Hi, I’m Andrea Urquhart. Welcome to The Specialist Studio, my bespoke business mentoring space for professional coaches growing their coaching or mentoring consultancy. Today we’re digging into procrastination and niching. I’ll share the secret sauce you need to lift that fog and the 3 principles you must embrace to consistently attract paying clients. You’re in business, after all, so let’s get your business moving!
It’s time to ditch your procrastination fog and grow your coaching business!
In an ideal world, the professional coaches I work with on their business would have found me as soon as they started to leave academia or corporate to launch their consultancy. It would have saved them time and money. Many though, by the time we meet are truly frustrated. Living in a fog and downright disappointed in all the magic bullets different people have tried to sell them to grow their business. By then, they’re acutely aware of their weaknesses and have been dissecting (alone or with friends) all the reasons they may be failing in their business. And that’s what they feel; a failure before they’ve even begun. If you haven’t been there yourself, I bet you know a friend or colleague who has!
Sometimes they are self-confessed procrastinators when it comes to their own business but busy working on other people’s projects and businesses to bring income in. Often, they feel like imposters in their alumni or networking groups asking themselves “Am I the only coach without clients here?”. For the majority, choosing to work with me comes at a point when they are ready to give their business one last push: “It’s now or never!”. And thanks to my secret sauce, they gain clients, confidence and huge satisfied smiles on their faces!
When they reach out at first, they likely have a blend of feeling crushed by their lack of progress, demoralised by the apparent success of their peers, wanting to give up and yet still knowing deep inside that they have huge treasure to share with others. They reach out in hope – and we get to work on their business.
It breaks my heart to hear their stories of disappointment around growing their business and paying for advice from others that didn’t get the results they’d hoped for. I’ve got my own stories about that too. The truth is, there are some important foundations that every business owner needs to have in place. It’s also true that those foundations look different for every business – because you’re unique. That’s why my work is bespoke for each client and why my signature group programme is kept to really small groups to allow that bespoke, individual element to be nurtured. Every one of us is unique, but the same principles work for us all in business. To grow your business successfully, you must have clarity and you also need to work through a process that involves the foundational principles of business building in a way that is bespoke and relevant to you. That’s why I believe business mentoring is invaluable.
Clarity is my secret sauce to helping my clients, and it’s a recipe you can learn too.
Right now, if you’re in the fog of procrastination, clarity may seem very elusive. Believe me though, it’s much easier to find than you might be currently feeling. In fact, it’s more about uncovering what you really want and making a plan to get there than looking for it in different systems or the opinions of others. What you need is clarity about what fires you up, the courage to stride towards that and the knowledge of the processes that will get you there. One step at a time.
Getting those basic business principles in place are crucial. And that’s where things sometimes go awry. If you’ve ever posted on a forum or in a group asking for business ideas or advice, you’ll notice the same topics coming through; networking, niches, social media and the advice borne of other people’s experience. Listening to that experience and advice isn’t a bad thing in itself. What’s more useful is to get to work on the principles you need in place before you even go networking or push time and money into a niche or social media, and especially before you sink money into a plush website. None of those things will get you the clients you want if you are not absolutely clear on what clients you actually do want. And that, right there is one of the biggest issues for frustrated coaches trying to establish their business. They want “clients”. No clarity, no definition, no leads.
As I said earlier, the secret sauce every business coach or mentor should be helping you find is not a system, it’s clarity.
Clarity is the foundation to growing your business.
The best mentors help you uncover who you’re really passionate about helping and will guide you through the internal thought and business processes you need to go through in order to do that. Working with them means listening to your instincts, doing some in-depth research, learning about business principles, committing to targeted actions, using accountability to your mentor in a healthy way, and discerning what is within your comfort zone, what stretches you’re ready for and what stretches outside your comfort zone are not for you at this time.
That’s a long list. It’s long because there are not only a lot of moving parts to a business, but the whole of you is involved in either moving your business forward or procrastinating – your emotions, cognitive processes, physical ability, values, spirituality and ethics. Sometimes it’s appropriate to take time to work through a specific block you may have, but more often than not, aligning your business aim and target client with what you’re really passionate about and believe will mean that all those different parts of you are aligned in motivation rather than procrastination. Then all you need is a helping hand to walk through the processes you need to commit to, checking in with your values, ethics and mission as you do. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of work to do then, but it’s focussed, it’s directional and it’s an exciting journey.
