Many people have told me they’d never hire a coach who wasn’t “successful.” Their definitions vary wildly, anywhere from making a certain dollar amount (usually six figures) to having no credit card debt.
Almost universally, people think a coach must be doing much better than them.
I’ve given that a lot of thought in the last few months. Part of me gets, and somewhat agrees, with what they’re saying.
Another part of me, a much bigger part at this point, thinks it totally misses the mark. Here’s why.
I’m really, really, really good at helping other people with things like clearing mental blocks, figuring out their message, getting clarity about their offering, and coming up with strategic action plans.
For myself? Not nearly as good.
I regularly encounter my own mental hurdles, still struggle with pinpointing my message, keep massaging my offer, and sometimes veer off my plan. Also, I was a bit shy of hitting six figures in 2018 and I have a healthy amount of credit card debt.
[I could go into this last bit a lot more — like how arbitrary “six figures” is (gross or profit? $100k or $999k?), or that debt is an incredibly common byproduct of divorce (not to mention childbirth in a broken healthcare system) — but that’s not the point.]
All of this used to make my inner critic pipe up and say, “How can you help others when you’re not yet a millionaire?” And the very fact that I had those imposter syndrome moments seemed like evidence that I had no business calling myself a mindset coach.
Then, I started talking about this with other coaches. Turns out, I’m not alone. Not even close.
Here’s the truth about business coaches: Almost all of us operate with some degree of “do as I say, not as I do.”
That’s why so many coaches hire coaches themselves. We need outside perspective as much as anyone. We need advice, support, and (sometimes) a swift kick in the pants, too.
Does having faults, struggles, or credit-card debt make someone a bad coach? No. It makes them human.
I help my clients. I’ve seen them make giant mindset shifts, get incredible clarity, go from stuck to inspired, get clients, make more money. But I’m not leaps and bounds ahead of my clients. Usually, I’m only a few steps ahead (and, in some cases, I’m still working on some of same issues as them).
While my inner critic still has plenty to say, she’s no longer telling me I’m not successful enough to coach.
I realized I wouldn’t want a coach who claims to know it all (have they stopped learning?), or who is miles ahead of me (can they remember what it’s like to be where I am?). I want someone who is always growing and who really gets my struggles. And I know I can be that person for others.
The takeaway? There will always be someone in your field who knows more than you or earns more than you. Also, you may be an awful lot better at helping others with whatever you do than doing it for yourself. That doesn’t mean you don’t have something incredible to offer. You do, and there are plenty of people out there who will want to work with you (faults and all).
Ready to invest in coaching? My program includes a monthly face-to-face call, plus unlimited virtual access to me without a long-term commitment. I’d love to help you clear limiting beliefs, get clear about your values and message, define meaningful goals, and map out how to reach them in 2019. Learn more or apply here.
There was an interesting conversation this week inside my membership community, and I’m sharing because I think it’s a great lesson about how to become an industry expert and business leader.
A member shared this TED talk from a stylist who talks about dressing for confidence. Another member saw it and was upset for a reason I wouldn’t have expected.
Her response: “It bothers me that I frequently see articles go viral that are the things I talk about on an everyday basis. …. Seeing other people succeed at being so much like me is a little depressing at the moment. I feel like Monica in that episode of Friends where that girl steals her identity and lives her life better than she does.”
She went on to ask how someone does such a thing, identifying a topic, embracing it, marketing it, becoming known for it.
First, I am so honored that members of my community feel safe enough to express such real, raw, vulnerable feelings. I love that they know they won’t be judged and instead will be embraced and given positive feedback. That’s magical.
Second, this person’s experience is so incredibly common. So many of us are sitting on life’s sidelines and (with bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment, sadness) saying, “How do I get in the game?” I’ve been there, too.
My response is equally simple and difficult: Just do it.
What I said to that member of my community: “You can’t think something or wish something but not do something and then be surprised when no one knows you can do that thing. If you have something to say, then say it.”
The woman in this TED talk probably started talking about this topic among friends or on her Facebook page, then turned it into a blog, then shared it on podcasts and local media, then turned it into a signature speech that she gave at local and then larger events, and finally applied to TED.
