such as the Presidential election coming up in the US.

Short-term stress leading up to and just beyond an election may mean people are less grounded to make big decisions. The stock market often dips then as well.

But don’t think that long-term stress has the same effect. It does not.

That’s why I don’t recommend that you hold off on launching your business or keeping it going during the pandemic.

Recently, I published an episode called Should You Launch Your Coaching Business at a Better Time. Find that at prosperouscoach.com/91. Give it a listen because there’s more insight in there about how we fool ourselves into thinking certain times aren’t good for running a coaching business.

How Can a Smart Coach Respond to Seasonal Slow Downs?

Plan both practically and emotionally for these slower times.

First, manage your money to prepare for a temporary doldrum. And work on your mindset so you don’t feel blown around and out of control.

For example, a typical response to school year related slow downs is to sit around and wait for things to improve.

A more decisive approach would be to plan vacation for those times.

But a different and more savvy approach is to use those slower times to plan and create more ambitious campaigns that you can launch when the slow down passes.

Just after the first week of September and the first week of January are the classic times in Western cultures when adults swing into action to improve their lives.

If you are extra active during those times you stand a good chance to win significant market share. By market share I mean attracting attention and inspiring people to hire you.

Look I know that phrase might make you wince. But truly, we all are vying for attention, including coaches and any other type of marketer, which is simply a person who has something valuable to offer and wants to let people know they exist.

That’s all marketing is. It’s communication. And it can be done in an authentic and non-salesy way.

To grab attention target a narrow audience and create a stand out niche so you’re not just another voice in an ocean of voices but rather a unique voice for a unique group with a highly valuable message that they want to hear.

The way I respond to shifts in the market place? Never stop publishing valuable content weekly and have smart systems in place to continually attract paying clients no matter what’s going on in the world.

This is a big part of what I help coaches to create in my 5 month VIP Coaching Business Breakthrough program.

So, as I say all of this about seasonality, consider not taking my word for any of it.

Do your own assessment of peaks and troughs in enrollment for your business. Give yourself a few years to track the flow and make micro adjustments in the way you do things.

But know this … most experienced business owners and marketers will tell you the key to success is consistency.

Stopping and starting your marketing in cycles could actually cause the slow down.

One last thing to contemplate … the pandemic has shifted normal peaks and troughs.

For me, April and May, normal robust times, were slow. Then surprisingly July and August of 2020 were my biggest enrollment periods ever in 20 years and it’s continuing with no slow down!

My theory is two things created this shift:

  1. Family vacations were cancelled, and
  2. The strong desire to break out of status quo during a global crisis

Isn’t it fascinating how the human mind works and what drives us to real change?

As a business owner your goal is to learn to be agile and move with the flow instead of against it or just let it push you around. You can do it!

In the Next Episode: Can You Want Too Much for Your Coaching Clients?

Ep 94 – Maybe You Don’t Need a Coaching Niche

When I help a new coach develop their audience, niche, brand, messaging, web copy and more … part of what I’m doing is helping them to become an entrepreneur – the CEO of their own business.

My goal with helping them niche first is not to limit them but rather to help them leverage and have a powerful springboard to launch. I know that if they stand out in the crowd they have a greater chance of being a financially successful coach more quickly.

There are coach mentors out there that say you don’t need a niche. I have a theory about that. I imagine that those people are what I call PURE COACHES. Hopefully, they have found their own success without a niche before they tell other coaches that they don’t need one.

Which Coach Archetype Fits You?

I’ve published a previous episode called Which Coach Archetype Fits You?  Youcan find that at prosperouscoach.com/12. It’s worth a listen.

By observing successful coaches over 2 decades I cam up with 5 main archetypes for coaches … the Teacher (that’s my archetype), the Healer, the Icon, the CEO and the Pure Coach.

The first 4 archetypes are born entrepreneurs:

The 5th archetype, The Pure Coach, wants to coach anyone about anything. Their goal is to coach and not necessarily to earn well of have a say of how they earn well.

A side point here … I think a lot of coaches that are still in coaching training school or just out have this in mind at first. I know I did. I was enamored about the idea of coaching and I had little understanding of how I’d get clients or earn well as coach.

Like a lot of coaches I tried to sell coaching by the session or by the month to everyone. I didn’t know that coaching is a hard sell in most circles. I had a few clients and my first year I made a total of $5000.

