10 days on the beach. In… Costa Rica, let’s say. (Maybe I’m biased?) No email, no phone calls, no writing, no masterminding, no business.
No nothing, in fact, except watching the birds and (responsibly) working on your tan.
Glorious. Abso-freaking-lutely glorious.
You start surfing travel websites, catalog which bikinis are worth bringing, and then “reality” hits you like a soggy sock: But I can’t leave my biz for that long. I’m a solopreneur- I AM my business. No way, no can do.
That’s no way to live.
With summer just around the corner, business will slow down for many of us coaches. So it’s the perfect time to take a much deserved vacation. But how to make it work without feeling like you’ve abandoned ship?
Just because you’re a solopreneur doesn’t mean a lifetime ban from vacations.
Pauses, breaks, and hiatuses are absolutely vital to keeping yourself happy, healthy, inspired and excited about your business. They offer perspective and, from my experience, a big boost of motivation and ideas to va-voom my business upon return. I came out of my last 10-day silent retreat and re-wrote half my website and logged a heap of blog post and program ideas into Evernote. I’ve personally chosen a lifestyle and business model that allows me this space… and I love it. It’s the only way for me.
A few simple steps and you can have the tan lines you’ve been missing for… how long? And you don’t even have to bring your laptop along to sneak into your email aprez-sunset.
1. Slow down and get caught up. This means slowing down ahead of time- don’t plan to launch something new, take on new clients, or start any big momentum in the weeks leading up to your vacation. And then get caught up on backlogged filing, finances, emails, requests, etc. Been meaning to follow up with a client? Do so! Make sure you’re not leaving anything- or anyone- hanging unfinished when you leave so you can nap with a clear conscience.
2. Pre-program your social media presence and blog posts. This one takes some planning and a good investment of time, but it assures that your loyal folks don’t suddenly notice you’ve disappeared. Services like HootSuite or Buffer make it easy and quick to program in your witticisms, favorite quotes, and blog links ahead of time. As far ahead as you want. A tip though: avoid programming in questions that will provoke your readers to respond as a conversation. A lack of reply on your end might seem odd.
3. Use your vacation or retreat as a teachable moment. Explain to your folks- in a newsletter, on social media, etc.- that you’ll be walking your talk and taking time for yourself to refresh. Write a blog post about the importance of stepping back, perhaps. And let them know what’s up for when you return: what can you share to get them excited for you?
4. Offer a speed round of one-off sessions. Not only does this soothe those who were about to make the excuse, “But I wanted to work with you NOW!”, but it offers you a nice little boost in cash flow. Consider a limited number of 1-2 hour intensives, or open up a few extra slots for one of your signature offerings.
5. Either: fine-tune your auto reply, or hire a temporary VA if you don’t already have one. If you opt for the auto-reply route, give your correspondents options! Tell them something friendly and in alignment with your branding. I write something like,
Thank you for writing- I’m working on my sun tan, catching up on cat naps, and taking time to listen to my heart’s desires on the beach until (date)! I’m super excited to come back refreshed and inspired and dive into your Heart Centered journey, but in the meantime, here are a few goodies and resources to inspire & support you:
[Link to newsletter/autoresponder signup]
[Link to a great blog post with short explanatory blurb]
[Link to another great blog post. See above.]
And if you’re ready to schedule a session? Click here [scheduler link] to schedule a time and get dibs on a client spot once I return.
I can’t wait to connect. Here’s to your Heart, your desires, and your joy.
If you’re leaving for more than a few weeks, you might decide to work with a VA. Shop around far in advance with your colleagues and friends for someone who’s willing to take on new clients, and give yourself ample time to train your new best friend. Focus on the specific tasks you’d like her to do: answering specific emails, keeping an online program running smoothly, or uploading new blog posts/social media. She might even keep tabs on your social media accounts if you really build trust with her.
And most importantly: Let go, with love. Some of the most synchronous and incredible things have happened in my business when I’ve stepped back for a couple of weeks. I’ve taken multiple hiatuses from my business- from 7 days to a month and a half- and returned to interview and guest post requests, new client inquiries, and an enormous sense of inspiration and motivation.
Trust that sometimes, stepping back from your business is the best way to invest in your own success and happiness by nourishing your heart. You deserve it.
