#243: Get Your Health Coaching Business Off the Ground (Finally!)

Why do health coaches have such a hard time getting their business off the ground? People desperately need help with their health, so this should be a no-brainer. Listen in for some theories about what’s holding us back as an industry – and a plan to get you in motion. And get Michelle’s brand new, free workshop at: HealthCoachPower.com/offtheground

This episode is brought to you by Practice Better, my favorite client management tool. Save 30% off your first 3 months with code HCP30 at https://healthcoachpower.com/pb.

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Get Your Health Coaching Business Off the Ground (Finally!)

When I first started my health coaching business (14 years ago) I ran myself ragged trying to get my business off the ground. 

So many coaches struggle to get started! Are you like I was, always doing more, trying anything and everything, and on the fast train to burnout? Or are you an overthinker, stuck in analysis paralysis and doing…well, not much?

Either one can hold you back. In this post, I’ll help you find the middle path to progress. You can pick one of these tips and start literally right now.

Tip #1: Talk to people

I’m not talking about an aggressive sales pitch (ew, right?). Just go make some friends! Expand your network. Connect with all different types of people.

Shoot an email to someone you’ve been meaning to connect with (or re-connect with). Set up a coffee date. Join a running group. You’re not selling, you’re making authentic connections.

These connections will get you clients, collaborators, business contacts…everything you need.

Tip #2: Hold an event

If you want to have a successful business, you have to put yourself out there in the world. Hosting an event is a great way to do it.

Maybe it’s a book club. Or a workshop. Or a hiking meet-up. Whatever interests you.

It can be local. It can be online. It can be at your home. It doesn’t matter– an event gives your message some focus, and it will bring people in. 

Plus, it’s a great conversation starter to help you talk about your business.

Tip #3: Create content

This one’s great for the introverts (myself included):

Make stuff!

Write articles. Make videos. Record podcast episodes. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just start putting it out there.

Content creation is a long game: keep doing it, and you’ll eventually have a ton of valuable content. You’ll be the expert.  People will know you and seek you out.

Tip #4: Work with clients

If you haven’t worked with your first client yet, this one’s for you. Just do some coaching – with anyone. 

Your grandma? Great! Your dogsitter? Sign them up. Sometimes, you just need to get some experience – even if it’s not with your “ideal” client. 

Experience gives you confidence. And you need confidence to succeed. Once you can see yourself as a health coach, marketing yourself will get easier. Promise.

Tip #5: Treat your business like a business

Life happens– and businesses keep going. 

Yes, you can have a flexible schedule as a health coach– but you can’t put your business in the back seat everytime something else comes up.  

If everything and everyone else always comes first, you don’t have a business– you have a hobby. If you want your business to get off the ground, you have to keep it high on your priority list. Period.

It’s time to start!

Which tip sounds the most doable to you? Pick one to focus on, starting today.

You can do any of these without being certified. You can do them without buying anything. You don’t need anyone’s permission. No excuses!

Yes, growing a business is hard– you’ll need some support. You’ll need some skills.  But mostly, you just need to start.

Grab my new FREE workshop Get Your Business Off the Ground in the Next 6 Weeks and join our community Facebook group to connect with like-minded coaches at  HealthCoachPowerCommunity.com.


Full transcript:

All right. Hello there, health coaches. How are you feeling? It has been a beautiful couple days here in New York, but I got to tell you that my allergies have been going ballistic. So, if I stop and have a sneezing fit at any point, you will know why. This is just what it's like for me in the middle of May every year. But anyway, today's episode is so super juicy. Thank you so much for joining, and it's brought to you by Practice Better, my favorite client management tool, go try any of their plans for free for 14 days. You can just try it out at healthcoachpower.com/pb. That's for practice better, and you're going to save 30% when you sign up off your first three months. How great is that for my community only. You want to use code HCP30.

So, I've been thinking a lot about when I started my health coaching practice, which was over 14 years ago, by the way. I was the type, I don't know if this will come as a surprise at all, but I was the type to work and work and work and work and work and work and work and just run myself ragged trying to do everything and anything to get my business off the ground. Who does that describe? Is that you? I know some of you listening are going to be like, yep, Michelle, that is me to a T. Or, on the other hand, are you the type who isn't really sure how to get your health coaching business going? So you procrastinate, you overthink things, you talk yourself out of taking risks and you end up doing very little at the end of the day, which one do you identify with most? Because I see both types in our community, plus several others, but I know that there's lots of reasons why we don't make the progress that we want to make.

