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I get contacted by people a lot who have started coaching or they’re trying to start coaching and they just can’t get their business off the ground.

Maybe you built a website. Maybe you even built a simple sales funnel. Or maybe you’ve got your Facebook page and LLC set up but you don’t have those vital first few clients.

Here are 4 major mistakes I see:

1. You can’t define your ideal client.

This is a big one. If you can’t define your ideal client in a few understandable words, you won’t find them and they won’t find you.

What are memorable ideal client definitions?

  • Actors struggling with audition anxiety.
  • Adoptive parents struggling with behavioral challenges.
  • Professionals with workplace anxiety.
  • Couples who’ve lost the spark and want to get it back.

If you can’t express your ideal client avatar this clearly, you simply won’t succeed.

Clarity creates clientele.

2. You’re trying to launch a course before you even know your client.

This is another one I see a lot. I understand that the dream of creating a course that grows and grows is a big goal for many of us, but it should not be step one.

When you spend time and money and energy building a course without working with at least 10 to 20 of your ideal clients first, you don’t know what you need to put in that course (no matter how much you think you do)!

It’s just reality. The actual work of getting your first several clients and working deeply with them is what will teach you which course you need to build. Yes, it might feel slower in the beginning, but it won’t be the launch-to-crickets that I’ve seen people suffer through over and over again.

3. You’re trying to do the end before the beginning.

What do I mean? I can’t tell you how many therapists and coaches have gotten sucked into popular programs with famous instructors who charge them 7K+ to learn to do an automated webinar and run it on FB ads.

The reality? People fail when they start this way because most of your ideal clients are not served by webinars.

If you’re a consultant working business-to-business that’s a totally different story, but most of us should not jump straight to webinars when it comes to helping our ideal coaching clients.

I mean think about it: did you ever think to yourself, “Gee, my sex life is boring. I need to find a good webinar for that,” or “Hey, I’m struggling with my kids–a webinar would help!”

No. No, you didn’t.

Don’t get sucked in by famous coaches with uber-pushy sales tactics taking your 10k and teaching you a system that’s all wrong for the very personal, authentic, heart-centered work you’re doing.

4. You’re not taking full responsibility for your success or failure.

This can be a tough pill to swallow, but when someone comes to me and says, “Well I took so-and-so’s course and did what she said and it didn’t work. Then I took so-and-so’s course and did what HE said and it didn’t work. So now I’m coming to you,” I get immediate red flags.

This tells me that person is waiting for a guru, a savior, to come along. Someone to create success for them while they do just enough to feel like they “tried.”

It will never work. When I first started, I was naively flattered by those folks, since I started our work together on a pedestal. Inevitably, though, when success wasn’t easy or fast enough, I fell in their esteem and they went looking for their next guru to idolize. (And…I still see them on social complaining about a lack of clients, knowing they’re on their 3rd or 4th business coach at this point!)

Don’t let that be you. Dig deep. Take responsibility. Know that it’s no one’s business but your own, and no one has a secret key that will change it all for you. Only your growth, your work, and your earnest efforts to keep learning will change it all. Yes, you should find and learn from the best people, but click your heels, Dorothy: You’ve had the power inside you all along.

So what do I think IS your path to success?

  1. Don’t fall prey to overnight-riches tactics. Come on people, you’re smarter than that.
  2. Don’t be a victim, don’t idolize and devalue gurus, or blame anyone else for your success or failure.
  3. Always be willing to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings to keep learning and growing.
  4. Hold the attitude that you absolutely will succeed because you’ll do whatever it takes to succeed, not because you deserve it or because success is owed to you.
  5. Be willing to start small. Do a few lower-fee individual clients, suck the marrow out of those experiences, and learn everything you possibly can.
  6. Change your programs and offerings anytime at all, because your new learning will always impact what you’re able to offer. Give yourself a year to do this thing right. You can build the foundation for a few months with individual clients, then jump into group coaching, and finally launch the course you want to launch!

In the comments below, ask me your most pressing questions about getting your coaching business up and off the ground. Ask away!