For many, clarity seems like a willow-the-whisp, but believe me, it’s not that hard to get. You simply need to realise that you can’t do everything all at once and be prepared to pick one super targeted niche and run with it. That’s not giving up on all the areas you choose to let lie for now. It’s being practical, shrewd and realistic about what grows a solopreneur business.
To help you understand why you need clarity, read on to understand 3 steps you need to embrace to help you clear that fog and make decisions.
3 Unavoidable Steps You Need To Embrace To Win Consistent Clients:
1) Home in on your ideal client.
You have to know exactly who your ideal client is. Without this, your messaging is mixed, your networking is hit and miss, and your marketing is pointless – no matter how pretty it is. Forget building your website until you are clear on this and how you can help them. One of the difficulties of specifying an ideal client for many coaches is that they are trained to coach a variety of people to get a variety of results. Quite simply, they are multi-potentialites and multi-passionate. Now add to that the seeming paradox of not understanding that if you limit your reach to a specific group of people you will actually get more clients than if you broaden your message to everyone for everything. It may not make sense, but it works. When you really think about it, I’m sure you prefer specialised support rather than generic support?
After an initial consultation, before I continue working with a client on their business, I always ask them to make a decision about the ideal client they want our work on their business to focus on. There is no point working on your business if you haven’t made a decision about who you will focus on first. You’ll just get frustrated and, if you’re paying a business coach, you won’t be getting full value for money. Without clarity on you target client, you may spend more time internalising lack of success and procrastinating – leading to feeling demoralised and that frustration we talked about earlier. And guess what? No-one can make that ideal client decision for you. It’s got to be yours because you’ve got to own it.
It’s important to realise that focusing on one specific type of ideal client does not mean you’re committed to that niche forever, but it does mean that you now have focus, can create an effective strategy and build momentum in your business. With this nailed, you can move through the processes you need to in order to get your business moving and attract paying clients. If you want to work with a different type of target client later on, you’ll understand the importance of ideal client work and focus to develop this new area of your business.
So, make a decision for now about your ideal client that resonates with your passion, strengths and energy, and then commit to the process of attracting and serving them. Take a look at my article on creating your ideal therapy or coaching client to find out more about defining your target client avatar.
2) Create one signature product
Firstly, if you’re simply trying to sell “coaching”, that’s a problem right there. People have such varying ideas of what it is and what you might mean when you offer it. You need to learn to be specific. Much more specific. You need to sell a solution to a problem.
Coaches often find marketing their coaching as a solution tricky. Perhaps because many coaching approaches focus on the evolution of personal solutions. Nevertheless, if you don’t market your coaching as a product to specific people to resolve a specific issue or to gain something specific, anyone and everyone will simply overlook your generic “coaching” offer as something that is not relevant to them.
Creating a signature product is not so much about marketing, it is about showing that what you offer is relevant. Think on that.
With your target client in mind, what is their most pressing need or the process they need to work through to resolve that need? What are the relevant solutions that you can help them find in the coaching space with you?
When you know that, it’s time to do some market research and understand what suits those target clients best in terms of accessing that support from you. Knowing more about their thoughts, desires for solution, their pain and what they’re looking for will help you to create a coaching product that they really want to buy.
A coaching product might be a programme. It might also be a series of coaching sessions. When you give that series a name, define how long it is, set a price on it and show what results it gives, your potential clients are able to understand how you can help them. This is all about managing expectations. People are more likely to commit to something when they feel it will help them and they know what it involves.
3) Understand the power of a lead magnet
A lead magnet is something that attracts your target client to get to know you more. Many people say that a lead magnet can be anything. That’s not quite true. The most effective lead magnets are the first step towards your signature programme. They offer value, they persuade people that you are an expert in your field and that you are able to provide solutions. Yes, they can be in any type of media, but don’t just offer anything you have that is of value. Be strategic about this.
Many coaches offer a free consultation as their lead magnet. That’s powerful as long as you don’t treat it like a chemistry call and sell, sell, sell on it. A free consultation really needs to be a consultation because it gives the potential client a chance to savour the quality of advice or coaching you give, and to decide if they feel safe with you. So, if you offer a free consultation, be clear about what it is. And you should offer it in the context of marketing your signature programme so that the potential client is one already interested in the solution programme you are offering.
It’s also increasingly popular to use something that is a small, paid product as a lead magnet. Many traditionalists will say that selling a short e-book is not a lead magnet and is really a sale. However, you will see this as an increasingly effective strategy for coaches to win people onto their programme. Here’s how it works: You create an e-book that shares lots of valuable information. The potential client sees the cost of your programme and sees the smaller cost of your e-book. They want to work with you, but they can more easily afford the e-book. They buy the book, work on it a bit, have got to know, like and trust you and then decide that at some point they want to work one on one or in a group with you. Many people appreciate the wisdom and answers a book gives them, but reading about how to change your life isn’t the same as working it through with someone.
