Becoming a successful coach (meaning a fully booked coach) doesn’t happen by chance.
Nor does it happen just because you really want it to happen.
Or, because you’re passionate about coaching and chasing the dream of doing what you love to do.
It doesn’t even happen because you’re a really good, or even a great coach.
Most of those things are just the bars to entry that 95% of all coaches have scrambled over.
None of them makes you special or helps you stand out.
Rather, your success will be decided by 10 very specific traits.
10 traits that even if you don’t possess now, you can learn and adopt.
Well, 9 of them anyway, number 10 may be tough.
1. Highly successful coaches know their core values
A lot of companies will list their core values on their website to impress potential clients/customers.
That’s not what your core values are for.
Your core values should determine the type of clients who you are prepared to work with.
As well as those who you aren’t prepared to work with.
They should dictate what you talk/write about and how you talk/write about it.
In other words, they must underpin your entire marketing strategy.
Your niche, messaging, positioning and all-around branding should be driven by your core values.
Not truly understanding your own values (and a great many coaches don’t) doesn’t mean you’re flying by the seat of your pants.
It means you forgot to put your pants on.
If you have no desire to understand your own values you may want to consider a career as a political advisor.
2. Highly successful coaches pay for help
Show me a fully booked coach and I will show you a coach who has paid for help.
EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
And many have done it again and again.
That help may have been in the form of hiring their own coach.
It could have been for training or courses.
Or it could be joining a mastermind of their peers.
I’ve done all three to the tune of well over $100k.
And each time I did, it helped.
Paying for help is the single fasting way to become a fully booked coach.
If the thought of paying for help is anathema to you, then you may want to consider a career as a goatherder in Mongolia.
3. Highly successful coaches take risks
I recently read the rather excellent book, The Business of Expertise by David C Baker.
Baker is a highly successful consultant for entrepreneurs and a world-leading expert in positioning.
He polled over 1,300 entrepreneurs he had worked with to find out what made them successful.
The only factor that was consistent among them all, is that none were risk averse.
You must take risks in life if you are to maximise your potential and happiness.
That doesn’t mean leaving a well-paid job leaving your stay-at-home partner wondering how the fuck you’re going to pay the mortgage on your $750k house and feed your 4 kids.
But it’s highly unlikely that you can become a fully booked coach by playing it safe all the time.
I walked away from a six-figure salary to become a coach.
We did have some savings, but if I hadn’t got my shit together they’d have evaporated within 3 years.
By all means, mitigate risk whenever possible. But understand, there’s no path to becoming a fully booked coach that’s risk-free.
If you want a risk-free life you may want to consider a career as an undertaker.
4. Highly successful coaches make the time to do what they need to do
I spent about 20 hours per week on my marketing when I was a life coach at A Daring Adventure.
And from about 2008 I was in maintenance mode because I had enough clients.
What do you think the odds were of somebody spending 5 hours building a business and being able to compete with me?
And that was at a time when there was nothing like the competition there is now.
If you have 5 hours or less per week to build a coaching practice you’re utterly fucked.
Unless that is, you have 4 or 5 years to get there and you don’t need the money.
I no longer want to work with coaches who don’t have 8 hours per week and I start licking my chops when it’s over 15.
If you have no time to work on marketing a coaching business you may want to consider a career as a prop supplier on Alec Baldwin movies.
5. Highly successful coaches are resilient
You may well have seen the meme above showing a realistic path to success.
But have you fully embraced it?
Or deep down, do you think you will be an exception and your path to becoming a fully booked coach will be like the top depiction?
If so, you need to snap out of your reverie.
You have zero chance of going from a standing start to becoming a fully booked coach without encountering setbacks.
And probably a lot of them, because every successful coach has….
- Gone through spells when it was easier to contract Green Monkey disease than get a client to sign a contract
- Failed to turn a consult into a client even when they knew they were the perfect coach
- Encountered tumbleweed on social media after posting a piece of wisdom that would have had Socrates weeping with pride
- Taken on clients they wish they hadn’t
- Stared at Google analytics and wondered if your website was invisible to everybody but you
- Had product launches that bombed
- Paid for hired help that didn’t help
- Had sleepless nights
- Wondered if they made the right choice leaving a well-paid job
If adversity has you sitting in a corner sucking your thumb and rocking back and forth, you may want to consider a career as a librarian.
6. Highly successful coaches are flexible
It’s unlikely that you will start your coaching journey knowing your exact destination and how you are going to get there.
