#211: New To Coaching? Avoid These Common Mistakes

Health Coach Power Episode 211
If we had a nickel for every time a new health coach went down a rabbit hole and wasted weeks of time and energy on something *that wasn’t even necessary*…well, we’d have a lot of nickels. Listen to hear about the most common mistakes new coaches make and join Michelle’s free, upcoming event to help get your business off the ground at https://healthcoachpower.com/getstarted2022

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New to Coaching? Avoid These Common Mistakes

New health coaches tend to spend their precious time all in the wrong places. You spin your wheels, you get frustrated and sometimes you just want to give up. (Sound familiar??)

The sad truth is that a lot of new coaches do give up! They go back to corporate jobs or change directions entirely. But that’s not you. You can do this. 

Here’s how to avoid the most common mistakes along the way…

Forget the website

Think you have to build a website before you can get going?

You don’t. 

In fact, if you try to build your website first, you’ll probably wind up with something generic because you haven’t found your true voice as a health coach yet. You haven’t figured out exactly who your ideal client is. You don’t know where you might specialize or what you’re really good at. 

Instead of a fancy website, use your email. Use your Facebook page. Use your instagram account. I’ve been in business for 13 years, and my website plays a very, very small role.

A website is a big project. Save it for when you’re ready and you won’t be kicking yourself a year from now when it doesn’t fit the direction your business has gone. 

Put away the fancy stuff

You don’t need branded PDFs, an online course, a graphic designer, and an expensive lighting setup to get started. I promise. 

All you need to work with private clients or small groups is yourself, a notebook and a pen, and maybe a Zoom account. 

When you work with your first clients, you’ll start to learn what they actually need help with, and it probably won’t be what you thought! Those materials you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into will sit on your shelf, and you’ll be starting over.

You’ll learn everything you need to know to create a more structured program down the road. Pinky swear.

Stop paying for expensive services

Lots of new coaches sign up for a premium account with a meal planning program, an email service provider, a client relationship management tool, the works.

You’re paying for all these tools, but you’re not using them because you don’t have the clients yet.

This is like buying fancy furniture for a house you haven’t bought. How do you know what you’ll need and what will fit where? It makes no sense! 

Don’t invest in tools you don’t need yet. Get them when you need them. 

When you have a few clients, you’ll see what problems you’re facing and then you can find the right tools for the job.

Stop the obsession with social media

New coaches spend WAY too much time on Instagram and Facebook.

A social media page can be a helpful way for people to contact you, but it doesn’t need to be much more than that. Do you have a few posts and a contact button? You’re good. You don’t have to post reels every day and leave tons of comments and have ten thousand followers. 

Scrolling on Instagram doesn’t get you clients. It’s a distraction from the real work. And spending 2, 3, 4 hours a day on social media sites is hard on your mental health.

Let social media be an add-on, not the main course. 

Don’t be a slave to the certificate

This one is controversial in the health coach community, but I’m gonna say it:

Not every coach needs to be board certified. That piece of paper doesn’t make you a better coach or more legitimate than anyone else. 

And clients don’t care. (They really, really don’t care.) They don’t know board certification is, and they don’t need to. 

If you’re planning to work for someone else and they require certification, fine. Get it. But if your goal is to start working with your own clients right away, you don’t need it.

Don’t take out a second mortgage to hire a business coach 

Private business coaching is EXPENSIVE. When you’re first starting out as a health coach, you won’t bring in enough money to cover the cost – not even close. 

The early steps in getting your business started are not that complicated. At this stage, you need a recipe to follow, not a private chef. 

You can find the basic steps you need to take inside a program like Healthy Profit University at a fraction of the cost. 

So what DO you need?

If you don’t need a fancy website, perfect program materials, premium subscription services, a huge social media following, board certification, or a private business coach, what on earth do you need instead? 

You need to stop messing around with all this stuff and do the real work.

That’s what we’re going to talk about on September 13th in our free community event: Get Your Health Coaching Business Off the Ground. You’ll see what other coaches like you have been up to. I’ll be there. We’ll get a chance to chat face to face and it’s all free. Sign up now at healthcoachpower.com/getstarted2022. See you then!

