What I would do differently if I was starting my business now

In this article, I’m talking about the five things I would do differently if I was starting my business again from scratch.
Working term-time only has just given me six weeks off in the summer break, with so much time for reflection when you’re not consumed by day to day tasks.
I can think much more clearly when I’ve had that space, and I wanted to use that clarity and share my learnings with you.
It’s really important for me to let other women know that there is another option out there other than getting a low-paid admin job, or a job in a school, for term-time only school hours work.
I wish I’d known that when I had to give up my HR job based in London, because I couldn’t make it work around school pick up.
Instead, I took a very low paid job in a coach training organisation. Of course, that turned out to be a blessing because it introduced me to the world of coaching.
So, this topic means a lot to me because I want to show you that there is another way and that you can earn money doing work that you love. Knowing this now will hopefully mean you get there quicker than I did.

1. Niche from the beginning

The first thing I would do differently is, you guessed it, hone in on my niche right from the very beginning. I did what nearly all coaches do – I was eager to help everyone and I kept Googling to find examples of people who had succeeded without niching and, to be honest, there are very few out there.
If you look at the Tony Robbins of this world, he will have started with a really tight niche and then grown as he expanded, gathering a big team to support him and the money to pay for advertising. So, don’t compare yourself and look for those few examples, because they will no doubt have still niched at the start of their business.
Thinking about the 80-20 rule, only the top 20% of coaches bring in nearly all of their income from coaching. So, who are these amazing 20%?
From the coaches in my Business of Coaching programme, I know it’s the ones whose offers I can quickly and easily describe in a few words. Chloe helps entrepreneurs stop drinking. Sonali works with organisations to improve their employee culture. They’ve nailed their niche and it’s clear what they do.
If I’m at all unclear and can’t articulate their offer really quickly, it usually means it’s just not clear enough. And if I can’t articulate it, when I’m working with them closely and know what they do, then no one else will be clear on what they (or you) do either. This will make it really difficult to grow your business.

2. Invest in personal development and business education from day one

When I started out, I did so many free webinars and free challenges. Once I’d niched, I thought I just needed to create a programme and market it. But I was wrong. That’s because you can’t see your own blind spots.
I’d nailed my niche down to helping mums fulfil their potential. But I realise now that people don’t pay to ‘realise their potential’. They pay for something they specifically want.
I was also not accounting for the support and accountability to actually do something with the knowledge I was learning.
I’ve just started working with a new person who is helping me to refine my automated funnel – mapping out the customer journey with automated emails and lead magnets. This regular contact and content helps people get to know you and build trust, and decide whether they want to work with you.
My business has developed so much over the last week, even though I wasn’t personally working, because my support person has been making great progress on my sales pages etc. She’s tracking everything on a Trello board which has meant I’ve completed a task that I hadn’t got round to in months. So, that accountability to someone else who is on the case really helps you to excel and to fast track your potential.
When you are on your own, it’s too easy to let things slide. You’re not sure what to do, something’s confusing, no-one is checking whether you’ve done it or not.
It’s amazing the progress you make when you’ve got that accountability in place which, as a coach, is something you will understand very well.

3. Publish longer form content as well as social media content

This shift in my marketing strategy has been an absolute game changer, and I can’t believe it’s taken me three and a half years to get to this point.
If I was starting out now, I would get a system in place that focuses on one core piece of content a week.
For me, right now, that’s my podcast. I have a virtual assistant who creates a blog post for my website, and a LinkedIn newsletter, from that podcast. And I have a social media person who creates social media posts from my blog posts.
So, I finally feel like I have a really solid system in place that is freeing up my time and my head space.
I appreciate that you might not yet be in a position to pay people to help you, but you can still do this on your own.
Focus on one core piece of content and create other material from it, because starting each day wondering what you’re going to talk about today takes up so much more energy than I realised.
Instead, think about what core pieces of content you could create that will answer the questions of your ideal client.
There’s a great book that helps with this, called Content Fortress. It really helped me to see that the majority of people out there are not answering the questions that people really have in their heads prior to purchasing.
For example, nearly all of us just want to know how much something costs, and then we can make a decision.
Yet, something like 80% or more coaches don’t share their prices on their website which means they go elsewhere.
I know I would never book a discovery call with someone unless I knew how much their programme was going to cost me.
So, do read that book. It will help you to shift your mindset – to really be able to demonstrate your trust and authority by answering the questions they really want answering.

