This is something that I hear often. Individuals tell me that they don’t believe that there’s a career (or a business) to be had in coaching because when they discussed it with friends and family, no one knew what a life coach was.
No One And Everyone!
Here’s the issue with the title ‘coach’: Everyone knows exactly what it means, and 99% of them are wrong.
Here’s the issue with the title ‘life coach’: No one has a clue what it means, and if they have to guess, then they think it means that you’ve put you and your life on a pedestal and that you somehow think you have the authority – moral or otherwise – to show them how to live their lives.
It’s a royal pain, isn’t it? If you’ve got the job title ‘life coach’ and no one knows what you do, then how on earth are you supposed to find paying clients?
What’s In A Name?
The good news is that you don’t have to call yourself a life coach. In fact, you don’t have to call yourself anything at all. This is something that can get people all hot under the collar. After all, following a career in employment where your job title is everything, it goes without saying that if you’re going to start a life coaching business, you need the title life coach, right?
What you call yourself is at best moot, and at worst irrelevant. The sad truth is that your potential clients don’t actually care what you call yourself, they care what you can do for them. Honestly – that’s the truth.
The hours spent agonising about what to call yourself and how to name your coaching business are hours wasted if you don’t’ find paying clients. Even the most cleverly named business, without clients, isn’t a business.
Your Family And Friends Don’t Understand
It’s a universal truth that those who have never had their own business before and are just starting out, ask their friends and family for their opinions. This isn’t usually a good idea. Yes, the support of those around you is important. However, unless they are experienced in selling professional services, their opinion doesn’t count.
Your friends and family will give you their opinion from their own world-view and from the point of view that they love you and don’t want you to get hurt. In my experience (both personally and anecdotally) they’ll say things like:
- But you’ve got a fabulous/well-paid career! Why would you give that up?
- What’s a life coach (of course!)
- I wouldn’t pay someone for that!
- You’ll never get that off the ground
Stuff like that.
I reiterate that unless they are successfully marketing a one-person professional services business, their opinion shouldn’t count.
What I know to be true is that these opinions feel valid. The fact that no one seems to know what a life coach does seems to suggest that no one can make a living from being a life coach.
And yet….. there are literally thousands of coaches from all over the world who make a living from coaching. Coaches who are earning their living from coaching and helping others to reach previously unimagined success.
If it matters that no one knows what a life coach is, then how is it possible that coaches are earning their living from coaching? It’s not, is it?
There are two indisputable facts here:
- Very few people understand what a life coach is
- There are life coaches making their living from life coaching
How can these two things be true, unless what I say is right; that it isn’t relevant that no one knows what a life coach is?
Why It Doesn’t Matter
When we are a potential client, we are interested in a product and service based entirely upon what we believe that product or service can do for us. Very specifically, we are concerned with whether or not the product or service will fulfil a need we have or solve a problem we’re struggling with.
What we almost certainly WON’T be thinking is ‘what is the job title of the person who is providing this product/service?’
Focus On What’s Important
Focusing on your job title, your website, your branding or your business card won’t bring you paying clients. They are ‘nice to haves’ not essentials.
Focusing on the delivery side of your business – the client-facing side – is what we love to do. However these skills are those you use at the point of delivery – and unless you have a process to find opportunities to actually do the delivery, you never actually get to the delivery point.
So what is important? What should you focus on? Business development, that’s what.
Creating a steady stream of paying clients is critical for your financial success as a coach. Unless you have financial success as a coach, you don’t have a business. A coaching business isn’t branding, it’s income. A coaching business is cash flow and it’s money in the bank to be able to pay yourself so that you can earn your living as a coach.
Let me reassure you that cashflow and a steady income from coaching isn’t based upon the number of people who understand what a life coach is. It’s based on the life coach making an offer that fulfils a need or solves a pressing problem for the client. The way you do that as a coach who is new to business development is this:
- Identify who is most going to benefit from working with you
- Figure out what they need to hear in order to understand WHY they should work with you (what is your irresistible offer?)
- Be where they are with that offer
If you’d like some help with this, we should talk. This is my diary.