The first step, the leap of faith, is the scariest one.
I coach founders on the internal work that helps them stand, scale and sell their businesses with more impact and less stress. Often, my one-on-one clients have a business in the 8, 9, or even 10-figure range before they think about selling or going public. Growing a business at that scale is thrilling.
But to me, the most audacious moment of the entire journey is that leap of faith at the very beginning. The idea, for example, is that someone could leave the corporate world, leave a 6 or 7-figure job and make it on their own as a coach or consultant and NEVER GO BACK.
My own journey to that place has been thrilling and I love supporting others in theirs. I’ve learned a lot since going out on my own and building a business that exceeded my prior income, but in this article, I’m going to focus on three mistakes that I see founders make over and over again right at the beginning.
Don’t Start Scared
A lot of the founders I see simply aren’t ready for the break they are going to have in earnings while they build their businesses. While they might catch a break early, most businesses take some time to start generating revenue. For example, in the coaching world, I suggest someone have EITHER savings that will cover two years of expenses, OR have a job that covers their expenses while they are building the business.
What happens if you don’t have that? Unless you have done a lot of deep work (which I think is essential for coaches, by the way), it is very hard to have a conversation from a place of needing to sign the client to feed your family. Clients can sense that. No one hires someone who is needy or scared. Do what ever you need to do to come from a place of confidence.
Don’t Start with Strangers
When I started my coaching business, I was very uncomfortable talking about coaching, simply because I had no idea what I was doing. I still remember the first time someone asked me about how I work with people—at a party about a month after I started. I broke into a sweat, quickly excused myself, found a restroom, and hid the rest of the evening!
It can be easy to think that you can find clients through Clickfunnels and social media ads, but at some point, you’re going to have to talk to them and convince them that you can deliver something of value. In my experience, it was much easier building a business by networking with people I knew, reeducating them (and coincidentally, myself) on what I was doing, and asking them who else I should be talking with. Having conversations with real people will build your business much faster than getting “leads” from services, and then talking to them without any kind of established social capital.
I’ve been posting on LinkedIn quite a while now. But even today, most of the people who reach out to me after a post are people I already have some kind of relationship with. At the beginning at least, social media REINFORCES the connection rather than ESTABLISHING it.
Don’t Stay Superficial
This is the one rule that you might want to think about breaking. Because it is true that people will absolutely pay you for things like business coaching, time management coaching, and other ways to execute on doing more things more efficiently.
You can build a decent business doing this, but you will likely exhaust yourself and your clients in the process. And you will have a very hard time distinguishing yourself from other coaches and consultants who do the very same thing that you do.
But there is only one way that I am aware of to build a business where you have no competition, and where a small number of people will pay you very high fees.
To do that, you have to be willing to go deep. You have to be able to be comfortable in silence with no agenda. You have to have nothing on your mind.
When you are able to do this, you might see a possibility in the person in front of you that they haven’t even seen for themselves. And from that place, you can be the person who can help them be the person they need to be to reach their dreams.
When they see what you have opened up for them, there is no way they are going to go to someone else.
The right people will fully commit to their dreams, and any fee will seem like a bargain. Go deep, and your clients will follow.
How to Start
If a sustainable business, on your own, outside the corporate world, is calling you, here are three steps you CAN take—
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