That did not satisfy me and I wasn’t going to give up. So I sought another way.

I realized that I had a lot to learn so I studied my way to success.

Lo and behold I love running my own business. And I don’t even mind marketing because I get to do it in a non-salesy way such as with this podcast where I can teach and provide value while I let you know that I’m here to help you launch your coaching business.

The Pure Coach

The Pure Coach is someone who is not driven by a desire to put their own ideas or messages out there. They don’t care about having creative control of their own business.

In fact, for a Pure Coach being an entrepreneur might be torture.

A Pure Coach tends to become a devotee of a certain coaching model or a certain set of principles taught by someone else.

Think … John Marshall or Tony Robbins.

  • The Pure Coach wants someone to funnel clients to them rather than attract their ideal type.
  • They don’t want to market or publish content EVER!
  • They would be happiest applying someone else’s approach to work with each client for however long.
  • They would be fine with someone else setting their fees and setting the rules.

I don’t know a lot about getting a position as a coach within an organization as I’ve never done it and never had the desire to do it.

However, I’ve had a few Tony Robbins coaches come to me thinking they should “graduate” from that to having their own business so they can earn more. They are being paid a cut of the whole fee and it doesn’t feel like much.

They wanted my help to niche and build their solo business.

For some, we quickly found out with a little coaching that they really did NOT want to be an entrepreneur. It’s not for everyone. It’s a certain kind of risk and reward.

I want you to know that I LOVE entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. I also love coaches. And I want coaches to find their way to financial success and feel proud of their work. It doesn’t have to be my way. And I do have a way that works.

In the Next Episode: Is Coaching a Seasonal Business?

Ep 93 – Bring Your Full Self to Your Coaching Business

Having a coaching business may be the only income-producing role in your life where you get to bring your full personality, values and life experience together to serve others.

You get to be authentic and vulnerable.

Sure, you put your best foot forward whenever you can. But you don’t have to pretend or puff yourself up.

You don’t have to build a persona but rather draw from and OWN all that you are.

Human beings tend to forget to OWN their intrinsic value and earned wisdom.

Truly, if you’ve never had a paying client before you can be honest about that.

In fact, I suggest to my clients to say with their first coaching prospects “I’d love it if you’d be one of my first clients!” It takes the pressure off. And your prospect will appreciate your honesty.

But you say it with enthusiasm for the person you’re enrolling and what you offer, right?

Build Your Coaching Business On Your Values

I took my training at Coach U, one of the first coaching schools, which was created by Thomas Leonard, who is often called the father of modern coaching.

He was known for an abundance of short pithy exercises. I received by mail 10 pounds of notebooks full of his exercises and curriculum!

His concept was that anything you did with a client you should first do yourself. In other words be just one step ahead and make sure your come from is authentic.

One exercise was meant to identify core and business values. Maybe you’ve even seen this exercise or a derivative of it out there somewhere in the coaching sphere.

I’ll never forget that exercise because I learned principles about myself that have never sent me in the wrong direction — that is, whenever I let them guide me.

For example … I realized that money is not in itself important to me. However EARNING is a core value. It’s important to me to deliver great value in exchange for my income.

See I crave independence in thought and action and the ability to choose what’s right for me moment to moment.

Those values made me a perfect candidate for entrepreneurship … for developing my own coaching business.

Sometimes, I’ve gone astray from my values trying to implement something that I saw other coaches do.

Sound familiar?

Through trial and error and a desire to serve myself while serving others I’ve found what fits me better.

Over the years I’ve made adjustments in my business to find my sweet spot – the way I love to work, when I want to work and who I want to work with. All of that is possible by making micro adjustments.

It takes time to find your sweet spot.

With my VIP clients we do much to uncover the clues to their sweet spot. But I also know that it’s a journey that’s worth the exploration.

And this is part of what it means to bring your full self to your business.

I think that being an entrepreneur and running a business is a spiritual journey.

If you have a big message you can put that out in an honoring way that fits your target audience. It could be that you launch your own podcast or get on a stage with that message.

Or it may be in a more quiet way where as it fits, you bring that message to a client in session.

How else can you create freedom in your coaching business to fully be yourself?

Look … you can dress the way you want. Let your freak flag fly. And you don’t need to worry about what people are going to think because the name of the game is attract YOUR people, your tribe.

