This week, I had a fabulous conversation with Starla Sireno – Founder of www.Fearlessnessinc.com and the Fearless Women Entrepreneur Network – an empowering forum for women entrepreneurs in San Francisco and beyond, providing the knowledge and support women need to become fearless entrepreneurs.
Starla and I both found so much validation and confirmation in sharing our honest and frank views about the coaching business, entrepreneurship, women’s challenges in launching their ventures to great success, and the onslaught of false information that is damaging to thousands of women today.
I realized in speaking with Starla that I’ve officially had it with the thousands of false and empty promises I keep hearing from hundreds of coaching marketers and product developers for coaches, and organizations that train beginning coaches. Their talk is SO full of misleading guidance, that it’s time to speak out.
I’m sharing below what I know to be true about the coaching business, based on not only my personal experience, but also my honest and authentic conversations and connections with hundreds of coaches nationwide and in other countries.
*Note: The following information excludes reference to executive and business coaches who are paid by an organization, not by individuals. There are exceptions to the statements that follow, but not many, and only under special conditions:
What I know to be true about coaching:
1) “Coaching” per se doesn’t sell. People still don’t know what coaching is or what it delivers. To get new clients and continually fill a pipeline to make a good living, you must promote and market the substantial benefits and outcomes you deliver, not sell “coaching”
2) Your delivered outcomes must be highly compelling. The benefits and outcomes you deliver through coaching must be compelling and highly valuable in the eyes of your clients, not yours. For people to part with their money today, you must address a pain point that has to be resolved, or a benefit that is deeply coveted, in the client’s opinion.
3) Don’t count on workshops for your living. You won’t make any money running workshops, selling passive income products, or engaging in affiliate relationships if you don’t have a large enough community (in the multiple thousands) to sell to.
4) The strength of your brand matters. With the massive influx of data and information today, you need a compelling brand and powerful unique positioning, website and other marketing materials that work, to stand out and help you attract new clients and customers — unless you only want to work only through word-of-mouth.
5) You need a large platform or community in order to sell books. Creating books and e-books in general won’t make you money either – again unless you have thousands of potential customers within your reach. Books (and only well-developed ones that offer something of value) will, however, generate other benefits for you (credibility, recognition, exposure, a new affordable way to reach people, etc.).
6) Hundreds of coaches nationwide are not making it. The median annual salary for a life coach is $30,000 – and many more coaches make much less than that. If you want a bigger income, you must embrace a different business model that includes not just one-on-one coaching but also other high-quality and useful services, products and programs.
7) Publishers will be interested in your book only when you command significant attention. Publishers won’t consider publishing your book unless you have a sizable platform and community (in the many multiple thousands) and can command attention, through traditional or social media, or through others means.
8) Publicity doesn’t have the financial impact you think it does. National publicity is awesome to get, but it doesn’t necessarily move any important needle in your business financials – including in your revenue, clients, customers or speaking fees. Don’t chase publicity for publicity’s sake.
9) Paid speaking gigs don’t come easy. If you want to be a paid speaker, it takes a great deal of training, powerfully-crafted programs, credibility, in-depth experience, and hard-earned knowledge about how to engage, inform, and enliven an audience. All of that takes years. Don’t expect high fees (or fees at all) as a beginning speaker.
10) Coaching is NOT a quick and lucrative way out to your corporate job.
DON’T engage in a coaching practice if you think it’s an easy, profitable way to run from your corporate life. And please don’t launch a coaching or consulting practice (or other business) if you aren’t ready to focus on and continually attend to the business-building and marketing actions essential to creating a thriving business. If it’s contrary to your personality to go out and pursue business opportunities daily and promote your business with gusto and energy – then definitely think again.
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Coaching can be a very rewarding and exciting profession, but it takes time, energy, business and marketing know-how, sound investment, and an ongoing commitment to making it work. False promises about how easy it is to earn six figures, create compelling information products that sell, or attract clients who’ll flock to your door, are misleading at best, destructive at worst.
Some helpful TO-DO tips:
1) If you’re building a coaching practice, seek out reliable and highly respected coaching marketers and business-builders who understand the realities of the business and will share with you the core strategies they’ve used to overcome the inherent challenges.
2) Please be judicious in what you invest in outside help to develop your business. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on outside marketing help if there’s no way you can recoup that money within the year.
3) Find helpers who are strong role models whom you respect, and whose products and programs are of high quality.
4) Believe only the advice of people who want you to succeed as much as — if not more than — they want to fill their own pipelines.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for real-life stories of successful coaches who have navigated powerfully through each of the above realities.
I’d love to hear from you. What else do coaching marketers and schools NOT tell you? Leave a comment!