When I started my first coaching business after leaving my corporate job, I was overjoyed with the possibilities! I was wrapping up my coach training certification, read the “it” books (Book Yourself Solid and Get Clients Now!), hired a coach, and started to “do the work” to become a coach.
I spent months with my head down figuring out what my red carpet strategy would be, the list of people I could reach out to within my network, determining who my avatar was, and so on. And after a few months, I landed my first coaching client and was thrilled to death.
But now what?
I had IDEAS of what I needed to do… products I should create, ebooks I should write (and I wrote them), lead magnets to “bribe people,” and so on. But I wasn’t actively building a coaching business. I was freelancing as a coach every now and then, interspersed with lots of book work and frustration when no one signed up.
One of the most common things I hear when I talk with other entrepreneurs, especially coaches!, is I have a business or an idea, but I’m stuck. What should I do next? Or worse, they are in my situation and did all of the “work,” but are not making any income.
And desperation sets in. Rightfully so. We start a business to earn money, pay our bills at the core – and also enjoy the freedom and passion along the way.
And while I don’t believe in touting “5 steps to 6 figures” systems or a “do this and that will happen” approach – because frankly, I’ve tried ALL of those products, and while there may be some nuggets within them, success is up to YOU. You can turn it around!
So if you find yourself in this situation, here’s what to do next to get yourself moving forward in the right direction.
#1: Talk to People Who Have Already Paid You
The absolute best way to learn more about your business potential, your strengths, the needs of your customers is to pick up the phone and actually talk to people who have paid you money for something. They have already believed in you enough to give you their hard earned money for something – an ebook, coaching, a product, whatever it is.
And they already know you and like you. I mean, there is a close to a zero percent chance of being rejected! Another plus – especially for my fellow introverts out there.
When you are talking with them, ask them things like:
- What they liked best about working with you
- What you could have improved on
- Was there anything they wished you would have done differently
- Did your approach work with their learning style
- What are they working on now (this is the “what’s next” question)
From these conversations, you’ll learn not only how you’re perceived by those you serve, but also areas of improvement, ideas for your next product/service, blog post topics/ideas, and so much more. This step will probably feel hard for most of you, it is hard for me as well, but it has always paid off big time for me, when I listened to my customers. Remember: your business isn’t about YOU, it’s about THEM.
#2: Real Talk with the Mirror
I teach a few mini-classes on entrepreneurship, and the topic that comes up in all of them, is getting real with yourself. Entrepreneurship is not for the weak of heart (you know that already) – it is a constant roller-coaster of emotions, wins, losses, doubt, and everything else in between.
And throughout that, we often don’t take the time to be real with ourselves.
What are your true strengths? What do you suck at and should avoid at all costs? As my friend Jenny Blake always says, “what’s your zone of genius?”
I ignored this exercise for the first three years in my business – I didn’t want to really look deep about my own shortcomings, how they could impact my business, how imperfect I really am. But when I did, holy sh*tballs batman! My world changed… and so did my business.
When you are super clear about who you are and what you do best, you can serve your clients better – and stop trying to work so hard on things that don’t match with that vision.
#3: Build Your Business Model
For the love of Nancy, stop trying to cobble together a business without building your actual business model (yep, learned this one the hard way too!). A business model is the framework in which your business will operate – the type of business you will be. Currently, I’m obsessed with the way Tara Gentile is framing business models, as “Growth Styles” (in my mind, it’s growth paths) – check it out here.
Essentially, how do you want your business to operate? Are you into 1:1 coaching only? Do you want to be an agency providing a service to many? Are you aiming to be an online education products company? Do you want to be an authority in the space? And so on.
Just deciding on how you want to deliver your services isn’t enough. You have to take the next step as well and create your actual business model – figuring out how everything will work together, be cohesive, support your strengths, serve your clients, and so on.
It doesn’t have to be super complicated or take you eons to do, but you have to have something solid for you to point back to time and time again to keep you on track. It will also greatly help you set the right priorities, goals and intentions as your business grows.
These three things will get you started. Part two is coming soon.