Why most coaching businesses fail, and how you can succeed

It is an alarming statistic that 82% of coaching businesses fail in the first two years. Whaaat?! That’s a huge number. But don’t be put off.
Let’s do everything we can to make sure your new coaching business is in the 18% sweet spot!
I am breaking this article up into three segments:
  1. Common mistakes that lead to coaching business failure
  2. The keys to coaching business success
  3. Your action plan for success
This three step formula will help you to ensure that your business grows.

1. Common mistakes that lead to coaching business failure

If you are anything like me, you left your coach training with your certificate in hand, excited to help lots of people, being paid what seems like a huge amount of money for each hourly session.
At no point during my coach training had I actually thought about where all these amazing clients, waving their money, were going to come from.
So, let’s start with the first mistake. One of the primary reasons coaches fail is lack of clarity about their niche, target market and unique value proposition.
Without that clear direction, it actually makes your job harder, because you end up being frozen into inaction, not knowing who you should be talking to, or what you should be saying or how to do your marketing.
It’s also hard for your clients, because if you are unclear about what you really do then it’s highly unlikely that your target market will know what you do either.
The second mistake I see a lot is ineffective marketing. I say ineffective, but inconsistent would be a really good word too.
I see a lot of people post every day for a week, then disappear for months. I wonder, are they still in business? They’ll occasionally pop up with one or two posts then go quiet again.
The problem with this sporadic approach is that they’re not understanding their clients’ levels of awareness and their pain points. They could be using the wrong communication channels for their own strengths, or failing to convincingly convey their own expertise.
The third mistake is having limited business skills. Being a great coach is only one part of the equation.You also need to have essential business skills like sales, marketing and financial management.
It never ceases to amaze me how many coaches will invest in more coach training to feel like they are a better coach, rather than investing in learning how to actually get clients. And, the more clients you work with the better a coach you become.
The next mistake I see is imposter syndrome and self doubt taking over.
Coaches who constantly doubt their abilities may find it difficult to attract clients or charge really good rates that will enable those clients to get a great result.
The final mistake I’d like to highlight is neglecting continuous learning.
Our landscape is changing so quickly that it pays to continuously invest in yourself and your marketing skills because things can soon become outdated.
In what is a saturated market, we need to be amazing at marketing and we need to have the right mindset to be able to show up and deliver that marketing effectively.
It really pays to be surrounded by people who are continuously learning and who are keeping up with the coaching market.

2. The keys to coaching business success

Now we have identified the pitfalls, let’s explore the actionable strategies that can help you to succeed as a coach.
First, we are going to hone in on your niche and identify your ideal client.
The more you understand their needs, their challenges and aspirations, the better you will be able to market to them and serve them.
And, on this point, I notice many of my clients really resist doing market research.
They feel they already know the challenges, that they were their own ideal client so they already understand them. And that’s fine to a point, but it’s very easy to forget what it really felt like at the time, because your level of awareness will have changed significantly since you became a coach and have been coached.
So, I would strongly recommend that you talk to people who aren’t in the coaching world. This way, you will really find out what their real pain points and level of awareness are like.
The second key to success is crafting a compelling brand. The more you can lean into why you are brilliant, the more you’ll stand out.
A really great way of seeing what your brand is like right now is by Googling your name. Do you, for example, show up on page one of Google? Do you see a professional website up there? Do you see a really strong social media presence? Do you see any blog posts or podcasts?
This is a really quick and easy test to see how well your profile is performing for you.
Now you have a great brand and a strong profile, let’s master your marketing.
You need to create a comprehensive marketing plan that aligns with your niche and target audience.
Consider your strengths and what you’re brilliant at, so that you’re confident about going all in, just like my client, Kate, who I covered in last week’s case study. She’s always loved video and was inspired by how Davina McCall brings comedy into how she communicates.
I’ve had other successful clients who don’t do any social media at all. They do in-person networking. One who is part of a business network is doing really well – on finishing my Business of Coaching programme, she was on track to meet her £100k annual target.
It’s like finding the right form of exercise. When it’s something you love, you’ll feel motivated to stick to it regularly.
Next, you’ll need to invest your time in sharpening your business skills in sales, marketing, networking and, depending on the scale of your business right now, automations.
Implementing systems in your business will really help you to avoid overwhelm and to keep you on track.
Now, let’s combat imposter syndrome. You can read my article here, with 4 steps to tackle imposter syndrome as a coach. It’ll help you to gain self confidence. Continuously acknowledging your achievements and wins and strengths makes a massive difference in your business.
Being surrounded by supportive people who believe in you is also really important.
Many of my clients say that one of my greatest strengths is building their belief because I constantly remind them why they are brilliant, which gives them the boost to go out there and achieve.
Having a cheerleader in your corner is super underrated. It gives you that accountability to keep your momentum going and be consistent. And, if you are consistent, you are far more likely to be successful.
Lastly, embrace lifelong learning. Stay ahead of the curve. Be at the cutting edge. Continuously update your skills and knowledge and surround yourself with people doing amazing things.
I’m always part of masterminds and group programmes. I’m always being coached and I’m always surrounded by people who are inspiring and who have achieved great things. I love hearing how they think, because that’s the key.
If you see others valuing their expertise, it inspires you to do the same.

3. Your action plan for success

So, now you need a tangible action plan. Let’s set you on the path to coaching business success.
Firstly, self-assess. Reflect on your coaching journey and identify those areas where you may be falling short.
Have you got a clear niche? Have you got a clear marketing strategy? Have you got the business skills to support you?
Next, refine your niche. Define your ideal client with precision. If you haven’t had any market research calls with those people, do that now. Get super clear on what you can offer but, most importantly, what they want in their own words.
Now, let’s create, build or refine your personal brand.
If you haven’t got a website yet, there are lots of options out there, but I personally found ‘GoDaddy websites and marketing’ to be really quick and easy to use, with no coding required. For under £200 you can build your own website – they have lots of templates to choose from.
I wouldn’t rush into building your website until you have your niche and ideal client clearly defined, so you know what content to include and showcase.
Now, you need to make sure that all your social media accounts are set up and consistent across the internet so that, wherever people search for your name, the same content comes up across all the different platforms.
Let’s move on to your marketing blueprint.
What is your comprehensive marketing plan? Think about both your online and offline approaches. The more touch points you have with your audience, the more that they will trust you.
For example, it’s not always enough to just be on LinkedIn. I get most of my clients through LinkedIn, but how I get them up the staircase (as I like to picture it) is that I invite them to a webinar. I invite them to join my email list. I invite them to listen to my podcast. They have other ways of getting to know me, because social media on its own isn’t an effective strategy.
Next comes skill development. Are you investing in your continuous learning?
Identify at least one skill that you can enhance in the next month and commit to mastering it.
Finally, get a confidence boost. Take the time to acknowledge your wins. I hear so many people being frustrated that their business is not growing fast enough and that they’re not earning enough money.
They’re focusing continuously on the negatives without really stopping to think and reflect on what has gone well. How many clients have you gained in the last month? You’ve built a website. You’ve got a clear niche. You’ve got your lead magnet up and running.
If you are blind to your wins, you will find it much harder to succeed in business.

That’s it!

Congratulations. You now have a roadmap to navigate the often challenging landscape of growing a coaching business, and position yourself for success.
I want to remind you that every successful coach started somewhere.
If you have determination, focus and the right strategies, you can stand out and make a meaningful impact in the lives of your clients.
Get the love and support you need to make it happen
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.




to the blog

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