#38: How To Get Your First Clients

In this episode Michelle shares about her very first clients and gives some practical ideas for finding clients of your own. She also discusses:

– Reaching out to your friends and family network
– Offering an introductory package
– Deciding on a target market
– Starting a business and a family at the same time
…and much more!

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This episode is sponsored by:
Master Class: Turn Your Health Coaching Business Into a Full Time Salary

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Hello health coaches, welcome to the Health Coach Power Community Q and A. my name is Michelle Pfennighaus. Thank you so much for joining me. So my very, very first health coaching client was my cousin. My second client was actually a woman that I had never met before. I still have never met in person who lived halfway across the country. I know it’s a little bit odd. Today we’re going to be talking about getting your very first clients or perhaps your very next clients with some practical ideas that you can implement right away. That’s the goal. Now, if you’re here with me live and we are streaming it, health coach power community.com, tell me in the comment area first, what do you want to talk about today? What questions do you have for me? Lay It on me and in addition, I would love to know who was your very first client paid unpaid.

Does it matter or have you had any clients yet? If you’re just starting out, go ahead and let us know because I think it’s so interesting to hear all of our different stories. Where are these people come from? I feel like when I started my business, the concept of having a client was just so weird so far, and how would I ever find one of those and I truly did not think I ever would. So if you’re in that boat, take heart. Now, of course, one very important way to grow your client base is to have a mailing list. Do you have a mailing list yet? This is why you’re going to want to check out my free training called how to double your mailing list in the next 90 days. And you can sign up for that training at findyourbalancehealth.com/double. You’re going to learn some of the exact ways that I grew my mailing list from, you know, zero to many, many thousands. And again, you can sign up for that for free at findyourbalancehealth.com/double.

So our very first question came from Lakeesha and she said, I have to admit I have felt both excited and overwhelmed with starting my career as a health coach. It’s been hard figuring out how to get my first clients.

Yeah, no kidding. No kidding. I’m so glad that you asked about this. I know you’re not the only one who is wondering where these clients are going to just fall out of the sky or where are they going to come from? So the very first thing that I want to suggest to all of you is to use your current network. You may feel like you don’t have a current network, but you do. You have friends, you have family, you have acquaintances, and these are the people that you want to reach out to and let them know what you’re doing.

Like there’s really no other way to get started. You will have a difficult time reaching out to perfect strangers who have no reason to trust you at all. When you’re first starting out, you gotta use your network. So make a phone call, write an email, but do reach out to your current network of family and friends and let them know what you’re doing. We’re going to talk a little bit more about what that means to tell them what you’re doing. The second thing I want to encourage you to do, because I think this works really well, I’d seen it work really well for a lot of coaches. It’s what I did in the beginning is offer an introductory rate. This means that for a certain period of time, you’re going to charge less than you normally would, substantially less. It should be so easy for someone to agree to work with you if they had any inclination to do so.

That’s the kind of price we’re talking about. That’s not going to be available forever. You could, uh, you could say that this is only good for my first five clients. They know the first five people to take me up on this offer. Or You could give it a date on the calendar. This introductory rate is good until, but this is a great thing to share with your family and friends so that they realize that there’s some sort of time constraint on this. If they themselves or anyone they know would be a perfect fit for you, they’re going to want to move quickly and not wait until next year when your rates have doubled. So when I work with a coach, we usually talk about an introductory package or an introductory rate that somewhere along the lines of half of what you would normally charge and perhaps shorter.

So if you were planning to do a six month program, six months is a long time to work for very little pay and it’s also perhaps just too long for you to be still in an introductory phase. So think about a shorter program but not so short that you won’t get results for the client and they won’t be able to give you a raving testimonial. You do want to be able to show a before and an after, you know, what was the result? You want them to be able to quantify that in a testimonial. I think three months is ideal, but see what you think. So an introductory package for sure. The other thing that is insanely helpful is this, Lakesha, let’s pretend that you’ve reached out to your friends and family and you said, “I’m now health coaching. I’m accepting health coaching clients. Please spread the word.” I mean, that would be a very short and vague message, but if you just announced that you are now health coaching, that may work. It may. Somebody may know they need help with their health period and they want to work with you. But imagine the difference. If you said something like, “I’m launching my business and I am helping new moms or cover from postpartum depression, please connect me with anyone you know who might be interested.” That’s gonna. If I’m reading that, I’m like, I’m already thinking of a woman I know who could really use that, or maybe I don’t know anybody today, but if somebody crosses my path, who fits that criteria? I’m gonna think of you Lakesha, or let’s say that you said something different. You could say, I’m helping, or I’m, um, my, my focus of my business is to help women with prediabetes to lower their a1c numbers. Oh boom. Again, I know exactly who I need to introduce you to. So, if you can be real specific about your target market and the big problem that you help themselves, it’s going to allow people’s brains to connect the dots between you and who they know and make an introduction.