In fact, both of those that I just described, overdoing, burning out or underdoing and overthinking, neither of those ways work and there is a middle path, which we're going to talk about today, but if you really want to get your business off the ground, I got to tell you about my brand new workshop. It's called Get Your Business Off the Ground in the next six weeks, and you can grab it right now. It's completely free. It's at health coach power.com/off the ground. See how I always make those URLs? So easy to remember, health coach power.com/off the ground, and it's filled with practical steps that you can take right away to see some motion in your business, plus a framework for how all the pieces work together to make a business work, to make the marketing work, to help you find clients on a consistent basis.

I'm releasing this because I see you guys. I see so many thousands and thousands in our Health Coach Power Facebook group, so many coaches are floundering and getting overwhelmed by promises "to make six figures," when really you might be happy just to get that first set of clients and feel like you're making a difference in the world. So if you're not sure where to start or if what you've been doing so far hasn't been working, so why are you going to keep doing it? I wanted you to head over to healthcoachpower.com/offtheground. So why? My question is, why on God's green earth do health coaches have such a hard time getting the businesses off the ground? I think this is a very important question to ponder because we have a service that is so very, very needed. We're not selling widgets, we're not selling timeshares. You would think this would be such a no-brainer because the market, like you guys, the market is there.

People need help with their health. People want help with their health. It's like a multi-billion dollar industry. So what is getting in our way? How do we get more of those billions coming towards us? What's getting in your way? Now, if you're here with me live and I know a bunch of you are, tell me in the comments what do you feel is getting in your way, taking your share of the multibillion dollar health and wellness industry that exists, and it's just right for the picking. It's right there in front of us and yet, ah, all right. Now partially, I will tell you right now, partially it is lack of skills. Definitely marketing is a skillset, which is great. That means it's something that can be taught and can be learned. It's something that I had to learn myself. I mean, even though I had 20 over 20 years by now in online marketing, I've worked with really big global brands, but when I became health coach years and years ago, I had to translate that.

I had to learn specifically how to market myself in this space and with a much smaller budget, it's a little different than how Volkswagen markets itself. So we lack marketing skills. That is one thing getting in the way for sure. Anybody want to own up to that? Certainly, right? We hear this a lot. So this one's easy. I can solve it for you. You definitely want to check out that free workshop that I mentioned because marketing skills can be learned. We can overcome this hurdle and I can walk you through it step by step. So once again, that free workshop is athealthcoachpower.com/offtheground. But lack of skills, I believe that is only one part of the problem. I'm going to talk about some of the other problems for just a moment and then I'm going to share some steps that you can take to get your business off the ground starting today.

I often hear health coaches wondering if they are qualified enough. DNI is raising their hands in the comments. Anybody else? Any, anybody else getting in your own way, ever wondering, am I qualified enough for this? Or we wonder, is anyone going to take me seriously? Come on, right? Who's going to take me seriously? This reminds me of a statistic. I had to look it up because I wanted to make sure I got it right, but I found it in the Harvard Business Review. Here it is. Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.

Let that soak in for a minute. This says a lot about women and confidence and what we feel is expected of us perfection, right? And guess what? Most health coaches are women. So, I know we have some men in the crowd. We certainly have health coaches from all walks of life, but right now, ladies, I am talking to you. I'm not saying men can't have confidence issues, but in this industry largely dominated by women. I don't think we can overlook issues like this because they're having a negative impact on our success.

Amanda is saying what's standing in her way cost, legal, and the mindset of, can I really do this on my own right? Do I meet 100% of the qualifications where somebody else might go, yeah, I meet enough of the qualifications. Let me just get going with this. Listen, if women won't apply for a job, and this is of course in the corporate world, let's imagine how that plays out in running our own health coaching practice.

We might not apply for speaking opportunities. We might not offer our services as readily. We might not tell people that we are a health coach. I remember when I first became a health coach, I had been in advertising for so long when someone said, what do you do? It was, I would choke on the word saying, I'm a health coach. I didn't. I just didn't feel like I could say it. I didn't feel like I met 100% of the made up qualifications in my head. And if we're not comfortable doing that, you can be damn sure that we are not comfortable asking for money. Anyone tell me in the comments if you hate asking for money, which is going to lead me to another statistic. Just one more, I swear. Just one more short rant on women's issues and then we are going to move on.

But women are used to not being paid well, right? We're earning 82 cents to the dollar compared our male counterparts. Black women paid 63 cents, Latinas, 55 cents to the dollar plus for women. We have hours and hours and hours of unpaid labor in the home, unpaid childcare hours, et cetera. So there are these women's issues that I see plaguing absolutely plaguing the field of health coaching. I see it every day from I can't possibly charge more than $25 an hour for my services. I could never ask more than $500 for a coaching package. We're hesitant to ask for enough money to even make minimum wage, honestly, to female coaches who can't sign up for business building programs because their husband said no. Can't tell you how often I've heard that. Ladies, it is 2023. It is time to shatter some glass, please. And we have the opportunity to do that when we run our own business.

