#142: Behind the Scenes of My Health Coaching Business

Although Michelle spends a good deal of time helping coaches build successful businesses…this episode is all about her own private health coaching practice that goes on behind the scenes. After all these years, YES she’s still actively working as a health coach!

Want Michelle’s hands-on help growing your coaching practice? The waitlist is now open for the Spring ’21 Healthy Profit University Fast Track Semester. Add yourself to the list right here – http://HealthCoachPower.com/waitlist

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Hey there, health coaches! You know what I realized this week? I spend a sizable amount of time with all of you, also with the members of my Health Profit University, helping everybody build successful health coaching practices. So I thought it would probably be interesting for you to hear a little bit about my own health coaching practice. It kind of goes on behind the scenes. I don't talk about it too, too much, but after all these years, yeah, I am still actively working as a health coach. So today I'll share what I'm up to in my private practice, as well as give you a look at what the path was like to get where I am today, 12 years into being a health coach. So if you're here live, and I know some of you are, go ahead and say hello in the comments, ask any questions you have as I go along. I'm an open book in case you haven't noticed, and I am looking for your comments, so don't be shy and they're going to pop right up here on my screen. As long as the technology gods are on my side, and I'll be happy to answer anything that you're interested in.

Most of all, like the coolest thing has been watching this industry grow like explode and change over the past 12 years. So I want to share what those years have been like. And by the way, I have been hinting at this for a few weeks, but today I'm ready to open up the waitlist for this spring's Health Profit University fast-track semester. If you've been waiting for this, go to healthcoachpower.com/waitlist, and add yourself to the list. It's open. We're ready for you. There's no obligation, but by joining the waitlist, you will get behind the scenes sneak peaks as we go along the best possible bonus package. It's a good deal. And if you're not familiar with what the heck I'm talking about HPS fast track semester is my course Health Profit University done live with me in real time. Over the course of 90 days with weekly live calls, a bunch of extra goodies, I cannot even tell you about yet, but the curriculum is all about getting you in motion, actually out there doing the work with my hand-holding.

It's just fabulous. So get yourself on the wait list. now at healthcoachpower.com/waitlist if you're not already on it. Cause I know a bunch of people already hopped on this morning. Whenever I talk about HPU, I have to remind myself that it really comes from, oh my goodness, years and years of lived experience as a health coach, everything that I have learned along the way, things that I succeeded with, things that I failed miserably at, you know, this is why I put together this course, which, you know, my journey started way back in 2008, 2009. So back then I was fresh faced out of health coaching school. And I actually had eight paying clients by the time I graduated, which felt awesome because it meant that I had paid myself back for the tuition that I had invested. And I had gone to the Institute for integrative nutrition.

Not only had I paid myself back, but you know, and then some right. So I had a little extra in my account that felt like a really good place to be coming out of school back then, in case you're wondering what my practice looked like. It was very standard. I was offering the six-month health coaching program, just like I N taught us to do, I wasn't doing anything special or fancy or unique. I was just another graduate doing exactly what I was told. And I think I was charging $1,200 for the six month program in total with meetings every other week. Right. Very by the book now in my memory. And I, of course, you know, looking back, you always remember things a little bit different than they may have been. So, at the time, I don't know what I would have said, but looking back, I'm like, wow, I really did have quite a steady stream of inquiries for private coaching.

I was constantly signing new clients because you know what, I was extremely active. I was holding workshops all over the place. I was running events. I was doing cooking classes out of my house. I made myself very, very visible in the community. And by the way, back then, we really didn't have much in the way of social media. So a lot of this was happening in person face-to-face, which to this day is the most valuable kind of connections that you can make. So I can say I was doing that right. I probably could have been doing it smarter more effectively, more strategically, but I was definitely out there being visible. So that is great. I had to be honest, right? I had come from a career in big advertising. I used to be an art director at Arnold, which was one of the leading top biggest whatever ad agencies in New England at the time.

