So you've got your training, you've got your passion, now it's time to build your phenomenal coaching business. How could you possibly fail?
Well here are five sure-fire ways you could stumble on your way to realizing your dream.
#5: “I AM EVERYONE’S COACH”
You can't do it all!If I’ve seen this once, I’ve seen it a thousand times. When you’re at a networking event and you ask the age-old question, “What do you do?” and they tell me that they’re a coach, my next question is, “What do you coach about?”
Then my head drops along with my heart when I get the reply, “Oh, I coach about everything.”
NO YOU DON’T! The fastest way to lose money is to attempt to appeal to everybody. Nobody feels special – they overlook you because they don’t believe that you’re talking directly to them.
It gets even worse when I receive the rebuttal, “Oh, yes I do. Practically anything you name, I can coach about it because all I have to do is a little research on the topic.” My reply goes something like this, “Ah, I see. That’s great because I know of a group of mechanical engineers who are seeking innovative technological strategies that will revolutionize the internal combustion engine. Shall I give them your card?” [blank stare] Right!
I soften the blow and add, “Look, I know that you want to help people – that’s why you’re in the coaching business. Let me help you develop your niche so that you can do what it is that you set out to do.”
So, never market yourself as the person who knows everything because you don’t. Your website will look too cluttered, your business cards will change every other month, and your brand will suffer immensely. If there’s an area that you’d like to be well versed in, then invest in educating yourself about it so that you can empower others.
#4: Leading with Perfection
This is an innocent error that many rookies make. When they market themselves, they tend to lead with the end of their story. What I mean is that they start off by telling everyone how successful they are, and how they can get you there too.
If you’re thinking, “Well, don’t I want a successful coach?” Yes, you do. But you want the one who has had to overcome challenges in order to get there. Otherwise, what do they have to teach you?
If you’re telling everyone that you have accomplished this, or established that without revealing the road that lead you there, you’re missing the very people you seek to help. People connect with stories, not show-offs.
A great example of that is when I had a brunch meeting with a woman in Chicago who decided to give me some feedback on my brand of “The Unstoppable Woman.” She went on to tell me that, “...you should let other people call you unstoppable instead of you calling yourself that. It’s a turn off. I mean, we’re ALL unstoppable so what makes you special?”
After I allowed her to finish, I asked if she’d been to my website, read any of my books, or attended any of my online courses – to which she responded, “No.” I kindly stated, “All of those outlets vividly describe the traumatic and devastating experiences that led me to call myself unstoppable – childhood molestation, sexual assault, abandonment issues, suicidal thoughts, homelessness, and financial ruin. She experienced a moment of, “Oh crap, I didn’t know,” followed by a personal story of hers that was similar to mine. I was surprised that she didn’t bother to read anything about me before attempting to give me “feedback,” but in the end my point was clear.
See, the only thing she knew was my brand [thanks to great marketing], but she didn’t connect with me until she knew my story. Lead with your heartache if you want others to give you theirs.
#3: “Monkey See, Monkey Do” Syndrome
If you’re smart, you do research before going into any new business. This is a magnificent way to understand how the market works, where there’s a need, and who responds to those products and services.
But some people will get inundated with it to a point where they “lose” who they are. They try to mimic what another coach is doing verbatim.
This always fails!
If you’ve learned a lot from “Jane Smith,” why duplicate her? She already exists! Take elements of what she taught you and wrap your personality around it.
It’s crucial to develop your own voice when working in this type of business. People can spot a phony a mile away and they’ll quickly turn on you if they feel that you’re being disingenuous.
I attended a conference and the keynote speaker was very well promoted. She was there to talk about how to build your speaking business with nearly no resources. After about 10 minutes in, she began to completely lose the audience. There was something about her that felt “unreal.” It was almost as if she just left a workshop on how to build a business and then tried to duplicate what the instructor taught her.
It was very frustrating to say the least. By the end, she literally asked for a round of applause which was met with an unenthused clapping from 20% of the audience. You are the only person that you know how to be – so why change it? Your unique personality is what separates you from everyone else.
In my personal life, I am very goofy. I can go into character at a moment’s notice without missing a beat. When I first started working the corporate arena, I put on a rather “stiff” pretense because I thought that was what I supposed to do.