Heather Day is a Transformational Coach, yoga teacher, and a guide for those who seek to live a Heart Centered Life. She helps people who have fallen out of balance to return to center with intuitive and practical tools for body, soul, and lifestyle. You’ll find her eating papaya, teaching yoga and coaching from her home in Costa Rica. Get her free meditation series to overcome fear and find your own Heart Center, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
I got a call from someone who has been working with me on developing their business. For a few years, she’d been working as a freelance contractor. We’ll call her clients N&D, Inc., because those clients were perpetually “nickel-and-diming” her on projects, asking her to create great work while doing it for less than her usual rate. My client had come to dread the perpetual back and forth of negotiating proposals.
What’s worse is that N&D had a history of not being so very in integrity with money, themselves–for instance, they would tell my client that they were so strapped for cash that they couldn’t even pay her for small jobs, but then she’d see them buying new office equipment, or she’d find out from her friend who did some accounting work for N&D that other contractors who hadn’t been with N&D as long, and who hadn’t turned in work on time, were being paid before my client was.
Over the years, my client had had multiple conversations with N&D about money–she’d courageously walked into her fear around telling N&D, for instance, that she needed to paid her usual rate and that she wasn’t open to constantly negotiating.
N&D was staffed by good people, people who were not evil and selfish, but–people who had some massive issues with money and integrity. Each time, they had to be “negotiated into” doing the right thing–paying for work, and paying on time.
“Let me get a perspective check on this,” my client said, and then she described to me another, most recent example of N&D’s lack of integrity.
I’d heard many stories about N&D, over the years. The pattern was not changing, no matter how much my client was trying to work things through with them.
“Sounds like they need to be put on your business’s Stop Doing list,” I said.
The Stop Doing List
Every business needs one. You, a life coach–you need one. What are they?
Quite simply, a Stop Doing list is the list of things that are not working. You’ve tried having the conversation, you’ve worked on having some compassion–and the truth is, it’s still just not working.
Here are a few things that commonly need to be put on a coach’s Stop Doing list:
- Stop having sessions with clients who haven’t paid you.
- Stop invoicing clients late or reviewing last session’s notes at the last minute, and then feeling unprepared.
- Stop telling clients that it’s okay to reschedule at the last minute, if it’s really not.
- Stop spending all day on social media, comparing your stats to someone else’s.
- Stop booking sessions back to back, rushing from one session to the next with hardly room to breathe, because a client says that none of your other times work for them.
- Stop putting off things like blog posts and newsletter updates until the last minute, and then rushing through them or skipping them, entirely.
- Stop undercharging for what you offer. (**Note: Brand-new coaches do well for themselves to strategically charge less, so that money isn’t a barrier for your first clients to start with you, and then move into charging more. But I remember the days when I had been coaching for several years, and still only charged $50 for an hour-long session. Yikes! To learn more about ways to strategically raise your rates, check out The Coaching Blueprint).
Transparency: All of these have ended up on my own Stop Doing List.
Your Integrity Cannot Be Currency
Your personal integrity cannot be currency, exchanged for your silence or for less confrontation.
If you play your personal integrity this way in your business, you’re going to hate working for yourself just as much as you might have disliked working for someone else.
And if you think about it, isn’t that why anyone ever dislikes working for someone else?
We dislike subverting our integrity and trading it as currency, and when we’re working jobs that don’t fulfill us, and telling ourselves that we have no other options, we’re out of integrity. The second we make pro-active choices to view the situation differently or take action, we feel powerful–because we’ve taken back our integrity.
Who’s Going to Pay
A Stop Doing list might sound like a luxury to the new or emerging coach who is still just getting grounded with her clients. Tell that client who always pays late that you won’t hold a session that isn’t paid for? If I do that–she’ll leave!
The question is really: Who’s going to pay?
I had one of those clients* at the beginning of my coaching career. This was back in the days when I offered a sliding scale fee. He paid on the lowest end of the sliding scale…and discussed spending money on vacations (a sliding scale is meant to help those who truly do live paycheck-to-paycheck, not to help people afford vacations). His checks were frequently late. He would insist on parsing out a sticky scenario or question just as we were ending our session, making our sessions run over time.
As time went on, I was the one paying–I was paying with the currency of my integrity. I knew that I was the one responsible, and so I took responsibility.
I finally summoned the courage to let him know that I needed to raise my rates, and to say that I must be paid on time and couldn’t hold sessions without payment.
When he launched into “But what do I do about…?” with only five minutes of session time left, I would take a deep breath and say, with love, “That sounds like a wonderful question for you to consider between now and our next session.”
He decided to discontinue coaching. It was a complete relief.
It’s always a complete relief when we are not “paying” with the currency of our integrity.
*details have been shifted to ensure anonymity
What does your list look like?
Everything that needs to go on a Stop Doing list is something that you trade for your integrity.
