5 Business Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Out As a Coach

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Business Mistake # 1 – Waiting for the Perfect Conditions

Business Mistake - Waiting for perfect conditionsYou really want to make more money from your business and you know you require additional support to turn your dreams into a reality.

However, a coach requires money and so far you are making little or no money from your business.

It’s the chicken and the egg dilemma. Do you invest in a coach now or wait until you have money saved up to pay for the coach? Do you wait until your coaching program, website, or e-book is launched- hoping you will have enough money to pay for a coach then?

This is a situation you will likely face if you are a coach, consultant or solo professional selling your services and products.

It also may be a dilemma you are facing when it comes to your own development. Do you invest now or wait?

THE MISTAKE

From experience if someone says they are saving up to work with you, (I just have to sign 14 more clients and sell 100 Ebooks!), chances are it won’t happen. This is because the reason they are coming to you to begin with is because they need coaching to get them to the next level.

It’s a little like saying I’ll sign up to work with a personal trainer when I have lost 10 kilos or I’ll hire a professional organiser when I get more organised.

If you aren’t making money, losing the weight, in the relationship, quitting your job or doing whatever it is you want to be doing on your own – chances are you need some support to help you achieve your goals.

Flashback to my first year, when I finished my coaching program. My website was up and running. I even took a couple of online courses about online marketing. I thought I was on my way. The occasional client was coming in. My email list was growing slowly. My mistake was thinking that I didn’t need a coach.

THE PROBLEM

Waiting to invest in coaching can cost you thousands of dollars. I calculated I would have made an extra $20k if I had decided to work with a coach 6 months sooner.

Communicating this to the potential client and uncovering their fears around why they want to wait, or save up, will help you understand their situation.

Sometimes they are using it as an excuse, sometimes they really need to get creative about where the money will come from, sometimes they are just plain scared and it’s an easy card to play.

This problem will cost you a lot of money!

When I was making < $1000 per month from my business I thought it was ridiculous to pay a coach $1600 a month. Why would I give away over half my earnings? It made no sense?! Of course, it was when I started the coaching that I started hitting $5k-$6k per month. It’s such a catch-22!

I look back now and think that if I had made the decision to work with that coach 6 months earlier, I would have made around an extra $20k last year.

I know right?!

My problem was not a lack of understanding. I understood that a coach would help me grow my business. My problem was, as a solo professional, that there was a need for someone to provide feedback, guidance, and accountability. When you are a one-woman show it can be hard to see clearly because you are so close to your projects.

It is easy to exhaust your ideas and creativity about how to attract clients and build your email list. You can spend a week, month or even half a year focusing on a project that isn’t going to give you a return on investment, and is costing you a fortune!

You can stress about stupid things that could easily be worked through if you had someone to guide you who understands your industry and has been there and done that.

The other problem is fear. Fear is sneaky, and will get the best of you when you least expect it – like upping your rates or marketing yourself. Having a coach to speak to when fear rears its ugly head is irreplaceable!

THE SOLUTION

I know it seems totally crazy to pay someone to help you start a business when you don’t even have a business, and all you seem to be doing is spending money; but it’s much easier to set it up right the first time, instead of spending a year working it out on your own – getting nowhere.

Tell this to your prospective clients; demonstrate the value. Tell them why waiting is just going to hold them back in the long run.

It’s a simple one! Find a coach and sign up. However, before committing to any coach or their program ask yourself these 5 things.

What type of coach do you want: When choosing a coach, it may seem obvious, but choose one for your needs. If you want help with sales and attracting clients make sure that is their area of expertise. Looking to gain more PR? Look for a coach who has been in the type of magazines and blogs you aspire to be in.

Coaches come with all types of experience; look for one that matches your business needs, and will get you where you want to go.

Ask: What areas do you specialise in? Have you helped people in my situation? What results can you help me achieve?

Business Mistakes - Coaching professionalism

Professionalism: It is not necessary to complete a coaching program to be a coach. As a matter of fact, no credentials are needed at all. However, when choosing a coach look for professionalism, experience and success.

You want a coach who has achieved what she is training you on. You want them to have success in helping people in a similar situation to you. It could also mean formal coach training. At the least, the coach needs to communicate in a timely, organised and professional manner.

Ask: What qualifications do you have? How long have they been coaching for? How many clients do you work with at one time?

Listening Skills: When interviewing your prospective coach pay attention to her listening skills. Is she asking questions? Is she listening to your answers? Is she providing feedback relevant to your business or does she have her own agenda?