I’m not a good fit for every coach. And you don’t need to try to be a good fit for everyone in your audience. This is the secret of niching that a lot of people don’t know … you want to become known for serving a micro audience because it helps you thrive.

Decide The Size of Your Coaching Empire

You can morph it as you go. I encourage my clients to start with 1:1 services and then build from there, as they feel called. But you may never need to do anything more elaborate than 1:1.

Beware of doing what everyone else says you should do. Just because there’s an exciting online training program about creating an online training program don’t feel you have to go there.

The reality is you can earn more with less labor and costs with 1:1. It’s the simplest coaching business model. I learned that through trial and error too.

I have adapted my business to fit who I am now. I’m on Prosperous Coach version 6.0 in 20 years.

Some jobs allow for some of that personal growth but most can’t allow you to do that fully because they have a internal structure, a hierarchy and proscribed ways of doing things.

NOW with your coaching business you can make and control all of those decisions.

Bring it! Bring your expertise, work experiences, life wisdom, skills, passions & interests to your business. It doesn’t have to be THE focus or your niche but rather something you bring to your client in the moment.

Consider What’s In Your Coaching Toolbox

Let’s say you’ve studied yoga and meditation. That doesn’t mean you have to be a yoga coach or meditation expert. Instead look for the opportunities with your target audience where that insight or practice will help them achieve their goals. Make those thing part of your toolbox instead of your specialty.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still believe it helps to target a narrow audience, to find out what they want so much they’ll invest in your help to get it. This is your niche. And niching helps you stand out, grab attention and grow your business faster than if you just do the life coach, career coach or wellness coach track thing.

Targeting and niching is about building a pipeline of clients. It’s about EASE and speed so you can earn more and market less.

How you work with your paying clients is up to you. And that’s where your uniqueness, your message and your style all come into play.

And play it is!

So, how will you make your business YOURS?

How can you bring your fully authentic self to this?

For a clue, think about how you’ve been limited in a previous role or business. What are the ways that you chafed against some boundary or rule? 

How could you give yourself freedom of expression while you serve?

Your coaching business is the opportunity of a lifetime to bring all that you are and all that you know to the table.

In the Next Episode: Maybe You Don’t Need a Coaching Niche

Ep 91 – Should You Launch Your Coaching Business at a Better Time?

I hope a day will come very soon when new listeners come across this episode and Corona Virus is a dim memory.

I dream of that day when we’re all free to hug, hang out without distancing and go to work and school safely.

At this point, the pandemic has been going on a lot longer than we all imagined.

Many coaches are hesitating to launch their business even though they are as ready as they will ever be.

They are thinking:

“It’s not a good time to launch a business because no one can afford the services I offer.”

This misunderstanding is why I wanted to do a mini episode on this topic.

Should You Launch Your Coaching Business Now?

So, you probably know what I’m going to say … YES! Now is always the best time to launch your business!

You can’t let global crises shut you down.

In fact, it’s just the opposite.

During a crisis is THE best time to be doing meaningful work. It’s THE best time to get your messages and offers out into the market place. It’s THE best time to respond to your calling.

Why?

2 Reasons Why Now is the Best Time to Launch Your Coaching Business

  1. YOU deserve to be doing whatever will bring you the most joy as soon as you can.
  2. It’s during a crisis that people become more serious about making positive lifetime changes.

Think about it … if your prospects are seekers — people who do invest in their personal or professional growth — they are looking around them right now and thinking: “This is not what I’m supposed to be doing.”

That dream for something better … a healthier body, a more dynamic career, to become their own boss, to improve their marriage, to help their kids thrive — whatever specific BIG PROBLEM has been dogging them is now fully in their face. We are all facing what is dysfunctional about us during this crisis.

It’s painful. That issue becomes ACUTE rather than chronic.

They think … “What am I waiting for? Life is precious! I won’t stop myself from what I want any longer!” And the old tapes that used to play in their heads during the status quote get replace “Get off your butt and make things happen!”

You see, crisis wakes people up. When things are easier, human beings get lulled to sleep. They live in a well worn groove on default mode.

But when the day to day chaos is shaken up, that’s when human beings rise up out of their stupor.

For my business, the first two months of the pandemic were a bit quiet and then it was like the flood gates opened. I’ve never had so many sign ups, inquiries and enrollments as I have now. My income is higher than ever. Demand for working with me is off the charts.