My client who works with N&D? She decided that she’s going to cut ties with N&D.
She’s decided that it need not be anything dramatic; she’s going to finish out her contracts with them and even take on work with them through the end of the year, while she builds her business in other directions.
She already feels better, even though in this moment, nothing has changed. Whey does she feel better? Because she’s acting with integrity. N&D is on the Stop Doing List, and there’s a plan of action in place.
This week’s exercise to benefit you and your business:
- Treat yourself as you would invite your clients to treat themselves–and don’t just tell yourself that you’re going to do that. Actually whip out your calendar right now, and start doing what Marie Forleo calls “Getting on the NO train!” Start saying “no” to the things that don’t light you up, even if you feel like you “shouldn’t” say no to that particular thing. If it isn’t lighting you up, it’s dead weight.
- Take time to answer the questions in this week’s e-letter, as if you’re the client who has just been assigned a practice.
Take time to create action steps so that you can implement new practices to replace what hasn’t been working–again, treating yourself the way you would hope your clients would treat themselves when they work with you.
You know need an email list, right?
In case you’re still holding on and hoping this “fad” will disappear soon, I’m here to tell you that your email list and a huge lifeline for your business. At least for now.
Your list helps you:
- get your business in front of more people (with less effort)
- connects you to your dreams clients
- and helps you make more money
So let’s fill your list with happy subscribers.
The best way to do that is by offering a “freebie” in exchange for their email address.
Not sure how to get started?
Here are 4 steps to create an irresistible opt-in offer:
1. Narrow down your dream client
This is where you’re going to have to do some homework. Identifying the perfect person you want to work with will create the foundation of all of your marketing strategies and business growth.
Once you know who this client is and what they want, your message will be laser-focused, you’ll be clear about who you’re selling to, and you’ll be able to create an opt-in offer to match your dream client’s needs.
To help visualize this, you can create a collage, doodle, or make a sweet desktop background of your dream client so that you can see them as you’re creating your offer.
2. Brainstorm freebies
Based on everything you know about your dream client, what would she most like in exchange for her email address?
Some customers want a discount code for your coaching services, while others will want an eBook, a checklist, or a printable calendar. Some will want a video to watch and others will want a podcast.
Think about your dream client and brainstorm 3 types freebies she’d most like to get her hands on.
3. Create stellar content
Now that you have a good idea of the type of freebie you’ll be offering, it’s time for the fun part- the content!
What is your dream client’s biggest struggle?
What recurring patterns and challenges do you see in your clients?
What are your areas of expertise that your dream client would love to know more about?
4. Write a magnetic headline
Your headline is the title of your opt-in offer. It should be short, sweet and to the point. And the more concrete your language, the better.
To make it extra juicy, consider the emotion you want to tap into or the psychological impact you want to make. How do you want your clients to feel?
If you want to create a sense of urgency, use these words: Now, Discover, Only, Quick, New.
Or if you want to highlight the pain points, use these words: Failure, Stress, Alone, Guilty.
Want to reassure your clients? Use these: Guarantee, Proven, Simple, Safe.
Bonus tip: Think about what words tend to draw you in as a potential customer!
After you follow these 4 simple steps, you’ll have an opt-in offer that will attract your dream clients and fill up your subscriber list. Now it’s time to start booking some clients and celebrate!
Ashley Wilhite is the founder of Your Super Awesome Life, where she helps women live a life they love while creating a freedom-based business. You can find Ashley on Twitter, Facebook and get your free copy of “The 5 Things That Hold You Back From Living the Life You Love.”
So–You’ve done your personal growth work. You’ve learned a bit from here, a bit from there, and altogether, the tools and practices and workshops and books and coaching and therapy and experience have added up to make you into one pretty amazing dynamo.
So you think to yourself:
“I’m going to create an all-inclusive e-book that takes a holistic approach to personal growth, leaving no stone un-turned!”
“I’m going to create a 6-month coaching group for women who are ready to move forward in powerful ways!”
or, perhaps you’re even like I was, my first year:
“I’m going to create a year-long course! It’ll be called The Courageous Year! There will be different levels, and over the course of a year people will create their lives from the ground, up.”
You’re thinking of how high-value this offering is going to be–how it’s going to save people all the time or struggle that you went through, by taking the very best of what’s out there, and putting it all in one place, with you as the experienced guide who knows how this rolls.
Also, you might be thinking of how financially lucrative it is. Instead of winning one coaching client at a time, you get a circle going, charge thousands for it, maybe add in a retreat or a weekly call–wouldn’t that be a much more efficient than getting a client at a time?
It’s a truly fantastic idea.
