In years past, being a "coach" meant you trained a sports team . . . and nothing else. Nowadays, however, the job description has expanded drastically. From business coaches to life coaches to fitness coaches to mindset coaches, the list goes on and on.
Indeed, the coaching industry was valued at well over $2 billion in 2015. And it's only continuing to grow at an unprecedented rate.
Despite its explosive growth, however, the coaching industry remains a mystery to those who aren't a part of it. Often times, when explaining what we do, people give us a funny look and ask, "So you get paid to just sit at home and tell people what to do?"
But as any coach knows, running a successful coaching business involves more than meets the eye. In fact, breaking into the coaching industry is incredibly difficult -- which is why so many coaches fail to make it a full-time gig, instead using coaching as a supplement to their 9-5s.
Nobody knows this better than Jeff St. Laurent, who has been a full-time coach for over a decade. Nowadays, as the founder of Selling Coaching, he dedicates himself to helping aspiring coaches do what he's managed to do: make a living by coaching alone.
"The formula boils down to consistency over time," St. Laurent remarks. "Still, you've got to get past the obstacles that plague aspiring coaches." To that end, St. Laurent identifies the seven most common roadblocks that stop hopeful coaches from being able to quit their day jobs.
1. You're only focused on coaching.
Personal coaches tend to focus solely on coaching-related skill sets. However, operating a successful coaching business requires understanding and mastering the art of marketing yourself. "Skills like selling and learning entrepreneurship are just as -- if not more -- important than being a great coach," St. Laurent explains.
2. You're not specific enough about what you do.
Vaguely stating that you "just want to help people" isn't enough. You need to isolate specifically who you want to help and with what specifically. St. Laurent, for instance, has his target audience defined: he helps aspiring coaches transition to a full time business while relating everything back to the art of selling. Your business model should be equally specific.
3. You've got commitment issues.
Contrary to popular belief, working from home doesn't mean you get to sleep till noon every day. "You've got to treat your coaching business like a job," St. Laurent says. "That means showing up every day." If you don't treat your business like a full-time job, you can't expect it to pay like one.
4. You haven't figured out your financials.
Like any entrepreneur, a coach's income goes up and down. "One month you could generate thousands, and the next, close to nothing," St. Laurent notes. Creating a "financial buffer," he says, is critical: coaches have to formulate a well-conceived financial plan that allows them save money during periods of abundance so they can sail through periods of lack.
5. You don't have a lead capture strategy in place.
You can't build an audience if you don't capture leads. Building your email list should be among your highest priorities: "Without lead capture, your website is useless," St. Laurent says. But even if you don't have a website at all, you can still use social media to get leads. Creating valuable, free content, like videos and webinars, is a great way to begin growing your list.
6. You're trying to pay attention to too many things at once.
St. Laurent is a firm believer in quality over quantity: "You've got to hone in one one social platform, one audience, and one message." The world of coaching is evolving rapidly, and you can't let yourself get bogged down by trying to keep up with the next big thing.
7. You're impatient.
Coaches are constantly bombarded with sensationalistic success stories: Earn your first six figures in one month! "Coaching isn't a get-rich-quick scheme," St. Laurent explains. Instead, he urges coaches to take the time to interact with people, one at a time. Your relationships are the crux of your business, and they take time to nurture. You won't be able to gain a loyal following after just one webinar -- so slow down and pay attention to fostering personal, meaningful relationships.
So keep St. Laurent's words in mind the next time that somebody makes an off-hand comment about how "easy" it is to be a coach. To be a successful full-time coach, you must wear many hats -- that of an entrepreneur, a salesman, a marketer; as well as possess many qualities -- such as patience, conviction, confidence, focus.
But also keep St. Laurent's words in mind the next time you feel like you'll never be able to quit your day job. As coaching becomes more and more popular, it will only become increasingly possible to carve out your own space in the rapidly-growing, multi-billion dollar industry. Ultimately, with consistency, planning, and awareness of the common pitfalls on this list, it is possible to leave your day job and work full-time as a coach.