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To Become a Highly Successful Coach
Kris share with you his thoughts as to why coaches aren't more successful.
Kris share with you his thoughts as to why coaches aren't more successful.
Since 2002, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many thousands of coaches, many of whom have gone on to do wonderful things with their coaching skills, however it never ceases to amaze me how many coaches looking to set up a successful coaching business fail – often at the first hurdle. To be clear – the word ‘successful’ is one of those words that can mean very different things to very different people. So for example, many coaches consider success to mean setting up a part-time coaching business that brings in additional income to enable them to have a nice(r) holiday each year, or treat themselves to some luxury every now and then; others are empowered to move into a job that they love, some prefer a sideways move from their current role into a position that affords them the opportunity to work with people, many start a full-time coaching business that brings in an annual income equivalent to or exceeding that of their previous career; whilst a number of coaches are making a huge difference in the lives of others, regardless of the remuneration they receive. For the purposes of this article, I am talking about those coaches setting up a coaching business, be it full time or part time. I’ve noticed a worrying trend as to the pitfalls that coaches can often fall into which negatively impact on the likelihood of their success.
So... What are the mistakes so many coaches make?
1. They don’t have a coach. How can you possibly sell the benefits to others of your service if you aren’t using it yourself? You wouldn’t get your teeth done by a dentist with evidence of tooth decay, nor would you hire a personal trainer who’s out of breath when they get to the top of a normal flight of stairs. So why would anyone hire you if you are not working on your own personal/professional development. In fact – not having a coach to help you develop your coaching business is a sure-fire way to help you along the road to failure.
2. They learn nothing about business. Coaches spend a significant amount of money on their coaching development; investing in training and travel and books and membership and insurance etc. but rarely take the time to learn about how to set up and run a business. They don’t read any books, they don’t attend any seminars, they don’t speak to people who’ve successfully started a business, they don’t access all of the help and support available to them with their business in mind. Instead, they almost seem to sit around and wait for it to happen as if it were a right, as if they were simply entitled to succeed with no effort whatsoever.
3. They procrastinate. Coaches don’t just put things off. They spend their time doing everything but business growth activity, spending weeks trying to work out their business name, developing their logo, identifying the right supplier to print their business stationery, selecting the colour scheme of their website and sorting through proof after proof of business card designs. Essentially… shopping. These tasks end up consuming their every waking moment, preventing them from even considering the possibility of finding paying clients.
4. They are eternal students. Don’t get me wrong – I am a huge champion of CPD (Continual Professional Development) which is essential to a coaches on-going success (See ‘5’) but often coaches will move from one training programme to the next instead of taking the plunge and starting their business. It’s as if they feel that they won’t be able to charge clients without additional qualifications in ‘the next big thing’ – so they train additionally in NLP, TFT, EFT, Hypnotherapy, Reiki, Neuroscience, Supervision, and Indian Head Massage; then wonder how years go by with no return on the investment they have made in themselves.
5. They ignore their Continual Professional Development. For me, far worse than spending all of your time in training, is spending no time developing yourself at all. Coaches who invest in their on-going learning and development will always be more attractive to potential clients than coaches who get the qualification and think they know it all. Habit number 7 of Stephen R Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ is ‘Sharpen the saw’ so it’s the coaches out there who are continually sharpening their coaching saws who are more likely to be the effective coaches, providing they do this alongside their business development rather than instead of.
6. They undervalue the service they offer. I think we have all not purchased a product or service because ‘it’s too cheap’. Whether it’s a bottle of wine for £1.50, a can of beans for 4 pence (remember that?!) or a suit for £12.99 (I kid you not) – we can sometimes make a judgement call on the quality we might expect which can invariably lead to us choosing a slightly more expensive alternative for that peace of mind. So why would people buying your coaching skills be different? So often coaches undervalue their offering which is reflected in their fees. Seriously - how much would it be worth for you to have the ideal health, or relationship, or career, or finances or coaching business? Your fees also reflect your brand, so you get a choice as to whether you want to be the Sainsbury’s Coach, the Harrods Coach, or the Car Boot Coach.
7. They explain what they are not what they do. Have you been to those networking events where you have people tell you their weird and wonderful job titles? I’m a Director of Freshness. I’m an Engagement Specialist. I’m a First Impressions Manager. Well – saying ‘I’m a Coach’ for me has a similar impact. It doesn’t tell anyone what you actually do. It also leaves things open to their definition of the words you use and their definition of ‘Coach’ might be quite different. Why not instead consider explaining what you do – i.e. I help builders, plumbers and electricians spend more time ‘on’ their business rather than ‘in’ their business so they can maximise their time and their profits. The absence of labels makes things so much clearer.
8. They don’t know who their prospective clients are. This one is a big one. For me, this should be the first question any coaching business asks. Who is my client? Before you get your website up and design your business cards, before you spend money on that magazine advert, before you invest in that trade show stand – you must know who it is you are hoping to attract. When you know who your typical client is and, importantly, the reasons they will hire your services, this will inform everything. Your business name, website, branding, networking, fees, and elevator pitch. Once you’ve established your coaching niche, it also sets you up as an expert and makes it easier for your clients to find you rather than you having to send out a huge net in the hope that one fish might bite.
9. They don’t walk their talk Much of what I’ve already said can fall under this heading. Coaches ironically, can be quite un-coach like in their attitude and approach. So they don’t have a coach and they ignore their professional development and they procrastinate. But they can also be incredibly negative. Surprising isn’t it?! A professional whose sole purpose is to help empower others to take action and raise awareness of their ‘can-do’ attitude, whingeing and moaning about how everything is going wrong and how none if it is their fault. They often spend time with similarly negative individuals in a sort of coven of pessimism which only serves to perpetuate the circumstance. I would go so far as to say that a poor attitude is hands-down the biggest reason why these coaches are unsuccessful. But remember this – you can ALWAYS choose your attitude. ALWAYS. As the great Zig Ziglar said ‘Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude’
10. They’re not passionate enough. Confucius apparently said ‘If you do what you love – you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Not enough coaches love it. I mean really love it. Steve Jobs said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.” So if you’re not loving what you do – do something else. Simple.
So… Take heart and learn from the mistakes of countless coaches over the years. Get a coach Learn about business Do it. Or ditch it! Develop your professional skills at the same time as growing your business Value what you offer and charge accordingly Explain what you do, not what you are. Identify your niche Walk your talk Be passionate.
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