#44: How To Stop Putting the Cart Before the Horse

If a project or a venture is not flowing in your business…it likely means that in some way you’ve put the cart before the horse. That’s why you’re not getting anywhere! In this episode Michelle shares:

– How to “back out” of your stuck places and rearrange your action items to achieve your goals.
– How and where to share testimonials.
– Why it may be counterproductive to look at other health coaches’ websites.
…and more!

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Hey there health coaches! Today we are going to talk about one of the biggest mistakes that health coaches are always making. It’s one of the biggest mistakes you can possibly make. This is putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, in your business. I’m going to share how to figure out if this is actually happening to you and what to do about it in just a moment. My name is Michelle Pfennighaus. I am a certified health coach with my own private practice. I also act as a mentor for my fellow health coaches and I appear in the curriculum at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. So what do I mean by putting the cart before the horse? It might look like this. Let’s say that you’re doing a big launch to sell your program online before you have an online audience. That’s an example. That could definitely be a case of the cart before the horse or what about spending, and I see this a lot.

What about spending a lot of time dollars, energy on a website before you’re clear on your target market? That’s like cart – horse. So my advice to you is if you are sort of banging your head against the wall, because a project is just not working, a venture is just not flowing, the energy is just not flowing and whatever you’re doing with your business, it likely often means that in some way you’ve put the cart before the horse and that’s why you’re not getting anywhere. Makes Sense. Right? So what do you do? I say that the best thing that you can do, honestly, this is something you should do every day that you sit down to work on your business. Instead of immediately getting down into the nitty gritty details of, Oh, I’m going to post this thing on Instagram, or Oh, I’m going to update my profile picture like all these small details backup.

Especially if you’re getting stuck in your business, back up the truck. Take a wider view like yes, today you might be banging your head against the wall trying to figure out how to put an email signup thingamajig on your webpage, but take a step back here. What are you actually trying to achieve? And when you look at that bigger picture, you might just realize that you know what, no one’s even going to your website today or tomorrow because it’s brand new and it’s not getting any traffic, it’s not coming up in any search results yet. It’s just a brand new site. So, who cares if there’s an opt-in form there or not? And if what you’re really trying to do with your business and build your list, instead of worrying about the dumb form, you could put together a workshop in your town. You could make highly, highly valuable face to face connections.

Build your list, save the website problems for another day when it actually matters, when it’s really going to, move the needle on your big goal. Okay? So that’s sort of the flow. Notice when you’re stuck, the Kart ain’t moving, take huge step back to reassess what you’re trying to achieve. Get that big picture and then rearrange your action steps. And we’re going to go through a few examples now. If you are here and watching online, go ahead and give me a like if you have ever felt sucks that stuck in your business. And in fact, I’d love if you would tell me in the comments, where are you getting stuck right now? Stuck in a big way, stuck in a small way. If you’re your here as we’re live streaming. I’m also happy to take your questions in just a moment. So anything that you’d like to discuss today, go ahead and pop those into the comments as well.

So, let’s see. Our very first question and our first a cart before the horse situation comes from Melissa and she posted, I need help. I’m frozen in place. It seems. I’m being told I need to have a blog to get a website started up. Writing is definitely not my niche. I watched one video that stated no blog was needed, but what needs to be on the website? Could I get away with just a landing page? I created a lead magnet, but I’m stumped when trying to create a landing page. I think I’ve narrowed down my target market to those who had been given Doctor ordered diet restrictions. They want to eat healthier, but they’re overwhelmed. My tagline that keeps coming to mind is eating healthy doesn’t have to mean bland and boring. I just can’t figure out how to start.

Alright Melissa. Let’s break it down. There was a lot there. What I hear is that you are worrying about your website and you’re worrying about your lead magnet and I’m going to suggest very gently that that may be putting the cart before the horse, so let’s just put the brakes on both of those issues just for now. Just set those to the side and instead I think the place to get started, you know, my humble opinion is really to work on that target market piece. Like what you got right now is a little bit vague. You’re saying that you help people and like any people, any age, any location, you know what people you help people who’ve been given, been given a diagnosis and a diet plan from their doctor and again, any kind of diagnosis, any sort of diet plan, and then it’s like that dot and what result are they going to get working with you?