4. Hire a support team

I wasn’t sure whether to include this one as I know it’s tricky if you’re just starting out, but hiring a team has really transformed things for me. And yes, it’s scary when their invoices come in and I’ve still got to pay them even when I haven’t worked much that month, but it really is worth it.
It’s taken me three and a half years of running my business to get to this point, so don’t feel like you need to go out and spend more money right now.
But, if you are at that place where you are getting busy and you’re not getting enough time to concentrate on sales generating tasks because you’re working on the backend of your website, or you’re being ineffective because you’re struggling to do things that aren’t naturally in your skillset, think about going on Fiverr or finding someone you can trust to delegate some tasks and free up your time.

5. Build an email list

This is something I did actually do from the start. Growing your email list really does make a big difference when you know you’ve got a list of people who have chosen to opt in to hearing about your services and what you have to say, versus social media where people are scrolling by and you have no idea if they’re actually interested.
The people on your email list have gravitated to you. They might have visited your website and clicked on the button to subscribe to your newsletter, or signed up for your lead magnet that they’ve seen advertised.
You keep in touch with regular emails that add value and then, when you have an offer to tell them about, it’s really powerful to know that you can just send out an email to your list and you’re likely to get some response.
Yes, it takes time to build it up, and it’s worth playing around with your lead magnet title to make sure it’s speaking to exactly what your ideal client wants.
I found setting my funnel up because the tech behind it can feel complex and take up a lot of head space.
This is why I include all this in my Business of Coaching programme as I know it can really hold people up and I want to help people get over the line and up and running – there are people who have been in business for years and years and still not got this sorted.
It’s so worth it. Email marketing has a return on investment of 4030% versus social media, which is 26%.
If you don’t have the skills to set this all up yourself, do sign up to my Business of Coaching programme.
I take you through, step by step, exactly how you can create an amazing lead magnet and all your emails, how you do all the tech and get up and running.
Having learned a huge amount in a funnel project I was in for nine months, I have managed to condense tons of information into two modules.
I’ll give you feedback every step of the way, which can be really effective as tiny tweaks can make a massive difference.
We’re all constantly learning and improving, and that’s why I’m working with someone at the moment to refine my sales funnel in a way that will help people to really get to know who I am. We all need to make sure that we’re speaking to their exact challenges and showing empathy.
The woman I work with uses the phrase ‘joyful journey’ which sounds a lot warmer than ‘sales funnel’.
Some of your email list will be more into what you’ve got to say than others, and some will be hanging around for the free content which is fine, because you never know where it might lead, but there will be a percentage who will eventually buy from you.
I can always help you to build a sales funnel that is appropriate for corporate clients too, if that is your target market.

One last thing…

Something I’ve noticed a lot recently, that is really worth highlighting, is that many people have a big goal of earning a lot of money from coaching, but they also have a long list of what they won’t do.
They want to have a coaching business but they don’t want to spend a day on social media and they don’t want to be visible.
They don’t want to network, and they don’t want to shout about what they do to their family and friends.
It’s like saying to your personal trainer you want to run a marathon but you don’t want to get up early to fit in your training runs.
Or saying you want to eat healthy but you still want to drink wine every night.
It’s impossible!
To succeed, you’ve got to put in enough energy to equal the goal you’re trying to reach.
What you’ve got to do is flip it. Don’t focus on what you don’t want to do, focus your energy on what you can do.
If you don’t want to do social media, maybe you could go all in on public speaking. And I don’t mean once every six months – if that’s going to be your main, core marketing approach then try and get a speaking gig every week.
If you want what most people haven’t got, you’re going to have to do what most people won’t do.
And, finally, whilst I want to speed up your progress and help you avoid making the mistakes I did starting out, sometimes we need to go on our own journey and make mistakes we can learn from.
Like I’m doing now, we can then look back and realise we’re exactly where we’re meant to be, and we can use our mistakes to help others along their way.
 
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If you’d like my help to implement this so you make a difference, AND make a living, you can learn more about how I can help you here.

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Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.