Do you know that 95% of coaches actually are not making money even though they have the expertise and ability to help people get results?
And this is largely due to the influence of the internet, especially the social media. There is a low point of entry and so we see a lot of people starting their own businesses. If you wanted to start a business today as a coach, there is really not much to it, come to think of it, all you need to do is you just need to go on and start a Facebook group or create a Facebook page (it’s free), you could go on to BlogSpot to start a blog. (It’s free), create an Instagram account and YouTube, it’s all free. So you literally have a low barrier entry to starting your own coaching business, so the big question is why do coaches fail or struggle to make money?
Having spoken to over 500 coaches over the years I have been able to identify the major things that hold us back. I will be sharing 10 of the reasons most coaches who are really good at what they do struggle to make money. And also going to be sharing what you should be doing instead and how to turn things around so that you can increase your productivity and profitability.
Stop trying to solve every problem for everybody, that’s like trying to be everything to everybody.
And the problem with this is when people come to you, they are not sure what you are about, they can’t figure if you are the solution to their problem.
You need to understand that in the marketplace, people are not looking for a generalist anymore; they are looking for a specialist – someone who can fix their problems.
Here’s an analogy to drive the point home…..
If you were looking to fix your car for instance, let’s say your car is a Ford, then you come across a company that says ‘‘we fix anything, we fix cars, we fix washing machines, and we fix lawn mowers, fridges or anything you want to get fixed – we fix everything” Just maybe this company have developed the skill and the ability to fix the things.
But then you come across another company that says “We fix cars, any kind of cars you have, we can fix, whether it’s a Toyota, Mazda, Honda or a Subaru – whatever kind of car you have, we can fix it”
And the third company says “We fix Fords – If you need to fix a Ford, bring it over and we will fix it for you”
My question for you is this, of these 3 businesses, which would you take your car to?
The reality is each of these people probably could fix your car, but when you see these messages, one fixes everything, one fixes any kind of car or one who fixes Ford. Who are you likely to go to? Not only would most people be willing to go with that third one, they will be willing to spend more money with him. And even if the others are cheaper, we are more likely to trust the third business more.
Many coaches find it hard to specialise for fear of missing out on being able to help lots of people, but in reality, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. The buyer doesn’t want to make a mistake so they want to make sure that they engage someone who can help them – a specialist.
Rather than just positioning yourself as a coach of things which you may be able to do, my advice for you is to define who is it you’re helping, what is it you’re helping them achieve and how you’re going to help them.
Be very specific. Specificity means you cut out most people but it also means you’re more likely to attract the right kind of people.
Do not let fear of missing out hold you back from specialising. It is the first reason most coaches don’t make money.
When I speak to coaches who are struggling, I ask questions like who your client is, what are they interested in and what motivate them to buy? What are their frustrations, what are their challenges, what are really looking for? Usually, these people start saying, “I guess, I believe, I think, It should be, it must be” that means you are not sure.
This is a big problem because you need to get into the minds of the people you’re targeting.
First of all, you got to understand what they are really looking for, the problems they want to solve and how they see the world.
You must understand how your target sees the world and communicate with them from that point of view.
You need to know these things. Don’t make assumptions. You’ve got to do research, go to the place where they hang out and listen to them, what are the books they’re buying, the website they visit, the people that they follow and the message of the people that they follow. This will give you an idea of what they want to move away from and what they want to move towards.
If you don’t want to get it wrong. If you want to make sure that you’re attracting the right people, by getting out the right message, then you must do the research instead of making assumptions.
This is a very common one where a lot of coaches hustle instead of building.
A person is hustling when they are chasing the sales so bad. They have an event or launched a book and just want to get people to participate or buy their book so badly.
The challenge with this is it springs up desperation. And when you come across as desperate, people will not buy from you.
There is a place for hustling especially in the beginning but the improper thing is to stay on hustling and not building.
So what does hustling look like? Hustling is when people go into different Facebook groups, breaking the rules by posting promotional contents or their products, tagging a lot of people who they shouldn’t be tagging just to land sales.
Hustling can be very challenging and very frustrating because you’re trying hard to sell instead of building and the challenge is a year from now, you’re likely to still be doing the same thing.
