Ep 142 – How Long Will It Take to Reach Coaching Business Success?

I was having the last session of my signature program with a favorite client the other day. This short episode is inspired by that conversation. Find the show notes at prosperouscoach.com/143

It’s bittersweet having a final session with a client. For them, they’re losing an accountability partner and the structure that helps them stay inspired and make things happen. From here on out they’ll have to hold themselves accountable.

For me, I lose their unique presence in my life session-to-session. I’ve been holding space for their growth. I’ve been responsive to emails and getting comfortable with their learning style, their work style.

All my clients are truly brilliant in their own way. And I come to feel a kinship with them.

My signature program is 5 months long so I have the honor of seeing my clients transform – not only the nuts and bolts of their niche, business model, website and program but also in mindset and approach.

There’s a lot of teaching and learning. That goes both ways.

For most of my clients there’s enough room in my program for at least one pick-my-brain session. You know, they ask me a bunch of questions about little things related to client management and the like. Little details from an experienced coach that help them avoid pitfalls or shorten more learning curves.

And sometimes it’s the big questions that get asked. The ones on every coach’s mind but they are afraid to ask until the last minute. Not because they are intimidated but because we’re busy work-shopping their business from the ground up.

So this client, a smart man with a family, full time job and the chutzpah to start a business of his dreams asked me the ubiquitous question that has no satisfying answer.

It goes something like this … how long will it take me to be successful? He said with humor in voice. Is it three months, six months, two years?

Here’s more or less what I said:

Yes. All of that and more. At three months and before you’ll have a slice of success. At six months if you’re consistent and congruent, leveraging what we’ve created, you’ll have bigger successes.

Success comes moment to moment and you must celebrate those moments. Because if you do not, the long-term success you crave won’t arrive.

Your business is your baby. It’s like a living entity – a part of you. And you need to nurture that baby every day so you can attract good things – a following, social proof, Discovery Calls, ideal clients and of course the income comes with that.

If you neglect that baby it won’t thrive.

And here my client said something like “Yeah but with a kid don’t they eventually grow up?” And we laughed about that.

It gets easier but they are always your child. And with each phase you need to learn how to parent differently, right? You adjust as they grow.

With a business as with a child they grow as you grow,  you grow as they grow. You calibrate to the new phase. You learn what works and what doesn’t. You learn to live with limitations.

Successes happen. Then things change and you have to figure out the new way. Test and tweak. Incremental improvement.

There is no magic number. Could I say it takes about 18 months? I could, but that might not be true for every coach with every target audience, with every skillset. All coaches are different. And just like happiness success is transitory.

It took me years to find my sweet spot — I mean the combination of everything that works best for me. Do I get that all the time? No.

And I’m probably on version 8 or 10 of my business after 24 years. I’m not talking about major do-overs here. I’m talking about stretching and innovating, trying and failing, adjusting and finding a better way.

This is what we do in life. This is what every business is like. Whether it’s a solo coach or a big corporation, a boutique business or a mid-sized empire. Every business grows at the pace of its founder or teams. Every business grows according to the ability to adapt.

The most important thing right now is to do something everyday to grow your business. It might be as small as a social post or as big as doing a TED Talk. Find the way to attract your audience. Dedicate yourself like you wish you dedicated yourself to being healthy.

You have a solid business foundation now with a niche that’s uniquely yours. It’s your baby. Celebrate the baby steps. That will condition you to succeed in a bigger way.

So then my client told me that he truly gets my podcast episode sign off now — Stay inspired and make things happen.

He said: “It’s not stay inspired OR make things happen. I need to do both.” That’s right!

Ep 136 – The Downside of Coaching for Corporations

This episode is for those thinking they’ll make a lot more money coaching for corporations.

I had a Strategy Session recently with a client to help him choose his target audience and niche. We were discussing whether he wanted to target individuals or corporations.

I asked that because I could see his expertise and interests were centered on helping execs develop talent.

At first he wasn’t sure so I told him the pros and cons of targeting corporations. Mainly, it’s about the hassle factor.

