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Five mistakes that online coaches make and how to resolve them

As online coaches ourselves, we are obviously very in favour of building an online fitness business, but there are certain mistakes people make online that will pretty much guarantee failure, and we’re going to share these with you below. If you are guilty of doing these five things, though, don’t worry – they are all totally reversible, and if you sort them out you could be very successful.

Mistake #1: Being boring

In the world of the internet, if you’re boring you are beyond redemption. The mistake a lot of people make is thinking that if they tread carefully, don’t offend anyone and get everyone on-side, then everyone will like you and buy your stuff. The problem here is that you can water down your content to a point where you’ve lost any semblance of personality, and this means that nobody can resonate with you.

There’s this whole world of personal trainers on Instagram who all post the same stuff, and they’re all following each other. This makes them think that the online fitness industry is crowded, because all they see on Instagram is other personal trainers. But actually, you just have this group of about five thousand people who just post to each other all day. They’ll see people with ten thousand followers and think that they must be really popular, even though half of these are probably the same five thousand people all the other personal trainers follow.

A photo of a person filming for Instagram
Photo by Ivan Samkov

This is what leads to people imitating the same thing that thousands of others are doing because they think it’s what others want to see. But in reality, people are sick of seeing the same thing, so don’t fall into the trap of regurgitating the same message as everyone else. To stand out, try something new and different. And say what you think.

Mistake #2: Not getting results

The second mistake people making is starting an online coaching business without being able to get a result for their client. It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking about the online marketing – optimising your sales page, and your webinar, and your funnel – and to forget that you’ve got a client in front of you who just needs you to get them from A to B. The most important thing is getting results for your client, because that’s what’s going to speak about your business long-term.

If I had to choose between hiring two coaches, and one of them was only worried about collecting letters after his name, and the other one didn’t have any qualifications but was obsessed with the subject matter of getting me the result I was after, of course I’d choose the latter.

Another common thing we see is people going after a specific niche because they think that it’s where the money is, but they forget that you have to be seen as an authority in the niche that you’re serving. The easiest way to do that is think about the challenges and struggles you faced a few years ago, and how you’d serve someone in the same position that you were in.

Don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way by comparing yourself to other personal trainers who are already very successful, because your own experience might make you a better coach for someone who’s just starting out.

Mistake #3: Starting with low funds

The third mistake people make is starting out with low funds.

Don’t start online coaching if you have less than a thousand pounds to your name.

A photo of money and a calculator
Photo by Olia Danilevich

If you’re going to do this properly, you will need to pay for software and ads, and you’ll have running expenses. If you’re trying to do that on your last thousand pounds, you are going to make some wacky decisions. We’ve seen people quit their jobs prematurely, giving themselves no leeway at all, and suddenly they’re making some pretty bizarre business decisions because they’re just worried about getting paid and being able to cover their costs. They get so focused on trying to make the sale that they lose sight of the bigger picture of serving their clients. In the long-term, this means that they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

Speaking of which, that leads us on to Mistake #4…

Mistake #4: Aiming for instant results

Mistake number four is: Don’t start online coaching if you want instant results.

Think back to your own fitness journey. If you’d seen someone promising six pack abs, or fifty pounds of muscle gain, in a month, you’d be suspicious because you know that this sort of thing requires consistent, hard work. It’s exactly the same when it comes to your business. Don’t fall in for the hype of the six-figure business coaches that will claim £20k in the first month. There might be the odd person who manages to do this, but they’re the exception, not the rule. And they’re probably doing it because they’re already capitalising on a big following.

Mistake #5: Having no computer knowledge

A photo of a laptop

Finally, mistake number five is to start an online coaching business when you can barely use a computer. We hear so many people telling us, “I’m terrible with technology.” That’s not an inborn trait. Nobody was born being bad with technology, so it’s a fixed mindset excuse that people use to avoid doing hard stuff. Realistically, if you’re looking to get the benefits of an online business – the profits, the scalability, the location, the freedom – then you need to become conversant in the language of online business.

Figure out what are the key busines actions that you need to prioritise for your day-to-day work, and the software skills you’ll need for these. And if it’s something that’s really insurmountable, outsource it, hire someone to do it for you.

What to do next

If you think you’re bad with technology, we have a podcast episode (episode #124)  which is a full, practical guide on how to address this and you can subscribe to the podcast here.

We also have a full, free video guide on how we set up, built and scaled our own fitness company. You can find this here.

You can also access our how-to guides here, which cover topics such as software and tech, coaching clients and closing sales.