Building a coaching or client-based service business can feel so hard.
There are so many speed bumps and pitfalls out there, how do you avoid them and actually make money and serve those wonderful clients? Well, the easy answer is to learn from the mistakes of others :).
I’ve compiled the three biggest mistakes from my years of being a career coach and building my business, plus what I’ve observed from helping other business owners grow theirs.
So, it’s time to pull back the curtain and get down and dirty….so that you don’t have to!
I just helped a good friend and client finish a launch of her client services that brought in $70,000. Earlier this year we did another small launch that brought in $20,000. The year is half-way over and she’s on track to break 100K for the first time ever. She’s ecstatic…and a little sad. Why? Because she’s been in business for seven years, and in the first 5 years of her business she made almost nothing.
The reason? Because she never invested in herself or her business.
She fell into the “I’ll figure it all out on my own and do it all myself” syndrome.
She had a crappy unprofessional website she built and maintained.
She tried to imitate what other coaches did without understanding why.
She assumed she could figure it out (and felt shame that her efforts weren’t working).
Mostly, she didn’t know what she was DOING as a business owner. As a coach, she’s top notch, but she never put the same effort into her business as she did her coaching. She forgot she was building a business as well as a coaching practice.
What changed for her is that in the last two years she’s made some strategic investments in areas of her business that MOST needed expert help. For example: She got strategic help to change her business model and upgrade how she marketed her services. She invested in her website and online presence. She hired help to get her launch ready and together, and make sure that she was launching the right product to the right people.
And now, instead of a hobby that’s sucking her dry, she’s finally got a real business!
Do you find yourself constantly reaching for your wallet whenever a sparkly new program catches your eye?
I call this “constant learner syndrome.” I was talking to a new client recently about her business and she mentioned a big expensive business course she had just completed. And two other courses she signed up for. And four other courses she had done in the last year.
Then she said her business was struggling and she just couldn’t seem to get it off the ground.
Many coaches and consultants are afraid of the business side of things (and sometimes of being alone in their business), so they invest heavily in business coaching help and courses to get over the fear and get things right.
It’s important to invest in your business. But… when you find yourself spending more time on your classes than on your business, you’ve got a problem.
Things change quickly when your business is young. You may start out thinking you’ll do private coaching to students, and then you realize that you really want to teach big programs to educators.
You need to be able to learn, then do, and then learn some more once you know where the holes in your business are. It’s a process that takes actually being in the business to succeed.
Bottom line: Doing is incredibly important.
It’s the only way to take what you’ve learned in the classroom out into the world. It’s scary and hard and frustrating at times to be out there trying things alone in your business…but it’s NECESSARY if you want success.
So before you sign up for that next big program or mastermind, make sure that it’s absolutely what you need, and you aren’t just stuck in constant learner syndrome because you are afraid of putting yourself out there.
I was working with another new business owner and we looked at her website together. She was selling herself as a leadership, team-building, executive, promotions, and “find your passion” coach and consultant who would also do assessments and organizational design and social media.
I had NO idea where to look.
Everything on her website was generic and I wasn’t sure who she wanted as a client. Did she want to help me with twitter? Or help me find my passion? Or work for my company? Or teach me how to crochet? ????
Mostly I was bored and confused looking at what she had put together, and that’s the last thing that you want potential clients to be.
She was afraid of choosing one thing – because she was afraid of turning anyone off.
Here’s the truth: People are a pain in the butt.
Someone is always going to hate what you do, no matter how generic or vanilla or all-encompassing you make it.
So why wouldn’t you try and find those people you really want to work with because helping them is such a joy?
Maybe you want to work with new and ambitious start-ups. Maybe you want to work with women over 40 who are awesome at everything except love.
Maybe it’s something else.
It doesn’t matter – as long as you know who you want to serve and you market yourself to them.
Yes, you’ll turn people off (but you will have done that anyway, so no loss!). But the people who you don’t turn off will love you all the more – because you GET them. They’ll resonate with you and your message and they are going to want to hire you. And most importantly: You are going to love working with them.
So go out there and get them!
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