And there is no HR department that is saying where our salary has to be capped or what we have to do. We get to decide. Elizabeth is here. Elizabeth said she's excited that she joined the HPU community. Yes, Elizabeth just joined our core curriculum like yesterday, the day before, very, very recently. Welcome Elizabeth. We're glad that you're here. But you can't imagine the number of times that a woman has said to me, well, my husband doesn't think it's the right time, or my husband really doesn't think that health coaching is a real thing. So, you have a dream and you have a passion, and you have the ability. It drives me crazy. Okay, so here are some steps. No matter where you are in this journey, no matter who you are in the health coaching world to get your business off the ground, are you ready?

I want you to pick at least one of these today to focus on because I believe you can take steps right away in any of these directions, but you can't do 'em all at once. That just doesn't make any sense. Now, again, if you want to plan mapped out for you what steps to take in what direction, yes, you'll go further faster for sure. Cause a lot of times we just end up chasing our tails, trying to do too many things at once. If that's you, again, check out the free workshop. It's at healthcoachpower.com/offtheground. Here is something that you need to do. First of all, lemme just back up. You got to do things. You guys, I know that sounds so obvious, but you have to do things. That means you have to get out from behind your computer screen. You got to go make things happen in the world, and sometimes it's going to be hard.

Sometimes it's going to be uncomfortable, and you have to go do things like you got to go make some waves. So let's start with some simple things that I know you know how to do. Number one, you got to meet people and you got to talk to people. I'm not saying that you have to be out there with a sales pitch every minute and you really shouldn't because, oh, how obnoxious is that? Just make friends. It goes a long, long way. Sometimes this is called networking. When we're thinking business and we're thinking marketing, we think, oh, I have to network. I have to go to networking events, and that's not exactly what I'm talking about. Although it's close, it's related because when you have people in your network, people that you are friendly with, that will help you find clients and opportunities down the line, really, it's just about connecting with people, people of all types, and of course people who can help you reach.

Clients are very, very good people to be friendly with. Oh my goodness. People that know a lot of people, people that run businesses of their own, people that organize events. These are excellent people to be friendly with. So let's meet people. Shoot an email to someone that you've been meaning to connect with or reconnect with. Set up a coffee date. These things are overlooked completely. When we're online and we're learning about online marketing, I'm sure all of you have thought about Facebook ads. I'm sure you've heard about sales funnels, but like a coffee date, could it really be that simple? You do that type of connection on a regular basis. That can be everything you need to find clients. It really can be. So there's one for you. I know you can get started with that today. And no fancy technology required either, right? All right.

Here's something else you can do. Hold an event. This falls underneath that idea of doing something in the world hold an event. Yes, it could be local event, it can be an online event, it can be in your home. Some of the earliest things I did in my health coaching business was running cooking classes out of my home with just friends and acquaintances. But I was thinking about Susie and Susie, I don't know if you're here, but Susie, I'm calling you out because Susie is holding an event in scars, Scarsdale, New York. I hope I'm getting that right. And it's coming up next week or something. And it's for women who have gone through a divorce, women who are newly single and reclaiming themselves, and she just got featured in the local news. They did this beautiful writeup about Susie and her business, and it's like, wow, why did they do that? Why did anyone care to interview Susie if she was just like, I'm a health coach. I help people get healthy. That doesn't make a story. That's not interesting. But if she's like, I'm hosting an event, it's this day, it's this time. We have these sponsors. All these people are going to be doing these wonderful things. Here's who it's for. Here's why I'm running this event. That's a story. So when you hold events, you have something to talk about when you do things in the world, you have a reason to have a conversation with people. People have things to ask you about, and this just goes back to the idea of meeting people and talking with to people and making friends.

So, hold events. What is an event that you could pull off fairly easily? It could be a book club meeting. It could be a meetup group to go hiking or go walking locally. Anything, hold events. Trust me on this. Here's something else you can be doing, and this will appeal more to the introverts in the crowd who's an introvert. I am an introvert, you guys, I really, really am. I get off these lives on these recordings and these things that I do, and I'm like, but even if you're an introvert, you can be marking yourself and you can be holding events and you can be doing all the things as well.