You want someone who is going to interact with you on your business goals.

Ask yourself: Is she really listening to me? Does she really care about my business?

Compatibility: OK, so you’ve found the right kind of coach. She’s professional and you feel like she’s listening as you speak. Now, the question is, are you compatible? You want someone who you can click with. You won’t click with everyone so take the time to find the right connection. Coaching programs can range from one session to one year, so it pays to make sure that you get along with the person you are committing to working with.

Ask yourself: Can I see myself working and speaking to this person every week for x months? Does she “get” me and what I want to achieve?

Expectations: Finally, you found the right coach and all the pieces fit. Now, check your expectations. Coaching is not magic. To get the best results from coaching take both work and following through. You will get out of it what you put into it.

Coaching takes work and follow through.
It is not the coach’s job to get you results. It’s the coach’s job to support you and give you the tools, shortcuts, advice and guidance to accelerate your business; however you have to implement! Simply paying $3000 for a coaching program isn’t going to get you results.

Ask yourself: Am I willing and ready to do the work needed to create a successful business?

When you take the time to follow these principles and choose a coach, you will be challenged and encouraged. You will see success not only in your business growth but your personal growth too. Don’t wait to do this. Invest in yourself. Invest in the future of your business. Hire a coach and start making what you are worth!

Business Mistake #2 Being Afraid to Promote

Business Mistakes - Afraid to PromoteTHE MISTAKE

During my first year in business, I was still working in a corporate job while starting my business. My time was limited. I knew I wanted out yet I just wasn’t earning enough to really make the transition to full-time entrepreneur.

I had all the social media accounts. My blog/website was up and running. It just wasn’t growing like I wanted it to. I knew why. I wasn’t promoting my services.

How in the world was I going to make the transition into my business full time if I couldn’t get over the fear of promoting my services? How was anyone going to decide to work with me if they didn’t even know what I offered?!

THE PROBLEM

The truth was that I was convinced I’d be retweeted by Kim Kardashian, or be approached by a “big name” to do a partnership with and all of a sudden become an overnight success.

People would be lined up around the block to work with me and life would be sweet.

It was bound to happen sooner or later so the whole promotion side of things could wait. I didn’t need it.

Plus, sales and promotion can be so gross and inauthentic, why would I want to spend time mastering that?!

Sound familiar?

Over the years, I have shared this story with a few friends and it turns out I wasn’t the only doing some serious daydreaming.

We were all convinced, that at some point or another, we would  become an overnight success (because clearly we are all super smart and awesome people) and the clients would come rolling in.

However, this was a questionable fantasy. It was a way to mask the fear of putting myself out there. I didn’t need to promote because soon clients will be banging on the door to work with me.

This could have been a fantastic strategy…if only it worked.

If you are new in a business then you need to promote your products and services. The clients aren’t just going to come to you.

THE SOLUTION

When you are scared to promote your services it could be for a number of reasons.

It could be not knowing what to say. Perhaps you’re thinking, “I don’t want to come across as salesy or pushy, or like I care more about money than the client.” Or you might be thinking that you don’t need to promote. Trust me, if you need clients you need to promote.

I had all those thoughts. If you are experiencing them you aren’t alone. If you want to create a business that makes money you’ve got to get over your fear of promotion.

Here is what to do….

1. KNOW YOUR OFFER. It can be very hard to promote something that isn’t clear or doesn’t make sense to you. If that’s the case, then it won’t make sense to others either. It also puts you in a place of constantly having to explain yourself. So get super, super clear on what you offering and what the outcomes of your coaching or services are.

2. KNOW YOUR IDEAL CLIENT. Once you are clear on your offer, you must know who wants it. Get clear on who you want to work with and why. It’s the uncertainty of who we want to work with and how which creates fear.

The more clarity about both your offer and your client, the more confidence you will have to promote yourself.

3. NOT EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOU. This may seem harsh but, it’s not. It is just a simple truth. It is not a reflection on your value or the other person. Sometimes you just won’t click. Sometimes people will unsubscribe or unlike your page.This is not personal. It’s normal when you have a business.

Focus on the people who do love you and your message. Ignore any unsubscribes and negative comments.

4. JUST DO IT ALREADY. Take one step forward – even if it is a baby step. Work up your courage and start posting in the Facebook group FULL of your ideal client. Go ahead and post that personal blog post. Keep moving forward by taking action.