Susan’s asking any ideas how to get over imposter syndrome.

We all have imposter syndrome. I’ve gotten postural syndrome right now. Like, why should any of you be listening to me? I’m just a girl. I mean this never goes away is the kind of thing where you have to just acknowledge that you feel like an imposter and do it anyway. And if you think about it, you are sort of an imposter if you haven’t done any work. Right? If I had never done recorded one of these podcasts before, if I had never worked with any health coaches, if I myself was not a health coach, I wouldn’t be an imposter if right now I was recording this for you, but I have done the work. I have gone up there, I have done the things. Even when I felt like, who am I to be doing this?

And Oh, Lo and behold, now I have credentials. Now I have experience. Now there’s a reason for you to trust me. So acknowledge your imposter syndrome. Give it a hug, and then get out there anyway. There’s no way through it except through. Now, of course, I’ll say one more thing about that. I feel like a lot of health coaches really sell themselves short. They’re like, I don’t have a master’s degree. I don’t have a medical degree. You know, why should anybody listen to me talk about health? But if you really go through your life experiences, your educational experiences, you probably have a lot of experience in the areas of health, wellness, cooking, whatever it is that you do. You know, you’ve had relationships where you’ve helped someone in the past, you’ve. There’s things that you’ve done in your life. You know, every year I do Thanksgiving for my family. That alone qualifies me to talk to someone about home cooking. Doesn’t it? In big ways and small ways. We all have experiences and sometimes if you sit down and you catalog those experiences, you’ll realize I got a lot more going for me than I thought just because I don’t have certain letters after my name doesn’t mean anything. Susan, I want to see your list. I want to see your catalog, all your life experiences that make you perfectly suited to be a health coach.

We have another question here from um, we have a lot of new coaches today, a lot of questions from new coaches. So whether you’re a new coach and you’re an experienced coach, go ahead and put your questions in the comment area now so I can come to you in just a minute.

This one came from Agada. I hope I’m pronouncing your name correctly, Agada. She said, how do you prioritize or manage your time? I’m just starting up as a health coach and realizing there are so many things to do. Yeah, I know Agada, She said from blog posts, looking for clients, drafting forms, business materials, program creation, brainstorming, social media. What did you start with or focus on first? Any good tips you could share? I’ve been feeling all over the place and like I’m not moving forward enough. That list is enough to make anybody want to take a nap for real.

We all have to come to terms with the fact that there’s only so many hours in the day and depending on your work day, maybe you only have two hours to spend on your health coaching business. Maybe you have eight hours. I hope you don’t have more than eight hours. That’s, that’s really sufficient you guys. Let’s not burn the midnight oil, so I’ve got. What I like to tell brand new health coaches when they’re starting out is that first and foremost, you need experience. Like Susan was just asking about imposter syndrome. You will never stop feeling like an imposter unless you start coaching somebody and you see somebody get results and then suddenly you start believing in yourself and they believe in you and the rest is history, so you need experience. It does not matter in those early days if you are working with your ideal client.

If you’re a neighbor is a 70 year old man and he wants to be your client, he’s willing to show up for your sessions. You take him on as a client and you work with that man because he’s going to teach you something about how to work with people. He may teach you something about how to work with you know, a slightly older population, you know that will come in handy down the line. So I say you want to get experience any way you can. That’s why that introductory packages really helpful because that’s going to make your coaching more accessible to more people. It’s going to give them a reason to act sooner than later. Want to get experience, so call up your friends, ask for introductions to a mutual friend, anybody that you think you would be a great fit with and get to work.

Number one. Next thing that I would be thinking about if I were you, and this will sort of fall out of the work you’re doing with your new clients is you need to develop. No, that’s the wrong word sometimes. Sometimes it sounds like you need to find or you need to stumble upon your target market. It’s really none of those things you to decide. You have to decide on a target market, and we talk a lot more about this in episode 10 if you want to go back and listen to that episode, but a target market is going to define everything that comes next. So if you were going to write a blog post or create a program or post anything on social media, all that stuff is a little bit worthless if you’re just trying to talk to everybody and you’re not being specific about who you’re targeting and what big problem you’re going to solve for them.

