You became a life coach because you wanted to create transformation for people and make a difference in this world. And somewhere along the way of growing your life coaching business, you hit a wall. Growth became challenging and thoughts of giving up plagued your mind.
I get it. I owned a life coaching business from 2004 to 2012. And although it was rewarding and I accomplished a lot, I also made mistakes that stunted my growth. In this article, I am going to outline the seven obstacles you will incur while trying to grow your life coaching business.
You may have already experienced one or more of these obstacles, but in the event, you are currently (or in the future) up against one or more of these challenges, I will provide you with some strategies for knocking down these walls.
Obstacles #1 – #4 typically affect a life coaching business in the early stages of growth.
Obstacle #1: Choosing the Perfect Niche
You cannot and should not market yourself as a life coach. It’s too broad. Too generic. Too vanilla. Your audience is not looking for a life coach. They are searching for a coach that solves a specific area of their life.
- A 50 year old menopausal woman that is overweight is looking for a weight loss coach.
- A young professional that is unhappy with their current job situation is searching for a career coach.
- A small business owner that suffers from imposter syndrome wants a mindset coach.
- A 40 year old single mother that is worried about her retirement will seek out a financial or money coach.
So how do you decide what your perfect niche is?
The process really can be quite simple.
- Assess your skills. What are you really good at helping people with? Think about your friends and family. What do they come to you for advice on? What have you, yourself, overcome in life, and can now pass this wisdom on to others?
- Evaluate your passions. You need to be passionate about what you help others achieve. The last thing you want is to choose a niche that drains your energy or doesn’t allow you to feel jazzed every morning you wake up.
- Determine a problem people are willing to pay for. Remember, the more specific you can be, the better. People have very unique problems that they want answers for. Improving lives or making more money is intangible and will be difficult to sell.
- What is the most profitable and urgent problem you can solve? Remember, you want your life coaching business to create a sustainable income for you. So think about a problem that is in fairly high demand. Helping a 30 year old single woman that wants marriage and children to find love, for instance, is an urgent problem for many.
- Get specific on your perfect niche. Now that you know you shouldn’t market yourself as a life coach, how do you want to market your business?
With my life coaching business, this obstacle was one of the two that stilted my growth and eventually led to me closing my business. I marketed myself as a life coach for moms. I solved ALL their problems – time management, parenting, spirituality issues, life balance, business growth, and marriage problems. Call on me to help you with anything. Big mistake. Don’t do it. Choose your perfect niche.
The list below, from Luisa Zhou, will help you brainstorm the perfect niche for your life coaching business:
Obstacle #2: Identifying Your Target Audience
Now that you’ve picked your perfect niche, who do you want to serve in your life coaching business?
This is another area where new and seasoned life coaches often get stuck. More often than not, the target audience that coaches pick is too broad and not well defined. Examples include:
- Women entrepreneurs
The problem with choosing an undefined and broad niche is it becomes difficult to find these individuals when marketing. And your audience is looking for a specialist. Someone who understands them and their unique problems.
Imagine for a moment if you chose to market to women entrepreneurs. You could market to lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, coaches, marketers, midwives, massage therapists, and the list goes on. How can you possibly understand the business of all these types of industries?
But let’s pretend that you have experience and an interest in wellness and business growth, wouldn’t it make more sense to market to massage therapists or health coaches? Think how easy it would be to find these types of businesses.
And the more health coaches or massage therapists you work with, the deeper you understand their business, their challenges, their clients, etc. This enables you to better serve these businesses and refine your marketing messaging to resonate with them.
How do you define your target audience?
- Ask yourself who you enjoy working with. Every audience type is different. They have different goals, values, and interests. And these things need to match with who you are. I chose to work with coaches because I am a coach, and I love the mindset and values most coaches share.
- How easy is it to find your target audience? You need to be able to locate your audience. Where are they hanging out? What publications are they reading? What podcasts are they listening to? What social platforms are they on? Who are they following? What associations do they belong to? If you can’t find your target audience easily, it’s probably not a good one to choose.
- Get narrow and specific. It’s important to find the balance between size and availability with specific and narrow. You can’t go so small that you are severely limited by the size of your audience. But you also can’t go so big that you can’t stand out from your competitors.
- Instead of choosing organizations, choose non-profit organizations.
- Instead of moms, choose moms with ADHD.
- Instead of choosing women entrepreneurs, choose women lawyers.
- Instead of women, choose midlife women in menopause.
