Lindsay wants to commit to a 2020 income goal of $100k, or even $120k.
Her business has gained momentum over the last few months, generating around $18,000 since August. She attributes the growth to focused effort on her part. In particular she’s finding that clients and referrers are finding and engaging with her on Instagram. Lindsay wanted my thoughts on her goal.
My first question for Lindsey is: is this a goal you can believe in and commit to? Yes, she told me. Great. In that case, trust that the same effort and activity that generated new clients for you since August will continue to generate clients and referrers for you in 2020. The reality of hitting a new level in 2020 is that it won’t be a flat average each month. It’s more likely to be smaller numbers in the early part of the year, with surprisingly big numbers in the latter part of the year. I’ve seen it before. It seems to happen at the moment when all the relationship-building effort catches up at the same time a coach raises her rates and starts renewing clients. The combination of long-term effort + renewals + price increase produces big months.
Lindsay is also wondering about her positioning: should she change her primary message to one that speaks to a woman’s grief over the lost fantasy of her ideal marriage, or stick to something more like “I help women dealing with disappointment in their marriage.” I told her I don’t think it’s a make-or-break question. To me, the disappointment message resonates more easily than the grief message, but that doesn’t make it right. If it were my business, I’d change the tagline on Instagram to the disappointment message, but address grief in my content. Lindsay will know she’s on to something when her clients and prospects start referencing her message in conversation, i.e., “what you said describes me perfectly.”
Rebecca’s business has grown consistently. She’s had some big months, and she’s trying to figure out what’s next for her. Her main concern was her ability to fill her group program in March. She filled a December group easily but wasn’t about the next one. She’s advertising on Facebook to get leads, and she does feel like that’s working. I don’t see a problem, I told her. It turns out her main concern is trying to fill another group in March because “the people who are on my list now will have already seen the offer, and if they don’t sign up now they won’t sign up then.” Maybe, maybe not. Some percentage of those people aren’t signing up for the group because of bad timing, or because they’re just not familiar enough with Rebecca and her work yet. Some of them will sign up for the next group, and some won’t. Rebecca’s only job is to keep bringing new people into her world, nurturing those relationships, and inviting them to join her program. She’s filled this program time and time again. There’s every reason to believe that some percentage of the people who meet Rebecca will sign up. Her only job is consistency and patience.
One other topic Rebecca and I touched on: boredom. She feels like she’s saying the same thing over and over again, and she’s getting a little tired of it. She’d like some variety in her work. A new challenge. I get it—the repetition can get boring. I often tell new business owners that the hard part of long-term success isn’t fighting through the fear of getting started, it’s sustaining interest and energy the 1,000th time you’ve answered the same question. We have to look for ways to stay excited about serving the person who’s never had our insights, and doesn’t know what we know. Of course that doesn’t mean Rebecca shouldn’t look for new ways to offer value to her clients. New offers/programs are a great way to grow.
Camille’s struggling with the idea of charging for her coaching. Ironically, she charged before (after completing another certification), but when she started her current certification she started to feel like she needed to wait to charge her clients until after she’d mastered this new set of tools. I told Camille I have no issue with coaches waiting to charge…if they like their reasons. If a coach is waiting to charge because she’s confident and excited, and trying to maximize her coaching experience by removing the friction of charging, then great.
If she’s avoiding charging for her work because she feels inadequate or scared to talk about the money, not so great. No certification will give a coach the confidence she needs in order to ask her clients to pay. The confidence will come from evidence she chooses to see that her coaching is worth more than what she’s charging for it. That confidence probably grows with experience, but experience alone won’t solve the underlying feeling of inadequacy. The confidence ultimately comes from a coach’s own thoughts about her work and herself. So that’s where the work needs to be.
Camille also had some concerns about what kind of content she should be creating. She pointed out that I seem to share my best stuff on Instagram, and wonders if I’m worried about discouraging people from paying me since I’m giving them everything for free. No, for a couple reasons:
1. Human beings learn through repetition. I can give all this information away for free and still have people enthusiastically pay me because they’ll benefit from hearing the same principles over and over.
2. Giving builds affinity. The more good stuff I give people, the more they like and trust me. Like and trust are key elements to a client’s desire and willingness to pay. As an additional note: none of us need to worry too much about being original. I’m not sure I’ve ever had an original idea. My goal is to be useful. And repeating valuable ideas is useful.
