There is a concerning trend that many coaches who desire to become a full-time coach struggle to make progress in their careers and coaching business.  In some cases, they give up on their dream and new found profession altogether. Just like any other business, it is not enough just to be a good coach armed with credentials.   Coaches need to move from being good to being good and successful coaches.  

While the success or failure of a business can be influenced by various factors, the biggest challenge coaches need to overcome is themselves.   Coaches need to manage their own inner critics or what is known as negative self talk.  Coaches need to wage the war against these monsters in their mind to win the inner game. 

These are the 7 inner critics why coaches fail.

1.  I can’t stand out. 

Avoid comparing yourself with others and feel that you do not measure up.  Remember that everyone has their own journey and struggles.  Focus on your own progress and growth.  You are feeling doubt and you need to shift yourself to feeling confident. 

Powerful Questions: 

  • What is something I have that others do not have?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What is pain point I am solving to my target market?

How can I turn this into a positive self-talk?   “I am special”

2.  I don’t know how to promote myself.  

While this may sound like a valid reason, it can also be an excuse you are giving yourself.  The truth is, you are promoting yourself everyday whether through social media or talking with others.

If you are feeling helpless, you may need to seek for resources.   Find support and mentoring  from business owners who have walked that journey.   It can be a lonely journey to start your own business.  Surround yourself with positive influences who can uplift you and not people who bring you down. 

Powerful Questions?

  • What do you already know to start promoting yourself?
  • What do you need to do to find out?
  • What support do you need?

Just like the Nike tagline; “Just do it!”

3.  I don’t have time to do marketing.

Marketing skills is the most important aspect to a successful coach business besides mastery coaching skills. Working on your laptop in the comfort of your home will not help you to understand your customers’ needs, building your brand and attracting potential customers.

Powerful Questions?

  • How can I make time?
  • What will happen to my business if I don’t make time?
  • How can I do both (marketing and networking at the same time)?

Since marketing is so crucial to your success, tell yourself “It’s the first thing I will do”.

4.  I don’t dare to ask for business. 

Everyone has fears and it is normal. Some degree of fear is good as it makes you more careful and not to take things or people for granted.  However, if there is too much fear, it will prevent you from stepping out of your comfort zone.   The most effective way about tackling fear is to face up to it.  The more you do this, the sooner you will feel the fear disappear.

Powerful Questions:

  • What is the worst that can happen?
  • What is a good thing about feeling a bit fearful?
  • How is this fear serving me?

How do you turn your fear to courage?  “I just ask!”

5.  I don’t know how to charge. 

Make a list of your strengths, talents, and accomplishments to remind yourself of your capabilities.   If you continue to undermine your abilities, it is likely that you will not be able to service your clients effectively.  A positive coach will transfer positive energy to their clients. 

Powerful Questions:

  • Are you afraid to charge or don’t know how to charge?
  • What do you need to find out?
  • What will happen to your business if you don’t charge?

When this inner critic appear, tell yourself “I know what I am worth!”

6. I can’t face rejection.

This is also an inner voice of fear.  Try to identify its source; was it a childhood experience, a traumatic encounter of something that is still lingering in your memory?  

Rejection and success is part and parcel of managing a business.  Being rejected once does not mean you will be rejected forever. 

Powerful Questions:

  • What is an opportunity I see here?
  • What did I learn from this?
  • What can I tell myself when I face a rejection?

Instead of feeling too sensitive about rejection, tell yourself “I am thick-skinned”.

7.  I’m still waiting for the right time.

This could be another excuse to make you delay. Sometimes, we delay because the goal is too unsurmountable for us.  You need to set realistic expectations and achievable goals for yourself.

Powerful Questions:

  • What will happen if you continue to delay?
  • When will be the right time?
  • What are you waiting for?

Add a “now” to Nike’s tagline and you get:  Just do it now!

Addressing these 7 inner critics is crucial for coaches to thrive and achieve their goals with confidence and self-efficacy.

Dr Michael Heah delivered this talk at the Coach Movers Business Retreat (CMBR) on 15 July 2023 organized by the Malaysian Association of Certified Coaches (MACC).  Over the past decade, the Coach Movers Biz Retreat (CMBR) has emerged as an annual platform for coaches to learn and receive mentorship in the essential business skills relevant in today’s era.

Corporate Coach Academy is the largest generator of ICF Coaches in Malaysia. It has the best leadership coaching programs, providing coaches with the necessary business skills to complement their coaching expertise.  

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