So I knew a little something about how to advertise myself and advertise my services. But, and this is a big but, I really did not know how a small solopreneur coaching business worked. I had never done anything like this before. I had never run my own business before. And one thing that I know for certain was missing is that I was operating without a target market in mind, which is crazy. Talk to me now because even when I was working in advertising, there's always a target market, but somehow just skipped over that. Like I know so many health coaches like to do, I skipped right over it. And what was happening is that with all of these events and things that I was doing, yes, I was attracting people. Yes, I was visible, but I was kind of accumulating this hodgepodge of people in my world of names, on my mailing list.

And I distinctly remember that while yes, I was booking consultations and I was signing clients. I had an awful lot of no shows at my consultations. I also remember doing, I don't know if you've had this experience, but I was doing a lot of first of all, full hour, long free consultations with anyone who asks. I was just so pleased at somebody who was interested in my services. I didn't ask any questions. I said, sure, we put it on the calendar. I would be there. And they wouldn't what a waste of time and what a bummer. I think I remember that the most, because that really kind of hurt my feelings. You know, that someone would waste my time like that. Anyway, the other thing that would happen is that they would sign or show up, right. And it would just be an hour-long session of them picking my brain with zero interest in actually signing up for my services.

Has this happened to you? So I think I signed clients more by accident or despite my efforts, not because of anything that I was doing on purpose or doing well, which just pretty funny when I look back on it. So this that's what I would call like a leak in the boat. You know, a leak in your marketing boat, you're doing a lot of things, right. But if you have a big leak like that, like I just was not getting the right people into consultations. I wasn't getting them to show up. I had no idea how to actually get the right people to sign up with me. Um, there's a lot of spinning of my wheels, right? I could have been going further, faster, but instead of sort of treading water with this big leak in my boat. So that continued for a while. As I then added another program to my offerings, I created my very own from scratch 21-day detox.

This is back in 2010. So then it was a slightly different era and the word detox was hot. Like on fire hot, everybody was asking for it. So I created that program for them. And I remember that my detoxes, they were great. Those programs filled nicely. I had anywhere from 30 to, I think at one point I had 75 people in each of those programs with relatively low effort. So that was cool. People were hot to join up for that. And I thought, well, I really haven't made in the shade. Maybe I have is earning a couple thousand dollars. Every time I ran a detox. And that felt really, really good. It felt like I was onto something. Now in hindsight, I don't know how much that did for my business long-term, although it felt very good at the time. I'll tell you what did do something for my business long-term in ways I never could have predicted all along the way, even before my first clients, even before I had graduated from IIN, I was blogging.

Yeah. I was blogging every week. Sometimes several times per week, I had a lot more time than I do now, but I was blogging and I was sending consistent weekly emails to my mailing list. I was creating new recipes, right. I was generating a lot of content. Now, there wasn't really a lot in the way of social media at the time, like I mentioned, but I was creating all this stuff and I was sharing it with the tools that I had available and people were paying attention because I was so consistent. And because the content was pretty good, right. They followed me, they shared my stuff with their friends. So all in all, there was, there was an upward slope to how my business was growing. Not as fast as I wanted it to, but we were getting there. And then my son was born my first, how many of you have had a baby while you've been trying to build your business?

That'll put a wrench in your plans. And at that point, I realized that working with clients was just going to get tossed right out the window for a while, because I did not have any childcare whatsoever. And it was in that year that after my first son was born, he's now 10. It's hard to believe he's upstairs right now doing his homework, you know, completely independent. But at the time he was with me all the time, like attached to me. So I started leaning on affiliate marketing. I realized I have this mailing list of people who are interested in what I have to say. I have this blog following. I could, I can't sell coaching to them, but I can do something with them. I could earn by referring them to products and services where I knew they were going to be served. Well, you know, something that these people needed and wanted.

