You are an entrepreneur. Say, you’re a freelancer, coach, or consultant.
What is the greatest pain point in your business?
Need more clients? A full consult calendar? Ways to grow and scale your business? Increase your fees? More free time? A clear path to financial freedom? All of the above?
Yes, all of the above.
No doubt you’ve been targeted, either directly or indirectly by coaches or “mentors” who spend millions of dollars on Facebook ads that tell their story of how they went from being flat broke living in a basement to making 6-figures in 6 months and how, with their simple and proven methods, you can do the same.
I saw such an ad. It sounded good to me.
I had a flailing PR practice that I had spent the past few years trying to resuscitate.
I was stressed and flat broke (thankfully, not living in a basement though).
I knew I needed to do something different with my business.
I thought: “I enjoy helping people grow and scale their business. I mentor students in various business programs in local universities and don’t get paid to do it. Hey! I’ll become a business coach!”
According to a recent study by IBISWorld, the U.S. business coaching industry is a $12 billion dollar industry. There are approximately 55,831 business coaching businesses in the U.S. alone.
It’s a booming industry. It seemed like the time was right for me to become business coach number 55,832.
I signed up for courses and became a certified business, entrepreneurship and life purpose coach.
Great! Now what?
Well, I started seeing more of those aforementioned ads by other coaches who help coaches get more clients and make more money. Their ad copy said wonderful things like: “get people to pay for $5k — $10k coaching packages in full within 72 hours of sending them an invite to connect on LinkedIn each month.”
Umm… Where do I sign?
They tell great rags to riches stories. It seemed like they were telling MY story!
They get me! They really get me!
I fell for it hook, line and sinker.
I began investing thousands of dollars in these types of promises. I thought this was the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel and within the next 6 months, and with all of these ‘simple and proven strategies’, I’ll be a 7-figure coach in no time.
I’m smart. I’ve had a very successful business. I’ve worked with global brands, celebrities, other entrepreneurs, etc.
I helped my clients increase revenues by the millions of dollars using ‘simple and proven’ methodologies.
I have the testimonials and social proof.
I have the sob story of living the feast or famine cycle that comes with being a freelancer, coach or consultant.
I could tell a really good “I get you” story.
I had everything these multiple 7-figure coaches had. I just needed that high ticket offer and the insight on how to sell it.
So, I took out a huge loan and invested in an 8-week course thinking: “This will pay for itself within a matter of months! I’ve nothing to worry about!”
It will be fast and simple, just like they said, right?!
Little did I know that “fast and simple” meant the following:
- Buying additional services such as an email responder, a sales funnel system, a CRM solution, an online portal for course creation, an online calendar system, paid traffic, a new web site and hosting, and a smattering other technical necessities.
- Learning all of the above mentioned technical necessities along with workflows, automation, and integration.
- Writing and designing lead magnets, email nurtures, Facebook ads, webinars, and written sales letters.
- Being active on social media and posting 4–5 times per day in up to 10 different relevant business groups to help with organic traffic.
- Doing Facebook Lives and Instagram stories.
- Shooting videos for courses, lead magnets, and thank you’s.
- Getting professional looking photos taken for my web site, social media pages and marketing materials.
- Building a “tribe”.
- Going through module after module in ‘how-to’ online courses: how to create your online course; how to sell your online course; how to grow your email list; how to discover your niche; how to, how to, how to….
Yea, get a mentor they said. It’ll be easy, they said…
I’m sure there are plenty of mentors who may be reading this and saying: “you don’t really have to do all of that. You only need to start with one thing” all while questioning my integrity, expectations, and if I truly did all the things they said I needed to do or be in order to be successful.
They lead the horse to water, and I drank from the cup. It just didn’t satisfy my thirst in the way they promised.
The idea that you can map out your entire course in just minutes, or sell your course to hundreds of people even if you have no following at all is just not a reality, especially if you are flying solo and don’t have a team of writers, social media experts, professional camera equipment and crew, administrative assistant, or sales people handing your consult calls.
It’s all on you, and you need far more than just ‘one thing’ to grow and scale a business. If it were that easy, we’d all be 7–8 figure coaches by now with multiple product offerings.
Prior to making this big investment, I researched numerous business coaches. I sat through their webinars and took copious notes. I signed-up for their lead magnets. I received their 5–7 email nurtures throughout any given week. I joined all of their free Facebook groups. I studied their ads, messaging, positioning, and sales and marketing tactics.
