Diana avoids her bookkeeping tasks. At the end of the year she cobbles together a spreadsheet with some entries for her income and expenses, she stares at a pile of receipts, and then she criticizes herself for not “being on top of the finances.” She asked me for some coaching to help her get herself to be consistent with the financial tasks in her business.
I asked her why she doesn’t just do the work. She gave me a few answers, such as:
I know I’ll see negative numbers, and I’ll use them as evidence that I’m failing.
I feel guilty that I’m not respecting the money in the business, so I know I can’t expect to get anything out of it.
(I’m paraphrasing, but this is the kind of thing Diana said was running through her head.)
So I asked her: do you actually believe those things are true?
She thought about it, and then said, “No. I don’t use negative numbers as evidence of failure, and I know that I do respect my business.”
Are you sure, I asked her.
She thought about it again, and then said, “Yes, I’m sure.” Ok, great. That being the case, I wonder if some part of you doesn’t believe that bookkeeping tasks are big and complicated and will take forever. And then you just don’t want to even start with them.
Actually, she told me, that does sound right. It just seems like too much work. So I told Diana that we could dig in and coach around those thoughts, and that might not be a bad thing to do.
Or she could just try an experiment: spend five minutes each day on a bookkeeping task. At the end of five minutes, stop. Don’t let the project be more than five minutes’ big on any one day. Over time, you might find it easier to get the tasks done.
And don’t worry about doing any of it wrong. One of the benefits of Office Hours membership is that I’ll help you clean up your bookkeeping messes during our monthly money calls. Do your best, develop the habit, and use me as backup.
Diana said that all sounded great.
Dara describes herself as a quilter, a coach for other quilters, and lately a general life coach who can handle everything from weight loss to relationship issues. She came to me wondering about her next steps: She can earn $50 per hour doing quilting for other people.
She’s creating quilting books.
She’s doing some business coaching for quilters who want to make more from their craft.
She’s been offering one on one coaching and made over $10k in November from that alone.
Her question is: how should she prioritize all these opportunities? My first thought for Dara was that this is more of an identity crisis than a business challenge.
Meaning: the math makes it very clear that quilting at $50 per hour can’t compete with coaching at an effective rate of hundreds of dollars per hour.
She agreed. The issue, I told her, is that you love doing all of these things. If I told her to drop quilting, that would be painful. Quilting is a significant part of her identity and her joy.
But coaching is also part of her identity now, and she’s not sure how to balance the two—not to mention being a mom of five. I didn’t try to steer Dara toward any particular path in her business. Instead I suggested that she can have multiple passions, but not every area of interest has to also be an area of profit. If she loves quilting, she can use it as a creative outlet. She can do her own quilting, she can create quilting content, she can support other quilters. She can do all of these things without caring about the direct profitability of those tasks and projects.
She can build her business and financial plans around coaching, and reach any financial goals through that vehicle. Or she can do something completely different. My point for Dara (and all of us) is that it’s worth thinking about why we’re doing a particular thing. Money is only one reason to do anything, and it’s often the least-compelling motivation.
Dara came to our conversation with so much enthusiasm and confidence. I asked to tell me where all this confidence was coming from.
She told me her friend (and Office Hours member) Deena Rutter did some coaching with her about 18 months ago, and it opened her eyes to the fact that she could generate her own confidence and validation. She didn’t need approval from anyone else.
That set her on a path to figuring out her own approach to coaching. She lost weight, she grew her business, and she shared content about all of the above. Her enthusiasm was magnetic, and that’s why she’s getting coaching inquiries now. The lesson for me (and all of us) is that when we find our enthusiasm and work on our confidence, then share it with the people around us, we become magnetic.
Rebecca had some great practical questions about her business bank accounts. She’s never separated her business transactions from her personal transactions. She doesn’t have business bank accounts, and she’s wondering how much time she needs to spend digging through her 2019 transactions to “clean things up.” I told her that if her tax pro isn’t bugging her about it (and hasn’t in the past), there’s no need to spend time there this year.
If she wants to be more clear about her money in 2020, she can make a clean start on January 1, keeping all business transactions in business accounts, and personal transactions in personal accounts.
She asked if she needs an official business checking account, or if it can be another personal account that she just happens to use exclusively for business transactions. I told her that will be fine, probably. Same goes for credit cards and PayPal: we’re all better off with a clean break between our business transactions and our personal transactions.
This was a short but important coaching segment. Thank you, Rebecca!
Sara is becoming known in her community (friends, family, church) as a coach who helps doctors’ wives. She even has people approaching her with their problems.
Her question is how to take that awareness and turn it into more clients. I suggested a line from my favorite book on the business of coaching, The Prosperous Coach. The author suggests asking this powerful question when a person shares their problems with you: Would you like help with that? If the person says yes, you schedule a consultation. If they say no, you let them complain and you be their friend.
Would you like help with that is a powerful question because it gives the person you’re talking to a chance to formally acknowledge their desire to have you coach them. It removes you from the position of chasing them. Either yes, they’d like help. Or no, they wouldn’t. Harmless, but effective.
Sara also asked about a challenge I’d given her a couple of weeks ago to extend 100 invitations in the coming weeks and months. What kind of invitations? Any invitation. Doesn’t matter.