When a corporation hires you you will likely have to:

  • Compete for the many corporate and executive coaches plus coaching firms.
  • Write proposals and give presentations to get the contract.
  • Invoice the organization and be paid slowly.
  • Be certified by the International Coach Federation or another well-known accreditor.
  • Have significant expertise in corporate and possibly in the roles you’ll coach.
  • Possibly report to the supervisor or HR department about your progress.
  • And likely not be able to hold all confidences.

Not to mention that you will have to charge market rates.

All of that boils down to giving up a lot of control — of your income, your hours, what you deliver and how.

Also, you’ll need to market to the decision maker — the person who will evaluate and hire you — rather than the individual or groups you coach. You’ll need your website and other messaging to be about the outcomes the corporation wants not the individuals.

A lot of people believe that you can earn significantly more money with corporate contracts. Not necessarily true.

You may earn more for a set term or contract but only if you don’t charge higher prices for work you do with individuals.

I advocate that coaches create a long term, high ticket Signature Program and provide a VIP service to individuals. You’ll only need a handful of clients each year and can earn well.

Me? I like to control every aspect of my business. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to work for myself.

I want to decide exactly how I’ll work with clients, what I’ll charge, when I work and who I serve. A good fit is important. That won’t be 100% possible with corporate coaching.

With corporate coaching you may not have control over any of those things.

I also really appreciate that the people I serve and also the people that invest in working with me. I find they are highly dedicated to the process and their own success. Whereas sometimes when someone else is paying for the services the individual you coach is not fully invested.

Think about it … when you pay out of your own pocket you’re a lot more motivated to squeeze all the juice out of the experience.

All that said … I realize that for some your skills, background and passions may be perfect for corporate coaching. So, if you decide to go that way do your best to have control over your business.

The best way to do that is to narrow your focus. That’s right … niche down.

Rather than trying to do everything for all corporate employees, specialize. If you become known for offering something no one else does in the corporate arena, and it’s something that is highly prized by decision makers, you’ll have more control.

That Strategy Session client? That’s what he decided. To avoid the dog and pony show he’s targeting mid-size businesses in a certain industry.

These businesses don’t have internal human development departments. They aren’t snobby about certifications. They want competent help and will recognize it by the fact that he speaks their language and understands what’s in the way of their big goals. Smart!

That’s how you stand out!

Ep 130 – A Surprising Way to Boost Your Coaching Income

This episode is short and eye opening.

The other day I was helping one of my VIP clients set her fees for her Signature Program and our conversation inspired this episode.

Anything having to do with money in your coaching business such as income and fees brings up old emotions:

  1. Fear of succeeding and failing.
  2. Insecurity about worth.
  3. Family or cultural beliefs about money.
  4. Fear of rejection.
  5. And, mistaken assumptions about why people buy.

I always encourage my clients to “do the math” rather than choose fees emotionally or based on erroneous ideas about what the market will bear.

By becoming somewhat dispassionate and stepping into the practical coaches can begin to understand how they can help themselves earn well.

Setting low fees is the most common way that coaches shoot themselves in the foot. Another way is by not setting goals. And coaches aren’t the only ones who fail to set business goals.

Why don’t people set financial and other metric goals for their business?

Well, it’s the same 5 reasons I listed above — fears, insecurities, learned beliefs and mistaken assumptions.

But here’s what I know for sure … if you do NOT set goals you’ll fail to grow your coaching business income. If you do set goals you will earn more. It’s as simple as that.

Let’s say in the first full year of your coaching business you don’t set any goals. Instead you just hope for the best and serendipitously earn $25,000 (for simplicity I’m talking dollars here).

Now let’s say you, in an alternative universe, risk setting a stretch goal to earn $100,000 in that first year and you earned $75,000. Would you beat yourself up about that? No, you’d be thrilled! And you’d be inspired to consider what worked and what didn’t work in your strategy.

The point of goals is not to beat yourself up if you don’t make the goal. The point to goals is to stretch yourself and to think through how you’ll make the goal.

Strategy is what brings about financial success. You’ll not only set financial goals but other metric goals too, such as how many Discovery Calls you want to have with prospects (because that’s the enrollment opportunity) and how many podcast episodes about what topics would inspire your audience to have the Discovery Call with you.