It will all be much more efficient if you have your target market nailed. So if I were you, I’d be putting thought against that as I work with all of my introductory clients. And then the last thing, and this is obviously these are really the top three. So the third thing on my list for you, a guide as to where you put your time and your energy when you’re starting your business, as you need to start a mailing list and you need to build that mailing list so you can start mailing list for three hop on Mailchimp, you know, get a free account. You’re going to start a list with everybody that you already know, your friends and family, that’s fine. We all kind of start the same way. And then a great thing for you to do would be to check out that free training I mentioned, uh, for how to grow your mailing list from there.

And just to give you a better sense of how a mailing list is going to help you and your business. So again, if you want to sign up for that free training, it’s find your balance health.com/double. So for you and for everybody who is just starting out, trust me, we have all been there. All of us have been in your shoes at some point. And these are the three things you want to focus on, getting experience, any way you can, defining and deciding on a target market, starting in building your mailing list, and that is literally it. Do not set up your LLC. Do not build a website. Do not pay for somebody to do your logo, don’t print brochures, none of that stuff. You don’t need it. The three things I just told you, what you need when you’re first starting out, Savannah says this is super helpful. I’m very glad. Thank you.

Oh, and Sharon’s saying, my first client was the program director at the barn where I teach yoga on horseback. I love everything about that sentence, but that’s. That’s a good one because if Sharon is already teaching yoga somewhere, this is the director of the place where she’s teaching yoga. So you already had a relationship with that person. Perfect. First client and even more perfect because it’s somebody who’s sort of in a influential position. Sharon, I’m sure from there you could host workshops, I don’t know, in the barn, but with that connection, if that person has a good experience working with you, they can certainly help you get more clients. So yay. Sharon. Let’s move on. Again, if you’re here live, go ahead and tell me what you want to talk about, what’s on your mind, what’s driving you crazy so I can set it straight for you to go about your week being most as possible in your business.

The next one comes from Kristin. This is an interesting one. Kristin said, I’m new to the group. I am a CPT. I believe that’s a certified personal trainer that is adding health coaching. I previously worked at a small local gym and I’m going to go out on my own to build a business. So my biggest goals right now, are niche and message. Niche is just another way to say target market and niche market or target market. So that’s number one. Number two, basic business setup. Number three, list building and attracting clients. She says, I’m new to this and really looking forward to learning so I can get started on my business. I wanted to work on getting a short holiday challenge going for the holiday season, but we shall see now. Wait for it. I would also like to mention that I’m waiting on the arrival due any day of my first child with my husband.

Oh Kristin. I was right there with you every step of the way until that last line. And then I thought, Oh Mama, we going to talk about this. Okay. So let’s start with your three goals. I think they’re fantastic. I think they mirror pretty much what we were just talking about earlier about a target market. And when you say basic business setup, I really do hope. You mean basic. Basic means you have a phone, you have dedicated hours to work, you have a computer of some kind. You do not, again need your LLC. Do not need a business bank account set up right away. That stuff can wait. So just the basic basics. Um, and then list building. So all of that sounds great. And I was like, oh, and look at this a short holiday challenge. Holidays are coming up. What a great idea.

Except you’re having a baby Kristin, you are having a baby. So I worked through both of my babies, right? I started my business a year later. I had my first son a couple of years later, I had my second. I have gone through the sort of rollercoaster of working a lot, working a little, getting no sleep, getting sleep again. I’ve been there. And what I want to tell you is that you need to give yourself space and if there’s any moms right now listening and want to chime in, please do. Because I think like with my first baby and my head, it was going to go like this. Oh no problem. I have a baby. The baby will sleep here in his bassinet while I continued working with my clients as usual. Then we’ll go for a nice stroll in the park and then we’ll come back and the baby will play with his little baby toys while I write my blog post.

No, that’s not what happens. Breastfeeding takes like an hour and you’d have to do it like every two or three hours in the beginning. There’s diapers, there’s colic, there’s all kinds of things. There’s fatigue and your own health. I mean, I was recovering from a c section. I didn’t expect that, so I hope things go beautifully for you, Kristin, but even best case scenario, give yourself space. If you’re doing with your first baby November second, I would not plan anything until December, January, February the spring, the spring. Honey, don’t plan anything until the spring. Anything you can get done during that time, good for you. That’s terrific, but no deadlines. Don’t box yourself into any corners. Leave yourself free and open to do whatever it needs to be done for you and that child in the time between now and the spring, and then you could reassess at that point if maybe you need a bit more time.