You can grow. I know I have, but here's something introverts will really love, create content, create content, and I'll use this example. So my son is 12 years old and he can solve a Rubik's cube and I don't know, four seconds. That's either far too fast or not fast enough. He would yell at me for not knowing his personal best Rubik's cube average or whatever, but I'm going to say four seconds because if you can solve a Rubik's Cube at all, I am impressed. If you can do it in under 30 minutes, I'm even more impressed, and he does it in seconds. Anyway, my son started a YouTube channel and he makes videos about Rubik's cubes. It's adorable. It is absolutely adorable. But he was concerned. He's like, mom, I don't know how to make a good video, mom. My camera stinks. I bought him a new camera, but still the lighting isn't good.

My editing software on my computer is not so great. He has all these reasons why his videos aret as good as they could be. And here's what I said to him. I said, most people on earth are never going to do much of anything. So if you do something, you make something and you keep doing it, people will eventually notice and they're going to think you are a big deal because at some point, you're going to be able to say, here's my YouTube channel. It has 500 videos on it or whatever. However they do it. I have a billion likes, and that's going to mean something. And it's because you started today, and I'm going to say the same thing to all of you. It doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to have a great camera, you don't have to have a great microphone.

You don't have to be the best writer in the world. Write articles, make videos, record podcast episodes, because most people will never do much of anything. So you'll do it, you'll keep doing it, and suddenly you're going to be like the expert at that thing. That 100% how I got where I am today, creating content for the past 15 or 16 years, people are going to think you're a big deal. And really you're just an introvert who didn't want to go hold a workshop somewhere. So instead, you started making content at home. But this is something you can start today, I promise. All right, I got a couple more for you, and I'm curious what you think so far. What's the easiest for you to get started with? Even if those first three, talk to more people, do a little networking, make some more friends to think about holding an event or to start creating content, which of those three things appeal to you the most?

You feel like, yeah, I could get started with that right away because there's no reason to wait on any of this. You can do all of those things. By the way, even if you're still in school to become a health coach, even if you're not even in school to become a health coach yet, you can still do all of those things and it will serve you. So there's literally no reason to wait. I've heard coaches say, I can't because I can't because I'm an expat and I'm not allowed to make any money because of whatever nefarious legalities and things. That's okay. You can still meet people, talk to people, make friends. You can still hold a free event. You can still create content all day long. You can be doing a lot regardless of what stage in your journey you're at. D is saying, I'm going to join a running group so I can network better.

Great. And going into it, you don't even want your head to be like, I'm going to network. You just want to be like, Hey, I'm just curious who's in this group? Curious what they're all about. That's it. You know what I mean? When we're attached to the outcome, I think that's where it turns very icky and salesy when we could be, you know, arrive. I'm not saying you would do this, but I think there is an impulse to be like, hi, I'm new to the running group. I'm a health coach. And then people are like, Ugh. But instead, talk to people. Ask them about themselves. Don't mention that you're a health coach maybe until the second or third time that you have a conversation or whenever it comes up organically, someone over here on Instagram is saying definitely content. Content's her jam. That's what she feels most comfortable with. Great. Get to it and stick with it. Content is a long game, which is all the more reason to start today.

And Dionie also said, I'm keen to host an event. Just been so bad at executing. eEvents take a little bit more work. Sometimes it's helpful to tag on to an event that's already happening. Some of you may know I'm going to be in San Diego this June for the Health and Wellbeing and Coaching Conference. That's not my conference, that's not my event. But when I heard about it, I like, oh yeah, I'm going to be there. Drag my introverted self out in public, but it's much easier because I'm not running the whole event. By the way, if you are in San Diego or if you would like to fly out to San Diego, it's June what, 16th to the 18th, and you can get all the details for that at healthcoachpower.com/SanDiego. Thanks for setting me up to talk about that. Dionie, I've been meaning to remind you guys about San Diego. She says she wishes she could teleport to San Diego and join. It is a beautiful place. I can't wait for it. Okay, I got a couple more ideas for you.

This one, some of you are going to roll your eyes, but just bear with me because I'll explain what I mean. Number four, work with clients. I know everyone's like, it's so hard to find clients, blah, blah, blah. Work with anyone. If your grandma wants to be your client, great grandma, you're my new client. If your dog sitter will be your client, if you have to just ask people to work with you and say, pretty please, whatever. I mean there's like the best type of clients to find and then there's like just get some damn experience, right? Because you can't build confidence without action. You can't feel like a health coach. You can't feel like you are 100% qualified until you start doing the thing. So even if you are working with grandma, great, that's going to move the needle, even if just moves it 1% to you feeling more qualified as a health coach.

