So here I am.
It’s about 3 in the afternoon and I’m sitting in the dodgy mismatched workout gear I’ve been wearing since 5.30am (to be clear, I have not actually worked out today).
… Aaaand I’ve just had a chocolate brownie for lunch because, well, it’s one of those days.
Ah, the glamorous life of a coach and entrepreneur, am I right?
If you’ve been in business for yourself for a while, you may have had more than a few afternoons like this yourself.
The truth is, running a coaching business isn’t always the sunshine and roses the internet would want you to believe it is.
Based on the Instagrams, websites, and Facebook profiles of some coaches, you’d think we were all just working 2 days a week, and holidaying on tropical beaches the rest of the time.
Some days running a coaching business rocks. It can be the ABSOLUTE BEST. But like any entrepreneurial venture, it has its own sets of challenges, frustrations, and quirks.
I find there are a ton of misconceptions, myths, and unobtainable standards floating around in the coaching industry (looking at you, tan beach babes with the green juice).
I’ve been a coach for more than 10 years. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly — and that’s why I want to be totally real about that experience with you, and what it’s meant for me.
So today, I want to set down those rose-coloured glasses for just a few minutes and dish out some soul food when it comes to rocking the industry: the truth.
(These are truths that are relevant no matter what your coaching industry – or even if you’re not a coach. So listen up!)
5 truths no one tells you about starting a coaching business
Truth #1: Your marketing skills are just as important (maybe even a bit more important) as your coaching skills.
First let me say: Yes, getting your certification from whatever coaching school is important if you want to build confidence in your coaching skills. It can help you serve your clients at a higher level, and provide stellar value.
But the truth is, marketing is the backbone of any business. You can be the best coach in the world, with qualifications and certifications out the whazoo, but lady, if you haven’t nailed your marketing, you’re going to hit struggle town.
Without solid marketing, building your community, or your audience, or attracting the people you want to work with will be mighty tough. It’s something I see all over the place, including outside the coaching industry, all the time.
I’ve noticed that some women dreaming of building up their coaching business think that “marketing” is a bit of a dirty word when it comes to heart-centred or soul-centred businesses, and it shouldn’t be. I promise you can be a great, heart-focused entrepreneur, and a killer marketer, and still have integrity. That’s how the coaches at the top of their game do it, and always have.
So if you don’t have all the clients you want, instead of worrying about your next certification, focus on really crushing your marketing, so you can grow your business, and help more of the people who need you.
Truth #2: Running a business can be lonely.
While a perk of not working in an office is getting to rock your mismatching activewear all day (like me!), the downside is that it can be quite lonely.
As a solopreneur, I see this pattern emerging in newbies over and over again: newbie coaches think they need to know all the answers, or they can’t share that they’re human and struggling with their clients and audience members.
Sometimes the role of being a coach makes coaches feel like they have to have it all together across the board no matter what – or at least pretend that they do. Babe, that’s a heavy and completely unrealistic burden to bear.
But here’s the thing: Being a solopreneur is a huge change if you’re used to working in a team environment, or as an employee.
Things can get lonely really quick. That’s why it’s important that as soon as you start your business, you start taking action towards building a community of potential clients, and also a community of peers and business besties.
You can do that by participating in live meetups and Facebook groups, investing in certain programs, perhaps join a co-working space, and more — even if it’s only a couple of times a month!
The more you connect with people and the more you participate genuinely in your community, the less lonely – and more inspired and supported – you’ll feel.
Yes, business is work, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun too. Community and friendship add a ton of lightness to the experience.
Truth #3: Very few people are looking for a coach.
I know that might be scary to read, but hey – before you throw tomatoes! Here’s what I mean:
Very few people are typing into Google right now, “How do I find a coach”, or “Looking for a coach,” or “I need a life coach”.
Instead, most people and YOUR ideal clients, the leads that you would like to be welcoming into your business, are actually seeking a solution to their biggest problem, a result, or transformation of some kind.
That’s what you need to focus on (read: talk about and sell from), more than trying to put yourself out there as just “a coach”. For example, don’t focus on selling 10 coaching sessions over 6 months. Instead, focus on promoting the solution or transformation you’re helping your clients create instead. Bam!
Truth #4: Standing out is WAY more important than fitting in.
In fact, this is how you’ll attract more of your right people that really, really need your help.
When it comes to positioning yourself in the market, I always recommend thinking about who you are, your strengths, the needs of your ideal clients, and just focusing on that.
I’d also encourage you to avoid worrying about what “other coaches” are doing. Please, girl, don’t worry about what the norm is in your industry, or even what the people you feel are at the top of their game are up to. Put your blinkers on and do you. When you focus on standing out, it makes you much more enticing to your ideal clients.
For example, please don’t feel like you need to take photos that look like everyone else’s (*cough* beach-side green juice *cough*) if that’s not what you, or your dream clients, are interested in. Think about your strengths, and what makes you unique, and emphasise that instead.
Sidebar: If you’re struggling to work out what makes you unique, check out my program Purposeful. It takes you on a journey of self-discovery to clarify your purpose, including looking at your why and what is important to you.
Truth #5: Businesses don’t work unless you do.
There’s this myth that building a really thriving, abundant business that sustains you and your family is easy. This myth basically says once you nail your business, everything is just in flow all the time, and grows organically and naturally, etc.
This is, of course, not reality. At least not for most people.
Coaching can almost be this. When you’re doing it right, things do fall into place and tend to flow and be sustainable, but for the majority of people at the top of their game, this state has taken years to realise.
I think there are a number of reasons why this myth or confusion exists, one of which is that mastery in the coaching field (like any other field) makes coaching look easy! It’s sort of like watching a prima ballerina. She looks so graceful and effortless, but those dancers have big, beautiful ropes of muscle for a reason.
Behind the scenes, masterful coaches have been hustling consistently. They’ve hired specialists to help them, they’ve been perfecting their strategies, funnels and skills, for years, and that’s why they’re rocking it. And with enough time and effort and investment, you can do the same. Promise.
The moral of the story is: No matter what you see on Instagram, building your coaching business takes work.
Like any other incredibly worthwhile endeavour, the journey takes focus and work, and boy will it stretch you; but for every moment of frustration and fear, there are moments of joy, breakthroughs, and game-changing progress (for yourself, and your clients) — and those bad boys are worth a hundred of even the hardest days.
And one last truth before I go:
Be sure to take the time to pat yourself on the back now and again, because you deserve it. Becoming a coach, and building your business because it’s your passion and your purpose, is a big deal.
So keep moving forward. Work hard, stand out, and serve your clients and the planet like only you can.
You’ve got this. And I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way.