Just in case I haven’t been really clear: I’m a master at making mistakes, even in my coaching business. So far, my life and coaching business journey has been punctuated by a series of cringe-worthy, red-cheeked, foot-in-mouth moments.
To be sure, I’m probably making them right now, as I type this article, thinking of ways I can help you escape the same errors.
But, alas, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” … right? I certainly hope so.
See, I’ve learned that the quicker I’m able to acknowledge my mistakes, learn from them, and steer myself back to more stable harbors, the better. And the most effective way I’ve found to navigate that path is by learning from the mistakes of others.
In that spirit, I bring you my top ten fatal mistakes for anyone’s coaching business. May you learn from my mistakes (as well as your own).
#1 Providing Band-Aids When Clients Need Surgery
No matter how great your coaching business is, there’s a good chance you’ve made the Number One error on more than one occasion: Coaching during a discovery call.
That is, not taking the time to fully dissect what a prospective client’s problems are and jumping right to the solution.
Hey, I get it. The world of temptation is great, especially when it (temporarily) makes someone feel better.
Yet this fatal flaw not only kills your chances of landing a new client, it also eliminates any chance that the person will truly grow in the ways they need to.
Think of these little soundbites, these tidbits of “help” you give, as band-aids. They offer a short-term solution. Now this is great… if someone truly only has a minor cut on their finger and an inch-long plastic cover will help.
However, they’re on the call with you.
That means they need more.
They need surgery.
And there ain’t no band-aid that’s going to cover a wound that big.
#2 Offering Discounts for Your Coaching Business
When you’re walking through Walmart or Target and you come across those little bargain bins… You know, the ones that have bright signs telling you everything is “Discounted 80%” or “Only $1,” your wheels start spinning.
“What crap can I find for cheap today?”
Sure, you may browse; heck, you may even buy an item or two. But, really, when the frenzy subsides, what do you REALLY tell yourself?
“Hey, when this falls apart, no big deal. It was only a buck.”
When you discount your coaching business prices, the same thing happens with your clients. Suddenly what was the crème de la crème becomes another bargain bin toss. You cheapen your services; you lessen your reputation.
#3 Guaranteeing Results
Tools come with guarantees. Knives come with guarantees. Heck, cookware comes with guarantees. Professional coaching business services do NOT come with guarantees.
As a pro, you’re stretching clients out of their comfort zone. You’re asking them to do things that are unfamiliar and often challenging. This isn’t easy for them.
If you have a guarantee, guess what will happen when the going gets tough? Many of your clients will suddenly ask for their money back.
Now, don’t get me wrong: There should be some sort of accountability piece, as I describe here. However, that needs to relate to the service and value you deliver, NOT the results they attain. For instance, I guarantee that I will give clients the best support possible. I tell clients that if they follow my recipe, a recipe that has helped hundreds of others achieve their goals, they will get results.
On the other hand, I don’t tell them they will earn a specific amount of money, lose a certain number of pounds, get over a death in a certain amount of time, or save their marriage with 100% certainty. I can’t possibly know how they will show up, if they will do the work, or if they really, truly even want the results that my coaching business strives to help them attain.
#4 Charging by the Hour
Oh, how I wish I could alleviate every coach of this dreaded habit… Charging clients by the hour is an exercise in futility for oh-so-many reasons.
First, your clients won’t get the results they want in one hour, two hours, or even five hours. The longer they have with you, the more likelihood they’ll learn the habits to succeed. When they see results, they stick around longer, look at you more favorably, and refer your coaching business to their friends.
Additionally, if you’re charging by the hour, for each of those hours they spend with you, they will be mentally subtracting money from their bank account. This means a lot of distracted time together, time that could be much better spent on actually working instead of stressing about money.
Finally, as you well know, charging by the hour equates to a constant hustle. Try making $10k a month through a bunch of $150 payments instead of a packaged price of, say, $1,000 or $5,000. Which method will get you the results you want more efficiently? Moreover, which will help you stay motivated and feel like you’re being paid what you’re worth?
#5 Selling Processes, Not Outcomes
You provide amazing value to your clients, right? They get amazing results with your coaching business that they wouldn’t get if they went to Joe Schmoe down the road, correct? So, why not tell them all about it?