Full transcript:

Well, hello there, health coaches. My name is Michelle Leotta. I am a practicing health coach with 13 years in the industry. Thank you so much for joining me today. But of course, if you're tuning in, it's not like you're just joining me. You're joining a community of literally thousands and thousands of health coaches around the world. And it has always been my goal to connect health coaches who are working alone. Yeah. I know what that's like coaches who are feeling lonely, feeling unsure of themselves. Just like I was when I started out in 2009, heck I still feel that way sometimes today. So, if that's you, first of all, we have our awesome Health Coach Power Community, Facebook group. I mean, that is a given if you're a health coach or you're in school to become a health coach right now, jump into that group.

But I can do you one better today. Yeah, because in just a few days on September 13th, I'm actually hosting a live well like a virtual live community gathering via Zoom specifically for a new health coaches. So if you've recently graduated or if you're just starting out, but maybe you've, you know, you've been a coach for a while, you still feel brand new, whatever. A lot of times we feel like we're new. Even if we've graduated like 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years ago, if you feel brand new to coaching and you want to get smarter about finding clients, you gotta join us. I want you to go right now to healthcoachpower.com/getstarted2022. I'll wait. You can go ahead and do that right now. Just type it into your browser healthcoachpower.com/getstarted2022. We're gonna put this link in the show notes too, by the way.

So if you're driving right now, please, always want you to drive safely and then go to the show notes and you'll find the link to take you directly to healthcoachpower.com/getstarted2022. And don't wait because this is happening. Live on September 13th. That's coming up very quickly and it's going to be wonderful to see all of your faces and get to chat with you and exchange ideas on finding clients and also for you to chat with each other. If you are thinking to yourself, that's great, Michelle, but I cannot make it on September 13th. I want you to sign up anyway, and here's why I'll be able to send you the replay afterwards. So even though you might miss some of the interaction, you basically won't miss a thing. So one more time you can register for free at healthcoachpower.com/getstarted2022.

Now, as for today's episode, I've been thinking about how common it is for new health coaches to spend their time all their precious time in the wrong places and to spin their wheels, get frustrated. And sometimes you just want to give up. Now, if that's you, I want you to go ahead and raise a hand in the comment, say, yep, I've been there. If you have ever felt like you're just spinning your wheels, getting nowhere, you're getting frustrated. And heck sometimes you've even thought about giving up. It happens. I don't have a statistic on this, but anecdotally speaking, I can tell you that a lot of health coaches do give up. They never get past that starting block. And they're like, oh, this is too hard. Gotta go back to corporate. This is never gonna happen. Finances are too tough. Gotta go do something else. I don't want that for you. I do not want that for you at all. So if you're here, live with me as I'm broadcasting into the Health Coach Power community group, um, use the chat. If you're live with me on Instagram, you can use the chat there. And even if you're listening later at home via podcast, just shout it out. Where are you spending most of your time when you're working on your business? What is sucking the most hours out of your day, out of your week? Where are you putting all your energy right now?

Here's where I see health coaches getting stuck most often. And it's because, I mean, 9.99 times out of 10 it's because they're doing things in the wrong order. I don't really want to say the wrong order, because there is no one perfect way to build a business. That would be ridiculous. But I will perhaps say that if you're feeling stuck, you may not be doing things in the ideal order. Okay. That's better. I like that better. So, I'm gonna go through the ones that I hear about the most. And I have my eye on the comments to see what you guys are saying about where you're spending your time and is it working? That's the important part. So, first and foremost, what I hear from coaches that are just starting out, they could say, I graduated yesterday, Michelle and I gotta build my website. To which I say, no, you don't. No you don't. In fact, I would very, very much urge you to not make building your website the very first thing you do as a health coach.