Like do they learn how to cook? Is that the big result that they want to see? Do they heal themselves from whatever the illness is? What do they get off some sort of medication? Do they lose 30 pounds? What is the specific big result that they want to achieve? What is the reason they’re going to sign up to work with you? So that’s sort of my questions around your target market and I’m going to direct you and anybody else who’s listening to two of our past episode that we did specifically all about target markets. There’s episode 10 which is nailing your target market and episode 27 is your target market narrow enough and you can find both of these on iTunes or Stitcher or sooner. We’re going to have all of our episodes up on YouTube. Actually. That’s going to make them really easy to find there as well.

So start with that. And then in terms of marketing yourself, why not wait on the online marketing bits, like if you’re getting hung up on creating a landing page and things like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge, huge fan of online marketing for sure, but why not get started with something that’s a bit more simple? You could do a presentation or a workshop in your local community like I was thinking maybe you know, figure out exactly what kind of client or you’re looking for here and you find the doctor’s office where that exact target market is going. That would be an ideal place to hold some type of workshop. So let’s say that you’re doing work with people who have, I don’t know off the top of my head, Melanoma. Okay. So you go into an office where they’re treating people specifically with melanoma.

Perfect, right. Got It. When I connect the dots really tight and you could get started that way, I think that will give you a clear path. You can get rid of the things that are kind of holding you back and challenging you and move right into what’s going to bring money into your business the most quickly. Alright, Melissa, I hope that helps. Let’s do another one. What’s another case of possibly maybe putting the cart before the horse?

Here’s one that came from Lisa. She says, I just graduated from IIN and I’m ready to get started with my own business. I’m in the process of obtaining my LLC and wanted others’ opinions if this is the correct step and if others did it themselves or hired professionals, for example, a company, lawyers, tax advisors, etc. to file for them, and then part two, if I’m a web based company, do I have to file in the state that I live and does it matter what state my clients are in who?

Okay, so just like real surface level, I’m going to answer your question on a couple of different levels, Lisa. So a surface answer for me is that you’re asking about if this is the correct step, and I want to say that if you were just graduating and you’re just getting started, really the correct first step is for you to start working with your first clients. That’s it, sole proprietor, if you just start working with your friend or your next door neighbor or whatever, you’re just operating as a sole proprietor, which means basically nothing. And on your tax return you can just claim income. You don’t have to file anything separate. Um, it’s just you as an individual earning some side cash like a babysitter, right? Like nothing. What we do is like babysitting, but it’s just a simple exchange of money for a very, very, very simple business.

And you can do that with no paperwork, no filing, no nothing. It’s much more important that you get experience because we can all get really dragged down by like the, the paperwork, the red tape, the oh, you got to file this there and the other place you got to hire this person, drains the life right out of you. And then you forget why you got into health coaching in the first place. So it’s super, super important to keep your fire fueled by helping people, having breakthroughs with clients. And yeah, in the meantime you can work on all this legal stuff as well. Okay, so that’s what I want to just put out there. That is your first step. Now I also want to direct you to episode number five and we talked about LLCs and tax ids. You can find that again on iTunes or Stitcher.

And here’s the big important thing. You can join us this Thursday for an event that we’re doing with Lisa Fraley. She is an attorney and a legal coach. She works with health coaches. She is a health coach. She’s a phenomenal resource and she would really be the right person to ask these types of questions too because, you know, I’m not a lawyer and any health coach In this group is probably not a lawyer, so I don’t want to be giving bad information and spreading this information, you know, from person to person, like a game of telephone. So I invited Lisa to join us. So we’re going to be talking about these types of questions. What do you have to do to get set up? What do you have to do to be practicing legally in different states across the country? So please sign up for that.

Um, if you’re listening, you can go to findyourbalancehealth.com/legalevent and um, this is happening on Thursday, December 13th, 2018. So Lisa definitely make it for that event. We’re going to want to talk about this question and then finally, why don’t I just answer, you know, what you really are asking is what did you guys do in your real lives and how did you really go about this? So Lisa, people do this all different ways, right? I know coaches who have an S.corp setup from the get go. I know people who, you know, it’s, it’s all different. There’s no one right way to do it, but I’ll just share with you quickly what my process was. I operated as a sole proprietor for many years. I just never got official with my business and I mean don’t tell anyone, but I lived in Massachusetts.