So what should you do instead of doing this?
My suggestion here is that you must focus on building a community, a tribe.
If you had your own Facebook group of about 2000-3000 people and if you have an email subscriber list of about 2000 or 5000 people, who you’ve been engaging with regularly, who you’ve been serving and adding value to, and you had an event. What would you do? You’d probably just go into your Facebook group and tell your members who already know and appreciate you because of the value you’ve been giving to them about your forthcoming event. And you’ll just fill up your event just like that because for the last year, you’ve been building a community.
My advice if you’re in this group now is to stop hustling and focus on the building but if you are still in the hustle phase which most people start up through, don’t break ethical rules because it’d cost you credibility and will weaken your brand.
When you want to start a business, if you’re thinking about how you need to look like a solid business, you’re getting it wrong. Because at this point, you start thinking about branding, your logo, having a pretty website and all these other things that make you look like you’re successful.
Think about this way.
Would you rather have a website that impresses your friends or a profitable business?
Is your business’ objective looking professional or is your business’ objective making money and generating profits?
If you’re not making money, you don’t need a fancy logo, you don’t need a branding expert to help you look pretty nor do you need a website (and I’m saying that), what you need are buyers.
So, focusing on looking successful should not be your primary objective.
I don’t have business cards, in fact, I don’t use them. I also remember the very first logo of PFC, I designed it by myself and it is very ugly and I am so embarrassed by it and I’m not going to share with anybody.
However, in spite of that, in our first month of operations our sales exploded, we had no website, we had no logo, we had none of that stuff, what I did focus on was growing my community. I started a Facebook group and started running webinars and I used the webinars to build my list and basically in the first month, we generated a lot of clients and we made a lot of money.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for branding but learn to bring in profits because having a corporate logo, corporate image and having a fancy website that is not making you money will kill your business.
Focusing on looking successful costs you money, being successful makes you money.
So in case you have an appointment with a web designer or brand specialist, cut it now. Call them now and say you don’t want that logo or business cards anymore. What should you focus on right now is how do I land my next customer and how do I have a system that brings customer regularly?
This is a mistake most of us make. We confuse business with providing a service.
A service is helping get something.
A business is not about providing a service; it is about profiting from providing a service to the marketplace.
When you treat your business as a service you provide, you don’t focus on the bottom-line.
Business is about profiting, nothing more, and nothing less. You care about people and you want to help them and that’s fine but your business is not an extension of you but an entire entity on its own that employs you to make money for it by providing a service.
So when you’re going to the marketplace, you go in as a business to actually making money by providing a service to the marketplace that the marketplace will pay for.
If you’re giving away your service for free because you want to help people my question to you is why?
Being fulfilled and being happy at the end of the day that you’ve help people is a good thing but if at the end, you are not making money; your business will die if you aren’t making a profit.
Your business is to go into the market place to make money that will enable you to continue to do the things you like to do. So everything you do must be geared towards making money.
Profiting is like breast feeding your business. So while you’re helping people, help your business. (35:00)
Your business is profiting from the marketplace.
A lot of people don’t make money because they don’t know how to go to market
What I mean here is many people don’t know how to take their ideas to the marketplace and test it.
Most people, who want to start a business, do not understand the place of proving your idea, your solution, your message and your methods and approach.
A lot of people don’t have a proven idea, yet they’ve built infrastructures around an idea before they test it. They don’t even know if it is going to work.
When you want to go to market as a coach, the first thing you want to do is to test the market to see if people actually want what you offer. It is not wise to spend a lot of money to build funnels with testing it in the market.
It is smart to spend a little money to sample your ideas in the market. Then you observe the market response to determine what decisions to make whether to put more of it in the market or redesign the idea as a whole.
As coaches, we are driven by passion but we must ensure to have a strategy to test our ideas in the marketplace before we then launch it big.
My advice to you is to prove all things and hold on to that which is true.
This often times happen with coaches who have a winning idea but lack a system for growth. For instance, if as a fitness coach you know that when people enrol in your program they are going to achieve their aim but you do not have a set system.
