Life coach business failures I have seen so many times over, having been in the business since 1997, and teaching coaches since 2006. Failure is feedback!
1. When life coaches run their business from a cave.
The number 1 reason for a life coach business fail is hiding in a cave behind the computer. A service as personal as life coaching isn’t simply made by blogging, Facebooking, and sending out news blasts. Though not unimportant, too many get stuck in the cave with these as their focus. You need to get outside of your house to market your business! Think of giving workshops, talking to strangers in places where your customers spend time, networking, etc.
2. When life coaches don’t understand they are actually building a business.
I see many beginning life coaches, now that they are no longer in the corporate rat race, finally able to lead a life of their dreams. So they go on a vacation for a month, then the summer is pretty nice so why not have a glass of wine in the park, then on to another vacation, watch their friends’ kids for the week, etc. Imagine that building a life coach business is like starting a restaurant. Ever heard of a starting restaurant owner going home early, working 20-hour weeks or raising their air miles bonus points? Exactly. You are running a business. You need to approach your life coach business with an entirely different mindset. It isn’t about freedom always, and having a fabulous time. It is 5 years of pulling your business through a start-up phase, working very hard. Initially doing a lot of networking, marketing, coming up with clever ideas to acquire customers, working on a website, starting a foundation, writing a book, starting a support group, volunteering. Spending your time wisely, on the right priorities. This is an ongoing process for most people, for at least a couple of years, as the referrals start increasing. Most established successful life coaches spend a good 20-30% of their time on acquisition. That means that the life coach without any customers should spend a lot more than that! This job isn’t for vacationing lightweight socialites and bag packing adventurers. It is a JOB!
3. When life coaches take training in the wrong place (or not at all.)
There are so many extremely poor training companies around that it is not even funny. Some claim to teach someone to be a life coach in 2 days. It may surprise you that a lot of life coach teachers have barely been coaching themselves. They are professional trainers. There is an “international credentialing system” in the world of coaching, where people pay insane amounts of money because they think it is the “only” legitimate licensing system. There actually is no such thing!!!! But that is another story. Coaches need to do their research well. You need live training, where you can practice coaching in a safe environment, with your trainers present. Clients care about RESULTS, not certificates on your wall earned through an $8000 webinar training where the coach hasn’t even met the trainer in person! You do need training, but the training is to be experiential, and far from just sitting and listening to a trainer speak. You cannot learn coaching unless you learn to communicate too! Trust me, a teacher is handicapped in a webinar, as weight shifts to the presentation being the priority, instead of the learning of the student being the priority. Train but do not over-train. Some people turn into seminar junkies, and their money is spent before they even start their business. Often this is caused by an underlying fear to get started. Taking coach training based on NLP kind of solves that issue, as NLP life coaches are able work with fears and phobias in their clients too.
4. When life coaches don’t understand that lean start-up isn’t the same as starving start-up business.
A lot of people want to start a life coach business because it is cheap, and they may see their biggest expense is their training. That can be the biggest expense, but it usually isn’t. For most, the biggest expense comes after the training where you are working on your marketing and acquisition, but don’t have the customers yet to pay for the expenses. This can be done lean, if you don’t mind spending a lot of time doing research or learning new skills. The bottom line of starting up a lean business with little money doesn’t equal having no money to start a business. A life coach running a business needs to know what the term ROI means, and run it accordingly. It is also necessary to know what positioning a brand means. You would be shocked to learn that I met half a dozen people who followed Tony Robbins around the world where the training fees alone were over $25000, yet they don’t have money for a website, or they ran out of money before their life coach business even started. Their cheap website doesn’t even reflect a life coach business that should be asking a fee! The solution: keep your expenses real, targeted, and understand … you do need money to carry you through the first phases.
5. Not getting massive results equals not many referrals
Some coaches train in systems where everything is about definitions, and working with forms. That’s simplistic, dare I say old school, and largely ineffective. Or lets say, not as effective as one could be. As a coach you really need to make sure that you tap into methodologies that get you results (this is why I use NLP in my coaching work, a good 70% of the time, 30% other methodologies.) I do full custom work, and I teach my students how to do that too. A form is something I use only once in a while.
6. When a life coach is afraid to charge!
It is a business, and a business charges money! Your product has value, so charge for it. If your product doesn’t have value, you may want to consider another job, more training, or more practice. What is the difference between a hobby and a job?
If you keep the above in mind if you are starting life coach business, you will easily and comfortably avoid the most common problems.