The takeaway? She honed the message until it was undeniable and then shared it relentlessly. That is how you become an industry expert. It’s also how you grow a successful business.
Success = Being Undeniable + Being Relentless
Of course, I recognize that’s easier to say than do. It takes clarity and confidence. It means honing your craft or message over time, making hard cuts and tweaking over and over until it’s undeniable. It means being persistent even when times get hard and you feel like giving up. This is the hard part.
So, the woman in the TED talk was successful because she did it. More importantly, she was successful because she believed in herself and believed she could be successful.
My member went on to ask about the mechanics of the process (ie, how doing a TED talk equals money and how to go from idea to undeniable). First, this woman is a stylist so that’s how she makes money; the talking, I’m sure, serves to increase her following and potential client base (or, maybe, to lead into something like selling a book). Second, it’s not just “build it and they will come.” More than just writing a blog post, you have to share it everywhere, ask others to share it, pitch yourself to podcasts and media and for speaking opportunities. You have to work hard for a long time.
Again, it’s like running a business. You can just put up a website and wait for clients to find you. You have to network, share content (provide value), do discovery calls or pitch yourself, ask for referrals, and never give up. Over and over and over again. Undeniable + relentless…
If you’re still stuck on the sidelines and not sure how to move from wishing to doing, let me offer a few resources to help you get going.
First, that’s what I do for my clients so hiring a coach is a great idea if you’re ready to really invest in yourself. If you can’t yet pay hundreds of dollars for help and want to DIY your mindset makeover, here are a few books I recommend*:
- “Mindset” by Carol Dweck … Learn the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, and why the latter is so darn important. This may be an eye-opening book that helps you begin to see why your upbringing and life experiences are making it difficult for you to dream and do bigger.
- “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks … Want to dig even deeper into why you’re stuck? This book will help you clearly make the association between your past and where you are today. And once you can recognize those patterns, you can begin to change them. I can’t stress enough how transformative this book can be and has been for so many of my clients (and for myself).
- “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown … I adore every word Brené has ever written. I think this book is especially helpful for people who feel like they are too “different” or aren’t “enough” to ever be wildly successful. I don’t know how anyone can read the included story about Viola Davis and not be forever changed.
- “Expectation Hangover” by Christine Hassler … If you tend to get caught up in a cycle of big hopes and giant disappointments, then do yourself the favor of reading this book. It has lots of great exercises to help you understand the roots of your wish-defeat cycle and how to begin to dismantle it so you can let go of outcomes and finally feel joy in the moment.
- “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller … If your problem isn’t so much mindset but just figuring out how to craft an undeniable message, then this is the book for you. The step-by-step guide for making your story compelling has been revolutionary for my business.
I hope this inspires you to be undeniable and relentless so you can become an industry expert and business leader. I know you can do it!
* This post contains affiliate links. If you use them, I’ll receive a small reward but the cost is the same to you either way.
Last week, someone in my VIP membership community asked about how to succeed in business. She bravely shared that she’d made zero Black Friday sales and was generally feeling completely defeated.
“This is getting too exhausting. I haven’t made money in months and it’s killing me.”
She said she’s now second guessing every decision she makes, and she’s even beginning to think that maybe people just don’t like her.
The post broke my heart … and it made me mad.
I’m mad at the online “gurus” who contributed to her feelings. They clog our newsfeeds with “easy secrets” for five-figure launches and six-figure businesses and growing a massive following. They tell us they know how to succeed in business and make it seem oh-so-simple.
Enough is enough.
Here’s the truth. It may not be what anyone wants to hear, but I think it’s what everyone (especially this amazing woman in my community) needs to hear:
Starting and running a successful, sustainable business is HARD WORK. Period.
Are there unicorns who lucked their way to the top overnight? Sure. But for most of us, it takes time to craft clear messaging and create a solid offer. It takes time to build a following or a network of ideal clients. It takes time to nurture them and to get them to buy. It takes time to develop loyal clients who become repeat buyers. Want to know how to succeed in business? The answer is it takes time.
I’m sick of people trying to sell the bill of goods that you can somehow skip ahead in line if you just learn their handy, dandy secrets.