5. GET HELP. Nothing helps you overcome fear and take action more than having accountability. A coach can help you develop an action plan to attract more of your ideal clients and move past your fear of promotion.

A coach can help you develop a plan.
Having someone to share the fear with AND who can encourage you, is one of the quickest ways to overcome it; and get your business growing.

Don’t let the fear of promoting yourself hold you back from your dream business. Promotion of your products and services is the difference between making your first year successful or having to stay in your other job a year longer…

And I know you don’t want that now, do you?!

Business Mistake #3: Lack of Structure & Systems

Business Mistakes - Lack of Systems and StructuresTHE MISTAKE

When you start your business, you need to be extremely focused on your clients and generating revenue; so that you actually grow your business and have an excellent reputation.

Otherwise, you don’t have a business – just an expensive hobby which isn’t really making any money. As it’s so vital to be focused on those two areas, it can be very easy to overlook implementing important systems and structure in your business.

THE PROBLEM

This is actually a bigger problem than it seems. When your focus is drawn away from creating a foundational structure, it weakens your business overall. An infrastructure is a necessary framework to support your business as it grows.

Truthfully, your business will only grow as big as your infrastructure will allow. If you don’t get a handle on this, it will cause total chaos and become overwhelming as you take on more clients, or sell more products and services.

I remember the first time someone wanted to sign up to my six- month coaching program on a payment plan…

This was all well and good, aside from the fact that the payment system for payment plans wasn’t set up, and my web developer happened to be away for a week.

I had put off doing my part to get the payment system set up because it “wasn’t important,“ “everyone was paying in full” and “I’d deal with it when I needed to.“

Of course, it just so happened that when I needed to deal with it, the support I needed wasn’t available.

THE SOLUTION

The best time to set systems in place is when you are just starting out. They will save you SO much time in the future. Your clients will be able to pay you, book appointments and communicate with you easily.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are new to setting up systems:

1. How often will I post on social media and what platforms?

2. How will I schedule appointments?

3. What is my primary way of communicating with clients/customers?

4. What is my process for distributing information and/or products to my clients/customers?

5. What is my plan for content creation for my blog?

6. How will I handle payment for products and services?

7. What are my terms of services and other legal agreements?

8. What is my refund policy?

9. How do I handle FAQ’s, dissatisfied clients and other questions or complaints?

10. Will I hire employees? What type – virtual or in person? Where from?

11. How will I track expenses? Income? Outflow?

12. What is my tax liability?

13. How will I track prospective clients and clients’ information?

14. What kind of insurance do I need, if any?

15. What type of time off will I take?

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a great start to getting your business set up with a strong foundation. If you take the time to think about and answer these questions in detail, then you will be on your way to a successful first year building your dream business and your dream lifestyle.

Ever been caught out by not having a system in place like me? Share in the comments below!

Business Mistake #4: Discounting My Services

Business Mistakes - Discounting Your ServicesTHE MISTAKE

Discounting your services. Raise your hand if you have made this mistake!

I’ll have a guess and say that everyone at one time or another has discounted their services- only to really regret it afterwards.

When you are just starting out, you obviously want to make money. Making money validates your decisions to start the business, to leave your job, to take this leap of faith. Making money also validates your dreams, gifts and talents. I mean, wow, someone actually pays me for something I love doing!

In an effort to get more people to pay me to do what I love,  I discounted my prices.

THE PROBLEM

Thing is, when you discount your services, you devalue your skills, training, and education. It can also attract a “less than ideal client” (sometimes much less than ideal).  When you set your prices and rates you have to consider everything that was involved in getting you to your current level of expertise.

You know this. Everyone knows this. When presented with a willing client who just can’t quite afford you, it may make you question everything. But you have to stick to your guns.

Learn from my mistake

I really wanted to work with Sarah*, but she just couldn’t afford my services. She was amazing and smart and I could see SO much potential.

When she said she couldn’t afford the coaching and she explained her circumstances, I realised that she was one of those people who couldn’t afford to work with me right away.**

As she was so awesome, and yes, of course, I wanted a new client, I suggested we have 1 less session per month and the coaching would be at a discounted rate.

Sarah said yes and away we went.

The problem was there were so many coaching sessions per month for a reason. Taking away one session was not in Sarah’s best interests or mine.

The sessions were always really busy as we had so much to cover in so little time. There was less face-to-face contact; therefore, she was sending me more emails.