Goal-less business is not really a business at all. It’s a hobby.

Don’t let fears or limiting beliefs keep you from setting goals for your coaching business. Set the goal then plan how you’ll make the goal. Then celebrate your results, even if you didn’t make the stretch goal, and assess what worked and what didn’t. That’s how you step into the CEO role of your own business and thrive!

Ep 111 – Smart and Not So Smart Coaching Business Expenses

This episode is inspired by a smart question from one of my VIP clients.

So I’m going to reveal where expenses go for my coaching business. And while I’m at it, I’ll share common expense pitfalls for coaches and finance savvy mindset tips.

I know this might seem boring but earning well is not boring. Losing profit after all you work feels like a tragedy. Don’t go there.

Reading the show notes for this episode will be especially helpful because I’ll list the sources of my expenses but I’m not going to bore you by listing them out verbally. Find those complete show notes at prosperouscoach.com/111.

Bright Shiny Apps & Services Steal Your Coaching Profits

First let’s talk about not-so-smart uses of your money for your coaching business.

There are multitudes of ads for bright shiny apps and services coming at you in your inbox and on social media. And in a moment of scarcity thinking you might be tempted to buy one, and another, and then another.

You know, you might think something like “maybe THIS will make the difference in my business”. That can be a dangerous thought.

Those seemingly little $10/month and $20/month expenses quickly add up to thousands of dollars annually that your earnings might not cover. So think smart and choose wisely.

It’s so tempting as a new coach to get services for online client portals, social media time saving apps, virtual assistants, bookkeepers and all sorts of extras that in the long run probably won’t add enough value to help you earn more.

Keep Your Business Low Labor and Low Overhead

Design your business to run lean. That doesn’t mean being cheap with your business. The old penny wise pound foolish adage applies.

Smart expenses are those that save you significant time so you can serve clients more efficiently and earn more. But it takes some trial and error to learn how to invest money only where it really counts.

Be strategic with this rule:

Only invest in what you need right now

not what you think you might need someday.

Regularly dump apps and services that aren’t helping you earn more. If you have a low-income month or year, it could partially be that you’re spending too freely.

Think twice about the fancy, expensive coaches portal or top of line email campaign service. You don’t need those.

Here’s a tip … if you’re 100% sure you like an app or service and it’s truly helping your bottom line then opt for annual payments for as many expenses as you can instead of monthly because you’ll save a lot.

Startup Expenses Are Higher

Investing in your business is not only necessary, but it’s a privilege. Think of expenses for useful services as a blessing that helps you thrive. Pay for them with gratitude.

For example, significant investment goes into coach training (the vocational skills side of your business) and for hiring a business mentor like me to help you get everything set up right the first time (which is the strategic side of your business).

Also I think it’s wise to invest in a good web designer who is also a coder to create a WordPress website for you. Doing your own site on Wix or Squarespace may come back to bite you now or later.

It is not unusual to spend $25,000 out of pocket before you earn much as a coach. So don’t let anyone make you feel bad about start up expenses. It’s normal for ALL businesses and entrepreneurs. But do choose wisely.

Don’t Waste Money on These Expenses

Finance experts say your expenses should be no more than 30% of total revenue. But imagine your profits if you could cut expenses down to only 10%? That’s doable. Check out Episode 5 about The Simplest Coaching Business Model. It’s one of my most listened to episodes.

By design, my business model is high on profit and low on labor and expenses. And that’s what I teach my VIP clients to create in my Coaching Business Breakthrough program.

I administrate nearly every aspect of my business myself. Once you learn how it’s fast and easy.

For a few years I’d had a bookkeeper. No more, I just use Quickbooks. A one time expense and an hour each month of my own time is far better than spending thousands monthly.

Virtual Assistants are also expensive and most don’t save you time unless you opt for a more complex business model with online products, training, webinars etc. Those things greatly reduce your profits unless you get into the business of expanded promotion, which frankly wore me out and brought me no joy.

I think it’s better to work a 30 hour week earning $200K and keep 90% of it than to work a 60 hour week earning $500K and keep only 50% of that. But that’s me.