I’m even more sick that I’ve seen behind some of those curtains and now realize that many of these same people fail to tell you that their “7-figure business” is based on gross numbers and they actually clear something far less. Or that the “5-figure launch” they’re hyping cost $5,000 or more in Facebook ads. Or that their “overnight success” came because of a total fluke viral post or because they were an early adopter of a now-overrun social media channel.
Very often, with a little digging, you discover the truth isn’t as simple as the promise.
If you’ve ever done home repairs, you’ve probably heard “you can have it good, fast, or cheap — pick two.” The same is true with business.
👉 You can build a financially successful business fast and cheap, but it will probably be a really crappy business (as in, one built on tricks or lies).
👉 You can build a GOOD and financially successful business fast, but it won’t be cheap (as in, you’ll need to spend a lot of money on ads, lists, or professional help).
👉 You can build a GOOD and financially successful business cheap, but it will take time (as in you, you’ll need to float that business while you DIY your way into clients).
I’ve chosen Option 3 (good and cheap, not fast) both times I’ve built a business.
The first time, I spent 6 months planting seeds for and saving money to float a freelance writing business while I was still working full-time. Then I spent another 6 or more months relying on my savings as I actually grew the business after leaving my 9 to 5.
The second time, I spent 6 months laying the foundation for a coaching business while making 100% of my income from my writing business. This year, I began to make money from coaching but I’m still doing writing work to sustain myself financially.
As I shared with my membership group, less than half of my income this year came from the work I really want to be doing (coaching, community, and courses). By the end of next year, I hope to be making almost all of my income from this new venture.
That’s not glamorous, and it certainly isn’t the stuff of flashy Facebook ads. But it’s my truth, and the truth of so many other successful business owners I know.
Why am I sharing this today?
I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re not alone if, like the woman in my membership community, your business has you feeling exhausted and frustrated. You’re not alone if, like her, it’s taking more time and energy than expected to be successful.
If you feel that way, take a deep breath and know it’s normal. Then, silence the voices that are adding to those feelings. They aren’t helping you and, more than likely, their “secrets” about how to succeed in business won’t either. Finally, find yourself a business community that is built on truth and support.
Surround yourself with others who “get it” and who are willing to share the good, bad, and ugly of owning a business (not just the Instagram-worthy highlights).
You can build the business of your dreams. You can get rich from your special gifts and talents. But if it takes you more than a few weeks or if the “3 secrets” don’t work for you, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re normal, and that’s okay.
Good, fast, or cheap—which 2 are you choosing? Comment below and let me know!
I launched three courses in the last year, and it taught me a lot about creating an online course. In this post, I want to share 4 secrets I learned along the way. Hopefully, my successes and failures can save you some headache and heartache in creating an online course.
Lessons learned creating an online course
1. It’s not as hard as you think.
If you’re nervous about creating an online course, it’s probably because you’re overthinking it. Start small and easy; your goal is to learn about course creation, not make a ton of money. (If you do rake in cash—awesome bonus!)
What’s something that seems super simple to you, but for which others are always asking your help? That’s your first course topic.
In my case, it was LinkedIn. I get tons of leads from the site, so someone suggested I teach a masterclass and share my secrets. A ha! First course.
When you take this approach, you can create and launch a basic course in a day. Seriously (I’ve done it).
• Write the content
• Record audio or video (Easy option: Loom)
• Create a workbook or checklist (Easy option: Canva)
• Upload to a course-hosting platform (Easy option: Podia)
• Sell it (see #2)
2. It’s a lot harder than you think.
Creating an online course? Easy. Selling a course? H-A-R-D.
It’s easy to fall for hype on Instagram: A cute 20-something promising the 3 secrets to running a 7-figure business while you sip margaritas on the beach. Sounds divine.
It’s utter crap. She may as well sell you the secrets to picking winning lottery numbers.
“Passive income” is bullsh*t.
Yes, you can make money while you sit on the beach, but you’ll need your laptop with you because 99% of the work with courses comes after they’re made.
Unless you already have a giant following, you’ll spend most of your time trying to find ways to get your course in front of ideal buyers. That means writing guest blog posts, trying to get on podcasts, promoting in Facebook groups, tons of promoting on your own social media, etc.
It’s a lot of work, and don’t be fooled by the gurus making you believe otherwise.
3. Set realistic expectations.
Don’t fall for the “5- or 6-figure launch” hype either.