Everybody’s leaving, smiling faces and laughing faces. I think they’ve been there anyway. Best of luck to you, Kristen. We’ll talk again sometime in April. Okay. Love it.

Let’s see here. Savannah is asking about how to establish a business. What steps to take have graduated with a bachelors in health and wellness promotion. I’m kind of stuck as to what to do first to start.

Well, Savannah, I mean tech. The real business setup stuff like I’ve been mentioning can wait contrary to popular belief. I did not have my business registered with anybody for like years or have a bank account specific to my business again, for years. Eventually you’ll do all that stuff. It’s sort of like when it becomes necessary, then you do it. I literally just set up an LLC last year. I have had my business for a decade, so I’m not saying that’s the best way to do it.

I’m just saying that you don’t need to wait and for all of the red tape and the paperwork, you can start working with the client right away. All you need’s somebody who’s ready, willing and able. So I think for you, Savannah, you would really want to think about what kind of work are you going to be doing, what are you offering? And then offer it to somebody. Many of us came from a school like the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where we have a sort of program that we’re supposed to offer a loose structure anyway, so we have a sense of what it is we’re going to offer and how much it’s going to cost, but I think that’s probably what you need to figure out first and then start doing it. That’s how you start a business. You start making some money, otherwise you just have a hobby.

Susan says, how often do you recommend sending something to the people on your mailing list?

Good question. Can it be one thing to all on the list at the same time each week or month or should it be right after they were added to the list and then at say five days out, which would put everyone on a different schedule. Okay. Two things isn’t. So let’s just talk about your regular mailing list. Sometimes people call this your newsletter, right? So when we talk about your regular emails or your nurture emails, we’re talking about emails that go out to your entire list either every week, every other week, once a month. Pick a schedule and stick to it. Doesn’t matter what the schedule is. I do mine every week on Wednesdays at 11:00. That’s when the email goes out to my list so the frequency is up to you, but consistency is really the important part and yes, we will send it to everybody on your list. That is one type of email marketing right there.

That’s your nurture emails, but we also often have something set up called a welcome sequence. It’s an automated sequence that goes out when somebody joins your mailing list for the first time, so if I join your mailing list, typically I would get some sort of welcome email immediately to my inbox and then what you can set up and you can do this inside any of the email services out there like Mailchimp, like Convert Kit, whatever is you set up an automated sequence and typically it’s something like four or five emails that go out every day for five days or four days after the person joined your list. So if I joined today, get your welcome email tomorrow. I’ll get another one in your emails the next day. I get another and the point of those welcome sequences is to take advantage of someone while they’re still very interested, like they just opted in so it’s sort of like striking while the iron is hot, a month goes by, a couple months go by and chances are they’ll forget who you are, so we’d like to send these welcome sequences out right away and usually there’s a call to action in there to schedule a consultation or join the Facebook group or whatever it is that you want them to do because again, you’re striking while the iron is hot and so if you’re really savvy, what you would do is you would have somebody opt into your email list.

They get that, let’s say five email sequence automatically and then they get put onto your regular email list so that they’re not getting. I’m just a normal nurture email from you in the middle of their welcome sequence. If that’s too much to figure out, don’t worry about it. It’s not a huge deal. And another point is that’s two different ways to use email. One is automated and one is in sort of real time where every week I sit down and I read an email and it goes out to everybody. I hope that helps. What else do we got here?

Sharon says Michelle, do you think people know what health coaches do or should that be explained in some way in an email announcing that you’re offering health coaching?

Well, I guess that’s sort of what I was getting at before you could, and I’m sure this is what I did in the beginning. Um, you could tell people that you’re working as a health coach and you’re accepting health coaching clients and leave it at that, but I think it is much more helpful if you call out who you’re helping with, what big problem. So I’m launching my business. I’m going to be working with prediabetics to lower their a one c numbers boom. And that way you don’t really have to explain what health coaching is. You’re just saying that you’re going to coach people this kind of person to achieve this kind of result. And it answers the question right there as to what a health coach does or what you do as a health coach.