I run my entire business, my website plays a very, very small role. I really do not send people to my website that frequently. And even though my website's been around for 13 years. And does it get Google search traffic? Yes, it does. But even that is peanuts compared to the other efforts I'm putting forth in my marketing. It is a small, small thing. And the problem with doing your website first aside from the fact that you're kind of putting your all, all your energy into something, that's not gonna pay off too much in the beginning is this you're gonna end up with, I promise you, you're going to end up with a very generic website. I already know what it says.

It says something like, hi I'm so, and so I'm a health coach and I can help you live your most vibrant, healthy life, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We've seen it all before. There are thousands of those out there. You're going to end up with an extremely generic site because you probably haven't found your voice yet. You're probably not sure exactly what type of client you're looking for yet. You probably don't know where you're gonna specialize or what kind of people you help or what you help them with or what you're really, really good at or what you're really, really, maybe not so good at you just don't know yet when you're starting out. So why put all the effort into building something with a extremely vague message, cuz you don't really know what you want to say yet. And then you spent the time you spent the money and you have something that in the end at best is meh.

You know what I mean? It's just meh, basically every health coach I've ever met, who has done this a year later, they're going, Ugh, I have to redo my website. Ugh. I hate my website and you don't want that to happen. A website is a big project. So save it. You're not there yet. Trust me. And I, and I already can hear the questions. It's like, well, Michelle, what if I meet someone and I gotta give them somewhere to go to find out more about me. You guys, we have these awesome things called like Facebook pages and Instagram profiles. And I don't know, email addresses. Why don't you just email that person and say, oh so nice to meet you. Here's that recipe I wanted to share with you. We should get together sometime and chat, like make a friend. Why do they gotta read about you on a website? That will work better. I promise. I promise.

And you can always send somebody who just wants some sort of link to learn something about you. Some reference to a social media page who cares? It's fine. Please. Don't make building your website. Your very first step. Have you fallen into this trap? Yes, no, I hear it... I mean, I hear it all the time inside of our Facebook group just graduated. Gotta build my website. No you don't.

Right in the same bucket with that. I'm gonna put designing a logo. If you think a logo makes a business, you are incorrect my friends, you could be making money. You could be making millions of dollars a year and still not have a logo. I promise you. And here's a... We actually have an episode of the archives. I'll have to go back and see which one it was. But if you search our archives, um, about creating a logo for your health coaching business, I did a whole episode on it, a little bit tongue in cheek, but with some real, um, advice too, for when you are ready to build a logo. But here's the thing. Even my logo now is just a type treatment. That's what a graphic designer will call it when there's no fancy symbol or graphic, it's just the text. So if you are Jane Smith, health coach in some typeface of your choosing, you can type out Jane Smith, health coach. Boom. Now you have a logo. Done with it. Don't spend the money. Don't spend the time and please don't come up with some fancy logo that you paid someone for. That's anything other than your name, cuz I can also promise you that it's gonna change. If you're like the name of my business is like, you know, Healthy Vibrant Kids in the Kitchen for Life. It's not going to be in 12 months. I can almost guarantee you that. So just take your name, spell it out nicely. And if you need a graphic, boom, that's what it is. It's just a type treatment.

Are we good? So far we're spending $0 and wasting zero time. Do you like this? I like it too. Okay. Let's keep going. Bindy, raised her hand and said me she's here. Hi Bindy nice for you to join us. Um, I'm wondering if you or anybody else have spent time or maybe wasted some time in the beginning building out extensive programs and materials?

I can't go get clients yet because I need to create 30 branded PDFs designed beautifully and I have to write them and I have to hire our graphic designer and I can't take on any clients until I create these materials or again, I just graduated last week, but I want to start an online course. So I have to record all my videos and I have to figure out how to do that. And I have to write the scripts and I have to buy a camera. And Michelle, what do you use for lighting? And before you know it, you just wasted months of your life creating a course that maybe you never even finished cuz it's too overwhelming and PS, no one's going to buy because you put the cart before the horse. I promise this is not the place to put your energy in the beginning.