I'm not just referring any old thing to my mailing list. I was quite particular about it, but with the products and the services that I knew they would love, why not make that referral and earn a percentage of the sale. And in that first year after my son was born, that's really where I put my attention rather than coaching. And I know I made tens of thousands of dollars just through those types of sales. That was eye opening. I was able to earn this really good chunk of change, working on my own time, around the baby's nap schedule or while he was like, literally in my lap. And so affiliate marketing is still an important part of my business model today. So I did want to share that it hasn't just been a straight line from like zero coaching clients to one to two, to, you know, 10,000. And that's rarely how a health coaching business grows because there's a cap to how many private clients you can work with. So, most practices really start to diversify their offerings and do things that generate income in a more scalable way.

Meanwhile, this whole time ever since I was in school, my peers, right? Other health coaches were always asking for my help. They were like, Hey Michelle, how do I start a blog? Or how could I run a detox like yours? I literally held classes for my fellow health coaches while I was still in school. Not, I didn't even put their names on a mailing list. I didn't, and I didn't do anything with it. I just held these free classes in hopes that they would then leave me alone, honest God, that's how it all started. I was like, I'm a little annoyed. Like I'm trying to build my own business. And everybody keeps asking me all these questions. Like I would try to answer them and I would try to answer them. And then I was like, you know what? I'm just going to hold the class.

Everybody show up on Tuesday and I'm going to teach you how to do this thing. And so that's how it all started. It was my effort to kind of just give myself some time back because I was getting way too many inquiries and I didn't have the mental space. I literally didn't have the space in my calendar to be giving away my knowledge and expertise, like to a hundred different health coaches. But finally, and I tell this story a lot so I apologize, you know, apologies if you have heard it before. But finally, my first son had been born and I heard from a friend of mine, a health coach friend, begging like absolutely begging for help. And since it was a friend, I was honest. And I said, you know what? I just can't like, I don't have time with the baby. I don't have time to do anything.

This kid doesn't sleep. I have to push his stroller for like four hours a day so that he will nap. I really was to you guys. I was walking the streets back then we lived in old town, Alexandria, right outside of Washington, DC. And I walked for hours and hours and hours every day. Cause I could not get him to sleep any other way. So I said, I can't do it. I can't help you. Sorry, goodbye. And she said, please. And I said, no, I really can't. I started to feel really bad. And then she said, well, what if I paid you? And I said, that's interesting, but no, I can't. I never know when I'm going to be free for a phone call for like a proper coaching call. And she said, this was all via email, but back and forth. He said, well, what if I just kept emailing you?

And with that, a new income stream was born. One that I never intended at all. And I actively resisted for quite a while. Suddenly within like months, a couple months, I had a roster of health coaching clients willing to pay me for emailing them while I pushed a stroller. Literally that is, that was the service. Um, I would kind of hold my phone in one hand and type and kind of pushed the stroller with the other up and down the street a million times, all the neighbors probably thought I was crazy, but over time, of course, as they do, my son got bigger. Um, my capacity for health coaching opened up again. I started several new online programs. I remember I started one that was all about eating for a happiness. I think I called it, come on, eat happy. That's cute name. Right? Uh, how to eat for, for mood, for, you know, a relief of depression and anxiety and for better mood, that's one program I ran, what else did I do?

I did something called winning at kitchen, which was fun. It was essentially like here's a meal plan and let's all cook this food just for fun and talk about it. That, that was the whole program. That was like the whole premise. Again, I was not working with the target market in mind. I just knew I had a lot of moms who needed meal plans and I decided to be fun if we all cook together, it was successful though. It really was. People loved it. So that's what I was kind of doing as my time opened up again. I was still working with health coaches on the side. I even, co-founded a group for mom health-preneurs. Like I was, I was busy. I was successful in all these different ventures, but it really wasn't until a couple of years later when I got pregnant with my second son who is also upstairs right now and also doing homework, they're really good boys.