Here’s a dirty truth: People don’t care how you get them results (within reason); they care what results you get them.
Yet all too often, coaches emphasize the how. “I use this tool; I use this assessment; I have this training or credential.” Etcetera, etcetera.
How about this? Instead of trying to persuade clients that they need your tools, skills, knowledge, or technique to achieve their goal, educate them on what specific outcomes they’ll receive from your coaching.
This incentivizes the whole process and avoids lingo that many people don’t know and, quite frankly, don’t really care about.
#6 Learning How to Coach Without Learning Business
This goes without saying yet pops up time and time again…
Most of us train to be a coach, consultant, or mentor. We spend hours in school, classes, seminars, and training to become the best coach possible. And it shows — we’re exceptionally good at coaching. In fact, our coaching toolkit is busting at the seams with handy ways to help our clients achieve their goals.
When it comes down to running a coaching business, however, we flounder. Marketing may as well be part of the Twilight Zone. Growing a great enterprise is as foreign as, say, brushing our teeth upside down.
So, how do we overcome this natural deficit in our training? We keep learning.
I am a huge advocate for mentorship. Finding a mentor who understands both business and coaching should be a necessary part of every coaching toolkit. In fact, I devote a significant part of my free video training to this topic. What you can do with the right assistance far exceeds what you can do while going it alone.
#7 Trying to be Someone Else
Authenticity is the currency for every modern entrepreneur, and with it, your coaching business will soar. Without it, your coaching business will fail.
In the ‘90s, having a crisp, polished presentation was integral to success. We were expected to dress nice, have high-quality video and audio, and speak our well-scripted lines.
Those days have long disappeared.
Now, it’s all about being real. Show up on a Facebook live without makeup; stumble as you try to capture the perfect angle for your video. Speak from your heart and tell your story, even if it’s a little messy.
To clarify, this doesn’t mean you should resurrect The Three Stooges; it simply means that it’s okay to be, well, human. More importantly, it’s important to be the human you really are and not the one you’ve seen making millions with a different brand.
If you stay true to your purpose (not someone else’s), you’ll be able to serve people in the way you’re meant to serve.
#8 Jumping Right Into the ‘Pretty’ Stuff
Starting a business is exciting. I get it. And all the fancy things that come along with it can be thrilling as well. Building a website, subscribing to an email service, selecting coaching business cards…
Unfortunately, all too many entrepreneurs overlook the most important aspects of building a biz: the foundational pieces.
Before you leap headfirst into the branding tasks, take a deep breath and get clear on three extremely important things – your offer, your audience, and your mindset.
If you’re like 99% of the other clients I’ve helped, these foundational pieces are hard to develop. As in, grit your teeth, stay up past midnight, and begrudgingly plow through it. Moreover, they’re near impossible to do without help. We simply lack the tools and distance to do it all in a silo.
Which circles back to… Find a mentor, someone who will help you shape your offer, work with you on your mindset, and help niche down to the perfect audience for you.
#9 Building a Coaching Business That Isn’t Scalable
Put simply, scalability refers to the ability of a company to multiply revenue with minimal cost increases. Your coaching business becomes ready to scale when you have a proven product and a proven business model, and you’re ready to expand into new geographic areas and markets.
Hold on… A proven product? Expand into new geographic areas? Perhaps both concepts seem absurd for you given that you provide one-on-one services exclusively. How can you possibly develop a product to sell, much less effectively serve people without ever seeing them or traveling the world constantly?
Rest assured, with the right business model, you can build a scalable, heart-centered coaching business with relative simplicity.
One that eliminates burnout, skyrockets your income potential, and lets you serve THOUSANDS of people each and every single day…
For entrepreneurs who are ready to take 2019 by the reins and own it, I have a solution: Start a membership site coaching business.
Hands down, it is the single most effective way to simultaneously reach more people on a deeper level while avoiding the daily hustle for new clients AND earn at least $10k per month of recurring revenue.
Want some help getting there yourself? I would love to mentor you in an 8-week program that takes you from having an idea to launching a successful 7-figure coaching business in less than 90 days. Schedule a call with me right away so we can talk about how I can help you serve your people more effectively, efficiently, and profitably than ever before.