"All things are ready, if our mind be so." - William Shakespeare
"Spectacular achievements come from unspectacular preparation." - Roger Staubach
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a financial coach. I honestly feel like given my own past struggles with money and how I overcame them I feel somewhat uniquely qualified to do this kind of work.
BUT, there are some harsh realities about being a financial coach that now one forewarned me of and that nobody seems to be talking about. And whether you’re new to financial coaching or just perusing the interwebs looking for some insights, I want to share 6 truths about financial coaching that will help you set some realistic expectations.
Here are the 6 truths in rapid succession, then we’ll unpack each one individually:
Hey friend, it’s Brad Long here with ZeroDebtCoach where we help 5 and 6 figure corporate burnouts escape their nightmare by teaching them how to effectively: 1) organize and optimize their finances, 2) obliterate debt and 3) accelerate toward financial independence by starting and growing an online business.
If you’re anything like I was when I got into financial coaching, you have this vague notion that people were going to celebrate and flock to you as their “hero”. And I get it. Because you likely understand that 78% of the population lives paycheck to paycheck it should logically follow that people are excited that you’re jumping in to help them.
But unfortunately, it won’t take much time for you to start seeing that the reality is much sloppier and much sadder than maybe what you’ve been lead to believe by the financial coaching industrial complex
So to help you set some realistic expectations, I wanted to uncover 6 realities I don’t really hear other coaches talking about with very much clarity or specificity.
Ultimately, I believe you’re going to have MUCH more success as a coach if you have a much stronger grasp of the actual realities so that you can set some realistic expectations going into it.
What they care about is results, IF they actually care at all (and most people don’t and I’ll get to that in a minute). And just know that, if they can get those results for free, they will do whatever they can to.
The actual number of people who REALLY want help is shockingly small.
But the bright side of that somewhat grim reality is that the people that I’ve ACTUALLY been able to help are the ones that I have the largest sense of pride and the greatest sense of accomplishment with. So, they’re out there, you just have to exercise patience and in finding them.
BUT somewhat counterintuitively, they were also the ones that may have ACTUALLY needed my help the least. They were the ones that were totally surrendered to the process and allowed me to speak into their situations with frankness, encouragement and sometimes even tough love.
You can actually apply Pareto’s Principle or the ol’ 80/20 rule here. You’ll get 80% of your results from 20% of your students.
Most people want to “feel” better about their situations rather than actually “do” something (hard) to improve their situations. This particular reality took me a while to uncover and absorb.
Because I had to get over my own projections. Let me explain.
I remember how desperate I was when I went through my own debt-elimination process, so for a long time I just assumed everyone reaches that point of desperation where they’re willing to “burn the ships” to change their situation.
Well, the sad fact is that most people are not yet at that point. No, I had to jettison my projection of that desperation and willingness to change onto other people.
The sad truth is, not everybody REALLY wants to change. LOTS of people actually only want to “feel better”.
I’ve actually had to start asking new coaching prospects that very question: “do you REALLY want help or are you just looking to FEEL BETTER about your situation?” Some people are actually offended by this question.
And you can probably guess which bucket they fall into. :(
This one is related to the previous one. Most people will waste your time, dancing around the subject, kicking tires, asking questions and not really being interested in the real answers, not interested in rolling up their sleeves with you to do the hard work of reforming their minds, habits and even their personalities, which is what it ACTUALLY takes to win with money.
And honestly, this is precisely why I’ve had to steadily increase the barrier to entry into my 1:1 financial coaching practice. I just got tired of giving 30 minutes of my time to people that would ultimately frustratingly ghost the process.
This one is like Nigel’s comment in the movie Spinal Tap, the “d minor is the saddest of all keys” reality I’ve seen as a financial coach.
The people who need what you do the most, are usually the least willing to engage and or the least willing to pay you what you’re worth to help them climb out of the hole they’re in. The more disorganized, chaotic or out of control someone’s financial life is, the more it requires upwards of a PhD in financial engineering to help them disentangle themselves.
THE MOST complicated students I’ve worked with are the ones who are the brokest, have the most financial obligations and simultaneously have the least amount of resources to deal with them.