Sure, they say they are not selling a get rich quick solution. But, let’s be honest: people aren’t going to click on an ad that says: “you may be successful, but there are no guarantees, and it will take a lot of time, money, and energy.”
That type of messaging is not what’s going to fill their own consult calendars, so they sell a more attractive message of instant prosperity and ease, which is peppered throughout their Facebook ads and email nurtures along with a photo of them next to their new Bentley.
What they are truly selling is an idea — the idea that you can make 7-figures within the next 6 months; the idea that you no longer have to trade time for money; the idea that you can have the freedom to spend more time with your family, or to travel, or to retire your spouse.
They cushion it with a disclaimer that “these results aren’t for everyone…” and you have to match a certain basic criteria that are as general as a horoscope: they could apply to just about anyone.
The mentors selling these high ticket offers are VERY good at what they do: Touching the thorn in the side of your life or business and selling you on the idea that they can easily and quickly help you remove it. That is why they are the 7 to 8 figure earners that they are.
They also create the sense of desire and urgency by giving their high ticket program an aura of exclusivity, like they are the big body guard at the door of an elite nightclub, and you are standing behind the velvet rope just hoping to get in.
You need to be extra remarkable and serious about growing your business by the hundreds of thousands of dollars (who isn’t??) then maybe just maybe they will open the rope and invite you into their program.
The truth: You’ll likely be invited into their program if you say on their pre-consult questionnaire that you have the funds or access to the funds needed to pay for their high ticket program.
Palm the big body guard a hundie and suddenly, you’re on the VIP list sitting next to Kim and Kanye with bottle service.
During many of these consult calls (or strategy sessions or roadmap calls, or whatever they choose to call it), I was made to feel like I was on the wrong side of that velvet rope, that it was their choice and could join if I was worthy.
Of course I was! I had the money. I am a highly motivated go-getter with a get shit done attitude. I wasn’t afraid of a little (ahem) a lot of hard work. You can’t start and simultaneously operate two successful businesses by being a lazy ass.
Not only did I buy into the ideas and exclusivity they were selling; I became obsessed with them.
I followed their programs to a ‘T”. I attended all of the weekly or twice weekly 2 hour calls. I watched all of the training videos TWICE. I was active in the private paid members only Facebook groups.
I set up funnels, lead magnets, email nurtures; did all of the integrations and automation, blog posts, social media posts, created webinars, videos, got professional photos taken…
See the bullet list above. Yes, I did all of that!
I tried to become one of them.
I wanted my web site to look like theirs — all of theirs.
I was taking their messaging and tweaking it to make it my own.
My email nurtures were a mashups of their email nurtures with my messaging sprinkled in.
I was dying to know: What make-up were they wearing in that video? What camera and mic were they using? What font did they use in Woffice? How many different outfits did they wear in their face-to-camera lessons in their courses?
I figured because they were so successful, they gotta be doing something right, right?! They had the recipe to the secret sauce!
Plus, I just made this HUGE investment. If I do all of this, it has to pay off!
What I was really doing was driving myself absolutely crazy, going further and further down a rabbit hole of debt and despair and didn’t see any way out.
I had put all of this time, energy, effort and emotion into making a difference in my business and had nothing to show for it except for a big gaping hole in my bank account and a mountain of debt.
I wasn’t sleeping. I was working until after midnight every night including weekends. “Shower” was often on my to-do list (and it often wasn’t done). My house was a mess. My poor dogs weren’t getting their regular walks or attention. I was repeatedly turning down invitations from friends: “Sorry, I have to work.”
It was like I caught a big fish that I just couldn’t reel in. It was taking the boat down with it. All of my things we sliding into the water. No matter how hard I fought it, I was sinking fast.
I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I knew I had to cut bait!
After having a little breakdown, I finally came to the conclusion that I was picking away at a wound that was never going to heal in my current business, no matter how many hours I worked, or how much money I invested in a high ticket program, or how I tried to shift it around and make it fit.
I was still trying to resuscitate a business that was already dead and gone- one that I didn’t like very much anymore anyway.
Why? Well, the high paid mentors said it’s still the low-hanging fruit on which I should focus right now to make money, and once the big bucks start rolling in, then I could pursue something I really loved.
So, in essence, continue trading time for money doing something that wasn’t at all satisfying anymore when life is so incredibly short.