Here I am not talking about an accounting system I’m talking about a system that will do two things for you:
If you don’t have people joining your Facebook group or subscribing to your email list every week, then you don’t have a system.
And that basically means you’re going to be hustling. You need to have a system that enables people to follow your social media accounts, subscribe to your email list and join your groups.
You also need a system that continuously generates new buyers, it could be automated, it could semi-automated, it could be manual.
Whatever it is, you need to build a system that grows your tribe and grows your buyers.
So how do you know if you have a system?
If you check and find out that that isn’t happening then you need a system as soon as possible.
This is another one that is very common in our space and it usually happens with people who are multi skilled, who have expertise in so many different areas.
We forget that our business is the only entity with its own identity and we have a responsibility to grow it. So this is how it can happen and this is one thing that I have been guilty of in the past but when I stopped doing this, my business exploded.
Imagine a scenario where you start to build a business as a fitness coach getting a few clients, then someone who knows you and knows that you’re very good with career development, invites you to come and speak at their event on how to grow your career – and there’s nothing wrong with this, because that is you, so you’re going there to render a service, that is not your business.
Then you get there; spoke to an excited audience of about 200 people, some of whom came to during session breaks to express their gratitude for your wisdom on the subject.
So all of a sudden, you begin to drift towards positioning yourself as a career development expert because you think you can do it, based on the past feedbacks. Before you know it, you’re beginning to make changes in your positioning on your website and basically starting from the scratch in another space.
As that begins to grow a little bit, after a while someone asks if you could be a guest at his web summit to speak on time management. Then you go that cycle again.
If you have found yourself doing this, my advice for you is to focus on this business for at least 36 months. Yes, you can go and speak at events because you want to serve and help people but the business that I am building for next three years is this one. I have tested it and I know that it works and I’m building it.
Do not be distracted. They say a rolling stone gathers no moss and I don’t think it’s truer than in coaching because it is easy to switch to start doing something else and what we don’t know is it’s killing your business.
So make a commitment, once you’ve got this idea, you’ve tested this idea, you’ve proven it and you know that it works, give it 36 months, no distractions, focus on it and build it.
Don’t redefine your business every other month, because it will hurt and kill your business.
This happens a lot to most of us because there is so much going on that needs to be done and to be learned. But all that we really want to do is help people and this makes a lot of us get frustrated that we just want to stop.
There is so much to do and there is a lot of information out there that we get overwhelmed and stuck. Often times, this makes us stop taking actions needed to move our business forward, so what do we do about this one?
This first thing I recommend is to find a mentor, someone who knows you and understand what you do to help you at such times.
However, you need to:
Nevertheless, if the overwhelming things are those necessary for your business growth, then delegate them. Outsource. That is, hire someone who can do them for you and pay them because this will help you become more productive in the place of your strength.
Redefine your business, reposition and realign, then eliminate, delegate and stay in your core.
Here is another one that people do, it is very common because people think that when everybody is doing something, they assume that it must be working and they just copy and that is why there’s a lot of copy going on in the coaching space.
But like I said, the market evolves, so let me help you understand why going with the masses doesn’t help your business.
If someone finds an approach that works for them, and they are getting results, after a while, they share the same thing with a lot of people and before you know it, other people come in and start doing the same thing.
Initially it’s new and because it’s new, it stands out and but before you know it, there are people using the same approach while it’s still barely new until it gets to a point where everybody hears about it and it doesn’t work well as much as it used to because at this stage the market has become desensitized to the approach which will now require a lot of effort and energy to get traction.
If you are going with the masses and doing what everyone else is doing, you will find out that you will expend much more energy and effort without necessarily getting results.
My advice is that to be at the cutting edge when it comes to marketing consistently, find a mentor who is also at the cutting edge and work with them.
When everyone else is zigging, you should be zagging.
DJ Sobanjo is a leading personal and leadership development expert, author, speaker, coach and consultant. He has been engaging, inspiring and developing people across the world for over 14 years. He started his internet business journey in 2003 and after many false starts went on to build a successful global business online. In 2014 he started Profit From Coaching to help other coaches, speakers and trainers build a profitable business around their passion of helping others.
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