In fact, there are a lot of coaches out there, who are trying it.
There’s just one (tiny-HUGE) problem:
It doesn’t sell (easily).
I know. “It doesn’t sell? But this is exactly what I wish I would have had! When I look back and think of all the searching I had to do to transform my own life, it’s nuts! Why wouldn’t someone want to save all that time!”
But–it doesn’t sell.*
Why It Doesn’t Sell
#1: People find all-inclusive, long-term programs to be really overwhelming. Think of the last time you tried cutting sugar out of your diet. It’s like the whole world cap-sizes and suddenly, sugar is everywhere. It’s overwhelming, and that’s just ONE small dietary change.
Now imagine someone staring down the barrel of Massive Life Change through Your Six-Month Program.
You might be a self-help junkie. You’ve been drinking the kool-aid. They haven’t.
#2: Even though people buy a gazillion self-help products, they often think (secretly) that it probably won’t work for them.
- Astonishing truth: Sometimes people buy things to feel like they’re doing something about a problem, without really setting up systems in their life so that they’ll actually…do something.
It’s like buying a book on eating more vegetables and reading it–but not actually implementing the steps. People do this with self-help, all of the time.
So imagine this: Someone is looking at your sales page, and you’re saying that it’s going to take six months to complete the program.
- You’re thinking, “How great it is that I’m honest and not bull-shitting people into another 1-2-3 step plan that won’t truly work.”
- They’re thinking, “I don’t want to wait six months for results” or “Since nothing else has worked, I’ll probably just waste six months and a lot of money on this and it won’t work, either.”
The problem at the heart of everything is not how great YOU are, it’s that people don’t think it’ll work. Because they don’t think it’ll work, they don’t put the time in. Because they don’t put the time, in…it doesn’t work. Then they think, “Well, that program wasn’t very good, anyway.”
I know. Are you tearing your hair out, yet? Because once I understood this, I kind of wanted to.
Welcome to the world of self-help: it is a land of people who truly desire life change, but who also have a whole host of defenses around changing, because it’s scary to change.
Compassion is advised as you proceed.
#3: When it does sell, long-term intensives might not pan out for you, financially.
You’re thinking, “I’ll run a 6-month program. It’ll be a thousand dollars per person. I’ll get 15 people to participate, and that’ll be fifteen grand. I can do that, plus have one-on-one clients, and I’ll run the 6-month program twice a year. That’ll be 30 grand a year just from the program, and I don’t even have to run that 40 hours a week! Aces!”
So, about that. Yeah.
Running a full-fledged program? It’s a ton of work. When I run group circles for just a month at a time, the work is constant. The emails alone take time and mental energy, and I’m not talking about “Can you send me the password, again?” emails. One person sends an email needing support because she feels like she can’t do it. Another person sends an email feeling upset because someone else isn’t participating enough, and she wants me to get the other person to participate.
I’m not complaining about these emails; they are all part of the job, and my job (your job) in such cases is to step up to the plate, and help people to use these experiences to transform their lives or their businesses.
But these programs are truly–no joke–a ton of work. Tech snafus. Recording phone calls. Someone can’t access something. Phone interference on the conference call line.
I charge $150 for coaching sessions with individual clients. There’s no way that I make that kind of money, per hour, with a group coaching circle.
So Why Do Them?
Because you love the work. Because you love community. Because you’re passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive. Because you’re good at it. Because you know it’s why you’re here. It’s my love of community that has had me run some pretty amazing group coaching circles.
When It Does Sell
Of course, when you get huge or when you have large numbers or if you have the right connections, you can sell people on entire life programs. When you have officially been elevated to self-help guru status, people want you to talk not just about personal growth, but about weight loss and wellness, relationships and sex, and on and on.
The thought then tends to be, “She has some great answers in this one domain; I’d love to see what she has to say about another.”
Hence the reason that self-help superstars like Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra have talked about weight loss, when their original popularity sprung from straight-up personal growth.
Also, there’s one domain where such programs do sell: If you are leading a mastermind or long-term commitment group on how to make money, then people will often over-ride their overwhelm or financial concerns, telling themselves that they’ll make a return on investment when the money comes in, later.
In the Meantime?
Keep it small. Sell micro.
Don’t sell programs that cover career, AND relationship, AND wellness, and on and on.
Find one corner of a huge problem, and sell something that will tackle that corner.
Your people will be less overwhelmed, and they’ll actually make measurable progress. Seeing that there’s success to be had in that one little corner will pave the way for a belief that greater successes can be had, too.
That’s really what we’re all creating, here–the sustained belief in possibility.