Work with anyone that you can get your hands on in any capacity. There's better marketing that you can do later. I will be happy to teach you about target markets and I'll be happy to teach you about signature programs. But if you haven't worked with anyone yet, literally reach out, grab your best friend and be like, we are doing this because I had just have to practice putting myself in this role. Yes, anyone? On a scale of one to 10, how scary is that? One is like, sure, I could find somebody today to work with. I'll ask the mailman when they come by. 10 is like, no, that totally freaks me out. No way, no how, Michelle, I'm never going to do that. My first client was my cousin and that made it. We're not super close, which is probably a good thing sometimes when we're very, very close with people.

There is a challenge there. We work together for six months. I felt awkward in my new role as a coach, but she is my cousin and she was forgiving and she paid me a very small amount, but she still paid me something. So we had to go through that process of how am I going to collect money and making sure I'm sending the invoices. It was a very good experience. So there's an example for you of who you could work with today. Elizabeth says, I have two friends that I'm coaching for $25 a session. Hilarious because I just say something earlier about getting paid $25 an hour, ok, when it's your first clients, I get it. Do it for free, do it for barter, do it whatever. I like the exchange of money though, very much. And of course those prices will just go up from there, Elizabeth.

And number five, I put this last, but really maybe I should have put it first. If you want to get your business off the ground, you need to treat your business like a business. What do I mean by that?

This is going to tap back into some of those women's issues again, just because life happens. Just think in the world. All the people that own every store that you drive past, when you go through town or on the highway or whatever, life happens to everyone. Businesses generally do not shut down. I mean, certainly during Covid, some of them had to, but generally we have a pharmacy in town. It's one of these small pharmacies that's not part of a chain. It's really cute in there, and I'm sure the owner gets sick sometimes or has a family emergency, but generally the business does not shut down. A kid might be home sick one day. We have home renovations going on, right? Life happens. That doesn't mean that we have to put our businesses on hold. And I'm saying this because again and again, I see women health coaches putting everything and everyone ahead of themselves on new business.

Now, I say this with a grain of salt because health coaching is really flexible. I've loved being a health coach and being able to raise a family cook meals from scratch. I take full advantage of my flexible work arrangement, like 1000%. I love it. And I'm speaking to many of you who have already let this happen. Cause I just know. I just know so many health coaches where this is the case. If you're going to let your business take a backseat every time that anything happens in life, it is always going to be in the backseat, and that's just the long and short of it. So if I hadn't seen this a million times, I wouldn't be bringing it up, but today I just feel like I have to yank the sheet off the elephant in the room and just be like, this is what the problem is you guys.

I'm not saying you can't take care of a family member. I'm not saying that sometimes you don't have to rearrange your schedule, but far too often it's like, oh, x, y, Z happened and therefore I haven't done anything with my business in six months. So businesses don't work that way. What works that way? Hobbies. So decide now, are you running a business or is health coaching a hobby? If it's a hobby, that's cool. Enjoy it. Do it when it works for you. If it's a business, you do need to treat it like a business, and that's a mindset shift that you can make today. Now finally to get your business going. It will require some help, possibly some new skills, and it's going to require a whole lot of support from people who understand what you're trying to do because I don't know if you've noticed, but if you're like most health coaches, the people in your life have no idea what you're trying to do, and they might even think it's a joke, right?

Because they don't understand. I still have friends to this day. Hey Michelle, how's your little blog going? I'm like, do you mean my multi six-figure business? Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, it's going great. Thanks. Yeah, so you need support from people like us who actually understand what you're trying to do. Please join us inside our Facebook group, health coach power community.com. It's totally free to join if you're not already there. Sydnee says she's planning to go to the conference. She lives in San Diego. I will see you there this June. Again, if anyone else is able to be in San Diego this June, go get details. We're going to be doing a happy hour. I'm going to be presenting some stuff during the conference itself. It's going to be a lot of fun, very sunny and beautiful you, and you're going to want to get details at healthcoachpower.com/SanDiego.

That's a sidebar, but if you're like, I am ready to start taking my business more seriously, a great start is the free workshop that I mentioned earlier. It's available for you right now. It's called Get Your Business Off the Ground in the next six weeks, and you can go get it at healthcoachpower.com/offtheground.

I want to thank you all for joining me over here on Instagram. Those of you that have been with me on Facebook, thank you so much. I love having your energy during these sessions. So mark your calendar because just about every darn Tuesday, I mean, I'm talking 52 weeks a year with a very few exceptions. I am recording these episodes live. I am live streaming into our Facebook community, and you can join me there and all you got to do is show up and look for the live streaming video I broadcast at 2:00 PM Eastern time every Tuesday. So mark your calendar and I will see you all next week. Take care, everybody.