I do most of my website updating and all of my podcast tasks. I have it all streamlined.

I also don’t advertise. Look … what I do and what you do can’t effectively be advertised.

So instead of blowing money on ads, have a strong content strategy. Put out an excellent weekly podcast episode or video. That’s how you attract ideal clients because if they like you and trust you they’ll want to work with you.

Ads do not build trust!

My annual business expenses for this past year were $6,000. That may sound high but it’s really not when you consider that as well as the monthly or annual costs for apps to run my business and podcast, it also includes:

  • cell phone and internet costs
  • CPA for tax prep
  • web design
  • computer consultant services

If I remove those things my total expenses this past year were only $3300 or an average of $275 per month.

I hope this inspires you to run a lean business and keep your business model simple. It’s a great life!

Here’s a list of my expenses for your interest:
Web Domain fees – GoDaddy is usually less than $10 per domain and you don’t need any bells & whistles they try to sell you like privacy, email and web hosting.

Web Hosting – I use A2 Hosting because they aren’t a huge company and don’t drive me crazy trying to sell me stuff no one needs.

Email Campaign Company – I swear by Aweber’s excellent customer service at $179 per year.

Podcast Hosting – I love Buzzsprout for their high customer service at $12 per month.

Internet fees – You can deduct ½ of your internet fees on taxes each year.

Mobile Phone – I use my cell phone for business and personal and can deduct ½ the charges

Credit card fees – After much research and trial I use PayPal to collect fees and pay 2.5%. I’ve found that no fee solutions or low fee solutions have huge hassle factors.

Scheduling system – TimeTrade is what I use and one of the best and least expensive out there. I’m grandfathered in at $40 per year.

Password System  – LastPass keeps my passwords easily accessible for $37 per year.

CPA – My expenses for tax prep run about $300 per year I stay with free services for Canva, Dropbox and a few others because I try to stay away from monthly fees which add up fast.

In the Next Episode: Fall Back in Love with Your Coaching Business

Ep 106 – Can You Manifest Coaching Business Success with Your Mind?

I’m going to share something deeply personal in this episode, which is super short. This is part of my Money Master series.

When I launched Prosperous Coach in 2006, I was a new student of prosperity. At that time I called myself a spiritual coach and the basis of my work with other coaches was about the power of prosperity thinking combined with strategic actions.

I created a membership program with 22 weeks of study called The Coaches Power Path.

I stumbled upon a book that made a big impression on me called True Prosperity by Yehuda Berg. The concepts in the book are based on the Kabbalah – the word literally means receive.

His idea is that fear of success is inverted ego.

Fear is not a wall keeping you from what you want but rather fear arises to pinpoint what you need to focus on.

Fast forward many years … now I have a few practices for my business that I believe help me focus on what I want and to detach from outcome. They reduce stress and worry while setting strong intentions.

Am I a master at these practices? No. I’m still a student of prosperity continually working on removing mental blocks about my own success. It’s good work that takes time.

And … this is important … I’m not a believer that it’s wise to sit on a cushion all day and think prosperity into existence.

My idea is that I EARN fulfillment

through both strategic actions and beliefs.

To assist the process I’ve devised a few rituals. Carl Jung said something like … rituals are how the conscious mind communicates with the unconscious mind.

So at the risk of you thinking I’m a kook, I’ll now share 4 things I do ritualistically:

1. When I receive a notification that someone has subscribed to my podcast, I greet the person in my mind and send wishes that they:

  • get great value from listening to my podcast
  • are inspired to share my podcast with other coaches
  • rate and review my podcast positively, and
  • invest in my services IF we are an ideal fit.

I end by saying “For the highest good of all and the free will of all.”

2. When someone applies to work with me I pause to acknowledge their courage for reaching out. I read what they’ve shared and respond quickly and personally. I send energy with my response that they only enroll if we are an ideal fit. I’ve created a thoughtful list of what makes a client ideal for me.

3. When money arrives – whether in my bank account, a notice of fee payment in PayPal or an actual check – I pause and feel gratitude. I receive it.