So if you can use that sort of language, it’s much more powerful. You can certainly just say they’re offering health coaching, but expect questions, expect people to not really understand what that means. Uh, I think most people in my life, my friends, my family, they just think of me in terms of nutrition because that’s always. That was always the easiest way for me to explain what I did. They know I’m the person who’s going to show up to the party with the, like buffalo cauliflower wings. They know I’m all about food. I don’t think they fully appreciate the scope of what I do with a client. Um, so that’s something that I wish I had done better when I started my business. At this point, they don’t really care what I’m doing, but I was announcing what I was up to. I probably could have done a much better job.

Savannah says, would you recommend having at least a name?

Girlfriend, you have a name? Savannah. I suggest everybody just uses their name as their business name, their name as their URL. I would do it, but have you seen my last name? So unless you have a last name as awful as Pfennighaus and that starts with a P, F, I suggest you use your name and be done with it.

I have a question here from Elena. Elena says, I signed on a new client for a 12 week coaching program. It includes a personalized meal plan, a Pantry, clean out, a market tour and meal prep session and planning to let my client take the lead as far as how she wants to use the time at the sessions, but I want to create some sort of loose outline or structure to follow as well. So my question is, has there been any sort of order any coaches have followed. That makes sense. Meaning if you send a meal plan to follow after the first meeting, how do you take them shopping first or did you clean out their pantry first? Do you teach them how to make those recipes? Trying to understand the best way to lay it all out.

So, um, Elena, I think that’s a lot of stuff. And I thought about this. I’m like, wow, I’ve really, I’ve never done all of those things with the same client. I’ve done all of those things but not altogether in 12 weeks with the same person. So how would you sort of structure that and also you want to make sure that you have time for the actual coaching sessions that you’re not just doing these one off services but that you’re actually, you know, coaching your clients through the changes that need to make.

So I think you have 4 special things going on here and you have 12 weeks. So I’d spaced them out, maybe the over the first couple, maybe the first half of that. Um, so you have a coaching session and then you do a pantry clean out and then you do a coaching session and then you do a market tour. And I think those two, that’s probably the order I would do it. I would start with the pantry clean out so that you can make space. I would do a supermarket tour so you can fill the pantry backup with what should be in there. I would do, I’m a meal plan and a meal prep session together because presumably be doing meal prep for the meal plan and then again just space it out. So you’re also doing some coaching, but that’s a lot. And then the future maybe you wouldn’t offer as many things. This will be your chance to find out if it is useful or if it feels overwhelming to your client and if 12 weeks is enough time to sort of get it all done and see progress with, uh, with your client’s health.

I have another one here and let’s say I have like two minutes. So I think this will be our last one. You guys. This one came from True. She said I would like to ask what are you doing about accreditation? I’m getting back into coaching and we used to use AADP, which is the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. FYI, I’m looking for something legit that is not too intensive to qualify for. I don’t have a college degree either. One more thing. What letters do you use after your name? HC for health coach, INHC for Integrative health coach.

It’s such a good question and it’s one that I think I would really have pondered deeply at the start of my business and I can tell you now after 10 years of working as a health coach, it does not matter at all. Don’t waste a single minute of your time with this.

You don’t need any kind of accreditation. AADP is a joke. I signed up for it because they told us to 10 years ago. It means nothing to anyone. It has never helped me in any capacity. Nobody cares. Am I being clear? Same thing with letters after your name. Letters don’t mean anything unless people know what they stand for. So, If you’re an MD, great. If your JD, great, everybody knows you’re a lawyer, but aside from that, it kind of looks like your posturing and it can even make you come off as insincere or something. If you’re putting a bunch of initials after your name that just kind of mean you know, there’s no reason for it. There’s no reason for it at all, so you can just use your name, you can say you’re a health coach, a nutrition coach, or whatever title that you want to use for yourself, but the accreditation piece just does not matter.

There may come a day where health coaching becomes regulated and there is a governing body that we do have to sit for some sort of test for everybody who calls himself a health coach, but that is not the case right now. There are certified health coaches coming out of all different schools with all different levels of ability and there’s no standard, so right now it’s a little bit disregulated or unregulated and that may change in the future. Do not worry about this. Just go out, get experienced. Help people feel better. That is the most important thing you could do. Those are the initials I want after my name help people, HP, hp. Fb helps people feel better. I hope that’s all for you guys. It is 3:30, so we’re going to stop here, but we’ll be back next week. Please keep asking all your great questions and I will see you then. Take good care.