- Narrow further with personality and style. Chances are there are very specific types of individuals that work best with your personality and style. One of my clients has learned that she enjoys working with individuals with the Myers-Briggs personality type of INFJ. I use my values plus other working styles to determine if a client is a good fit for me. Use this messaging on your website like this:
Now that you have your perfect niche and ideal target audience, what’s next?
Obstacle #3: Having a Defined Marketing Strategy
A good marketing plan starts with a well defined marketing strategy. What are your business and marketing goals? How are you going to find clients and grow your business? If you’re stalled at $100k/year, how are you going to grow beyond that? How will you build brand awareness and increase your visibility? And what strategies will you use to accomplish all these things?
At Amazing OBM, this is what we help our clients with every day. We’ve helped so many clients with defining their marketing strategy that we’ve developed a framework that creates results if you follow it. See below for a visual of that framework.
Each phase of this framework is important and each one builds on the other. For instance, it does you no good to try and increase your visibility when you don’t have your foundation in order. And launching to your audience rarely works well when you haven’t done visibility work. Growth requires all three phases to be in working order along with a commitment to continual learning, consistency and mindset work.
Take a look at this framework and ask yourself if you’re stuck in any of these significant areas. Knowing the answer to this question will guide you in developing a solid marketing strategy. Where do you need to focus on your business next?
Recently a client came to us with one goal:
“I want to sell my parent coaching course.”
When we evaluated her business against this framework, we discovered that she was really in the foundation phase. Her website needed a redesign to reflect her new brand. Her parent coaching course landing page needed fresh copy and design to better showcase her offer. She needed a lead magnet to attract new leads.
Once we completed this, we were ready to move into the visibility phase and start increasing her traffic and generating new leads, building brand awareness on her preferred social platforms, and nurturing the audience we were building. Only after this phase will she be ready to move onto the launch phase and actually sell her parent coaching course.
Do you have a defined marketing strategy? Download our free A to Z Marketing Checklist.
Obstacle #4: Not Addressing the Pain, Outcome, and Gap
Remember members of your target market are coming to you to solve a specific pain for them. They want a distinct outcome and the gap between these two things is what they are paying for.
Let’s look at a pseudo life coaching business.
Target market: College freshman students
Pain: They feel lost about their future and have no idea what they want to study and do for a living. They are overwhelmed with options, feel disconnected from themselves, and are unmotivated in college.
Outcome: They want to be clear about what they will major in and what career path excites them. They want to enjoy their classes and do well in their studies. They want direction in their lives and feel a sense of accomplishment, clarity, and hope for their future.
Gap: How will you help them get from point A (pain) to point B (outcome)? What strategies and tools will you use? What’s the cost to your target audience if they don’t achieve this outcome? What mindset issues will they need to overcome?
The more clear you can get on these three things (pain, outcome, and gap), the better you will be able to market and sell to your prospects. Think deeply about the feelings and desires of your clients. Let them know you understand what they are struggling with right now, what they want to be and feel, and how you will help them get there.
And the more proven, step by step process you can create to achieve these results, the more money you can make. Your prospects want to trust that you know exactly how you will help them and that you have a formula that actually works.
In the later stages of a life coaching business, obstacles #5 – #7 are typical stumbling blocks.
Many life coaches, once they’ve overcome obstacles #1 – #4, will achieve six figure status and have the desire to grow beyond that. That is when the next three obstacles will rear their ugly heads.
Let’s address those so you can grow into multi-six and seven figures in your life coaching business.
Obstacle #5: No System to Maximize Growth
If you’re nearing six figures in your life coaching business, you’ve probably noticed things are getting rather busy and somewhat chaotic, especially if you have no systems and processes in place.
It may have worked for a while to develop some workable processes in your head and carry out those systems, but then you notice you need help. How do you transfer what’s in your brain to another support individual? You also may have noticed that some of your processes simply don’t work, or rather, are non-existent. Now is the time to start building processes in your business to enable you to maximize your growth.
How do you know which systems and processes to focus on? Here is a list to help you get started. Make a list of the ones you want to focus on first.
- Client Management
- Lead management
- Sales and prospecting
- New client onboarding
- Existing client management
- Content Management
- Online articles
- Videos / Podcasts
- Social media
- Live or online events
- Strategic partnerships
- Product Development
- Keynotes / Workshops
- Online courses
- Service packages
- Financial Management
- Expense tracking
- Client billing
- Month end reconciliation
- Year end planning
- Business Management
- Business planning
- Skills building
- Time management
- Team building / management
Systems and processes, I admit, are not sexy. And many life coaches do not have the desire or the skill set to design and write processes.