But I realized when I was pregnant with him, I was like, okay, I am spread entirely too thin. And I want to call that out because I see it happening with many of you. You're teaching yoga, you're running this program. You're trying to go after that opportunity. You're still working. Part-time at another job where you're taking care of your kid. It's COVID whatever, it's very easy to become, spread too thin. So I was like sort of successful in all these different areas, but nothing was like catching fire and making me, you know, that the, the millions that I, you know, obviously was hoping that would happen one day. So I was spread entirely too thin. Please be careful of that potential, um, pothole as you go along your journey, I needed to focus and I needed to start earning at the next level as my family was growing.

And I realized, huh, you know, my family needs this kind of financial support. So that's what I kind of buckled the heck down. And Amanda is saying in the comments that she loved winning at kitchen, Amanda and I went to IIN together way back in the day. Hi Amanda. Yeah. Winning at kitchen with a really fun program. Oh my God. Ages ago.

Anyway, pregnant with my second baby, got my head on straight about what I wanted to actually accomplish with my business. That's when I raised my rates, I walked away from several projects. I walked away from a lot of things that I had become involved with. And I got a lot more intentional with my time knowing that soon I was going to have a baby and a toddler. Now I say, I raised my rates. What I really did. And you can do this too, is I kept my rate, my package about the same, but I cut it down to three months instead of six months.

So I was essentially doubling my rates, right, because it was half as much time. Um, and that was a way of being able to, you know, not have to tell someone, Oh, to work with me costs, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars. I can keep the same rate I was at, but I cut back on the amount of time. And I realized that clients were still getting results within three months. So that's something to consider you guys, if you feel weird about raising the number who don't have a dollar amount on your rates, you can do it the other way, where you rejigger the time on the backend. Maybe you're meeting with people for 30 minutes or 45 minutes instead of an hour. Maybe you're doing successions instead of 12 sessions. Whatever. Now it was around that time that I noticed that all of my best clients, like I had lots of different clients, but the ones that I liked working with the best and the ones who seem to be getting the best results.

So that's what I mean by best clients. They had some things in common. They had some things in common with each other. And also with me, all my best clients were, they were go getters. You know, they were type a women. If I asked them to complete a food diary, boom. They had it to me on a, like perfectly laid out spreadsheet, color coded, you know, that's like the type of woman that I was attracting and that I was really jiving with. And I noticed that they all had similar health issues related to chronic stress. So after many years in business, I finally started to hone in on a target market. And it was not easy. Like I'm telling you now, I resisted this with every ounce of my being, even though every, you know, there really wasn't that much support back then for building your health coaching business.

But there were like two or three people that were kind of acting in that capacity. And the, all of their advice was to choose a target market as I am always advising you guys now, but I didn't know how I didn't understand how I would use a target market. All I could see was after like five or six years in the industry, this common thread between all of my best clients. So if you're in that position where you're resisting, choosing a target market, like I understand the reasons that you might be struggling and that you might be like, fingers in my ears. I'm not going to do that, but I will tell you this. I wish I had done it sooner. I wish I had had someone to better explain to me what I was going to do with the target market and how that would be different than if I didn't have a target market.

And I talk about this all the time on the show. So we're not going to go too far into it today, but I will say this things started to fall into place, which was like, hallelujah. I was even because of, because of really knowing who I now wanted to serve and how I serve them. I was better able to identify opportunities for myself where I needed more training. And I got that training, both business training and very specific areas that, you know, I was missing, um, in actually learning more about health and wellness and nutrition. I did Aviva Romm's, functional medicine training that allowed me to raise my rates again, start getting better results for my clients. And I was like, you know, I felt like I had hit my stride in this. If you, if you know, if you're in the weeds, like I was, I couldn't imagine time where business would feel easy, but it was kind of starting to feel easy, maybe not easy, but it was like, it was still a challenge, but there was a sense of ease around running my business and working with clients.