You literally need nothing to work with private clients or even small group clients. I will go so far as to say that even with small group clients, you literally need nothing other than yourself, your presence, you got that check, check a notebook, a pen and you know, zoom or however you're meeting with people, a room that you're all gonna sit in. If it's going to be in person, that's it scratch the materials again. You could think you're gonna create all this stuff. And maybe you do and you spend the time and you spend the money, spend the effort and you create all these program materials. Then let's say, then you get your first clients. You're gonna quickly realize, oh this isn't, this isn't useful. This one I made. Nope, not useful. Oh I wish I had made one about that. Cuz my client really needs help with this other thing. Oh this one, she didn't understand. It was too complicated. You're gonna learn everything you just created. Needs to be recreated. Start very simply working with your clients and you're gonna learn everything that you need to know to create a more structured program down the road. Promise you.

Okay. Here's another one. And I know, I know you guys are falling into this trap. I hear it all the time. Just started my business. I got one client or it just started my business and I have no clients yet, but I'll tell you what I have Michelle. I have Practice Better. I have That Clean Life. I got Leadpages. I got uh, whatever, you know, I signed up for ConvertKit. I got their premium plan or something. I got this. I'm paying for that. I'm paying the, I'm paying for all these tools, but I don't have enough clients. I'm not even really using them. Yeah. Why are you buying all the tools? You know, it's kind of like, um, you bought all the furniture for the house that you want, but you don't have the house yet. Well maybe the furniture was on sale. So you bought it anyway. You're just gonna like keep it in a storage unit until you find the house, you could argue that, you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna buy these tools now.

Maybe you got it on sale. Maybe you got a great deal, whatever it was. And then one day I'm gonna have, you know, a reason to use it. But you know what happens if you buy furniture like that? I can almost guarantee you. And you know this, if you've lived any years on this planet, just in life, you bought a table that seats six, you buy a house where the table that fits only seats four, or you buy that big wraparound couch that you love. And then you move into the house and there's a pole and the couch just doesn't fit between the wall and the pole, right? Of course you would never buy furniture before you moved into the house. Don't invest in tools. You don't need before you need them. You can get them as they become necessary. I promise you realize you're having trouble with, you know, X, Y, Z with a client or two clients.

Then you go out and find a solution for that. There are so many places for you to waste money on all these tools. They sound so good. They're gonna help you with your marketing, but it's like a cost every month, every month, every month to help you with your clients that you do not have, right? You got that. It's all backwards. Oh, Amy's saying I love the simplicity of everything you are saying. Amy, let me just tell it to you straight. You know, get your notebook and your pen. You're done. That's it go do the work. I think we do a lot of this extra fluffy stuff... I know we do a lot of this extra fluffy stuff because we're terrified of doing the work. You know, let me build my website in my office behind closed doors where I don't actually have to do anything scary and work with anybody and ask for money or actually help someone in their life.

Not that we don't want to help, but isn't it scary. Will I be able to, am I gonna be good at this? Are people gonna like working with me? Am I gonna say the right thing or the wrong thing? That can all be scary. So instead we design the logo, we sign up for all the tools before we need them. You know, it's all silliness. It's all fluff.

All right. What else? Where are you guys spending your time? I have a guess. I have a big strong guess right here. Social media, Instagram. I'm gonna call out Instagram right now. I think you're spending way too much time on Instagram. I don't even know you. Well, I know some of you, I know a lot of you, but all on the whole health coaches, you're spending way too much time there. Probably Facebook too probably other platforms I'm not thinking about right now. Listen, social media can be great, but for like 99% of us, it's going to be a small compliment to the other marketing activities that you're doing. Right? I said a few minutes ago, you don't need a website. Just send someone to your Instagram page. If they get there and you have some posts and you have a link that has your email address, right? Or, or some way for them to contact you there's like that contact button, right?

As long as there's a way for people to contact you, that is sufficient. It doesn't matter if you've posted 12 reels over the past 12 days. It doesn't matter if you've updated this, that and the other thing. And you're really on there all the time. And if you're leaving tons of comments and if you have, you know, it just doesn't matter. It does not matter. I have coaches who spend a lot of time on Instagram, like a lot, like every time I go on that app, they've got a new reel. They've doing more video. They're doing more stuff on Instagram and maybe even gaining some followers. And then they say quietly behind the scenes to me, Michelle, I don't have any clients. And I'm like, I know, get off Instagram. I'm picking on Instagram right now. Cause I think it's just so easy to get lost in the scroll there.