It’s the accountability and the ability to ask personalised questions that drives them to go the next step and join something else you offer.
Webinars and events are also a great lead magnet but beware that you don’t focus your time so much on offering free events but don’t actually close any sales. It’s perfectly okay to charge for a webinar or event, and I would advise that. Speaking at someone else’s events or being featured on their podcast or YouTube channel is fine for free but offering free seats on your event is something you want to think about carefully.
By far the most popular still are free pdfs or e-books. They can be downloaded, kept and shared. Don’t let the shareable aspect worry you. Whilst sharing an e-book is not acceptable legally, if someone share’s your branded pdf of tips in a group then that’s free marketing for you.
Before you go diving into the inspiration of what lead magnet you could comfortably create, remember your need for clarity! Make sure that there is a clear place in your product and marketing strategy for your lead magnet. It should relate to your signature product.
The rest is process
Once you’re clear on these three things, you’ll also have got clear on how you can help those target clients. The process you go through to become clear on your target client and products should bring you to a greater place of confidence. You’ll be networking with increasing focus and ease, you’ll be attracting clients to you, you’ll be operating in your zone of expertise. The rest, believe me, is just about the process of regularly working on your business and learning more about all those day-to-day things you can and should be doing including marketing. The thing is, that once you have clarity, you can take focused, strategic actions.
How do you choose your coaching niche?
Having clarity on your ideal client, having a signature product in place and a lead magnet or two are your basics. You can’t create them without making a decision on your ideal client. For that you need clarity about what you really want to do. Don’t pick a niche that others feel you should. You don’t necessarily need to pick an obvious one for you, although when you do settle on the right one, there’ll be some things that are obviously right about it for you.
For many coaches, their niche comes out of their life experience; they overcame a challenge and passionately want to help others do that too. They have a powerful story that helps with marketing and they can connect with empathy and emotion with their clients. However, many of us also have challenges we’ve overcome that we want to leave behind. We don’t want them to be our life’s work. And that’s absolutely okay. Just because you’ve been through something, doesn’t mean it’s your niche or life’s calling to help others through the same thing.
For other coaches, their training and professional experience seems to provide an obvious niche. But you may be a teacher who doesn’t want to work with teachers. You may be a lawyer who doesn’t want to coach lawyers. You don’t have to. Don’t worry.
What I will say though is that you’ll have many transferrable skills from both your life experience and your professional years. Those, combined with your strengths, interests and people you are passionate about helping will eventually be what draws you to a niche of specific target clients.
Where you are passionate, empathy thrives. Passion and empathy are powerful drivers for your niche.
No-one can choose your niche for you. Many times it develops as you start to coach more and realise what you do or don’t want to be doing all day. But what if you simply asked yourself: Who and how would I be happy coaching all day, every day for the rest of my life? In other words, what lights you up? What stokes that excitement within you? There, right there, is probably a niche you should have the courage to pursue.
That courage is the greatest strength to blend with clarity, because at the end of the day, procrastination is often about the need for courage. The courage to follow your heart and passion, the courage to make a choice and follow it through, the courage to block out the opinion of helpful friends and colleagues and to stride out in the direction you really, really want to build your business. That’s where a mentor comes in. In that mentor space, you’ll grow confidence, you’ll work with clarity and focus and you’ll see momentum build in your business.
If you’d like to know more about how you can grow a flourishing coaching consultancy, get in touch with me today. I work with professionals transitioning from corporate and academia to grow their own specialist coaching consultancy. You can work with me on my signature programme 1:1 or in groups of up to 6 coaches. I also offer monthly mentoring options. Typically, my clients gain clients whilst still completing the programme along with gaining clarity, confidence and a big satisfied smile on their face!
Book a Discovery Call with me here: https://live.vcita.com/site/strengthen
Business Mentor & Coach for Specialist Coaches
Andrea is a full member of the Association of Business Mentors. With professional experience as a teacher and Positive Psychology Coach, she enables mature new coaches transitioning from academia or corporate backgrounds to establish and grow a flourishing coaching consultancy.
She’s known for her ability to enable her clients to gain clarity, confidence and clients; growing momentum in their business.
Andrea is based in West Sussex, UK and works primarily online with clients. Her signature programme, Kickstart Your Coaching Consultancy is 10weeks long and available in small groups or 1:1 options.