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The Inner Circle Story

Sit Down and Take Your Shoes Off


The weekend before my session started I attended the New York IIN conference with my friend Susan.  That was where I figured out what I wanted to do with my education.


The auditorium was full of so much excitement; it was like being plugged in and electricity went from one person to the other, filled the air and created a very exciting atmosphere.


The speakers were great.  Deepak Chopra, Mark Hyman, Jim Fuhrman….  it was crazy the people who taught us.


After the first day, Susan and I were walking back to our hotel from the conference, and I told her I knew what I was going to do.  I was going to help health coaches to change the world.  I may not make the best coach, but I know the business, am a marketing wiz and believe firmly in filling needs not selling….and I was going to help people who were meant to be health coaches to change the world.


I laugh when I think now…Susan asked, “do you have enough money to do this?”  –  I didn’t need money to do business….I was going to make money.  My last company cost me one mailing, and I was off and running.  I kept pinching myself to be sure it was true…and it was like a snowball. It grew, and it grew until it got bigger than I liked and then scaled back and kept it steady.


The business of health coaching is different.  We are selling health and wellness.  Most people have to be utterly desperate to spend money on health and wellness.  They already have insurance payments and doctor bills.  We have to show them value.


I went home on Sunday and by Monday night (my first day of school at IIN), I had a business plan.  It was a cute little PowerPoint, and it had everything I needed to get started.  It also had a projection of $568,000.00 my first year in income.    I thought, now, I have a plan, finish school and by graduation time, I will be ready to start my business.  At the time, our classes were delivered to us (mine in July) on an IPOD.  I was already finished with all the lessons before school started.  I was an eager health enthusiast.


I should also say that I was running a full-time (busy) business at the same time.  To get through IIN, I  joined the Facebook groups – read the written material.  Re-listened to the modules and the speakers that I liked best and took the tests.

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Quiet Preparation

My health coach was very supportive of my ideas.  At that time we had our assigned health coaches.  She asked me the same question as Susan…did I have the financial ability to get this going?  Of course, I did.  I just needed the first mailing, and then I would just have to work hard.

All this time I was creating content.  The 750 word a day challenge helped me to stay accountable.  Blogs, plans…750 words a day starts to build up.   I wasn’t sure what would be done with it all; there wasn’t a purpose for the content except that I knew that eventually it would be needed. Between school, my business and the direction I was taking toward this new business that I loved.  I was happy, euphoric….and really, really busy.  My family were and are very understanding.

Dad and Sharing the Health

March was the Long Beach conference.   David Wolfe “performed” at that conference.  My journey to health included a period with a raw lifestyle (I now eat about 50-75% raw)  I had taken David’s Raw Nutrition Certification before I started IIN.  Of course, there were many other good speakers there too, but I was most excited to see him in real life.  The Primal Man, Mark Sisson was there, he looked very healthy.   I am getting my nutrition experts mixed up with my architects…Michael Pollan (not Pullen) was there too.  He is very smart.  There is always a lot of theory contrast at the IIN conferences.  It is very thought provoking.


Flying home on Sunday night, I got stuck in Denver and got a call before I made it out of the hotel that my dad had a stroke.  He passed away before I could get there.  It was awful, I found out about it by email on the airplane – a relative sent out a mass email to everyone, and I read it in the caption before I even opened the email.  ( I say that…I am not so sure that finding out that way is any worse than being told).  The poor flight attendants didn’t know what to do with me.


I forgot my IIN IPOD in the plane…(sorry Joshua) – I was lucky the information was online.  I got through the rest of the course with that.


That was the first weekend in March, and I was enveloped in eternal life kind of things that whole month and maybe a little longer. It was still six months away from graduation and the official start of THCG ….OR at least that is what I thought.  After a month of being enveloped in everything that comes with a parent’s passing, I think I had different priorities.  Everything in my old business seemed kind of trivial at the time.  I knew that I never wanted to be forced to work by someone who wanted their drapery in and didn’t care about what was going on in my personal life.


I have to tell you before March…I had business cards, a brochure, my business plan, a website…….I was in no hurry – according to the plan, the business starts on September 1.  It is funny as I tell you this story, I keep saying the business won’t start until September…but I kept dabbling, and my dabbling can be pretty intense.


There was a plan for a fundraiser.  It was an e-book “Sharing the Health” that I was going to create and sell and give all the money to JDRF.  It was a collaboration of recipes and health tips from health coaches.   It was pretty smart.  Collaborators were also partners in the promotion.  Some of my raw food mentors, coaches from my class at IIN and B-School and some popular IIN graduates all contributed.  A friend of mine helped me out, and I was subcontracting informal VA’s to help me get it done.  I did the design, and they filled in the shell.  None of us were editors, so it went through “editing” a lot.  It was a good effort and taught me so much.  Collaboration – its strengths and drawbacks, marketing online, Facebook marketing, e-commerce and more.  In retrospect, it was the perfect way for me to “intern”.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a big money maker so the fact that I was doing it for JDRF, gave me a higher purpose and the amount of work and expense was not as important as the contribution.  I was starting to learn what Susan and my health coach were talking about having enough money.  We are still selling the book and contribute 100% the money annually to JDRF.