After getting my evaluations back, there was an undeniable consistency – “Speaker was enthusiastic” had very low marks. And I thought, “Really? I’m the most animated person that I know!” So I brought my true self to the front of the room, and my average score soared to 9.73 out of 10.
#2: Not Having a Product
One day I attended a seminar and I recall how good it felt to be a participant instead of the educator. I took plenty of notes and absorbed the new information being presented.
During the breaks and at the end of the seminar, I noted how many people visited the back table to shop for products written by the presenter. I also perused the selection and my attention was drawn to a statement that I heard the assistant say to another participant, “Your total comes to $136 please.” I couldn’t help turning my head to see what he had purchased for $136. The assistant handed him two bags with about four books in each bag. I remember thinking, “Hmmm, the seminar didn’t even cost that much.”
This piqued my curiosity like you wouldn’t believe! I became nearly obsessed with finding out how many more people were going to make purchases. I watched that back table like a hawk. And by my calculations, there had to be more than $1,000 in sales from the books alone.
It was like someone snapped me out of a trance. How could I have missed such a golden opportunity? I quickly tried to assess how many speaking engagements I had done up until that point, and when I did the math, it felt like the air left my lungs. I had been speaking for years, and by my calculations, I left at least $100,000 on the table that I will never be able to regain. Talk about a wakeup call!
Anyway, nine books later, I decided to teach others how to write and self publish their own book. You can also leverage your book to create more products such as a coaching program, audio cd, online course, or even host a retreat.
When you make an impact on someone’s life, they want to take a piece of you with them – if you’ve done a great job connecting with your audience. By having a product, you provide a service long after your physical presence is gone. Even if you start by being a co-author in a collaborative book, you have the title of "Author" behind your name, you build credibility, and you have a product to sell.
#1: Not Having the Right Content
You have a checklist of things you’re going to need in order to launch a successful coaching or speaking business:
- Website, check!
- Platform, check!
- Niche market, check!
- Desire & passion, check!
But wait...what are you going to coach about specifically? It’s not enough to share your story – you must be able to take your client and audience from one point to another succinctly so that it makes sense to them using tangible tools that can be implemented right away.
If your audience suffers from low self esteem, telling them that you had it once, overcame it, and now “You can do it too!” isn’t going to cut it. Point blank, you leave them feeling empty without the HOW.
They paid for solutions, not hype. If you have a client who desperately needs to start saying “No” in order to thrive, it’s pointless to simply tell her to “buck up and just say it.” She wants to know how to say it. Are you prepared for that? Can you provide the exact verbiage that will ease her anxiety about rejecting someone?
I hope so because if not, you’re losing credibility and your reputation will suffer a severe blow.
An abbreviated example of impactful content with a logical flow for a client or audience member who struggles with low self worth looks like this:
But if you’re someone who has the desire, but not necessarily the time to develop comprehensive content, you may consider licensing other experts’ content for your own use. You can customize it to suit your experience as well as adjust it for the needs of your clients and audience.
You can avoid these pitfalls if you have the right drive, tools, and guidance. Get certified to teach award-winning content so you can build a thriving speaking & coaching business.
Erika Gilchrist is an Award-Winning Speaker, Author, and Content Specialist. With more than 18 years in the speaking business, she has created a strong track record for developing ideas that work. Violated as a little girl, living in a women’s shelter as a young woman, sleeping in a van with her ex- husband, and depressed and literally crying in a corner, Gilchrist reached deep within and tapped the secret that set her free and, thus, began her journey of empowering other women to be unstoppable. She is regarded as one of the most energizing, engaging, and captivating speakers in the industry. Her seminars, trainings and keynotes have empowered thousands of people.
As a published author of 8 books, she empowers entrepreneurs and professionals by teaching them how to position themselves as experts through her workshops & mastermind groups, “How to Write & Publish Your Own Book.” Ms. Gilchrist is an expert in personal development, communication, and conflict management. She’s been featured as one the ‘15 Most Powerful Women on the South Side of Chicago,’ CLTV, and Rolling Out Magazine.
Erika travels across the globe giving keynote speeches and workshops that inspire her audiences to move into action. “It’s important to me to provide people with tangible and practical techniques that they implement right away; not in six months, or a year from now, but things can be done right now to begin that process.”
You can license her fabulous content to skyrocket your own career and avoid the 5 coach-career-kiling mistakes.