I’ve had the honor to support hundreds of talented coaches and mentor some truly amazing coaches from around the world.
I’ve come to know something about coaching that not many people talk about.
The difference between an extraordinarily successful and profitable coaching business and one that slips into anonymity is easy to miss because it’s made up of a series of seemingly insignificant but dangerous coaching mistakes.
Some of these coaching mistakes have to do with coaching skills. Others are behaviors and business decisions that can ruin your reputation as a coach or tank your business in less time than it took to start it.
No matter where you are in your coaching practice or how experienced you think you are as a coach, you need to know exactly what these dangerous coaching mistakes are so you can make a conscious choice to avoid them.
Here are the 10 most dangerous coaching mistakes that could ruin your coaching business…
Dangerous Mistake #1: Not listening well
Coaches know that listening is one of the most important traits of a good coach.
Not paying attention to your client is a huge mistake but what’s more dangerous than that is thinking you’re doing a great job listening to your client when you’re not.
The truth is, a coach listens not just to the client’s words but to the feeling and intentions hidden behind those words. Listening during a coaching session goes far beyond the kind we engage, in ordinary conversations.
Seek to hear your client’s true emotions. Listen attentively and intuitively. This is the foundation of building an amazing reputation as a great coach.
Dangerous Mistake #2: Not using easy-to-get words
You might know what a “limiting belief” or a “value proposition” is but does your client truly understand these terms? These phrases and words may be common to you but they can be classified as industry jargon.
A successful coaching session requires that you reach and connect with your client in a meaningful way. This won’t happen if your client feels like you’re speaking a whole other language.
So, make an effort to communicate using words and phrases that your client uses and understands. This has the additional benefit of creating rapport (another word that can be categorized as industry jargon!), which essentially means being able to communicate and create a close, harmonious relationship with the person you’re coaching.
Dangerous Mistake #3: Having a website that sucks
Even if you mainly have live, face-to-face coaching sessions with your clients, I can’t tell you how important it is to have a great website for your coaching business.
Your website is pretty much your digital calling card. If your client looks you up online, your site is all they have to go with for a first impression.
If your most recent blog post shows a date from 2 years ago or if you have a website that looks like it’s been put together by your teenage nephew, it’s not going to do much for your professional reputation as a coach.
While it’s common to start out by creating a quickie site with as little financial investment as possible, aim to upgrade as soon as you can afford it. Make an effort to regularly write new and helpful blog posts and make sure that site visitors can easily find out how to reach you.
Dangerous Mistake #4: Not walking your talk
Ever heard the phrase, “Do as I say, don’t do as I do”?
As a coach, you have to walk your talk. If you’re a health coach who advocates sugar-free living, it’s going to look pretty bad if your clients come across your personal Facebook page and it’s plastered with photos of you diving into milkshakes, cakes, and cookies.
If you’re a business coach who helps clients to create a great social media presence for marketing and selling, make sure you’re doing it yourself.
Walking your talk is a critical piece of the puzzle when you’re creating a reputation as a coach and building a profitable coaching business.
Your belief in your own message needs to be rock solid and it needs to be more than just a message. All great coaches don’t just talk about their message. They live it. And you need to do it too.
Dangerous Mistake #5: Not taking your business seriously
What I’m going to say next might sound obvious but you’ll be amazed at how many people miss this point.
If you want to be taken seriously as a coach, you need to take your business seriously. What I mean is that you have to step into the mindset of running a coaching business and not just running coaching sessions.
When you want to grow your audience and your reach, you need to understand the moving parts of every successful business. These include marketing, sales, growth, analytics, and all the rest.
You don’t have an MBA to do this. Just aim for a good understanding of the various areas of a business. You can find some great information online or in some good books on coaching and marketing.
Dangerous Mistake #6: Not investing in your personal growth
Great coaches understand that their own personal growth is a priority.
You need to build your coaching skills and your ability to help all kinds of clients, from the inside out.
Make sure you spend some time every week — every day is ideal — honing your skills as a coach or working on your own beliefs and personal outlook on life.
One of the best ways to do this is to hire a coach. Coaches need coaching too!
So don’t be afraid to find a coach you can trust and who you know can help you take your personal development and your business to the next level and beyond.
Dangerous Mistake #7: Not knowing who your ideal client is
You are passionate about being a coach. This is not just a business to you. It’s heart and soul work. I get it. I feel the same way.
But if you’re not clear about the kind of coaching and the type of clients you want to help, you run the risk of hurting your business and harming your reputation.
Listen to your heart on this one. If the idea of working with women entrepreneurs lights you up, then go ahead and focus on finding these clients. If you love the thought of working with young professionals, then do that.
Never feel like you must coach a particular type of client because that’s the most profitable “target market.”
Coaching is a heart-centered profession. If you don’t feel comfortable or aligned with your clients, you’ll never succeed as a coach.
Dangerous Mistake #8: Not knowing how to say ‘no’
Setting healthy boundaries is often a big challenge for just about every coach. Coaches love to support their clients. They love seeing clients grow, change and achieve their goals.
So if you’re dealing with a client who constantly emails, calls, or messages you outside of the agreed sessions or coaching intensive, it’s hard to say no. It’s hard to let them know that you’re not available whenever they feel they need you.
But setting healthy boundaries is a highly critical part of being a coach. If you don’t, you run the risk of feeling pulled in too many different directions.
This leads straight to burnout and you may even end up resenting your clients. So, learn how to draw healthy boundaries with kindness, right from the start.
This also a great way to demonstrate to all your clients that healthy boundaries are crucial for healthy, happy relationships.
Dangerous Mistake #9: Not having a niche
Some experts or “gurus” may disagree on this one, but NOT having a specialty area for your coaching practice can mean the end of your business. Why?
Because when you try to serve everyone, you’re serving no one.
The amazing thing about honing down into a niche is that you will be able to focus on a very specific aspect of life or business to maximize results for your clients. So what’s a niche in the first place? “Women aged 18 to 40” is not a niche.
First-time moms who run an online business — that’s a niche. The difference between the two is specificity.
Narrow down your niche as much as you can. There are many benefits to doing this.
The right clients will be able to connect with you because they have clarity on what you have to offer them. You will be seen as an expert in your area and you will stand out in the larger coaching industry.
Dangerous Mistake #10: Not being flexible
Just because a certain activity, exercise, or line of questions have always worked with your clients, it doesn’t mean that it always will. A big part of being a great coach is being able to move, change and transform with the times.
Keep yourself informed of the latest developments and trends in the industry. Read a lot and be open to learning from other coaches and using different modalities. Consider attending training programs and courses whenever you have the chance.
Becoming a great coach and running a successful coaching business is about being adaptable. Give yourself permission to explore new ways of doing old things.
While it’s important to avoid these 10 coaching mistakes, don’t get too caught up in doing that either. If you do, you may end up committing a hidden 11th dangerous mistake — perfectionism. When you’re in the loop of perfectionism, there is no room to grow and improve as you learn from your coaching mistakes.
So don’t beat yourself up if you find you’ve taken the wrong road in your business. Stop, evaluate where you’re at, your coaching mistakes, and think about your next action step.
Remember, coaching is a profession but it is also far more than that. It is a calling. Allow yourself to enjoy what you do as a coach — helping and serving others.