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I have had the extreme privilege of talking to 1000’s of health coaches about their businesses over the last few years.

You all have one thing in common, that is that you want to make positive changes in the world and help the people you work with to live a better life.  The other thing they have in common, many, well – most struggle financially.

It is a constant struggle to get customers and to stay positive and motivated doing so.  Building a business can be a struggle…if you love business it can be fun – if you love coaching only – not so much.

So what stops most coaches?

1.  Many coaches don’t ever make a plan.  They know lots of bits and pieces and they just get started, but they never really put all the pieces together.  You need to spend some time building your business.

You make decisions like:

  • how and where to do business
  • your niche
  • your plan to stand apart from the others
  • what you need to do to build your business and sustain it
  • what you can and can’t do
  • how you are going to reach and engage your clients
  • what your streams of income are
  • how you can add to your community
  • what your client’s experience will be
  • what kind of systems you will put in place

Sign up for Building Abundance, The Business Plan for Health Coaches.  We can help you get the plan set up.  If you need accountability and encouragement to follow through, sign up for Building Abundance Plus for a small group and special coaching/mentoring.

2.  Some coaches don’t feel like they are good enough.  It is a particularly tricky situation for health coaches.  You need to live what you teach.

It doesn’t really matter what it is that you feel you are not good enough for, you could weigh too little, too much, get cold sores, have allergies, cancer, diabetes, thyroid problems, have bad habits like smoking or drinking.  The thing is, regardless or your perceived shortcoming…that is all it is – a perception.

The best way to make sure you are living up to what you consider “practicing what you preach,” is to be very clear on what you see as living a healthy lifestyle and then doing it.

Make a list.  Are you doing those things?  If not, and if you don’t want to do those things, then you need to change your vision and values of what living a healthy lifestyle is.  Either expand it or change it…but one way or another, you need to fit into your concept of healthy living or you will not be able to coach it.

Change what you do or change your perception.

3.  Okay, this is an important one, both for your business and your coaching.  You put yourself first.

Don’t do that!  Once you know your niche…everything you decide for your business should be about your client…not you.

Your client is looking to solve their problems….they are not looking for you.  It is important you are straight forward and honest and that your brand conveys you…but it needs to speak to your client first and if it doesn’t…then you can have the best “you” brand ever and no one is listening.  For health coaches, this is a twice as important.  When you are coaching…it is all about your client.  You are there for them.

As long as what is important to your client comes first in coaching, marketing, branding and speaking…then your business will be speaking the language your client will understand – before, during and after the appointment.


4.  You must be consistent.  I you want to see constant growth in any business, you must consistently implement your business plan.  Advertise…consistently.  Blog….consistently.  Email your newsletter….consistently.  Consistence grows trust and your list.  The thing I notice in a group of health coaches …or an other business people, is that the people who are consistent… are the people who flourish.  The people who stop when things slow down and start following another shiny object…do not.

It is hard to be consistent sometimes.  When you first start out, it is even harder because there are a lot of times that the efforts seem futile.  You need to keep at it.

Well, this is my list and I hope that you will take it to heart, because if you make sure you do what is needed, you will succeed.  Ours is an industry where there is an endless supply of customers in need and you are the person to help them.

I asked some health coaches why they thought health coaches fail, they had some great responses:

– Organizing your time effectively on the computer, clients, family, friends and healthy living.

– Don’t have a target group & if they don’t market to them effectively

– Lack of a clear plan and the ability to work the plan with patience and persistence.

– Fear of being visible and really being seen by others. Difficulty finding the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. Not having courage and/or support.

– Putting my reply in a positive perspective. Successful health coaches have a system and understand leverage. And they have more than one but synergistic ways to earn a viable income. Earning a viable income allows one to feel successful and then be able to attract more clients and more income.

– Frustration learning new things and lack of follow through

– Not living their brand or not having a brand/focus. Living their brand would fulfill most of heir advertising needs. Follow up once you get a lead is important too.

– Lack of self confidence, marketing, not having business mind, and good organization!

– Fear of financial stability starting out.

– People who own McDonald’s don’t love hamburgers they love business.

If you want to be a health coach and work for yourself you have to know and love business not just coaching.

– Fear of trying something new like learning how to write a blog, trying a webinar, hosting a online workshop etc…

– lack of money to hire business, marketing etc help
fear of failure or success
not putting themselves out there
Not having a good social network: living remote or working online without knowing about the online world

I think the biggest is the lack of marketing knowledge

– Dave Ramsey says that most small businesses fail due to poor advertising and not paying taxes correctly.

– Lack of clarity as to where they want to go with their coaching

– Way more business work involved vs actual coaching

– Fear of failure or success

Normally I like to take a more positive approach to things.  I think though that this is important enough that we need to be frank.  It is not enough to tell you what you should do…it is important that you are aware of the things you don’t do that might be keeping you from succeeding.

What can you add to this list?  Have you run into problems with any of these and how do you work around it?  This will help others who are reading.







  1. Karen Sasine

    Well done! This is an excellent article that will help many health coaches gain clarity on what their focus should be.