Social media is not the end all be all to finding clients. It is like 2%, right? It it's like the small, it's like the small add-on thing that you do. It's not the main thing that you do. So if you're spending more than I'm just gonna make this up, I'm gonna say more than an hour on social media every day, it's too much cut it out for real. And if you're spending like 2, 3, 4 hours, like, like throw your phone away, this is not helping you at all with your business. Or also, you know, mentally as health coaches. I think it's really important that we curb our time on these platforms in general. Um, now that being said, as I'm recording this, I am broadcasting into my Facebook group. I am broadcasting to Instagram. So isn't that funny? You guys are like, you're on social media right now, Michelle, how can you say not to use social media?

I'm doing this as part of a much larger strategy, right? Everything that I record Tuesday is two o'clock inside the Facebook group. We publish it to podcast. We turn it into a YouTube channel. I've got 200 some episodes inside apple podcasts and Spotify for you because I'm creating this content week-in and week-out. It's not about the social media. It's much bigger than that. I just happen to throw on the Instagram camera while I'm doing it. Do you know what I mean? That's how I want you to treat social. It's like, like, uh, something else that you might do if you have the time, if it makes sense. Okay. Cause you can just waste too much time and I promise you all the hashtags in the world are not gonna fill your practice with clients in your first year of business. It's just not. Prove me wrong.

Okay. I'm gonna tell you what the next one is. The next mistake that I see coaches making. I think this might be a little controversial, but I'm gonna say it anyway. And some people in the health coach community may not, not our health coach community even, but the larger health coaching community like in the world may not like me for this. But I think too many new coaches are wasting time worrying about and studying for getting board certified. There, I said it, I said it there's this board certification thing. That's kind of come out in the past couple of years and it sounds like something you better do or else you will not be board certified. And that means you are not legit and therefore no one will take you seriously. And you know what? There is not a client on earth. Like I'm not talking about other coaches or other people in the industry, but like real people, you know, like, I'm thinking about one of my clients who is a creative director. She has her own creative agency and she lives in the Northern part of New York state. And do you think she knows anything or gives a rat's ass about board certification for health coaches? She never heard of that before. It means nothing to her. Was she very happy to write it? Well, she didn't actually write a check, but give a credit card number, pay for like my biggest health coaching package and work with me for three months. Yes. It's not a thing that is recognized widely. You don't need it. The only reason you need it is if you plan to get hired by somebody else and they're requiring this, if you are planning to get hired by your own clients, one by one, they are not looking for any type of board certification. And I cannot imagine that is even coming anywhere in the near future.

It really is an industry specific thing. So, I'm not saying don't get board certified, never do it or that it's stupid. I'm just saying it's not a priority. If your goal is to start working with clients. And I think it should be when you start out, because there's all this stuff like we've been talking about and it can make you so sad when you spend your whole day, like trying to figure out your email service. And oh, I gotta fill out this paperwork. And you're like, Ugh, this is not why I got into health coaching. You know, you can lose steam if you're working with clients, you'll do all that stuff in good time, but you're gonna be energized cuz you're gonna be like, guess what? My client tried cauliflower today for the very first time. Oh. And she liked it. And you're gonna be like super excited about that.

You're gonna have a client that like goes to her doctor and her cholesterol numbers have dropped. So now, you know, the doctor's not telling her she has to go on cholesterol medication anymore and you're gonna be like, ah, this is the best thing ever. I'm so glad I'm a health coach. That's the place that I want you in. You can take care of all the paperworky things and the tools and the, this and the that's later work with people and people by and large don't care about board certification. Amy says, guilty. How many of you are guilty as charged? I know it's okay. I'm seeing this stuff from like a bird's eye view I've just been in the industry a very, very long time. I've seen it grow. I've seen it change lots of very good growth and good change. But I see it from a perspective that I think you don't when you're coming through school and you know, they're kind of, uh, feeding you, you know, you're drinking the Koolaid that school's putting out and that's all that you see.