These are the ones that are staring down the barrel of a bankruptcy, can’t pay their bills and yet haven’t really seemed to “hit the wall” about the stark reality of their situation. They’re destitute but still not uncomfortable enough to “burn the ships” of their bad behaviors and right their economic ways.
It doesn’t matter how much “pro bono” time you give them or how much “discounted” coaching you offer them, they’re just going to suck the life out of you and still not be willing to change their core beliefs and behaviors. Like I said, this is the “saddest of all keys”, but there’s really not much you can do for them but pray they have the proper awakening.
You have to be okay with people not liking you. “People are NOT going to like you just because you’re you”. That was a word of wisdom from an older attorney buddy of mine back when I was a runner in college at a local law practice.
People are not going to like you. Especially if you push back on any of their silly but closely held money beliefs or publish any kind of polarizing content. AND, especially if they’re a Dave Ramsey (or other financial "guru") acolyte and don’t like dissenting opinions about his material or business practices.
You will have to fire students. It’s just part of the deal. You don’t have to be a jerk about it, but you do have to have boundaries and set reasonable expectations with your students. I’ve fired many students partially out of my own conscience.
The conversation usually goes like this: “Hey Karen, I can continue to coach you and accept your money, but I’m really not seeing that we’re making any progress here.”
This one is particularly important if you’re expecting that you’re going to build a profitable coaching business as a local 1:1 financial coach.
In full transparency and honesty, I just don’t see that it’s possible. If there are other coaches out there that have ACTUALLY had success with this, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
What I’ve found is that the more traditional ways of building a local small business, i.e. local “terrestrial networking events” (like chamber meetings and BNI) and just normal networking with other locally based professionals was just a gargantuan waste of both my time AND my energy.
I found that what we do as financial coaches is SO misunderstood or at least not well understood. AND in my experience, all of the people that regularly encounter people that need what we do who should be sending us leads like: insurance agents, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, divorce attorneys and financial advisors are too busy building their own businesses to even think about us.
I don’t blame them at all. It’s just a reality we can’t really change, so why waste the time trying?
The reality is that you need to start creating content (blog posts, videos, social media) targeted toward your particular ideal student (or avatar) Yes, it is a LONG game, but in my experience it’s how you’re going to find the people that really need and want your help.
I have MUCH more to say about this in terms of building an online business to compliment and ultimately replace your “terrestrial” coaching practice, but I’ll leave that their for now.
So I’m curious, let me know in the comments below which one of these was the most unexpected for you? If you’re a coach, what has YOUR experience been. Let me know in the comments and let’s continue the discussion.
Watch this one next...
As promised, I wanted to offer you a gift for sticking around. Whether you’re just starting out as a financial coach, OR you’re looking to “next level” your coaching process, you can download my FREE “Coaching Call Presentation” guide.
This is the EXACT presentation I use for my initial coaching calls and will give you everything you need to outline your own process, so that you can set proper expectations with your students and conduct yourself with both agility and confidence. And it’s my free gift to you as a “thanks for watching”.
Now, if you’re just starting out and not sure how you’re going to develop your own voice and communicate with your financial coaching “avatar” (i.e. ideal student), I encourage you to head over to www.zerodebtcoach.com and click on the “Free Guides” button. This will take you to my library of free guides and printables that will help you gather some ideas of your own.
Plus, when you download one of the guides, you’ll be added to my email list and you can use that as an opportunity to see how I communicate with my list and start developing some ideas of your own.
As you'll come to know, I'm all about getting you to take action, so I would strongly recommend that you download my free presentation guide so you have a solid plan for your initial coaching calls. Ultimately, the more prepared and confident you are, the more students you'll close for 1:1 coaching.
So I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about this. Leave a comment below telling me… If you're a seasoned coach, do you agree? Am I missing anything? Where am I wrong? Also, let me know what you had for breakfast... :)
Now, if money, debt, financial chaos is something you struggle with and you constantly feel isolated about, I’ve got some great news for you and it’s free.
Our private Facebook group, ZeroDebtTribe. It’s a group of like minded people that are all somewhere along this P2P/debt-elimination/on their way to FI continuum. So click the image above and apply to join us. :)
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All that said, let's keep on building your financial acumen and make this your best year yet!
Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you in the next video post!