Sarah actually continued working with me after the program was over at the normal rate for the normal amount of set sessions per month.

The discounted rate wasn’t working for her either, she wanted more support and more sessions per month.

THE SOLUTION

I almost feel like this is the type of situation you need to experience yourself in order to not do it again. However, I hope you, dear reader, can learn from my experience and skip the stress altogether.

Here are some pointers to stop you from discounting your rates:

Know your value. As mentioned in another mistake, starting your own business is an intense lesson in personal development. You’ve got to understand your value as a person, first and foremost.

Understand Your Value

If you are having difficulty figuring out your value, you’ll have difficulty charging for your time. I’m not saying to start off charging a $10,000 program or anything. Simply that you are delivering enough value before you increase it. On the other hand, you don’t want to be charging $30 per hour for 6 months either.

Consider all costs. When setting your prices you have to consider all expenses. Include your website maintenance, office supplies, subscription services, PayPal fees, rent, merchant account fees, phone,  events or workshops or your own coaching.

Not to mention all of the one-off fees, such as branding, web design, photos, computer…get my point? However, don’t forget to consider the cost of your own training, certification, and education. You have also had on-the-job training no matter what your vocation may be. You have learned skills which will come in handy when coaching your clients.

Believe in your rates. Once you have established what your rates will be, you have to believe in them. If you doubt the price of your services so will potential clients. They will pick up on your hesitation. Be confident when communicating what you charge.

If you present it in a weak way you send the message that you are unsure. No one wants a coach who is unsure – potential clients will doubt your ability to coach and teach them. State your rates with confidence and pride.

* Name has been changed.

** A side note, I would say 90% of people do have the access to money to invest in coaching, even though they say they don’t. Saying “I don’t have the money” is an easy scapegoat when really they mean “I don’t see the value,” “I’m not ready,” etc.

Business Mistake #5: Staying in the ‘safe’ zone

Business Mistakes - Safe ZoneTHE MISTAKE

The e-mail list was growing steadily. Clients were signing up. My business was doing well. I was making money. However, I was still working my day job 3 days a week. To be honest, I was staying in my corporate job in case things didn’t work out for my business.

I was making $5k -$7k per month, despite the fact I only had two “business days” dedicated to my coaching business. This alone should have been proof that I could do it, but I was scared.

THE PROBLEM

Fear. That’s all! I stayed in my corporate job way longer than I needed to, simply for the security. I loved the steady paycheck, my bonuses, my pilates lunch time class. I knew what to expect. I felt stable and secure.

Realistically, I could have quit my job 3 to 6 months earlier. Another facet was that I wasn’t ready to let go of my corporate job emotionally, which is why I stayed there longer than necessary.

THE SOLUTION

There is never going to be the right time. I was waiting for the right time and it never came. Here are some questions to ask yourself when it comes time to quit your job.

Show me the money. Money is a concrete indicator of your readiness to jump off the corporate ladder. Are you at the point where staying in your corporate job is actually costing you clients and revenue in your dream business?

Are you making enough money that you don’t need the regular corporate salary to support your way of life? If you answer yes, then go already! If you are already making this amount of money, trust me, you will still be making it in your business when you quit your job.

And if you aren’t yet making the same amount (or more) in your biz than you do in your career, do you believe you will be able to when you have more time?

Do you have money in savings that could tide you over in the meantime?

Watch the clock. Time is another high-measurable indicator to determine if it’s the right time to go. How much time are you spending on your business? Is it spilling over into your corporate job? If you could devote more time to your business, could you make more money?

Check your energy. You energy levels and attitude are significant in gauging your quality of life. Are you suffering because you are working two jobs? Are you sleeping enough? Are you feeling burnt out, overwhelmed or run down?

Ultimately, the choice to leave the corporate world is a personal one. One which can only be determined by you (and your significant others). The pros and cons list will end up awash, and you’ll be left with the biggest question: Are you ready to take the leap?

Now it’s time to hear from YOU! What has been your biggest business mistake? What mistake was most valuable from this post?

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4 Comments

  • Jessica Nazarali

    July 15, 2016

    You’re so welcome Cindy!

  • Cindy

    July 14, 2016

    This is so helpful Jessica, thank you so much!

  • Rea Yadao

    June 9, 2016

    Hi Rosalie! Thank you for your comment. ~ Jessica Nazarali Team

  • Rosalie

    June 9, 2016

    Great post!!!! Very helpful!