4. When I pay bills – even if it’s a notice of an automatic payment – I feel grateful for the privilege of that service.

There are some days when I don’t feel like taking the time for these rituals. But I do them anyway. Because consistency is the power behind the practice. I’ve noticed a stark difference between the periods of time when I’ve let the practices slip or done them habitually. There’s an overall decrease of stress and financial worry and a dramatic increase of ideal client and income flow.

Now, what practice or set of rituals could you put in place that will help you manifest your coaching business success?

In the Next Episode: 7 Tips to Keep Coaching Clients Happy and Coming Back

Ep 58 – Start Planning For Profit In Your Coaching Business

This episode is part of my Money Mastery series.

I’m about to suggest a new mindset and practice that will help you take a big leap in the amount of money you earn from your coaching business — even if you’re a brand new coach.

It’s all about taking yourself seriously as a business owner and graduating from that hobby-like coaching business to what’s called a going concern – a sustainable business that reliably provides for you and your family.

There are two parts to this episode. In the first I’ll explain the 3 phases of coaching business development. You’ll see why soon. 

The second part is about planning. Are you wincing at that? Planning to earn could actually mean that you do earn and earn well.

I’m purposefully keeping this part very basic so if you’ve been a CFO in a corporation or a CPA or this is your 2nd entrepreneurial experience, you may not need this episode.

But if you’re a new coach longing to earn well in your first business then what I’m sharing may shift something inside you that needs shifting.

So first …

3 Phases of Coaching Business Development

The Startup Phase

This is what I help new coaches to do right from the get go. In the phase you create your business foundation:

I’m taking a stab at a metaphor to hopefully will help you understand the importance of each of these phases. let’s pretend your desire to have a coaching business is an apple tree seed. For good measure, you put several of these vision seeds into healthy soil, give them water, warmth and light. Soon, little sprouts come up.

You leave the strongest seedlings to grow and sacrifice the rest. That’s when you nail down your niche and audience. The goal is to have one little tree to focus you love and attention.

The Establish Phase

This is where your business begins to feel real. You will:

  • Consistently put out good content targeted to your audience
  • Develop your reputation
  • Build your leads list and followers on social media
  • Master enrolling clients
  • Earn enough to quit your job
  • Grow your website SEO
  • Find spheres of influence or colleagues who can help your star rise
  • Establish the ideal rhythm and flow of your business
  • ·Fine tune your business to maximize profits and work smarter

Back to the metaphor … your little tree has set down strong roots and delivers its first harvest.

The Maintain or Scale Phase

You’ve made it!

  • You’ve found your sweet spot. Now maintain it. Enjoy it.
  • Or, if you’re hungry to do more, expand into new programs, products or markets. 

This is where your apple tree becomes a reliable producer. It not only feeds your family, but also can grow into a whole orchard if you want.

So why did I tell you about these phases?

Partly so you know that reaching that desired place of the sweet spot requires successful completion of the stages before it. 

If you’re listening to this podcast you’re likely in that Start Up phase. You may have just finished coach training and are beginning to develop your business model. You may have done bits of that and think you should be earning well.

The Start Up phase is the most important phase. Because, without a solid foundation, nothing will grow. 

Coaches often ask me how long it will take before they are established and earning well as a coach. And I say it depends on you. How quickly you can successfully start up and take your business seriously.

Why the Market Isn’t Saturated with Coaches

Every month there’s a continuous flood of new coaches graduating from coach training and beginning the Start Up Phase.

Many coaches never complete that phase either because they intentionally move on to something else or their business doesn’t take root. Strong roots are the critical part for sustained growth. 

And that’s why the field of coaching isn’t saturated with sustainable coaching businesses and may never be.

It may seem shocking or sad to say this, but this is a natural thing. Lots of people stream into entrepreneurial businesses of all types but don’t stay in them. The need to graduate from one phase of business to another is what levels the playing field.

Entering into an entrepreneurial business is a hero’s journey no matter what the outcome. There’s value to the journey even if it ends by getting off the path and onto another.

The reality is that everyone hits some roadblocks in each phase of business development that could lead to closing up shop.