So how do you get these processes in place and documented?
You hire an online business manager. An OBM is skilled at helping you get all your business processes in place. Although you may be tempted to skip this arduous task, I strongly urge you to get this done. For certified OBMs, visit the International Association of Online Business Owners for trained individuals that can take care of this for you.
With systems and processes in place, you are now ready to tackle the next obstacle.
Obstacle #6: Scaling Your Life Coaching Business
I remember the day when scaling my business became too much for me to handle. I needed help. If you’re feeling this way, that’s a good thing! That means you are successful, making forward progress, and ready to scale. It no longer serves you to wear all the hats in your business and it’s time to build the team that will enable you to grow, stay in your zone of genius, and serve more clients.
Who do you need on your team?
At the bare minimum:
Business Coach: you’re a coach, you know how important it is to have a coach. So get a business coach that can help you build a plan to scale and hold you accountable to your goals.
Virtual Assistant: there will always be general tasks you need help with. New client onboarding, calendar management, research, and other specialized tasks that a VA can handle.
Bookkeeper: unless you can handle your finances yourself, hire a bookkeeper to take care of your monthly expenses, client billing, and month end reconciliations.
Marketing Team: marketing is the lifeblood of your business growth. You will need individual freelancers or a digital marketing team to help you plan your marketing strategy and carry out marketing tasks such as social media marketing, content writing, website/sales page design, designing marketing materials, managing launches, etc.
As you grow, you may need additional team members:
OBM or Director of Operations: as your team grows, you will become overwhelmed with managing this team. And your job is to be the CEO of your business and serve your clients, while an online business manager or DOO handles your team and the backend operations of your business.
Project Manager: you may have lots of balls in the air and need help managing all the ongoing projects in your business. An experienced project manager will keep you organized and on track.
Salesperson: without sales, there are no clients, so eventually you will need someone skilled in prospecting and closing sales calls. This will take you out of the sales cycle and enable you to focus where you shine.
Community Manager: as your community grows, you should hire someone to manage all the inquiries that come from your community, do individual reach outs to build relationships and help you grow your community.
Legal Team: the legal stuff is important in any business. Contracts, privacy policies, copyright protection, and all the other yucky legal mumbo jumbo that makes no sense to most business owners will need to be addressed.
Hire the right people for your business. Develop and nurture your team members. Pay them what they are worth. Protect them with your life because they will hold you down, enable you to go on vacation, and ultimately be the reason for your business’s success.
Obstacle #7: Mastering Your Mindset
Obstacles #1 – #6 can be challenging, but nothing will be more difficult, as you grow, than mastering your mindset. I am often surprised to hear from so many life coaches and business owners, as they express the struggles they have internally with owning and growing a business.
You thought parenting was hard?! Welcome to entrepreneurship, where you will be challenged in every aspect of your life. There will be…
- sleepless nights
- periods of worry and anxiety
- serious episodes of self doubt
- angry and frustrated clients/team members
- feelings of isolation
- paralyzing fear
- confusion and lack of direction
- lack of support from people around you
- extreme busyness and utter exhaustion
- burnout and thoughts of giving up
How do I know? Because I have felt every single one of these things and so have all my clients.
So buckle up and make sure you have an extreme self care plan in place at all times.
- Hire a mindset coach – he/she will help you master your mindset
- Get regular exercise – this will help you relieve stress and sleep better at night
- Build a team of biz besties – we all need people to bounce ideas and feelings off of
- Manage your emotions – journal, pray, meditate, knit, anything that calms your mind
- Watch your alcohol intake – alcohol increases depression and anxiety
- Eat healthy – your body is your temple so take care of it
- Celebrate your accomplishments – no matter how small, celebrate your progress
- Lean on your team – they will help relieve your workload and stress
- Work with clients you love – they will make it all worth it
- Take short and long breaks – shut down early, avoid weekends and take a vacation
No one said owning a life coaching business would be easy. But I promise you it is worth it. The work you are doing in this world is rewarding and fulfilling. And most important, it is definitely needed. So use these strategies to help you overcome the obstacles you may face on your journey.
Need a business growth coach or marketing team to help you grow your life coaching business? Lori Young and the team at Amazing OBM are standing by to support you. Schedule a free consultation today to see if we are a good fit.
7 Obstacles to Growing Your Life Coaching Business (with Strategies to Overcome)
January 17, 2023