Your niche may need to change.
Your ideal client may need to change.
You may need to tear down your website and have it rebuilt.
And your entire marketing approach may need to change.
It’s easy to get sucked into sunk cost fallacy.
Where you know deep down that something isn’t working.
But you cannot bear the thought of changing it because of how much you have invested emotionally, financially and in your time.
You absolutely must.
Successful people from all walks of life aren’t just good at starting new things, they’re good at quitting too.
If you’re less flexible than I am trying to get into downward dog, then you may want to consider a career as a traffic warden.
7. Highly successful coaches are lifelong learners
I am subscribed to 7 or 8 marketing podcasts, 4 of which I never miss an episode.
I’m out with my dogs every morning and every afternoon for an hour or so and I’m learning all the time.
Unless I’m with my wife, or at the beach when I like to just listen to the waves, I’m always either listening to a podcast or a book on marketing (click here to read some of my favourites).
I’m also learning when I’m just pottering around the house doing chores, or in my car.
I’m also subscribed to a bunch of newsletters and follow people who I can learn from on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Some newsletters, I read religiously, but others I pick and choose based on the headline and whether I believe the topic is relevant/useful to me.
I’m very lucky in so much as I fucking love learning new stuff.
But I’m not sure you can be a successful coach if you don’t.
If you hate to learn, you may want to consider a career as an Instagram model.
8. Highly successful coaches are courageous and determined
I was working with a coach recently who was so committed to succeeding he had been cold-calling random business owners out of the phone directory.
I wished I’d been working with him at the time because it’s not very strategic, but it’s fucking brave and he has my utmost respect.
And by the way, he hated doing it, he just pushed through the discomfort.
Depending on your personality any of the following may require courage:
- Leaving a well-paid job to go all in on becoming a full booked coach
- Being yourself on social media when everybody else seems to be living perfect lives
- Saying no to a client who wants to pay you but you know isn’t a good fit
- Giving a talk to a room full of strangers
- Getting super narrow on your niche
- Saying yes to being interviewed on a podcast
- Publishing your first piece of content
- Telling your friends you’re a coach and a fucking good one
- Asking a partner if it would be ok to forego a vacation to focus on your business
- Hiring a VA so that you can focus on the super important stuff
Many coaches don’t want to do anything with their marketing that makes them feel uncomfortable.
They are the same coaches who have no clients.
Maybe it’s a coincidence?
If you lack any kind of courage or determination, you may want to consider a career as a rabbit wrestler.
9. Highly successful coaches are memorable
You can no longer succeed as a coach with passive bland marketing.
You could, in 2005 when I started.
But that approach will no longer work even moderately.
It was already dying when the pandemic hit because you could replicate it with sheer hard work.
Then the pandemic drove the final nail into the coffin and laughed manically whilst burying it in a concrete bunker somewhere just outside Detroit.
Now ChatGPT and AI has dug up the coffin, banged a bunch of new nails in and buried it 6 feet under the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
Have I made my point?
The need to stand out as a coach is not just a nice to have now, it’s imperative.
And standing out means getting in people’s faces and being memorable.
You don’t have to be sweary, salty and sarcastic like me because you have to be consistent with your own core values.
But you must do something to make people remember you and take notice of you.
You must find every unique thing about yourself and drag it to the surface to highlight it.
Some people will hate you and most will be ambivalent.
But some will love you for you, and they’re the only people you should worry about.
Many people think that AI is making marketing easier, and maybe they’re right.
Or rather, they were.
But that window is already starting too close
There’s going to be a tidal wave of mediocre crap over the coming months that few will want to read.
And the ones who do won’t remember.
People don’t hire coaches they can’t remember.
Do things that make you memorable.
10. Highly successful coaches love what they do.
I know you love coaching.
However, do you also love running a coaching business?
I don’t mean every single aspect because there will always be things in life we both have to do but don’t enjoy.
But overall, do you love it?
If you had to split your time right down the middle between coaching and the business of running a coaching practice, would you spend a lot more time happy than pissed off?
Because that’s exactly what awaits you if you’re to become a fully booked coach.
If that concerns you, you may want to consider a career as a professional napper.
What are your thoughts on successful coaches?
I’d welcome your opinions on this.
Have I missed some traits that you see in successful coaches?
Or have I listed something that you don’t believe is necessary?
Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts and please do rate and share the post.