I lived in Virginia, I lived in New Jersey. I think Virginia is a red state. I was practicing all over the place. I never registered diddly squat with anybody until very recently. Now I’m all on the up and up, but no one was ever banging down my door, you know, the police never came and cuffed me because I hadn’t set up my business perfectly. I advise you to always pay your taxes and of course, of course set up your LLC, but don’t stress about it too much. And then when I finally did get set up as an LLC, I did hire a lawyer, a lawyer who works I didn’t hire Lisa because I didn’t know about Lisa at the time, but I did work with a lawyer who specifically worked with solopreneurs like myself. So she really understood my situation. Um, and it, it was just one of those things that I don’t have a head for and paying someone some money to get that taken care of. For me it was totally worth it. So that would be my advice.

Alright. Lisa’s saying, I did a summit before I ever worked with a client, maybe the cart before the horse. Now I don’t know how to get clients. My business is all online.

Well, you know, doing some sort of, I think like an online summit where you contribute to an event and you collect email addresses is a good. Well it is a way to grow your mailing list, Lisa, so I don’t think that’s necessarily cart before the horse. That’s just saying, hey, I have great information to share. I’m going to put it out to the world for free in exchange for email addresses, you know, then really your job is to sell to your mailing list and nurture your mailing list and those relationships and sell to them, which is like a whole other topic. But, uh, I don’t think you were putting the cart before the horse by participating in an online summit first, so don’t worry about that.

Okay. I have another one here. This will be our, uh, our third cart before the horse potential situation. And this one came from Francesca and she said, I’m considering sharing testimonials on my Facebook social media page to build my credibility as a health coach. I’ve just started working with clients and it may take months before I have enough testimonials to create a dedicated page. On my website, I only have two at the moment I have almost 400 followers on Facebook, but only 40 subscribers to my newsletter. Do you ever share testimonials on your social media or do you think it’s inappropriate and ineffective?

Alright, so a couple of things happening here. For starters, you don’t need a dedicated page on your website for testimonials. I don’t have one of those. A lot of people don’t. Most people don’t have something like that, so don’t stress about gathering enough testimonials to create this page that you’re envisioning in your mind.

It’s just not necessary. And in the meantime, whether you have one or two or three, however many testimonials you have, you can use them on your homepage. You can use them on your work with me page, you can use them on a sales page. You can even use them within a blog post, you know, anywhere that it makes sense in context is a nice place to drop in a testimonial. And as far as social media, yeah, totally. You can share testimonials on social media. I see a lot of times people will create like a square graphic for Instagram, for example, with a quote from a client and you might not want to post one of those every single day. Your followers might get tired of that, but once a week, once every other week, whatever it is, especially if you’re building up to some kind of launch, that would be an appropriate time to start dropping testimonials into your social media pages and so you could have a graphic and then in the text you can write up a mini case study essentially about what that client came to you with and the results that they got.

And that can be really powerful. However, I kind of want to steer you away from the testimonial stuff for just a second because I heard you say that you have 400 followers on Facebook but only 40 people on your email list. So to me that was like bap, bap, bap, you know, jumping off the page, important, important. This is where your attention is most needed is in growing that email list. And of course it sounds like you have an opportunity right in front of you with your Facebook following, you have 10 times as many people on Facebook, so why not tap into that following. Now, of course are lots of different avenues for building your mailing list, not just Facebook, but you definitely want to start concentrating on moving names from social media, from your audience in general onto your list. So what I’d like to recommend for you is that you check out my free training on how to double your mailing list and I would put the bulk of your energy there for now.

And so it might include showcasing testimonials, but not necessarily. You can sign up for that free training. And this goes for everybody. It’s called how to double your mailing list in the next 90 days by going to healthcoachpower.com/double. I’ll say that again. It’s healthcoachpower.com/double.

Alrighty. So if you guys who were here live have any questions for me, feel free to pop those into the comment area. We have some time for me to take some extra questions today and I intend to do so.

So, I have one here from Jamie. She says, has anyone ever offered in home group meal prep class? If so, how do you charge and do you have them buy their own ingredients or do you shop and add the price into what you charge?

So, Jamie, I read this in like 100 different thoughts went through my mind at once. You know like, if I was just to answer your specific question, I guess my answer would be do it however it works for you. So if it’s easier, send them a shopping list, tell them what to buy. Just be aware that they might buy the wrong thing. You say by swiss chard they’re going to buy spinach, whatever that might be. Good. Maybe that’s a learning experience for everybody and you can teach them. so anyway, I would just set it up the way that works best for you. I would also be very careful about any issues with preparing food, like not in a commercial kitchen. I think if you go to their house, that might be your safest bet. Again, I’m no lawyer, but if somebody gets sick from the food that you made, you know, you just want to have your bases covered with that.