To make $100,000 on a course, you need 1 buyer willing to pay $100,000 or 1,000 willing to pay $1,000. Either is mighty hard to find. Not impossible, of course, but really freaking hard.
There will always be the random person who catches lightning in a bottle and has a 5- or 6-figure launch with zero following and no email list. I hope you’re so lucky. Just know it’s exactly that — luck.
For 99.9% of us, course income is
directly related to the size of our following.
If your email list or social media following isn’t the size of Marie Forleo’s, Amy Porterfield’s, or Jenna Kutcher’s, you cannot expect to make as much as they make from courses. I don’t say this to discourage you, only to help you set realistic expectations.
Let me share my numbers. During the initial launch of my first course, I sold 39 seats for about $1,400. In the year since, I’ve made about $6,000 more on my two courses. That’s with an email list of less than 1,000 and a total social media reach of about 14,000. (My third course, Crush Your Goals, was free — the goal was new email subscribers, not income).
4. Evergreen is a hard sale.
It seems logical to let people buy your course at any time. It would dramatically reduce your income potential if you limit sales, right? Wrong.
I’ve learned that “evergreen” courses (those that are always available) are a much harder sell. People think, “oh, I can always come back for it later” so they wait. But later rarely comes because life happens and they forget all about your course.
About 90% of my sales happened during the initial launch of each of my courses. People purchased because:
1. I was actively promoting it
2. It was new and interesting
3. I offered an early-bird price
A few people still randomly purchase my courses, but I think it’s probably smarter to only sell your course a few times a year. People respond to scarcity, so sometimes you have to manufacture it. I’ll likely be shifting to this approach in 2019.
Earlier this month, I hosted a business retreat (it was the second I’ve hosted this year). By most markers, the event was a flop. I only profited $811. It takes about 200 hours to plan, market, organize, and execute the 3-day retreat. That means I earned about $4 an hour. But I’m here to share that there are always lessons from failure.
My first retreat back in May sold out and I cleared a bit more than $2,800. That’s about $14 an hour. Not great, but three times more than this go around.
Why am I telling you these numbers? Well, I’ve realized there are valuable lessons from failure that I really want to share.
I’ve always been quick to tell people that they should always charge what their work is worth. What I’m realizing is I need to be more cautious about giving that advice. There are exceptions to any rule, including pricing, and it’s unfair for me to paint with broad strokes.
I could easily feel like a complete failure for hosting a second event that made so much less than the first and that had three fewer attendees than planned/budgeted.
The truth is, my $4-an-hour effort was a total success (and, frankly, it would have been even if I had lost money). Here’s why:
DATA: This was an amazing learning experience. I discovered that fall is a tough time to host an event because the primary sales period is during the summer when most business owners aren’t in buying mode. I realized I need to do get full or more sizable payments upfront to reduce the risk of losing money. I also learned that I much prefer a smaller group because it allows deeper connections. Finally, I got an opportunity to test new techniques to see what works and what doesn’t.
SERVICE: The attendees got amazing value from the retreat. I created a safe space for women to learn, share, and grow. They walked away with a deeper understanding of their businesses, their goals, and themselves. They made meaningful connections with other women that I am confident will continue for months and years to come. I want to make money, of course, but ultimately I became a mindset coach to empower women and this event did just that.
CONFIDENCE: I walked away from the event with a major boost in confidence. Like most people, I sometimes wrestle with doubt and imposter syndrome. Although I’ve been self-employed for 14 years, I’ve only been coaching for a little over a year. I appreciate any opportunity to do this work and receive positive feedback for my efforts. It’s more than a nice pat on the back; it’s a reaffirming experience that motivates me to keep doing this work I love.
Does this mean I’d be satisfied making $811 for future retreats? Or $4 an hour for anything? Heck no.
I’ll use everything I learned to make mindset and tactical changes so this doesn’t happen again. I’ll do my best to make sure my next event or offering results in a financial payout that leaves me feeling proud and successful.
That said, I’ll also remember that when things don’t go as well as I hope (because sometimes they wont, no matter how hard I work), that it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. And I hope you do the same.
Learning to reframe failure, and find the successes even within the disappointments, is incredibly powerful.