Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

My First Six Months in Business with Sarah Rusbatch


Sarah Rusbatch is a qualified Health and Wellness Coach who trained with Wellness Coaching Australia through 2020. Sarah finished her course with the Passion to Profit business program. This article is about Sarah’s first six months in business and how she has built a global following and a viable business as a Health and Wellness Coach.

This article is an excerpt from two podcast interviews: one about why she was starting this business (Oct ’20), and one about how her business is going gangbusters! (Feb ‘21). 
It has been edited for length and clarity.

A Career Change
Before training as a Health and Wellness Coach, Sarah Rusbatch had worked for over 20 years working as a Recruitment Advisor, Executive Legal Recruiter and Career Coach at a global level.

But Sarah also had a growing concern about her alcohol intake and she had the personal experience of seeking help and taking steps to develop a better relationship with alcohol and ultimately, herself. With the right support over an 18-month period, Sarah stopped drinking altogether and as a result, found more meaning and purpose in life and a great sense of enrichment.

Training as a Health and Wellness Coach with Wellness Coaching Australia was a natural progression that helped her to turn her own experience with alcohol into a purposeful business so that she could help others do the same.

Here’s how the fist six months in business have panned out, after graduating with a Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching in December 2020.
 
Getting Started and Choosing a Niche
MW: Was there anything else that was difficult or that you were afraid of in the beginning? And how did you overcome that?

SR: I didn't have an understanding how to launch a coaching business. How was I going to work out what to charge? How was I going to build a program? How was I going to structure it? Because it's all very well having the qualification. But then what do you do after that? 

What Passion to Profit did really well was just gently guiding me step-by-step through what's needed, finishing with everything you need to know from a systems perspective; also just really practical things like sending out coaching agreements and all of the legalities, plus who is the niche, where are you going to market to your niche, and how are you going to build your program? I was really scared of all that just because I didn't know it but by the end of the program I felt really confident. 

MW: What helped you get ready to build your business and launch? 

SR: It was choosing a niche, and part of that was knowing that it's natural to be scared to niche down but that that's the only way to get success.  

I'm forever grateful for what the course has taught me in terms of just being able to back myself and know that what I was doing was the right thing to do. Because when you've got the qualification, there are so many avenues that you can go down and as a new coach you don't feel like you want to say “no” to anyone. 

I felt like I wanted to set up a business that could cater for every single person that came across to me so that I was never turning anyone down, but of course when you go through Passion to Profit you realize - how are you going to market to anybody if you look like you're covering every single thing?

What you helped me to do was really get to know who the ideal client was. I wanted to work with what their challenges were, what they were looking for and how I could help them.

Working with a niche just brings me so much more joy, because I feel like I'm an expert in my area. What I realize now is that without a clear niche, I could never have been an expert in terms of really understanding my area and be able to offer a great service in that area.

MW: That's a good point. So, by being general you don't get the chance to become a specialist and it affects your confidence in being able to being able to put yourself out there and see how you can tangibly help people. 

SR: Yeah, I found when I've been dealing with the same issues within my niche, I've learned so much from that and that's what made me a better coach in a very short space of time. I have been able to take that forward with the next clients that I work with. 

Creating Energy and Momentum in The First Three Months
MW: Okay, and so when you did finish and you graduated you got your Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching including Passion to Profit, was there any challenge that you had then or was it easy for you to go out and get into the market?

SR: I knew exactly what I was doing by that point. I was really clear, and I just ran a challenge, and I sold my program off the back of the challenge and filled all my spots.

MW: You make it sound so easy. “I just did a challenge and launched a program off the back sold all of my spots!” 
Let’s backtrack a little. Walk us through it.

You started by creating a free Facebook group in around October 2020, and quickly grew it with a sobriety challenge in January 2021, where you went all out and showed up daily to support your audience. 
What was the experience like?

SR: It was exciting, a little bit overwhelming and I felt a little bit lost at first. But I know the direction to go now because there are so many opportunities coming up, and I feel very proud and very excited with how well it's going in such a short space of time. 

I guess it's useful here to explain that I'm working in is women who want to stop drinking and discover more about themselves and find more fulfillment and purpose and passion in their lives, and I realized that I was starting the challenge at a good time of year because it was January. 

Everyone had just had a very boozy Christmas, feeling a bit rubbish, the start of the new year setting intentions, so I ran a challenge, and I knew that I was going to do this. 

At first, I thought I was going to do a five-day challenge, but then I thought, “well most people do dry January. I'm going to run a 21-day challenge in January to support people who want to take a break from alcohol.” 

I was overwhelmed with the number of women that joined that challenge, which boosted my confidence in knowing that I had so much to offer.

Every day I did a live video. Now, I would not recommend this because this is 21 days at 5pm Perth time every day. 

The intention was every day for five minutes most days. But it ended up being about 40 minutes each day! 

Even so, that made me realize how much I had to say on the matter and how much people were really enjoying and learning about the support and the tips and in the market, not many people were out there talking about these things. 

