It's always puzzled me a little why so many great coaches give certain advice to their clients/athletes but don't apply that same advice to themselves. I'm not talking about applying it to their own training and fitness but to their business.
There is advice that will apply across many different aspects of life, particularly associated with anything challenging or difficult.
This is not meant to be critical as I've given out plenty of advice I've neglected to follow myself and I'm pretty much guilty of everything I'm talking about in this post.
The important thing is to try and be more aware when you aren't "Eating your own dog food" and be more disciplined in applying advice you know is valid to your own life and particularly your business.
Address your weaknesses
If you were coaching someone for triathlon who had strong bike and run but could barely swim a length of the pool then it's likely you'd advise them that they need to focus on improving their swim. Maybe even backing off their bike and run training for a little while until they've made some gains in the pool and include some specific technique sessions. Good advice right?
I've spoken to 100's of coaches about their businesses, and it's very typical that coaches are well aware of their strengths and their weaknesses. Marketing, finance and technology are clearly the three most common weaknesses. Now that's fine, everyone has strengths and weaknesses and it's just part of life. The thing that frustrates me is the level of acceptance of those weaknesses instead of committing to addressing or eliminating them.
Imagine a weak swimmer coming to you for triathlon coaching and saying "I'm not a very good swimmer and don't enjoy it, can we just avoid that and focus on my running and biking because I'm really good at those".
Some people might advise you to focus on your strengths and delegate your weaknesses to others.
On the surface that seems like good advice but in reality a typical coaching business cannot financially sustain employing people to manage marketing, finance and technology.
A lot of people consider these tasks as one off's or something you do once a year. To be truly successful you need to integrate these tasks into your business every day.
I'm not suggesting you learn how to complete your own financial accounts or learn how to build software. If you are trying to grow your own business you need to acquire a certain level of understanding of marketing, finance and technology. At Training Tilt we try to make technology simpler by bundling tools like website builder, training plans and client management into one easy to use platform.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable
This is probably the best and most common advice you could give anyone about anything. The only trouble with this advice is that it's really easy to give and really hard to actually do.
This is what I hear a lot from great coaches I talk to (I'm paraphrasing):
- I'm not comfortable "selling" myself and my products.
- I'm not comfortable using technology and the internet.
- I'm not comfortable discussing money and finances with my clients.
- I'm not comfortable about raising my prices even though I've worked so hard to develop my experience and my skills.
- I'm not comfortable using marketing and sales techniques to grow my business.
All of the above things are absolutely crucial for business (that is if you want a profitable and sustainable business long term). Many coaches avoid anything in business that makes them feel uncomfortable. The reality is though just like with training and racing endurance sports, if you aren't prepared to be uncomfortable in business you'll never get the results you desire.
Discomfort comes from fear, which leads us on to the next piece of advice.
Don't be afraid to fail
Another piece of great advice that's easy to give but really hard to do.
Everyone feels fear and in business it's no different. Fear of these things is what's holding many good coaches back from achieving great business results.
- Fear of failure if your marketing efforts don't work.
- Fear of what other coaches will think of you if you start "selling" yourself
- Fear of criticism when you start marketing.
- Fear of rejection and losing clients if you raise your prices.
- Fear of looking silly because you don't know what your doing.
As a coach you all know those athletes who are afraid to fail. The first sign of a race build up not going to plan they pull the pin on their "A" race even if they are 3 months out. They'll come up with all the excuses under the sun to justify it (mainly to themselves).
These are typically not professional athletes saving themselves for the next race, it's everyday people afraid of what others will think of them if they don't perform as well as they should. They've already failed by quitting a situation that could easily be salvaged. The trouble with this type of failure is that there isn't much to be learned from it and will over time form a habit. They'll end up pulling out of more races than they start.
Many coaches stick to what they know when running their businesses. 20-30 athletes coached on a one-on-one basis, a website built by a friend or client, no real sales or marketing plan, a blog that they last posted to 6 months ago, no sales funnel because they don't want to "sell" themselves. All of this driven mostly by fear of failure.
For some coaches all they want out of their business is to help their clients achieve their goals and hopefully make enough money to earn a living. I get that.
But if you want more then you have to risk more and put yourself on the line.
Anyone who's achieved high levels of success has made a lot of mistakes, been criticized and laughed at. That's the price of success.
I'll finish off with one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
If you need help with the technology and the knowledge to grow your coaching business get in touch or visit Training Tilt to sign up for a trial of our coaching, community and e-commerce platform. We are helping hundreds of coaches around the world reach their business and lifestyle goals.
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