And that was a welcome relief. Now around that same time, um, that's when I created Health Profit University. So we are talking years up until this point. I had done work, privately groups, online groups in person groups, uh, everything you can imagine as a health coach. And it was that your years of experience in the field, um, that allowed me to create a system, create a course that walks coaches through everything that they need to know at a much. And this was so key at a much more affordable cost than private business coaching. Because up until this point, people had been hiring me privately. Once I stopped pushing that stroller, you know, then I was holding actual calls with health coaches who were paying me at, you know, rates at which you would pay a private business coach. And sometimes it felt silly. Like, why am I repeating the same thing over and over to all of these brand-new coaches, they all need the same thing or everyone is missing the same piece...

You know, thing that they have to set up on their computer. Everybody is missing this one concept. And so I realized I could do this in a way that allowed me to reach more coaches serve more coaches and you know, it'd be a win-win for them as well, because it would be less expensive than hiring my time. So, it was really cool that all the lessons that I had been learning along the way as a health coach, all kind of came together and it went into the creation of Health Profit University. So, these days I'm going to tell you what my business looks like these days, these days, most of my time is dedicated to mentorship, to business, coaching, to Health Profit University and the whole health coach power community. I do hold HPU twice per year as a live-lead fast-tracks semester. And the spring is going to be like the biggest juiciest curriculum that I have ever offered.

I'm not even sure how I'm going to fit it all in yet, but I'm going to make it happen. Lots of opportunities for you to get in motion, start earning right away with my help. So if you're even the tiniest bit interested in joining us this spring, add your name to the waitlist it's healthcoachpower.com/waitlist. People have been asking about this for a couple of months now. So here you go have at it. And I'm soon going to be announcing more important dates as we get ready for that spring semester. But meanwhile, remember I'm still running health coaching business over here. So these days, this is what it looks like last year I was getting so, so busy that I said, you know what the heck with this? You know, I don't care if I don't even get any more clients, you know, like I'm so busy.

I doubled my rates. I just, one day I just went boom, doubled my rates, same exact package twice as much. And honestly that didn't change anything. People still were signing up even through COVID. So I was like, okay, that didn't work to free up my time, but it was an interesting experiment. So, you know, I've continued to work with a handful of private coaching clients. It's become, like I said, a smaller portion of my business, but a steady, steady part of my income, a steady part of what goes on my calendar in the past couple of months, I've decided I needed to be even more aggressive in protecting my time. Right. I just cannot work privately with so many people and still be able to serve the number of people that I'm now reaching. So, in the past couple of months, I've started to number one, niche down, even further.

And I have my eyes on creating a scalable program, kind of like HPU kind of the same thing. Can I reach more people with less of my time and, and also allow more people to access my services with less of their money, right? So that way more people are getting the help that they need and I'm actually able to, to serve everybody. That's the plan. So actually just this week on Monday, I kicked off a beta version of that new program is for women struggling with low thyroid symptoms. And I'm very eagerly waiting to learn how it's going to go. That's how I approach things in my business. I'm like, okay. I think based on the information I have, that this could be useful. This might be something that people want and that will serve them. Well, let me try it, let me try it on a small scale.

I'm going to see what works, see what doesn't work, you know, and learn from it, learn what, what people are attracted to, um, what keeps them from signing up. You know, you can learn so much just by doing so. I want to encourage you guys to get out there, offer your services. Don't wait for everything to be perfect and polished and shiny because you'll wait forever. And then what if it doesn't work? Oh my God, you just wasted like a year of your life putting that thing together. And nobody bought it. Don't do that. I put this together in a couple of weeks and you know, we're going to work out the kinks as we go along, but I'm really, really excited to be able to serve more women in the capacity that I've already been doing for so long, but making it easier for them making it easier for me.

Um, that's, that's really like the name of the game right now at the stage of my business. Especially as more and more of my time goes towards serving all of you health coaches. So I look forward to seeing lots of you on the wait list. If you have any questions about HP's fast track semester, the very best place to ask is inside our health coach power community Facebook group, where I can answer your questions. HPU members are there. They can answer your questions. So in any case, that's the best place to reach out. Of course you could also email us. I'll be back next week, right here. Same time, same place for another episode. Take care, everybody I'll see you then.