MW: How did you map out your strategy to really launch and grow so quickly? 

SR: I developed a clear strategy of how to sell my product to the audience, which evolved while I ran my pilot program as part of Passion to Profit.

I think you know from my last session in P2P that my program was not how I thought it was going to be. It was definitely a journey of me learning who I wanted to work with and really getting to identify what their pain point was and what their issue was, that I would be able to support them with. 

So my strategy was to build the group, run a free challenge that was important to a lot of people at the time, and then I built a waitlist during that time for my program. 

That is, I started talking about my program while I was doing the challenge. I said, “I have an exciting program coming soon and it would be a natural step on from taking the alcohol free challenge.” 

People joined the waitlist and I sold all my waitlist spots in two days - amazing! - and then I opened it up to people that were not on the waitlist. Then I think was about a week before closing that I sold all of the spots that I wanted to sell.

(Note: Sarah’s first offer was three groups programs with six spots in each (18 clients), plus four individual programs.)

MW: I'm hearing that you started with a free thing that people could join - your challenge - and you were very present and engaged. 

SR: I had a lot to say every day not just doing a static post using a posting service. When you run a Facebook group, you are actually in the group interacting with them and spending a lot of time. That’s important to know.

MW: It sounds like it was worth the investment because then you also had this the enticement of a call to action, which was your waitlist for something coming soon, which created some intrigue and that got them interested and excited about being part of that next thing to continue past the 21 days. 

SR: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, and that just seemed to just work really well.

Lessons Learned
MW: Sarah, did anything come up in the challenge that you think would be generally relevant for other niches? Like what were some of the issues that might have been raised in the group?

SR: Well, the one thing I learned is that I gave far too much away for free, and I gave far too much. I think there's a fine line between how much information you're prepared to share and it's not even about it being free, but it's about you know, as I said 40 minutes a day for 21 days. That's an awful lot of information that I was giving away. And if I was doing it again, perhaps I wouldn't do it quite that way because not only is it exhausting but there's too much information. I could have kept some back a little bit. 

But overall, the most amazing thing is that we're seeing the connections that the people in the challenge had with each other and were creating that real sense of community. 

So many of them have continued to stay off alcohol since then and most of them tell me that that group on Facebook is their favourite group ever and that they absolutely love it because they're all forming connections with each other. It's not just about me and so I'm creating an actual community which is great. 

MW: Yes! I mean you have lived experience and are very credible you're showing up and creating those connections. The timing of you is perfect. And also, at the bigger picture level there is a bit of a movement toward being sober curious, right? It's the start of a new thing. And so, there's you've got lots of ways of getting traction. Plus. It seems you're very good at networking too and you have extended networks around the place.

SR: Yeah, so I had the foresight before I even ran the challenge. I knew that I would use the Facebook Community to create a group because I knew that in this sobriety world that that really works well, and it gives people a lot of support so I had to set that up about four months before. I didn't realize how useful that was going to end up being because not only to the ladies in the group but to me as well because and they knew me already, but even to get them to do the challenge they had come across to me and they knew me, and I dumped some live videos and I shared my story. 

SR: So I think and because I decided that was going to be my way of marketing. I've done that ahead of time which definitely accelerated how quickly I was able to get success one side qualified and was ready to launch. 

Becoming Visible, Engaging and Attractive
MW: I was going to ask you about three or four things that you did to become very visible and engaging and attractive? 

SR: One of them would be starting that group earlier on and getting it all set up and starting to build those slow burn connections over time as we discussed in Passion to Profit - when you're creating a Facebook group or don't sell for the first six months just build the community and just build and get them to know you and each other, and that's what I did 
I've been very blessed that I've had the group has grown very quickly. There's 1700 women in it now (note: at publication date this is over 3000) all around the world. 

I have had no issues. There has not been a single problem. You know, women can sometimes pull other women down and I had just haven't had that at all. They have been the most supportive and amazing group of women. 

I do still monitor it and I do still have to get approval from me before posts will go live in the group. I don't feel quite ready to let it go free for all yet. But it 's definitely been a massive help for me having that group. 

MW: What are some other things that you've done to become visible?

SR: I sent an email to every radio station in Perth and told them what I was doing and so far. I've been on ABC Perth, I've been on 6PR, I'm going to be on 98.5 tomorrow and I also looked for all the health and sobriety podcasts out there and I just sent an email to all of them with my story and what I'm doing and starting to get some bookings.

It was literally just literally just writing emails to all the places that I could think of that might be interested to talk to me, right? 

MW: So obviously one of your marketing strategies is public speaking and that's whether it be in a Facebook group or on a guest podcast or a radio or a webinar. That's your jam. It's playing to your strengths and you enjoy that.

SR: Exactly yeah. 

MW: What about writing Sarah, is that something you enjoy?

