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10 Questions with Coaching Expert Tim Brownson
With the explosion of the coaching industry came a new problem to solve: how to run a successful coaching business.
Though coaches knew their craft well and could help clients achieve spectacular results, coaching a client and running a practice are two very different things. This was exactly what life coach Tim Brownson saw in the early days of his career.
“I was attracting more and more clients who were Life Coaches themselves. In almost every situation they were struggling either with getting to grips with coaching, attracting clients, or often both.”
It was then that Tim decided to become a mentor to coaches to help them navigate the waters of launching and growing a successful coaching business. We were lucky enough to gather some of his most valuable ideas and insights below.
SH: To get started, tell us a bit about your background.
I’m originally from England but moved to Florida in 2006. Prior to moving here I had spent 20-years working in sales the last decade of which was largely high value outsourcing sales.
SH: How and why did you get involved with coaching?
I originally did a stress management course back in 2004 at Sheffield University. I didn’t do it because I wanted to become a coach, but because I was so stressed. It didn’t help that much so in early 2005 I took life coach training partly for the same reason and partly because I thought it would help me be a better manager.
I loved it so much that I pretty much had made my mind up that was what I wanted to do at the end of the first day. I was already concerned that when we moved to the US I’d move from a high pressure job with 5-weeks paid vacation per annum to a high pressure job with 1 or 2 weeks piad vacation. That wasn’t appealing to me.
SH: What did you do early on in your coaching career to set yourself apart?
Two things I think. Firstly, I was never afraid to ask for help. If I didn’t know something I’d reach out to somebody who did. Many people weren’t interested in helping, but a lot were and I made a lot of friendships in the first 2 or 3 years after I moved to the US.
Also, I took the time to learn online marketing. Way too many coaches these days give no thought to how they are going to attract clients. They have this belief that they have been put on this planet to coach and that is all that’s needed. Hence so many people quit coaching quite quickly. It’s very competitive and if you don’t know how to market yourself you’re going to be dead in the water.
We learn much quicker when we make a mistake than we do when somebody tells us how to avoid making that mistake.
SH: If you could suggest only one method to get in front of potential clients, which would you choose?
If we’re talking online, then without a shadow of a doubt, and presuming you are okay with writing, it’s adopting a guest posting strategy. My entire business was built on this approach and I have written somewhere in the region of 150 guest posts.
Guest posting allows you to expose yourself to an entirely new audience whilst at the same time building your owns sites authority by acquiring backlinks.
SH: If you could only suggest one method to enroll those potential clients, which would you choose?
Give as much value as you can and then give some more. I know that 95% of the coaches on my newsletter list will never hire me or train with me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not totally focussed on helping them. You need to be seen as a resource to other people so go out of your way to help them.
SH: Which business decision allowed you to grow your practice more than any other?
Outsourcing. I decided on what my core competencies were and handed over everything else to others. I don’t do my own design, I don’t do my own website security, I don’t do my own facebook ads and I definitely don’t do my own accounts. I keep focussed on marketing, writing and coaching/training.
SH: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
I’d say, ‘never listen to advice from your future self.’
Seriously, we have to learn for ourselves. Screwing up and making mistakes is all part of the process. We learn much quicker when we make a mistake than we do when somebody tells us how to avoid making that mistake.
Give as much value as you can and then give some more.
SH: What mistake do you see most new coaches make? How can they avoid it?
Not having a plan to acquire clients and then copying what other coaches are doing not realizing they are often replicating a failing model.
Firstly, they should ignore what other coaches are doing, especially what they are charging because that’s irrelevant. Secondly, get help. I have hired 7 different coaches over the last 13 years, yet so many new coaches don’t hire anybody.
How on earth can you be a coach and think you don’t need a coach?
SH: Imagine waking up tomorrow and it’s all gone. What are the first three things you’d do to rebuild your coaching practice?
I do zero offline marketing, nothing at all, I don’t even have business cards.
However, I do realize that to build a practice quickly probably requires some offline marketing because it takes time to build authority with Google and to start to build organic traffic.
So whereas one of the things I would do would be to start a frenzy of guesting posting, and another diving into Social Media, I’d also be reverting back to my sales background. I’d be picking the phone up to talk to people I know who may know somebody who wants coaching.
SH: What is your best advice for a coach just starting out?
Get a coach or if you cannot afford to hire a coach, then try and get a mentor. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel because success leaves a trail and it’s a question of finding that trail rather than trying to hack your way through the undergrowth alone with no real idea where you’re going.
SH: What are you working on right now?
I launch my 17th course training other coaches on client acquisition in June, so I’m currently rewriting all the material and planning a launch sequence.
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