How to Not Get Wet When the Business Coaching Bubble Bursts

Connecting with my colleagues on a Facebook thread recently, there was a conversation about business coaches who post photos of their big houses, exotic trips, private jets (ok, that’s mostly just Frank Kern (and it’s so totally him, I can handle it)), and of course, the obligatory convertible shot – not that there’s anything wrong with that – I have a Jeep and I’ve taken my own top-off shots to share. 😉

But this thread was more about using these lifestyle photos in ads, mostly all of them with the promise of a 6-figure+ income.

(I still don’t get the ad that shows a pair of red high heel promising coaches how to get more clients – what do those spiked heels have to do with growing your business?)

I’ve been in this business for 15+ years, and I’ve watched the market become saturated with every form of business coach imaginable (general, sales, marketing, social media, etc.).

Basically it’s coaches coaching coaches on how to make money coaching.

Being around the block for awhile, I’ve sensed and seen the bubbles bursting (remember those $100k programs?) and this one is most definitely brimming.

It’s already happening – coaches who are closing up shop, moving from entrepreneur to employee again, deciding it’s time to do something else.

And that’s ok…

But if you’re a business coach who’s actually good at what you do, then the ‘everyone’s a (business) coach’ conundrum can hurt you.

So how do we stand out and thrive and not be part of the bubble when it bursts?

Show your credentials

I don’t necessarily believe that you have to have an MBA to be a business coach, but if you do – tell people.

If you have a successful background in business BEFORE you became a coach – tell people.

If you’ve logged time doing what you do successfully for yourself and your clients – tell people.

I earned my MBA in Leadership. I’ve been in business for myself in one form or another since 2001 (really, since I was 12). I was on the Board of Directors for a university for several years, helping to grow its strategic marketing and financial standing. I was a senior level public relations and marketing director. I’ve been in sales. I have credentials in the field of business law. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients who’ve successfully built businesses of their own – both on and offline – for over 15 years.

I’m going to continue to be successful because I actually know what I’m doing. There, I said it. And you should say it too.

Do things differently

I absolutely believe in following a proven system or process to get started in business. There simply are foundational pieces that must be in place and critical operations that must occur as the business grows. That’s true for ALL businesses.

And then there’s the point of customizing for growth. That’s when your coaching needs to be customized for your clients.

And if you do that, make sure you let people know.

Not just in terms of helping your client to create something that’s truly in alignment with who they are and their work and purpose on the planet… but also if you do the running of the business differently too.

Yes, I customized, particularly with my private clients. And I’ve saved my clients thousands of dollars by sharing with them how they can get the same result they’re looking for, for a far lower expense, in regards to their business operations.

And I make it ok for them to do so. I don’t tell them they have to hire this certain person, or invest in this particular service, or buy this piece of software or equipment, or else they aren’t ‘playing big enough’ – ugh.

I run a lean business (<$500/mo) and make very good money on the other side. My clients do too. If you do these things for your clients, make sure you tell people.

Diversify your clientele

When meeting someone outside of business circles and asked what I do, I usually reply, “I’m a business coach” because it just makes small talk easier.

When asked who I work with, though, this is where it gets interesting…

While there was a period of time when many of my clients were business coaches (though they may call themselves something more specific) who were coaching more business coaches who were… you get the idea… over the last several years, my private clientele has become much more diversified.

One client focuses on helping nurses reconnect with the passion they once felt for nursing so they can enjoy being a nurse again.

Another client empowers her clients to follow their soul’s guidance so they can lead an expression-filled life of joy.

Another client is coaching women leaders to be the leaders in their own life.

And another is taking her success with owning and operating two Montessori schools online, through offering a way for families to bring Montessori teaching into the home.

In fact, none of my current clients are coaching coaches on how to make money.

Make sure that your proverbial client eggs aren’t all in one basket either.

Do your due diligence

Just because someone spent $5k on a photo shoot or have fabulous aerial videos shot from a drone doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about when it comes to helping you succeed in your business.

I know more than one business coach who had THE photos done – full glamour shots – that really give off the impression of wealth and success… and yet, I also know they’re drowning in debt and can’t pay their bills.

On the other hand, I know another business coach who invested in the most amazing drone-shot videos for a recent launch of his program. Did his ‘impression’ live up to his promise? Yes, and then some… how do I know? Because I invested in that program and it’s been worth every penny.

So it’s not to say that a coach who’s spent money on professional, polished, branded, even slick marketing isn’t worth your hard-earned cash – just know WHO you’re investing in before you do.

Do your due diligence.

Business coaching is always going to be a viable enterprise, but as the industry evolves, especially in this virtual arena, it’s up to us to have the gumption to stand out, stand up, and show up, if we want to thrive outside the bubble.