That could be you.

I’ve talked to other coaches who say their business is at an all time high.

And we’ve looked back at earlier crises together and realized the same thing. Remember the financial crisis of 2008. It affected nearly every country drastically. My business surged then too.

Here’s the other thing you might not realize if you haven’t owned a business before … it’s smart to get to the market fast.

The information age makes it much harder to be unique and to stand out. If you wait to get out there someone else may fill your shoes.

And I realize some people are overwhelmed with kids at home and not in the school building during the day or other challenges during this time. Waiting is never the best option unless you simply don’t have the bandwidth to make this happen. That’s about you personally not about what’s going in world.

So don’t use what’s going in the world as your excuse to do nothing.

That’s why I say if you’re as ready as you will ever be JUMP in my friend. The water is fine. If you want to jump in but you’re afraid to, let’s talk.

Grab a Strategy Session and we’ll coach around the blocks in the way and look at your readiness for the marketplace.

In the Next Episode: A Sad Preventable Thing Happens To Too Many Coaches

Ep 90 – Test Your Coaching Niche with 4 Powerful Questions

This episode is part of the Smart & Profitable Coaching Niche series. And … it has eye opening questions to help you test the viability of your coaching niche. So test your niche with those questions, which you can find in the Show Notes for this episode at prosperouscoach.com/90

By the way, there are 14 episodes in that niche series – lots of intel for you —so if you’re having trouble choosing a viable target audience and developing a niche that solves a BIG enough problem so clients pay you well, check that whole series out.

It’s easy to miss the earlier episodes if you are new to listening to Prosperous Coach Podcast.

I decided to take a break from the Client Management series because there’s a louder cry out there in the coaching community for help to choose a coaching niche.

I have several clients who are still enrolled in coach training and they tell me that the other coaches are really struggling with all the business steps especially the niche part.

What usually happens is coaches create a website first, which is really just an online brochure about coaching and not super effective before they think to choose a unique target audience or find out what those people want so much they’ll invest in help to get it.

It makes me wince because I know that website is likely a waste of money and effort. Audience and niche come before any other actions – before websites, blogs or social posts.

When coaches ask me in a Strategy Session:

“Is this a good coaching niche?”

What they really want to know but don’t know to ask is:

Will focusing my energy this way repay me with a consistent flow of clients who are willing to invest?

That’s the 6-figure question!

Choosing your niche is a critical decision to get your coaching business right from the get go. It’s the true north for your financial success.

Without that direction and focus your messages and offers will be vague and won’t capture attention. Which means you won’t have that consistent flow of paying clients.

What is a Coaching Niche?

It has 3 critical parts and most coaches miss two of those.

  1. Choosing a NARROW target audience.
  2. Knowing what they want so much they’ll invest in your help to achieve it.
  3. Applying your special talents and skills to help that audience overcome BIG problems as they reach that goal.

So a viable and profitable coaching niche is the intersection of those 3 things. If you’re missing one piece then you don’t have a profitable niche.

Do You Really Need a Coaching Niche?

Of course, I’ll say YES emphatically! Ultimately, there are 12 smart reasons to niche and they boil down to this:

  • Ease
  • Reach
  • Profitability

We choose a niche so we can market less, earn more and help more people transform. It goes a long way towards making you credible early on in your coaching business.

If your intention is to build a solid long-term coaching business that you can rely on for a satisfying income, it’s worth it to choose wisely now before you invest time, money and energy on your branding and marketing.

A smart niche helps you to:

  • Quickly become a coach in high demand through momentum.
  • Leverage your efforts and contextualize your messages and offers, instead of being all over the place.
  • To command higher fees.

Test the viability of your current coaching niche with these 4 powerful questions.

Stand Out in the Crowd

POWERFUL QUESTION #1:

Does your coaching niche help you stand out in the crowd?

If yes, give yourself 2 POINTS.

If not, consider narrowing your niche before you go much further.

There are more service entrepreneurs than ever before. And they are all vying to get attention online and offline. People only pay attention to the messages that speak specifically to their most important desires and problems. Everything else is ignored or deleted.

Think about it … isn’t it true? If you’re on Instagram or Pinterest or Facebook you’re scrolling like mad until you see something that speaks directly to you. You don’t give attention to 95% of what scrolls by.