This week’s exercise to benefit you and your business:
- Review your current offerings–coaching offerings, e-books, courses, etc. Really ask yourself: What are the small, measurable things that someone gets from doing this work?
- If an offering isn’t selling well, ask yourself: If I were to break this down into a smaller offering that would target one or two successful outcomes for the person who used this, might it sell better?
With any social media strategy, there’s some foundation work that needs to be done first: you need to start out by getting clarity on who you are and what makes you unique. Second, you need to understand who your ideal clients and online connections are and where they hang out online so you can go where they already are. Third, you need to know why you’re on social media in the first place. What do you want to get out of it?
If you don’t start with the end in mind, then you probably won’t end up where you want to go. This is something I discuss all the time on social media, whether it’s in blog posts, or on webinars, or in my online course. You must get clear on your goals and objectives and your reasons for using social media so that you can ensure that you’re on the path to achieve those objectives.
A lot of people get start using social media for business because they’ve been told that they need to be there, and they think that they “should” be there, but they often never actually stop and get clarity around exactly why they are using social media for business. Do you know why you’re using social media for business?
Here are some possible objectives:
- Brand awareness. Let people know that your business exists.
- Web traffic. Social media can be an excellent source of traffic to your website, where people can learn more about you and your business.
- Generate interest. Pique their interest by expressing to your ideal clients how you might help them with their challenges.
- Get signups to your list. Stay in touch with people by getting them on your list so you can send them regular, useful updates that will help them to get to know you better.
- Build your network. Use social media for online networking; it’s great for building that know, like, and trust that’s so important.
- Word of mouth. Social media makes it easy for people to tell others about you.
- Be seen as an expert. It’s a fantastic way of putting your content online, and helping people out by sharing your knowledge so you can be seen as an expert in your field.
- Convert leads to clients. Once you’ve built up know, like, and trust, people are more likely to become paying clients.
- Launch new products/services. You can use social media to generate interest in and to spread the word about both existing products and services and also new ones.
- Get signups for events/workshops. If you run events, social media is an excellent way of letting people know about the event so they can sign up…and also share it with friends.
Prioritize your objectives
Now, I’m sure that everything on the above list sounds like exactly what you want for your business, and I imagine that you’d like all of that to happen. However, those are ten different objectives, and if you focus on them all, it might be a bit overwhelming to achieve.
Your objectives may be different for each social media site, so you might do this exercise once for each social network that you belong to. For example, Pinterest is particularly good at driving traffic to websites, so perhaps your top three objectives for Pinterest (if you decide that this is a good social network to be focusing on for your business) are: brand awareness, website traffic, and being seen as an expert. Pinterest can be used to collect and share useful links and information, which could make you the go-to person within your niche or area of expertise.
Knowing your objectives gets results
Hopefully the above example made this clear for you. Unless you’re absolutely sure what you’re doing on social media in the first place, you probably won’t get the results you want…which most likely involves getting more paying clients and more signups to your programs.
Once you know your exact reasons for being on a particular social network, you’ll feel more connected to it. You won’t be distracted by all the noise because you’ll have a clear objective and a reason for being there. You’ll be able to focus on what you’re doing, rather than simply wandering around online and posting random things.
You will, however, need to keep these objectives in mind as you’re using social media. You’ll also need to track the results. Keep a file on your computer or a notebook with your social media objectives for each particular site, and check in on a monthly basis: are you actually getting results? If not, evaluate what needs to be changed.
Your business changes and evolves, and so do social networks. Your tribe or online community will also change over time, and what this all means is that you’ll need to re-evaluate your objectives for each social site on a regular basis. So if you’re checking in on a monthly basis to stay on track with your results, plan to re-evaluate your objectives for each social network on a quarterly basis.
Take action today
Either print off the above list of objectives, or make note of them on a piece of paper. There may be others, depending on your particular coaching business. If, while reading through the list, anything else came to mind, make note of it.
Rank them in order of importance to you: which ones are most important for you to focus on? Select the top three high priority objectives, and plan to focus on those when you’re setting up your social media strategy.
Good luck! I hope this perspective helps you get results on social media for your business from now on.
Holly Worton helps coaches, holistic practitioners, and women in heart-centered businesses go from confusion to confidence with social media, so they can use it to build relationships online and get more clients. As a heart-centered business owner, you do amazing work, and Holly wants to help you help more people. The way to do that is through Connection, and social media is one of the best ways to connect with others and build your tribe. Sign up for her free 90-minute social media training at SociallyHolistic to start building connections online. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, or Instagram.