You know, you see it bottom up. I'm looking top down and I think I can get these things off your plate so that life is a little more fun. The work is a little bit more enjoyable and you can make progress more seamlessly. Okay. Here's the next one. It's very likely when you're starting out first year business, second year business, even first month of business, I even hear this from people that you're spending your time and your money and your energy and everything looking for and hiring a private business coach. Uh, hard stop right there. Like, If I had a gong, I would hit it right here. Oh, where do I even begin with this? Have you guys looked around for business coaching?

I was recently talking with a woman. She said she had been spending like months and months researching business coaches. And I'm like, holy macrel! Imagine what you could have been doing with that time. Um, in short business coaching, private business coaching is very expensive. I mean, I have done it. I have hired my own business coaches throughout the years. It's very expensive. It does not make sense to do in my opinion when you are just starting out because you're not bringing in enough money to even remotely cover the cost of private coaching. And believe me, sometimes we have to invest in our businesses. I've done it. I get it. You know, you're gonna use money that you have in savings to invest in something that's gonna get you ahead. That's fine. But it's like a huge differential between what you're earning as a health coach in the beginning, which is nothing and what you're gonna spend on private business coaching, which can be upwards of $10,000, $12,000, something like that.

It could be well beyond. Please don't do that in the beginning. It's not that complicated. You may not know the steps to take, but you don't have to hire someone trying to think of like, oh my goodness, like what's something that, uh, you know, it would, it's not that hard. Like let's say, you know, you could, um, follow a recipe, you could get a cookbook and you could follow a recipe. If you wanted to cook something or, you know, you could hire like a top chef to come to your house and show you how to do it. Right? Like you're like, I'm just trying to make French toast. I don't think I need to hire like, some famous chef to come to my house and show me how to do that. You know, that's, that's ridiculous. I don't need someone to show me how to crack a couple eggs.

It's pretty basic. I just need it spelled out for me. And that's where a recipe comes into play. Oh, here it is. I just need to do da da dah. And I'm gonna get myself at least 90% of the way there. Right? We can always cook better. We could always make better French toast if we have like expert guidance, but you can start your business simply with a recipe, a map, so to speak of the first steps that everybody needs to take. As you get along in your business. Talk to me 10 years from now, five years from now, okay, you might be doing some really interesting different things in your business and having a business coach can make a world of difference. But if you're just starting out, I was doing private business coaching for a long time with coaches and I'm like, I can't do this anymore.

I actually feel bad accepting this amount of money just to repeat myself and say the same basic steps over and over again. So, you know what I did, I recorded it once I packaged it. Now I sell it as Healthy Profit University at a fraction of what you would pay to hire any private business coach out there. And you get exactly what you need in those first six months, 12 months, 18 months of your business. So, if you're like, okay, oh, and Patricia's saying she is guilty of this. That's okay. We're here to like air our guiltiness. And you know, our time wasting sins. Like, I've done a lot of this myself. I've just seen it happen so much. It's so common. There's nothing to feel bad about, but I hope you might be seeing things a little more clearly right now.

If you have, you would say to me, okay, Michelle, you said, I shouldn't worry about my website or my logo. I shouldn't put a whole bunch of time into recording videos or building out program materials. I don't need all the tools and all the monthly fees for all the services to service the clients that I don't have yet. That's just insane. I don't need to be spending a lot of time on social media. I don't need to post every day. I don't even need to be board certified and I don't need a business coach. Well then Michelle, what on earth do I need instead? And that is what we're going to be talking about on September 13th for our free community event, which I've titled, Get Your Health Coaching Business Off the Ground. Please, please, please register to join us. You'll see what other coaches like yourself have been up to. I'll be there. We'll get a chance to chat face to face and it's all free. You gotta register though. It's at healthcoachpower.com/getstarted2022.

I hope to see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Bye bye. Take care, everybody.