I used to do cooking classes so it wasn’t a meal prep class, but it was sort of a small group cooking class and made some simple recipes together. Yes. In my kitchen because no one told me that that was a bad idea at the time. so I risked it I suppose. Nothing bad happened, but what I’ve found doing this type of work is that it is so much work, like the preparation I’ll get in all the ingredients, you know, planning the recipes and an actually while the people are there, it’s a lot of work and then cleaning up afterwards and blah blah blah. I mean, how much can you really charge for something like this and how many people can you really have in one kitchen? So, you have to carefully do the math to see if this is going to work for you. I thought it was a whole lot of fun.

It was kind of nice because it gave me confidence in those early months of my business, but financially, no way. It was not a good move at all and just energetically after a while it was just like, okay, you know, this isn’t doing anything for me. I’m going to let it go. But Jamie, what I want to suggest to you, first of all, go ahead and do it and see how it goes for you, but this is something that you could definitely, definitely run in an online format and that would eliminate any problems with whose kitchen you’re working in and having to clean the kitchen and having to clean up afterwards. And um, it also would eliminate the problem of only like six or seven people fitting in the room. You could have potentially hundreds of people that you meal prep with if you do it all online.

So, just imagine that for a second for everybody. Like, this is something I’ve never done this, but just occurred to me that you could send out a meal plan, a shopping list, all that stuff in advance. You can have, of course, in this case, everybody would buy their own ingredients, you would buy ingredients and then he would just set up your camera, kind of like I’m doing right now in front of you in the kitchen, you know, with the cutting board, with containers, whatever it is that you need and go through the process together. You could stream it live into a Facebook group or onto your Facebook page. People might have to pay to get access to it, so then you’d of course want to do It inside, inside a closed Facebook group, but I think it could be a really nice interactive experience. You could do it for free as a list builder. I mean, there’s so many ways that you could go with this, but I just feel like you would eliminate a lot of potential issues by turning this into an online experience. So just my two cents. I hope that is helpful, Jamie, and let us know how it goes.

Okay. Moving right along here. Monica says, you look so beautiful, michelle. Oh, flattery will get you everywhere. I want to tell you guys a trick. Actually, I’m on zoom right now and I use zoom constantly by the way, like I use webinars, I use it for meeting with clients. I use it for live streaming into Facebook like I’m doing right now. Zoom is just the bomb. Anyway, there’s a really cool little checkbox under the settings. I forget exactly where it is. If you go to like your preferences video, there’s something that you can check that says touch up your appearance and I got to say it just smooth things out a little bit. It’s kind of like a filter on Instagram. There’s not like 30 different filters. It’s just this one checkbox, but you got to try it. I’m hooked because it makes me look like I just put on makeup even though I didn’t.

Yvette has a question for us. She says, do you find that when you do free five-day challenges and spend some time nurturing people, respond more to a low-price tripwire or to a high-ticket signature program? If my goal is to fill my group program, what is the frequency and length of time that is realistic for successfully enrolling clients?

Um, you bet. I don’t totally understand enough about what you’re doing to be able to answer the second part of that question. I don’t think because I don’t know enough about your group program or who you’re working with or anything like that. I mean, one part of this in general is really thinking about what type of person you’re reaching. So here’s a fun example. In my own life, I love shopping on a budget. It’s like supermarket sweep every time I go to the grocery store.

Do you guys remember that game show? It’s like, I’m going to come in under $100 this week. I know and I know, I know. Take the eggs off. They’re going to make me go over. Okay. You know, I love, I just, it’s like a game for me, especially when you’re buying a lot of organic stuff to keep the budget in check. So I’m at one point in my business I thought, oh, you know, I’m really good at shopping on a budget. I should create like a five day challenge or some sort of program around helping people shop on a budget. But I quickly realized that the type of person who’s going to sign up to learn how to shop on a budget is not the kind of person that’s going to drop a couple thousand dollars to then work with me. You say it’s like a huge disconnect there. So one thing would be to really consider the type of person that you’re drawing in a with your five day challenge or if you did a webinar, you know, what is the topic and really making sure you’re honing in on, um, an opportunity, not a big pitfall like I was about to do.