Mara and Danny
Mara and Danny have set a big goal for 2020. Big enough that they’re having the thought that the types of activities that created their current success won’t get them to the next level. It reminded me of a quote I’ve heard a lot (and probably even said myself): “What got us here won’t get us there. “
The more I think about that quote, the less I like it. Yes, we all need to be willing to stretch and grow, try new things to achieve new successes. On the other hand, what got us here works. There’s something to be said for sticking with a proven formula. In Danny and Mara’s case, that proven formula is sharing their story. They’ve built a massively successful blog about the success of their relationship, and that blog has been the source of their success so far. I encouraged them to trust their ability to attract people to their world through storytelling. Facebook ads might play a role for them, but maybe the strategy to try is advertising their story on Facebook rather than trying to create “funnels” in the traditional sense. In Mara’s and Danny’s case, I believe the right move is for them to be more of themselves, and do more of what’s brought them clients in the past. Let’s stick with that until we’re absolutely sure it’s NOT working.
Kate is working on her coaching business while maintaining her full-time senior HR position. Her goal is to earn enough from coaching to leave her job, and she’s trying to figure out the best plan.
We did some quick back-of-napkin planning and decided she could offer a 3-month program for $3,000 to two kinds of corporate employee clients: struggling executives and non-executives looking to advance their careers. Kate said she also has a desire to coach non-corporate clients, and I told her that’s great, but she’ll probably find it easier to replace her income by focusing on the people she has the easiest access to, with problems she understands deeply–in other words: corporate employees. Her best move today is to start working on a Linkedin presence and also being in the same room (in person) with the kind of people she hopes to serve. The more she can foster relationships with corporate-employed people, the more leads and referrals she’ll end up with.
Adrianne has realized she’s wearing too many hats in her online math tutoring business, and it’s burning her out. She wants to grow as a leader and manager in 2020, so she’s created an org chart and started to work on job descriptions so she can make her first big hire…the one that will give her some breathing room and allow her to work on the business instead of in it. She feels confident she’ll have to borrow some money to make this hire, and that scares her. (She lives debt-free in her personal and business life.)
First I asked Adrianne if she knows exactly how this new hire will help her. What tasks, exactly, will this person take off her plate? The clearer she is about how this person will free her up, the more excited she will be to make the hire—even if that means paying the person with borrowed money. Next, I made it clear that this hire needs to be a task-completer, not a task-creator. In other words, Adrianne doesn’t need someone to come in and offer new ideas. She needs someone to come in and take work away from her so she can focus on business growth.
If she hires someone to come in and offer new ideas and she pays that person with borrowed money, she could find herself in debt and no better off. Why? Because an idea person will create ideas, not completed tasks. Adrianne could find herself with even more work on her plate. We did the math: Adrianne’s best guess is she could pay this person around $7,500 total over a six-month period. I told her that if that’s the case, then a) she might be able to pay it out of current earnings, and b) if she does have to borrow the money, it’s really a negligible amount of debt relative to the benefit of getting some time back.
Diana feels like her clients aren’t yet sold on coaching, and that’s why they haven’t been willing to pay her current prices. She’s wondering about offering a 4-session package (with 20-minute sessions) for $300 that gives prospects an opportunity to fall in love with coaching. Then they’ll sign up for longer-term packages at higher prices. I don’t think the idea is terrible, but I don’t love the motivation behind it.
If a client isn’t sold on coaching yet, we don’t want to devalue it in her mind by offering smaller sessions for less money. We want to help her get converted to coaching. I see two ways that happens: content the client consumes before the sales call, and the actual coaching experience on the sales call.
Diana has been doing 20-minute mini coaching sessions and going right into an explanation of features/benefits/price. That might work, but if it’s not converting, my next move would be to coach more on the call, not less. I believe clients get converted to coaching by having great experiences with it.
The other idea I suggested to Diana was to offer fewer sessions at a higher price per session, something like 3 sessions for $450. My main concern with the 4 x 20-minute session package is that people will refer others based on what they bought. I don’t want a bunch of people out there telling their friends they can get four mini sessions with Diana for $300 (unless Diana is excited about that). I want people telling their friends they were struggling with XYZ in their life, and Diana helped them through it. Confidence is key. If your client isn’t confident enough, help her get there with your coaching skills and tools.