How To Work Hard And STILL Fail To Start A Coaching Business

It can be incredibly difficult to know how to start a coaching business, especially for those who have been employed for years, and we don’t want to fail, do we?

Coaches tend to be highly motivated by a burning desire to help people. As we truly understand the transformational nature of coaching and we are passionate about helping others become the very best version of themselves. We discover coaching, we get excited, then we get qualified and finally, clutching our shiny certificates, we’re ready to coach. What we’re not read for, is to fail.

Now what?

I have been helping brand new coaches get started for 4 years. I have seen new coaches do the same things to start their new businesses and fail. By the time they find me, they are often fed up and losing faith.

Let me tell you what doesn’t work

1. Brilliant Social Media Isn’t Enough

Social media has its place in 21st century business practice. I have never heard of a single instance of a proper, long-term, paying client coming from a post (or series of posts) from a new coach, unless they know what they’re doing. This doesn’t stop new coaches trying. From the ‘would you like to have your best year ever? Just PM me!’  to the ‘I have only 6 places left for coaching clients!’ posts – clients just don’t materialise.

Think about it. Would you read a post from a friend, or Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter contact and think ‘yes! I want my best year ever! Let me contact this close-friend-with-whom-you-do-not-wish-to-share-your-deepest-hopes-and-dreams or – even less likely – vague acquaintance and find out what they have to say!’? Of course you wouldn’t and guess what neither will anyone else. It just doesn’t happen. From hopeful posts (‘let me change your whole life!’) to increasingly  crazy offers (‘only £2000 for me to help you achieve your dreams!’) they just don’t work. Let me repeat that; They. Just. Don’t. Work.

What you need is a strategy. A solid social media strategy.Without one, you’ll fail.

2. Hope Is Not A Business Development Strategy

Field of Dreams was released in 1989 (!!) and with it came the whole notion of ‘build it and they will come’. I hate to break it to you, but they don’t. They don’t know you’re there, and if they do, they don’t understand what you can do for them. No matter how much you want your coaching business to work, hoping like mad won’t work.

3. Selling From The Stage Just Doesn’t Work

In the 80s, 90s and even into the 2000s, selling from the stage was a successful sales technique in the UK. Let me say that there are still some who can sell from the stage, but they tend to have a huge marketing budget to get people into the auditorium in the first place in order to be sold to – think Anthony Robbins etc. Selling in the UK in the 21st century is an awful lot more sophisticated than holding your arm in the air and saying ‘who thinks they’d benefit from what I’m offering’, raising it six inches and asking in your most hopeful voice ‘so who’d like to come along?’. The uncomfortable feeling that one gets from a complete lack of response is gut-wrenching.

Selling from the stage also involves being able to take payment there and then – before they change their minds – and let me tell you from experience, this is also where it can be a bit sticky. No, people don’t want to hand over their credit card details and when you call them tomorrow, they’ve changed their minds.

4. Making It All About Me

Hank wrote a fabulous blog post about this called I’m A Coach, Why Don’t They Care about this very thing. The upshot is that the vast majority of new coaches talk about being a ‘qualified’ coach, of their unique qualities. Basically, new coaches give a verbal CV to any potential clients. What they fail to do is make each contact not about them, but about what they can do for the prospect. It never works. Sadly, no one is interested, other than those in the industry who actually understand the effort entailed in getting the qualification in the first place.

5. Saying The Same Thing As The Next Guy

I attend a number of networking events and I often hear coaches introduce themselves in their introductory ‘pitch’. In this very short opportunity to pique interest, coaches tend to waffle on about how fabulous coaching is and how it changed their lives and finish with something like ‘if you’d like to have the best year of your life, come and talk to me’. Sadly, the 6th coach to introduce themselves ends up saying ‘I’m a coach too….’ and petering out.

You should be able to define exactly what you do and for whom, in a single sentence. If not, you’ll fail. If you can’t, let me know? We can help you.

So What Should You Do?

Find a mentor. I cannot stress highly enough how very important this is. Find a mentor who has actually achieved  what you want to achieve and then listen to them when they advise you. Once you’ve listened, take the action that you’ve agreed to – don’t go back to posting ‘hopefully’ on social media.