By Stephen Parkinson, Business Coach and Coaching Revolution Mentor

Now Suck It Up!

As hard as it may seem, this is lesson #1 in the ‘business of coaching’ playbook.  Might as well start with the toughest lesson, because if you are not prepared for this then you are going to fail as a coach, or at least as a coaching business.

Let Me Tell You A Story

So there I am; young, hungry and eager. I’ve got my coaching qualifications, which feel like true superpowers.  Plus, I’ve got many years of experience under my belt and I’m a fairly personable guy, with a genuine interest in people and in helping others.  

Add to that I’ve seen the ‘coaching light’ and now I’m on the road to Damascus to convert others to the miracle of coaching. Time to do something for me and set up a coaching business. What could possibly go wrong? Everyone can benefit from coaching and everyone equals a huge market opportunity.

I Know What To Do

All I need to do is get in front of people and the rest will be easy!  Just talk about the skills and experiences I have and why I do what I do.  After all, that Simon Sinek does pretty well for himself and he tells you to talk about your ‘why’.

So off I go into the big wide, coaching world and follow the advice.

All good so far, lots of nice chats and coffees. Even some coaching clients!  Well, it’s free coaching but I’m sure this will lead to paying clients in the long run.  After all, I know that people have got to get to know you before they will do business with you; I’m sure I read that in a coaching book somewhere.

Online Presence

Next steps, my website.  Of course, I need a good website with lots of nice blog content on loads of SEO.  We all know Google is the market place of the 21stCentury and if I’m top of Google then happy days.  

By my reckoning, I’ll be coaching people at £995 a month and 10 clients that’s £10,000 a month in income. Wow this coaching business is a real money maker!


Next, it’s off to business networks.  Again, I’m talking about myself. I have a big ‘heart thump’ moment when I meet another coach and they say the same thing I’m about to say. 

I panic briefly and decide that I’ll wing it; say something different and look more professional than her.  Although she was good.  So maybe I will just say I’m a coach and help people. Phew, lucky escape there!

Slight concern; no paying clients yet but I know there is a three-month buying cycle for business-to-business clients.  Although it’s been three months now so maybe I just need to try something else?

Direct Marketing

I know a leaflet!  

I’ll do a leaflet and deliver door to door.  Everybody has a problem of some kind; if they can see my face and hear my story, that will be enough to get the clients rolling in. 

It’s a great leaflet too! It really looks the business and it talks all about what I do for people.

It doesn’t bring in a single client.

A Body Blow

Some time and lots of shoe leather later, I’m now getting knock backs from the people I was doing free coaching with, when I start asking them to pay.  “It’s not the right time, cash flow is tight.”  “You know how much I value the coaching but my bosses wont pay for it.” “You know how it is!”

This is a body blow.  What am I doing wrong?  Why don’t people like me? I’ve never had rejection like this before?  

Finding A Mentor

Luckily, I have met some good business people and they give me some great advice.  

They said ‘Stephen, stop talking about you.  Yes, you are a good guy but I don’t even know what a coach is let alone why on earth I would use one.’

What Do You Do, And For Whom?

They went on to ask ‘what is it you actually do?  I mean, how can you help your clients?  Let me tell you some of the problems and challenges I have in business. Is this something you can help me with?’

Of course the answer’s always YES but more than that, it was the light bulb and realization moment that I needed.  Its not about me, it is about my target market. It’s about my Ideal Client! The problems they have and the solutions they want.  Maybe if I modify my approach then this coaching thing might actually start to work.

Finding A Way That Works For Me

So I start by offering “business fit” sessions, which help business owners identify common problems in business such as sales, marketing, cash flow and managing people etc.  Things that coaching can help with, and best of all I don’t actually talk about coaching at all, just about them and their problems, and ultimately, how I can help them.


Coaching clients appear and what’s more I actually start getting referrals too.

You see what I needed was a re-frame.  As a passionate and dedicated coach, I obviously want to sing from the rooftops about the power of coaching.  

But it is only a song if people want to listen and the reality is they don’t.  Unless it is of real benefit to them and helps them solve a real problem that they have as a business or as a person.

Where To Get Help With Reframing

Now here’s the probelm; you don’t see any of this in any coaching textbook or learn it on any coaching course.  Technically, you might be the world’s most gifted coach and get great results, but if you have no money or no pipeline of paying clients then quite frankly those skills are meaningless.  In fact, you suck at coaching because you are not able to make it work and reach people you need to reach.

Start by defining your target market.  Who you coach.  What common problems do they have and how can you help them?  From there you can build a successful coaching practice.

Overnight Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight…

But don’t expect instant success.  And don’t expect loads of people to appear on your website from Google or even loads of people to respond to your leaflet.  It does not happen – unless you are Tony Robbins! So please, do NOT spend loads of time and money on these things.

Paradoxically, to start in coaching you need to stop. Stop and think about your client and not about you.

Most of all, stop talking about you, after all, no one cares about you!

What Next?

If you want to know more tips to success and follow in my footsteps in building a successful coaching business you need help from The Coaching Revolution.

You can book a no-obligation chat into our diary here.