Business Tips (From Someone Who Knows Nothing About Business)
I’m one of those people who quit their full-time corporate career to become a Coach.
I’m aware that a lot of people try this (or something similar to it) and regret it.
The life of a Life-Coach looks very appealing…. Make your own hours, work with great people and inspire them to be better, appear amazing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But the realities of this industry are daunting. I know a lot of people who have been trained to be coaches and very few of them have been successful at creating a coaching practice.
After closing my back door and throwing away the key, I was dead in the water for at least a year before things finally took off for me in my practice. Overwhelm, insecurity and fear plagued me. In that year I accomplished practically nothing because I was approaching my business all wrong. I changed my approach, and things shifted pretty much overnight.
I’ll tell you what I was doing and why it didn’t work:
I was focused on making money and putting a lot of pressure on myself to do it “right”. I was freaked out about not making money and I was frozen because, in my mind, nothing I could do right now would pay off any time soon. Nothing I could do now felt like the right thing. So as my savings dwindled, I got more and more freaked out. Rather than invest in my business’s future success, I focused on what I should do now to make money now and as a result, I did hardly anything. I did this for way too long… So, had I focused on investing in my business, say… 3 months ago, I’d be doing great now. But I hadn’t. I was getting deeper and deeper into a hole until I finally convinced myself I should probably get a job again.
I almost gave up on the whole coaching thing. I even remember making arguments to myself in favor of why I didn’t really even want to coach anymore. (Btw, when you start talking yourself out of your own dreams, you can be sure it’s fear talking.)
I began looking for a job and, before long, realized I was tortured by the prospect of abandoning the meaningful work I loved and working for someone else again. The thing that drove me to decide to get a job was fear. Once I saw the fear for what it was, I was able to let my desire guide me instead. So, once I reconnected with my desire to coach, I took getting a job off the table and turned back toward coaching. I was back where I started, but this time under no delusion that I could just get a job if it didn’t work out.
Here’s where I started doing things right:
- I was driven by my “why”. The “why” is so important. It’ll motivate you so much better than the “how” or the “what.” I remembered I wanted to help people. That was my “why” and I let it guide me. I decided one of the best ways I knew how to do that when I didn’t have any clients was to write. I love writing and it’s a great way for me to connect with a large audience. So I started writing… and a bunch of people ended up clicking on my writer bio and visiting my website. Apparently when you follow your “why,” things progress.
- I realized that doing anything is better than doing nothing because at least I will learn from it. And then I will know what to do next. Tons of people got directed to my website where, sadly, nothing happened. I had no call-to-action, no way for them to engage with me there, no way for them to stay in touch. Whereas before I had been frozen, unsure of where to start, hopeless that anything I could do now would make any difference in present time, all of a sudden there was a huge urgency to solve this website issue. So I initiated a newsletter sign-up and my subscriber list started to grow. Doing something, anything, set me on a path and now I was moving.
- I realized learning was fun. Whereas a day ago I had no subscribers, now I had a list to play with. Continuing with the principle that doing anything is better than doing nothing, I sent them an email. I didn’t let myself get frozen about whether my approach was the perfect approach. I did it for fun, for the enjoyment of connecting with my audience. And I figured whatever happened would be a success because I’d have learned from it. It just so happened, my email sparked a couple of great conversations and I ended up starting coaching relationships with two great clients. My business was moving! Just three days ago I had been hopeless about it, still looking for a regular job.
- I didn’t take it personally when things didn’t work. Not everything I tried worked well. After a string of successes, I hit a rough patch where I had hardly any success for over a month. Everything I did seemed to fall flat. Rough patches are inevitable in every business but sadly many businesses fail because we ascribe the wrong meaning to them and give up when we hit a rough patch. Instead of taking my rough patch as a sign that I was doomed to fail and that no one wanted what I had to offer, I did my best to stay objective and curious. I asked myself “What worked before that I’m doing differently now?” and “Where am I losing people?” I didn’t get emotionally attached to any of my strategies. I constantly tried new strategies and tweaked my existing ones all in the name of learning. My strategies failing didn’t mean I was a failure. It just meant I had been willing to take risks and look dumb in the name of learning more.
- I had faith. I do my best not to get attached to any particular outcome. My business is coaching. When I’m in a sales conversation I can tell when someone is a good fit to work with me or not. I can tell when they’re not ready. I don’t make the offer unless it feels good. I am willing to let go of a potential income in order to stay in integrity with that principle, trusting that if I’m willing to let go of what’s not right, I am just keeping space open for the right thing to come to me. This may seem woo woo but I kid you not… I am always rewarded for following this principle.
As I mentioned in the title, these are tips on starting a business from someone who admittedly knows nothing about business. What I do know is how to work with resistence and fear, and these 5 things seem to have gotten me on a great track. But as said, I’m constantly learning and I’m unattached to my strategies. I’ll update this piece if I find out I was actually wrong about any of this ☺