How to Build a Prosperous Business

We all want a prosperous business. A business that pays the bills, and leaves something extra for us to enjoy life.

While some professions trade in ‘hard goods’ that are needed, like a website update, coaches trade in things that no one needs. If you didn’t get coaching today, you’d keep doing what you’ve always done and having that same level of success.

For the coach, the biggest competition is doing nothing.

As such, many coaches struggle to bring in new clients. They try marketing tactics and network. They jump on social media and write and … never see the results of their dreams.

That’s why Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin wrote The Prosperous Coach.

It will help you increase your impact and your income — and do the same for your clients.

While the book is firmly focused on the coaching field, it has some great takeaways for every business owner. Chandler and Litvin have simply taken the advice I’ve given often and picked a niche to deliver this advice to.

On Marketing

Most of the mistakes failed coaches make are of the information-manipulation variety. Lots of marketing and social media posting. Lots of learning about branding and niches. Lots of trying to win friends and influence people. None of it works. Ever. In the world of coaching.

How much time do you spend on social media and call it ‘marketing’? How much time do you invest in networking or other forms of trying to bring in clients?

Most freelancer’s I talk to default to everything digital. They blog, and post on Twitter, and participate in Slack channels. All of those are good, but they’re low trust.

Get out from behind your screen and meet people. Talk about their problems and then how you can help solve those problems.

On Creating Clients

The struggling coach wants to coach anyone and everyone. They are afraid to ask for money.

Do you have a ‘velvet rope’ policy? One where you only take clients that are your ideal clients?

Do you waffle on your pricing? When someone asks for a discount, you crumble and give one? You throw in extra work because…there really isn’t a reason you just don’t value yourself.

This hurdle is the same no matter what field you’re in.

The Pro coach knows there is no such thing as a high-paying client. Your fees are just a filter for the clients you’d love to coach.

Part of your client filter is the rates you charge. I started at $50/hour and now would say that my rate is $250/hour. Every time I’ve raised my rates my clients have got less needy.

They want value, but I don’t get calls outside business hours.

You will increase your business tenfold if you respond to almost every prospects long email with the words, “call me”.

All of you spend too much time behind your screen trying to ‘market’. Just as a coach should be talking to their prospects, you should be on the phone with prospects.

You should be out meeting them. Stop hiding behind email and project management systems, get on the phone regularly.

On Value

The Pro coach knows that credentials are irrelevant because the only question clients ever want an answer to is: Can you help me?

I was recently bidding on a project against a friend. I regularly read his proposals and give tips on how to tweak them to land more work.

As we talked, he knew that I couldn’t meet the client’s expected deadline and he figured I’d be out of the running. But I wasn’t, and in fact, I won the project charging almost double.

I did this because I answered the question above best for the client. When they asked Can you help me? they felt that my yes was the strongest. We started the project after the deadline, and when it was all delivered, we started on the next project with no haggling.

It’s almost never about pricing and deadlines. It’s about being the most valuable to the prospect.

You’re racing from one meeting to another, from one quick conversation to a brief email, and you’re skipping all over the place. You are not creating relationships. You’re just “touching base”.

How long do you put aside to speak to prospects about their projects? When I started 30 minutes felt like a long time. Then I used 60 minutes and about six months ago, that felt like it wasn’t enough to really dig in. Now I put aside 90 minutes of focused attention into prospects.

That means I take fewer calls in a week for new projects (in fact usually only 2 and only on Tuesday’s), but each call is much more valuable to me and the prospect.

The longer I’ve made my calls, the less I’ve rushed through them. The more I’ve made prospects qualify themselves for a call, the more projects I’ve landed with less wasted time.

Say boldly what needs to be said and hide nothing. You are not there to be their friend. You are there to create the most powerful coaching they have ever experienced.

This advice is the same for all you designers and developers and writers out there. If your client is doing something that’s stupid, it’s your job to tell them that.

If you’re not telling them when they have a bad idea, you’re not doing your job. Not doing your job is malpractice.

On Business Measurement

Money is the most perfect expression of your creativity. If your bank account is low, it’s a reminder that it’s time to get even more creative.

In Profit First (my review) there’s a very similar quote:

A big note here: there is a possibility that you will not have enough money in your accounts to pay bills or pay yourself what you need to make. This should be a major wake-up call. When you don’t have enough money to pay your bills, it is your business screaming at the top of its lungs, warning you that you can’t afford the bills you are incurring. Or if there isn’t enough money to pay your salary adequately, it is your business shouting out that you can’t run your business the way you have been running it; otherwise you will continually compromise yourself. – Profit First

Don’t let yourself sit on one big pool of money. Use Profit First to put constraints in and then get creative.

Stop tracking and celebrating your billings. They are out of your control. Instead, celebrate the amount of money you make in proposals. Proposals are in your control. Billings are not. Increase your proposals and your billings will follow.

A typical goal for the year is “I want to make 150k” and that’s it. The thing is, making 150k isn’t really something you can take action on. All you can do is hope it happens.

Instead, use The 12 Week Year and start focusing on something you can have some control over. To hit that 150k goal, concentrate on talking to 3 new prospects a week. Even that isn’t something you can control. Take another step back and plan to send out ten contacts a week with an invitation to talk.

Focusing on the execution of the leading metric will impact that ever-nebulous lagging metric of your income.

One last thing

Before I give you my recommendation for the book, I want to leave you with a final quote.

Safety is the enemy of success. Be proud of your mistakes. Take a risk. Fail spectacularly. And then go fail some more.

If you’re going to run a successful business, you can’t choose the safe path unless you want to be average. Average, the results everyone around you is getting.

If you want to be exceptional, then you need to take risks.

Recommendation

If you’re not a coach, then this is likely too specific for you so grab hold of some of my takeaways here and read something else like Book Yourself Solid.

If you’re interested in coaching, this is a must read book.

Get The Prosperous Coach on Amazon

photo by: kwl

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