No thank you. I put my big girl panties on, took control of the situation and my business, and listened to what my gut was telling me all along: this just isn’t right.
I cut bait.
I took some time off to reset and give myself some space. I showered, cleaned my house, washed my car, got a mani/pedi, went on hikes with the dogs, and spent time with friends I’d been neglecting.
I finally came to the realization that it wasn’t just the program itself and all of its ‘proven’ sales and marketing tactics.
I wasn’t serving my purpose in my business.
I have a non-profit animal rescue. Helping people and their pets is a passion, not helping people “grow and scale their business using the power of PR.”
I also love helping people discover their purpose and get past mental monetary barriers that are preventing them from doing so.
I came to the conclusion that no matter how great the program, if you’re not doing what you absolutely love, then you’ll never truly succeed. Your ideal clients won’t find or hire you by doing what you loathe.
The question: “If money weren’t an object, what would you be doing?” needs to be turned upside down. Happiness shouldn’t be about the money. It should be about you waking up every morning with the zest of knowing that you are spending your day doing what you absolutely love and no longer selling your soul. That is true success. The passion brings the prosperity.
I did a post about this on my personal Facebook page. It got dozens of “Likes” and comments from people who were essentially in the same boat (pun intended) when it came to investing in a high ticket coaching program.
I received private messages from other coaches and consultants who had invested in similar programs, yet weren’t getting any results despite all of their efforts.
The common thread was: We all felt that there was something bigger and greater out there that we knew we should be doing or wanted to be doing, but didn’t have the courage or clarity on how to go about it.
We were pushed to go after the “low hanging fruit” no matter how sour it may be.
We were no farther than from where we started, and in some cases, we were even farther back.
We all learned a lot though. One coach even said to me: “I’m learning that you can grow to the point where your team is giving one-word responses to people who have paid good money.”
Sad, but true.
In hindsight, there is so much I wish I knew and did prior to taking a huge leap of faith and investing in a high ticket coaching program.
I want to pass this along to the next coach or consultant who is considering investing in one with hopes that they can go into it with eyes open far wider than were mine:
- Do your research — and I’m saying in-depth research. Don’t count on testimonial screen shots or press clippings.
- Schedule consult calls with every mentor you are considering and ask questions about their process, success rate, and who within their company you’ll be dealing with. Fair warning: They are going to try to close you during the call. That’s their job. Be prepared for it.
- Find out what additional products and services will be required once you sign up and put together a line item budget, which includes the monthly cost of each. Also, many of them are affiliates of the services they recommend, and they get a kickback when you sign up using their link.
- Put together an social media advertising budget.
- Ask if you can join their paid members only Facebook group for a few days to get an idea of who else is in the program, their niche, struggles and wins in the program, how interactive and engaged other members are. Reach out to other members privately to get their feedback.
- Ask if they have a less expensive program that you can check out. There’s nothing wrong with taking a test drive before you fully invest.
- Set realistic expectations for the program, yourself, your time, and your capabilities. These programs take a lot of time, commitment and consistency. If you have a vacation planned right smack dab in the middle of an 8-week course, wait until it comes back around (they always do).
- Because many of these high-ticket programs are group coaching programs, ask yourself if you are going to need more personalized attention and hand holding. Don’t be ashamed if you do. It turned out, I did.
- Think of what has worked for you in the past and how a particular program could enhance that, rather than try to re-invent the wheel.
- Most importantly: Follow your gut. Get very clear on where you are in your life and business right now. Don’t try to cram a square peg into a round hole.
Personally, at this point in my business, I think I would do better with a private mentor who is really going to help me think things through, give me more one-on-one time, and act more as an advisor rather than one who’s going to throw a bunch of online courses, time consuming lead generation tactics, and technical requirements at me.
As snide as this all may seem, this is not meant as a personal criticism. This is my personal experience as someone who’s very new to the coaching industry.
There are some really great programs and mentors out there, several that I truly respect and with whom I would absolutely work. I’ve seen people become very successful in their programs and get the promised results. I am sincerely happy for them and their success, and know that it didn’t come fast or easy.
However, not all programs are for everyone no matter how they spin it, or how much you identify with their story, or make you want to be a part of it. You have to do some soul searching and determine what’s best for you, your life, and your business right now.
Ask yourself if this is truly what you want to be doing. If you are not absolutely thrilled and “hell yes!” about your business then it’s a “hell no”, and you are going to end up wasting a lot of time, energy, and money and still be unhappy with it.