The invitation could be anything from asking an acquaintance how everything is going all the way to formally inviting someone to coaching. The idea is to increase the amount of contact she’s having with people in her world, and trusting that increased contact will bear fruit.
She told me that she had been looking at who she could follow up with, and she found that the people who engage most with her content are those she’s already had consults with—people who said no too coaching. Great, I told her. Some percentage of those no people are ready to become yes people. Just keep on keeping on.
Ceri was on a call with other new business owners who were talking about their Facebook funnels and specific metrics inside those funnels. She feels like they might be at an advantage because they can point to specific numbers in their business (click rates, opt-in rates, etc) and she has very little data she can use to drive her own decisions. Why? Because right now her primary marketing effort is on Instagram, and all Instagram really tells you is how many likes, followers, shares, etc your content gets. I told Ceri that those business owners are NOT wasting their time with all that work on Facebook. It will pay off for some of them. But…
The math of a Facebook funnel is not simple. If you optimize to improve one number (like ad clicks, for example), you could accidentally mess something up farther along in the funnel without realizing it. To make this more clear, let’s use the example of our newsletters:
Let’s say my newsletter open rate is low. So I put tons of focus on writing subject lines that maximize my open rate. Maybe I take it too far and I end up writing click-bait(ish) subject lines that do crank up my open rates, but end up disappointing my subscribers when the newsletter content doesn’t quite match the hyped-up subject line.
My point for Ceri is this: yes, those other business owners have some concrete (well, semi-concrete) numbers in their business, but that doesn’t mean they know what to do with them. And it doesn’t mean they can predict or understand the impact of moving any of those numbers.…which led to a short discussion of what I call “the black box.”
All of us have inputs we can control completely: the amount of content we publish, the number of invitations we extend, etc.
We also have results: the number of yeses we get, the amount of money we make, etc. In between our inputs and results is a black box. We put our inputs into the black box, and we get our results out of the black box. But we don’t really know what’s inside it. This uncertainty about the connection between our inputs and our results is deeply uncomfortable. Humans don’t like uncertainty. We’ll do almost anything to avoid it, including staring at numbers in a Facebook funnel and pretending we know exactly what they mean.
Every once in a while we get a peek inside the black box, which sounds something like this: “Hey, I that newsletter you sent was amazing. I can’t stop thinking about it.” “By the way, I told my sister to get in touch. She really needs to talk to you.”
These are little hints we get that we’re doing something right. That our work is resonating. That we can have some reasonable hope and expectation that our inputs will produce the outputs we want. Over time we worry less about our inability to see clearly into the black box because we can see that a certain set of inputs reliably produces a certain level of results. The challenge is dealing with the uncertainty of the black box on the way there.
Becca is excited. Her last lunch n learn was “filled with people.” They loved what she said. But, she realized, even if it hadn’t been full she’d have enjoyed it anyway.
She went into it with this thought: if five people show up I’ll coach every single one of them during the lunch. If twenty people show up I’ll teach my prepared material.
This is the ideal way to approach anything you’re doing in your business. See the opportunity in the best and the worst-case scenarios. Show up excited either way.
Becca also had a breakthrough with a sales call this week: she told the client the price and then told the client they should probably both go think about it for a couple of days and decide whether they should move forward. (I’d suggested this in a previous Office Hours call. It’s not that I think this is right or necessary every time, but I think it can be a powerful exercise for a coach who’s felt desperate or felt like she’s chasing her client on the sales call. It’s just a great way to show confidence.) Not long after the call, the client emailed her and said “Can we talk Friday?” This is a fantastic example of how attractive confidence is. Becca respected that client enough to let her off the phone without pressuring a yes or no. And she believed in herself enough to let the call end without a concrete outcome.
Again, that doesn’t mean this is the “right” thing to do. It was just a chance for Becca to put her new-found confidence on display.
Becca’s next question was this: Should she run a six-week marriage group coaching experience? Specifically, should she run it if she knows she’s doing it because she believes people won’t pay her one on one rates, and they “don’t get coaching”? It’s a great idea, I told her. Great practice. Great relationship building. So do it for better reasons. Do it because it will benefit her and the participants. It will be fun. It will lead to referrals and new relationships. She liked the sound of all that. But how much should she charge for it? I don’t care, and it doesn’t matter. Pick a price and run with it. If your priority is to make money, then set the price higher and be willing to sell it like crazy. Or set the price lower…and sell it like crazy. Don’t let price be an obstacle to doing the work you wan to do. Just keep yourself moving. The thing you charge $150 for this year you can charge $1,500 for next year. Just keep moving.
Heidi is feeling more and more confident in her developing identity as a coach and business owner. She told me she’s always seen her as the supporter, not the driver.
For example: it’s always been her husband’s job to make the paycheck and her job to budget it. And she’s been great at that job. But she also felt slightly ashamed or “less than” because she wasn’t the driver. She was pretty sure you had to be a big, alpha personality to be successful as a coach. No way, I told her. Her identity as a supporter can be perfect for building a successful coaching practice. Not all coaches are the same, and not all coaching businesses are the same. As she continues taking small but meaningful actions in her business, she’ll feel more and more comfortable with the idea that she gets to be exactly how she is while growing exactly the business she wants.
Heidi’s doing great, and so are all of you.
See you on our next open coaching call.