The trick is not to give up on yourself or your business. Listen to episode 49 if you haven’t already – The Only Good Reason to Give Up On Your Coaching Business

It’s about developing the patience and other skills to allow your coaching business to blossom.

So now, with the phases as background, let’s move onto the second part of this episode, which is Revenue and Profit planning 101 …

If you have your foundation set, help yourself move from Start Up Phase into Establish Phase by: 

1.     Creating an expense budget. Adjust it as needed to improve profits.

2.     Setting revenue and profit goals quarterly.

3.     Tracking and reviewing your business financials monthly or quarterly.

4.     Making improvements and set better goals every year.

Now, I can hear you groaning. Maybe you’d rather do cold calls than set financial goals and track them.

But I’ll tell you, there’s solid proof that stepping into the CFO role of your business dramatically increases how much money you’re able to provide for your family from your coaching business.

If you set revenue goals, you’ll earn more than if you do not set goals.

If you set profit goals, you’ll have more money earn year for the things you care about.

I remember setting my first money goals in my coaching business. When I didn’t reach them I got bogged down in shame and a sense of failure. But then I learned the trick to financial goals. Hold them lightly as potential milestones but take them seriously in terms of action to earn.

Think Profit Not Just Revenue

A quick distinction between revenue and profits … 

Revenue is the money you’re paid for your services and products. (So if you have 10 clients and they each pay you $10,000 for a yearlong program, that’s $100,000 in revenue.)

Profit is the money you keep after business expenses, costs and taxes are subtracted from revenue. (So if you pay 20% in taxes and spend $2000 to attract each of those 10 clients that leaves you with $60,000 in profit. That’s not a bad profit but perhaps you could do better.)

So, if you want to end your year with $100,000 profit, aim to make $140,000 in revenues at least. Then do the things day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month to make that happen.

The Beauty of Hustle

Have you set revenue and profit goals for your business? If you haven’t, you’re in good company.

Here’s the truth of it … Most new coaches simply wake up every day and do what they feel like doing in their business instead of what will really help them shift to The Establish Phase. They hope it will result in enough clients and income each year.

That mindset and habit is for a hobby business but not a going concern – a business that provides well for you and your family.

To step fully into the business owner role and earn more, plan your revenue and profits. Then plan exactly how you’ll earn and work your plan.

That’s called hustle.

What would motivate you to generate that kind of hustle where you’re serious about earning?

If you already have a job or if your income from your coaching business isn’t really needed to pay the bills, it’s harder to summon the hustle to really make things happen and get to that Establish Phase and then the Maintain or Scale Phase.

How will you generate enough hustle to earn well as a coach?

To start, create a need for the money you’ll earn then pay yourself a salary out of your earnings to cover that need.

For example, commit to yourself that you’ll pay your mortgage or rent each month from your coaching business income. Move the money from your business checking to your personal checking and call that a salary.

Over time, add in more bills or perhaps X number of dollars to go into a college or vacation fund each month.

Be sure it’s a monthly amount that you have to make. That will help you get into a rhythm.

You’ll need to keep enough money in your business account to cover your expenses. And this will help you see the real financial value of your business.

You may realize that you’ve got too many monthly expenses, too many apps and services you’re paying for that are reducing your profit.

It’s good to realize that sometimes when other coaches or business owners brag about their revenue that the money spent (or expenses) to reach those revenues is a high proportion of the money they’ve made. In other words, their revenues may be high but so are expenses. That means profits are low.

You’ve heard me praise the value of a simple business model for coaches. Listen to episode 5 if you haven’t heard it yet. 

Sometimes, it’s better to keep a low overhead and simpler business model than to buy into that idea of passive revenue or scaling up, which can result in low profits and a massive amount of work.

I’ve shared my personal story about this. I scaled up my business in 2006 and earned multiple six figures over the next few year but profits were low because of all the apps and assistance I needed in order to sell my online training programs, group and retreat programs.

If I did those things now, I’d be wiser about the way I did it, no doubt.

Still, not everyone needs an empire to have an enjoyable coaching business that earns well. And no matter what it’s best to start with a simple model and then grow into those more complex and involved ways of earning later.

In the Next Episode: How to Develop Your Signature Coaching Program