My husband kept walking into my office and saying “I sure wish you were getting paid for all this work.”

Cathy Sykora

Cathy Sykora

Founder, The Health Coach Group

Cathy helps health coaches build and maintain successful businesses that improve the lives of others.


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Newspaper Advertising and LOTS of Health Coaches

Every year my other business participates in an advertising auction with the Omaha World-Herald.  I can end up with $15k worth or newspaper advertising credit.  It is always a win/win for my business.

This year they were going to allow me to spend my advertising credit on any business I wanted…so I split it between the companies and used part for The Health Coach Group.  My first call from my advertising was a doctor who practices integrative medicine.  Most of my calls were from middle-aged women who said you are what I have been waiting for – I need you.  I was used to marketing to this niche – my advertising naturally spoke to them.

This was it…we got off to an early start.  My snowball was rolling.  First I called the attorney to form the corporation and then I started interviewing and subcontracting health coaches.

The response was unbelievable.  I put up a post for coaches, and I think we had close to 600 emails. This was the confirmation that I was where I was needed.  I got my friend Patty to help me interview health coaches.  There were so many coaches who wanted work.  We were just getting started and just interviewing and keeping track was a huge job.  I asked a woman from church to maintain the health coach records.  There were too many health coaches to be able to help them this way.  I hired a super duper salesperson from church to sell.  We had this powerpoint for corporations and physicians that said…

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Well, that is what it came down to. I could grow the business but not fast enough for all the coaches who wanted to work.  So I listened to our quote.  It was at this time that I started planning to create businesses for health coaches – or teach them to create their own.

So, Now I’m Getting To It

Years ago I took this test that Anthony Robbins gave (I shouldn’t be admitting to this),  his little machine told me that I was much TOO interested in beauty and appearance of everything and it wasn’t a good thing.  It is true.  I think everything should be beautiful.  Debbie Ford saves me on this one; it is okay to take my biggest fault and turn it into my biggest asset – I have been “friends with my shadow” for a while.

You can imagine how I felt every time I put together a packet of copy paper with black typing on it to give to health coaches for their clients.  Yuck.  I had already created the 12 Day Detox for our clients and at the time we had the 28 Day Jumpstart (now Slim, Sexy and Smart)…they were pretty because I made them pretty.  So, I made the “handouts” into a 6 Month Coaching Program that was beautiful and each session was a different color for wayfinding.  I used it for our coaches…and some other coaches (who weren’t part of The Health Coach Group) saw it and wanted to buy it.  I got permission – shared a copyright and sold it.  I didn’t have to sell it for very much, and I found that this program alone was helping health coaches to feel confident in working with clients.  I am telling you, pretty things are not only nice to look at, but they also made the coach look professional.

Everyone Wanted

More and More and More and More

The first thing (besides supplementary modules) that I created was the Business Plans for Health Coaches.

This business program has been expanded and restructured to be “Building Abundance, The Business Plan for Health Coaches” – it is a business training and planning program created exclusively for health coaches that are unequaled in this industry.  We have had 1,000’s of health coaches through the program with excellent results and excellent feedback.  This is the “missing link” for most health coaches.  The program that draws a straight line from beginning to end.  It eliminates the confusion that comes with many programs that throw a pile of unrelated processes at you.  It is set up to let the health coach discover their answers and create the business around their needs and their niche – while keeping them on the right track toward a successful business.  I have had people (many) tell me that this did more in the first week than their entire University based MBA.  It is unlike any other business course available and helps you to put everything in its place.


It is funny – I had those other two programs to sell to the public and health coaches kept asking me to create a detox and they mainly wanted my 28 Day Jumpstart.  They would sneak in and buy it (like they were one of the coaching customers) and I would know and refund them the money.  We charged much more to coaching clients because they were paying for time too.  So, I rebranded both of those programs and put them into The Inner Circle (they got these for free).  We sold some separately, but because of the pricing of The Inner Circle, it just didn’t make much sense for them not to join.


We created all kinds of things for coaches…my IT person put together our WordPress, Woo Commerce, and Affiliate Program and when she did, I had her do a video to tutor our coaches to do the same thing for themselves.  If you are an Inner Circle Member, you will know I left a lot out.  We learned a lot of different ways to create clients for customers with our programs.  The Healthy Holidays Program that fed new clients into January weight loss programs.  Workshops and webinars and optins – these all BUILD a coaches list and begin to fill their calendars.


We grew awfully fast after that.  You can see how things have changed and everything that we did in that first year and even more in the second.  The Inner Circle Members receive unbelievable value.


Since the beginning, my dream has been to be to be able to save health coaches the trouble of setting up a business and give them a plan for business success.  We have been building toward this since the beginning.  We are one even closer with business coaching being added as an option.

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