Believe it or not, I never wanted to teach coaches how to coach. But over the last seven years, I’ve gotten more involved in this business and have become fairly successful at what I do. So naturally, other coaches have wanted to pick my brain a little bit.
That’s when I started paying attention a lot more to what was going on in this industry. And the more I looked into it, the more I saw people doing things that I didn’t think they should be doing because they simply weren’t going to work. If you’ve been in this coaching business for a few years, you probably know what I’m talking about — the coaching industry is rampant with bad advice, broken promises, and even some outright scams.
Even worse, there are coaches out there teaching things they have no passion for, or competency in.
In some ways, I’d even go so far as to say that the coaching industry is fundamentally broken.
But there is an upside. I do think there’s a way to be a genuinely helpful and successful online coach. You just need to understand what you’re getting yourself into, and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Let me explain…
Skip ahead here:
- There’s a “pyramid scheme” within online coaching
- Avoiding the trap of coaching to other coaches
- Why you need to coach from a place of authenticity
- It’s time to become the type of online coach you want to be
We interviewed coach Sean Smith and he told us what’s wrong with the coaching business.
Learn from this seasoned veteran of the coaching industry on how to find success as a coach. If you’re a life coach, business coach, or any kind of coach, you’ll learn not only how to make money as a coach, but also live your purpose and make a massive impact on the world.
Explore this course we made with Coach Sean Smith on how to create transformational online courses.
You see all the ads all the time on places like YouTube and Instagram, now. As soon as you hit some milestone within your coaching business or run into a challenge, they start to pop up like little pesky insects on your social media feeds. “Are you a coach that’s really struggling to get clients? Here — all you need to do is follow my guaranteed system!”
I used to sit on the sidelines and get frustrated by these. But now, I’ve come to accept them as the price we pay for being part of an unregulated industry. Because the industry is unregulated, there is no consensus about how to succeed. That’s the main cause of the industry being broken and increasingly more and more dificult for good, qualified people to succeed.
We don’t see this in other industries. After all, there’s nobody out there selling a course on how to become a lawyer in 30 days. Or how to get through medical school without taking any pesky tests. Because that would be ridiculous, right? There’s a consensus way to become a lawyer or a doctor or a teach or a therapist or any number of regulated professions. You can’t take any shortcuts. And you certainly don’t see any ads promising: “Seven Easy Steps to Get Your First Patient on the Operating Table for Brain Surgeons™.”
But the coaching industry is full of these types of promises, praying on people’s desperation. It’s mostly about how to teach coaches this, or how to teach coaches that. Because the coaching industry’s most important customer is… wait for it… the coach. The coaches are the ones buying how to succeed, and probably making up a big portion of the revenue in the coaching industry.
Now don’t get me wrong — that’s fine if you have marketing passion and you’re really good at teaching things that coaches need. If that’s what you’re passionate about, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with teaching only people your area of experise.
The problem is most people aren’t really good or passionate about that. It’s not what they really want to teach people — but they think that’s the only thing that they can succeed with.
So what happens? Coaches change who they are just to chase success. Putting aside the moral debate of whether that’s right or wrong, this still creates a big problem. Because the only thing that matters if you want to succeed, in my opinion, is alignment.
When I say alignment, I mean you need to discover what area of coaching aligns with the lessons you have learned in your personal life. Every single one of us as a human being has learned some important lessons from our upbringing. These are the lessons that we learned and used to get through the adversity in our lives. They could be financial lessons, career lessons, or even relationship lessons.
Those life lessons are valuable to somebody out there, meaning they will literally pay to hear your perspective and what you learned. And what that means from a business standpoint is that your life lessons are a viable product.
Now, the question is, how can we build a business that incorporates all of your unique skill sets and strengths and challenges and doesn’t force you to do the things that you don’t want to do? Because you don’t want to lose focus from these life lessons and instead fall into the trap of just teaching others how to succeed as a coach.
Think about it this way: when you coach from your life lessons, you are what clients find valuable. But if you simply coach others on how to succeed as a coach, then it’s only the information that clients find valuable.
If that’s true, then your “secret ingredient” doesn’t matter. It means your life lessons don’t matter. It means you as a person don’t matter — you’re interchangeable. You’ve been reduced to a commodity. Because the only thing that does matter is people buying this information. And the reason that’s so critical for us to understand is if you succeed with a recipe where you don’t matter, then you cannot be happy or fulfilled or have any sense of joy doing your work because you’re not in it.
You have to start from a place of knowing that you have value. Your life lessons have value. This isn’t something you learned from another program or coach — it’s your unique understanding and perception of the world.
Related: How To Improve Your Coaching Skills
Even if the “guaranteed, one-size-fits-all approach works for you — it’s still based upon inauthenticity. And that’s one of the main reasons a lot of people don’t like to sell, or are afraid to sell. It’s the reason that a lot of those sales tactics feel icky. (Which is a scientific term, btw.) It’s not because of the tactics themselves, it’s because you’re they are not connected with your authentic self. Or the core belief that you’ve got the value.
For example, let’s say you purchase a sales script to pitch prospective clients. If you don’t really fully believe in what it is that you’re offering somebody, then it doesn’t matter who wrote that script or if they made a million dollars using it. It doesn’t matter what comes out of your mouth because your body is telling another story. The prospect knows you’re trying to sell something that you yourself haven’t even bought!
This is why authenticity is so important in selling the work that you do. You can get the alignment that we’ve been talking about and really find your voice in the message. If you’re using the exact same sales script, you’ll be more successful because you’ll be coming from a place of integrity.
It’s not about the words that come out of our mouths. If I am certain about the product I’m selling because I’ve experienced the life-changing benefit of this product, therefore you can give me any sales script. My certainty is going to sell it, and my advocacy for you is going to pierce your objections.
It’s the energy that people generally buy — not the product. It’s your certainty, not your sales tactics or marketing funnels.
Related: How to Start a Coaching Business
I know that for some people this will be a challenge. You’ll probably bump up against some fears, doubts, and insecurities along the way. But the main question is, do you have the desire to make a difference? Do you have the desire to be successful in doing something with your life lessons? Do you have the desire to help other people with the right mindset? If so, then you’ll be so much more likely to find success.
Whatever you do, please don’t disrespect yourself by removing the most important ingredient from the process. Don’t just try to make a dollar, commit to making a difference.