  2. Sam

    What a helpful article – for any type of coach!!
    Not feeling like ‘enough’ and letting that go to be able to deliver our special skills is a great one!

  3. Susie

    There is so much great insight in this post. The knowledge you have gained and share from the 1000+ coaches you have talked to is invaluable! Thank you

  4. Sue Ann Gleason

    Interesting article, Cathy, thank you. Marketing a health coaching practice successfully has many layers and can be very challenging considering the number of coaches out there. I have a high regard for those who stay in the ring. I believe successful coaches share some common traits: a genuine calling, a profound capacity to “see” their clients and serve them deeply, and a willingness to step outside the box. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

  5. Lois Olson

    Cathy, thanks for sharing this.

    I love what you said here: “Consistence grows trust and your list. The thing I notice in a group of health coaches …or an other business people, is that the people who are consistent… are the people who flourish. The people who stop when things slow down and start following another shiny object…do not.”

    It’s such a good reminder to me to be consistent and trust the system; that it will work if I’m faithful in the consistency. I’m great at starting things so passionately but often run out of steam and struggle with consistency when I mostly hear crickets chirping in response. It can get discouraging at times.

    But today, I’m reminded that I can put systems in place that will help me to be consistent to simplify everything so that I don’t need to expend so much energy striving for business success.

    • Cathy

      Lois, you are so right. Consistency is the key. Sometimes, it isn’t so easy.

  6. Lorna

    I so agree with the consistency thing. I started blogging a year ago. My list is very small by industry standards. But I recently did a push for my three month program to my list and got three new clients. This was simply by showing up in their inbox every week. I gained the trust needed for them to have a call with me and then sign up to work with me. Without gritting my teeth and dealing with low email sign ups, crickets to some of my posts and sometimes a low open percentage–I wouldn’t have my new clients. Consistency is SO important. Great post Cathy.

  7. SHelley ugyan

    Thanks Cathy- I think this is a super important blog for every health coach to read ! I have to admit, I learned the hard way about consistency and I know how essential it is now. When I was just starting out I had someone comment on ” where i had gone” at one point…and I was surprised anyone noticed! We must continue even if we “feel” we are not making ground. Thanks for the great reminders here!

  8. Kat

    So much great insight in this article! I can relate to many of these. The biggest issue though is I need money to make money but the need to let go to make money to make money. Kind of a catch22.

  9. farah

    Yes! I hear you! Particularly how you say “Your client is looking to solve their problems….they are not looking for you” Yes, you have to love business and all the skills count for little unless you are putting youself out there and actually do what you say you want to do – help! And having a system. Lots of helpful stuff in this article Cathy!

  10. Thom

    Awesome, going to share in my IIN group

  11. Michelle

    Most businesses fail from not paying taxes correctly! Yikes! That is a SCARY and eye-opening statistic!

    You always give such great business advice, Cathy. I learn so much here each week. Thank you!

  12. Sharon

    This is helpful – as a health coach intent on building a business – I am pulled in many directions. I am unsure of how to prioritize, where to invest the money first, and what to anticipate as I grow. The list at the top of the post is so very useful.

    • Cathy

      Sharon, build your list and work on your business while your list is building.

  13. Dana

    Consistency! Yes, crucial for all of us Cathy. Great post with so many useful nuggets!

  14. Elizabeth MacLeod

    A wealth of information…. and wisdom Cathy. I agree…that you have to love business as much as your profession if you are doing it yourself, otherwise You are hooped!!!! You always give such wonderful advise… and that bit about most businesses fail because they didn’t pay their taxes correctly…. holy. Didn’t know that. Wouldn’t have even thought it! You are a wealth of knowledge. .. yup… that is for sure. thank you!

  15. Cynthia Djengue

    Great points! Not everyone who signs up for Health Coaching has the same intention or outcome, from what I’ve noticed. And, that’s okay. Many of us are doing several types of holistic practice that falls under the holistic coach umbrella.

    Also, as far as marketing, people don’t like to read emails any more, building a list has been the trend, but we will soon see this change. Thanks again!

    • Cathy

      Oh Cynthia, the list is what builds your business. If you don’t have a list, you have no one to sell to. It isn’t a trend, it is a proven fact in Internet sales. You MUST have a list to survive online.
      See – Marie Forleo, Derek Halpern, Anthony Robbins, Jeff Walker, Eben Pagen, Seth Godin
      Building a tribe is the most important thing you can do starting out and I hate to see you make the mistake of skipping this important step.
      Tests show that e-mail get’s stronger response than any social media platform. Here is an article you may find helpful. http://socialtriggers.com/build-an-email-list/

      http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230949 – EMAIL is 40x’s more effective than Facebook and Twitter. You need to join in our Mentoring Monday calls…we are working on building lists.

  16. Hayley Hobson

    Consistency and confidence. Good points. We all have the education and knowledge. So why not treat it like a business and put it into action?

  17. emily

    I swear I think I have been in all of those places. I have learned the hard way what it takes to be successful

  18. april

    what an abundant list of practical ideas to take a coaching idea to the next level – transforming it into a fulfilling and thriving practice. thank you, cathy, for sharing your knowledge (and the knowledge of others).


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