As a coach, if someone is talking about coaching you’re listening because it’s high up on your list of favorite topics. But if you’re talking about coaching to a general audience and not contextualizing that message to fit their specific problems and goals, then no one will pay attention to what you’re saying except for other coaches.

You, just like everyone else, are out there seeking SPECIFIC information. Let’s say you see messages about coaching niches right at the time when you are struggling with that challenge.

BOOM! Your attention magnifies and you are reading, engaging, possibly even clicking through to take action such as sign up for a guide, listen to a podcast episode or enroll!

For that reason, it’s critical to go beyond identifying your coaching track — such as relationship, wellness, business coaching. This is all the further into considering their niche that most coaches do.

You can do far better than that!

Refine your niche in 3 additional ways:

  1. Choose one narrow audience that’s easy to find.
  2. Zone in on one specific hot problem or urgent goal that audience faces.
  3. Customize all your messages and offers to help them achieve that outcome.

That’s how you’ll:

  • Get noticed.
  • Build rapport quickly.
  • And continuously enroll clients that are eager to develop themselves.

New Coaching Client Accessibility

POWERFUL QUESTION #2:

Can you easily find hundreds of your prospects in your audience right now?

If yes, give yourself 4 POINTS.

If not, your niche audience probably isn’t viable.

Having a viable niche feels like you have access to a deep and reliable well full of potential clients. You’ll never go thirsty for clients.

Some niche audiences are “overdrawn”. For example, the large group of Entrepreneurs or Small Business Owners is barraged with messages from all angles.

If you want to serve entrepreneurs or business, give yourself the advantage of narrowing to a specific industry or type of business owner or specific problem and outcome. Pick a unique topic critical to that group that hasn’t been claimed out there yet. You’ll differentiate yourself from all of the other providers for entrepreneurs and they’ll be willing to co-promote with you.

When I started coaching coaches, which was a natural thing because I wrote curriculum for a popular coach training program, I just offered myself as a coach for coaches. But there were so many other people offering that who had more experience and a higher profile than I did that I wasn’t getting enough tractions.

And then I realized that even though I can help coaches with every aspect of building their business and do, if I spoke more often about the challenge of choosing a profitable coaching niche I would stand out. And I have for 2 decades now. Imagine the cache of that?

That’s what you want to do with your chosen unique audience.

Targeting a narrow audience gives you a boost, especially if there are already events, associations and publications designed for them.

Know What Your Audience Wants

POWERFUL QUESTION #3

Do you know exactly what your target audience wants so much that they’ll invest to get it?

If yes, give yourself 3 POINTS.

If not, dig deeper before you launch your coaching business.

With a bit of fun market research it’s easy to find out exactly what your target audience wants (instead of what you think they need). That’s different! When your messages and offers reflect their top goals, you earn their trust. They feel understood and want to work with you.

You know this … people reach for professional support when they have a big goal to achieve or a painful problem to solve or both. The more acute their problem or goal, the more they are willing to invest.

A niche like Women in Transition doesn’t usually pay off because it’s trying to cover too much ground. Imagine how narrowing to one specific type of transition — first time pregnancy, re-entering the work force, or menopause — would help you standout with that audience?

Reality Check on Your Coaching Niche

POWERFUL QUESTION #4

Would you invest in what you’re offering if you were your target audience?

If yes, give yourself 1 POINT.

If no, your current niche might not earn well.

If you, in all your years, would not have invested your time and money in the solution you’re offering, it won’t inspire your audience either. For example, if your niche is Stay at Home Moms, you may have already realized that they love you and your free stuff but they aren’t likely to take a greater step. That’s because, first and foremost, they spend their money on their kids.

Refine that audience or choose a better one. You can do it!

How Did Your Coaching Niche Test Out?


8-10 POINTS = You’re on track for a profitable niche!
6-7 POINTS = Test your niche in the marketplace to see if it pays off or refine now for the best bet.
0-5 POINTS = Choose a better niche for long-term success.

Hey, if your niche didn’t do well on the coaching niche test, consider having a Strategy Session with me. It’s a private 90 minutes session with me, the Coaching Niche Strategist. I’ll send you exercises before we meet and then we’ll dig in during the session.

In the Next Episode: Should You Launch Your Coaching Business at a Better Time?