Now. That being said, when people sign up for something free, you’re always going to attract a lot of people who just want something for free. And that’s totally okay. They might hang out on your mailing list and if you nurture that mailing list, buy from you later, but you can absolutely sell a high ticket program at the end of a five day challenge. Typically, when I do that though, I include a webinar. Webinars are a lot more effective for selling a more costly program than a five day challenge alone. I think a five day challenge alone is best when at the end of it you’re going to sell like a 99 that like you mentioned, like a trip wire and $99 or $199 type product. Um, there’s something about a webinar and having everybody show up in person and having more of a produced event and the type of selling you can do on a webinar that people will sign up for a multiple thousand dollar product. So I hope that is helpful for you as you plan your next launch.

Okay, I have another question here from Lori. Okay. Lori said, or she posted this in our Facebook group. She said, how do you feel about sharing our websites and giving each other constructive feedback?

Okay, how do I feel about that? On one hand, fine, it’s fine. And a lot of people did post their websites and everyone was kind of checking them out and giving each other feedback. Here’s what I got to say about this, and I want to preface this by saying that before I became a health coach, you know, I actually have my degree in graphic design. I worked in advertising agencies, creative shop. I built websites for a living and there’s a lot of amateurish website stuff going on out there and a lot of people who think they know a lot about websites when they don’t. So on one hand I think it’s always nice to look at each other stuff maybe, but on the other hand you can get a lot of bad advice.

It’s sort of like the blind leading the blind, like, hey, I just built my website and I don’t know what I’m doing and hey, you just built yours and you don’t know what you’re doing. Hey, let’s look at each other’s and give feedback and you’ll get things like, you know, you should have another color or your logo should be bigger or kind of all this subjective comments. I just don’t know that it’s helpful. I really don’t like. And what makes a good website? Is it something that like you just happen to like looking at maybe, but what makes a website good in my opinion is that it works and that you’re getting clients from it. So even if you go online and you’re looking at people’s websites, for example, mine, if you, a lot of people say, Michelle, you have such a nice website and again, we’re recording this.

Uh, what day is it’s December 11th, 2018. I will have a new website up in several months. So I just want to make sure I clarify. This is the old website I’m talking about. People say, oh, you’re such a beautiful website and for all I know they’re out there copying elements of that website. And what they don’t know is my website stinks. Like it has not been working for me. I make all my sales. I do all of my best marketing on other platforms and I have been doing that for a long time. So if you looked at my website, you can get a really false impression. You could say, oh, you know, michelle is doing really well. She has a successful business. This is what her website looks like. I should make my website look like that and that would just be really false assumption. you never want to do that.

You never want to look at what you think is working for other people because chances are it’s not and that would be a very poor way for you to decide what to do in your own business. So back off looking at each other stuff. I also think it can really contribute to all of us kind of speaking into an echo chamber where it’s like, you know, I have a picture of me smiling with salad. Oh I have a picture of me smiling with salad. Oh, I should get a picture of me smiling with a salad. You know, we all start to look the same and that doesn’t help anybody. So personally I say, or this is what I do. I don’t look at other health coaches stuff. I don’t. Unless it’s somebody that I am mentoring, of course I’m going to look at that person’s website or whatever they want me to look at.

But in general, I don’t, because I don’t want to compare myself, I don’t want to accidentally fill my brain with ideas about what I quote should be doing and I just find it to be detrimental on the whole to be really immersed in other health coaches. Marketing. Don’t subscribe to anybody. I don’t, I don’t look at them, I don’t. Um, but you can, you can learn a lot from other avenues. Know you can learn a lot from websites that you have bought from, even if it has nothing to do with health, um, websites that you have signed up for something. Like if you bought a program, if you downloaded a freebie, like you took action. So what made you take that action? And those are the websites that I might look to for inspiration.

All right, you guys recently, I just want to add so many of you have been letting me know that you’re watching. You’re listening, you’re joining us in the Facebook group, which is awesome. And you’re saying that the show has become a really great resource for you. And if that’s the case, please, please leave a written review on iTunes for the Health Coach Power Community Podcast. Just search for it. I need those reviews in order to be able to reach more coaches and keep doing all of this work for you guys. So thank you in advance. Thanks for being here and keep asking those great questions. I’ll be back next week to answer them.