SR: Absolutely, and I would love - my dream one day - is to write a book, but it's just finding the time. I've started a weekly Newsletter now for the ladies - some are in my group and some are not so the other people that have found out about it being through Instagram. So I have a page on there and then eventually I might start writing a Blog because I have lots of ideas but finding the time.

MW: And I guess you get to become known initially by getting on the radio and guest podcasting and being visible on Facebook – these things have been a foundation for you and Instagram as well. And then it may be that in future, you'll be doing less of that publicity stuff as you get better known and settle into some writing and blogging.

SR: Exactly exactly. 

Managing Time and Energy
MW: How are you managing your time and your energy and your clients with this big explosion in popularity?

SR: I am using a planner and I plan the night before I tried. This trick was just planning what I'm doing the next day because it's very easy to get distracted. If you even so much as look at Facebook, that's a half an hour gone so I'm very strict with when I let myself do that now so that I can get focused on what I need to do. I'm very strict with turning my phone off at night and being with the family.

I had to set boundaries because my kids are still young and they see me on my phone all the time because I'm always on Facebook and Instagram doing posts and responding and I've had to realize that I can't be like that in front of them. 

I've got a learning curve and I've got to create my bond with my daughter who said to me the other day, “mum why are you on your phone all the time?” 

That was a bit of a wake-up call because what I tried to explain to her I am actually working. It's the same mum who used to be in the office doing her work. My husband and I had a chat about it so now I do phone stuff in the office so that the kids don't get confused. It's just finding my boundaries and what works for our family and still keeping the momentum going to the business.

MW: Credit to you that you've got that awareness right at the beginning. 

SR: It's the context so taking your phone into the office and treating it formally like work really does make it work and probably makes it easier for you to not waste time on Facebook and not go down the rabbit hole. 

MW: Exactly. So you're a coach who's leading by example setting boundaries managing your environment.

SR: Yeah, being aware of the family. And I'm trying to just recognize when I'm getting full up and what I'm getting overwhelmed and when I need to take a break because that's everything. I talked to my ladies about that, and I've got to make sure that I'm doing that as well. 

It is recognizing when I need to go for a walk, when I need to go and take 10 minutes to read a book or have a bath or whatever it is. I'm making sure that I live by that example. 

MW: Fantastic Sarah. Have you got any last words of advice (which is very non coaching)? But any recommendations are opinions or even just advice for people who are scared of starting their coaching business and want to create the success that you've created so far.

SR: For me, it was a couple of things. It was developing my niche and knowing getting really clear on who that person was. So really, you know, we talked about the Avatar of who was that person and it was me five years ago and so in some ways it was easy for me because I spoke to me so loudly I was so grateful to you for encouraging me to run the pilot group. 

That was amazing, absolute gold because everything I've done with this program is based on doing the pilot group as part of, and in doing, Passion to Profit. 

I wouldn't have been able to go into selling this program confidently if I hadn't done that before so I would say to anybody out there if you're thinking about doing a good coaching pilot group is absolutely brilliant. 

Also, you have to go with what feels right to you because it does become all-consuming and it's exciting and so you have to be really passionate about where you want to help people.

For me, that's why I knew there were a couple of ideas that I was having but I was thinking “how does that make me feel if I'm working with people in that area all day, every day?” 

It was asking myself those questions around what lights me up and what makes me feel invigorated and where I want to spend my time that really helped me home in on that niche. 

I think that's so important because you are the business and then if you want to be doing this in 10 years time or even if you want to sell it even if you want to run a great business you have to love it. 

MW: I always think of Mick Jagger. After all these years he's still singing the same songs. He has to love those songs otherwise, he couldn't get out of bed and be a superstar every day. Imagine if he'd had enough of singing Satisfaction! 

Stretch Goals in Business



Goals are the challenging targets we set for ourselves and strive towards. They are the things we wish to achieve.
What fascinates me is the way we respond to the goals we set. 

Too easy and we get bored. Too hard and we give up. 

In other words, good goals are a little bit like the three bears and their porridge – not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
To make a distinction, stretch goals are a little bit different in two ways:
1. They are usually harder than normal goals, and
2. They involve novelty (creative thinking, or total overhaul).
Stretch goals are for the brave.
They help you challenge yourself to get better at what you do.
And they are a bit like highly concentrated dishwashing liquid - you only need one or two drops to get amazing results.
Some people call them ‘impossible goals’.
I like to think of them as hard, scary but believable goals.
And in business, just as in life, stretch goals are a wonderful tool to help you move through fear, challenges and self-doubt.

What Is A Stretch Goal?

According to Harvard Business Review, a stretch goal is a blend of extreme difficulty and extreme novelty.

Extreme difficulty means going beyond your current capability and performance.
This could mean going all out to lose 15kg, or holding a big marketing event to attract 100 people to your business, or just saving an extra $300 this month.

Extreme novelty means working differently, creatively, following new paths or approaches never tried before.
For you, this could mean trying a totally new exercise approach, or making a complete change in your business model.

Why Set A Stretch Goal?

You’re probably thinking that the whole stretch goal idea sounds a bit hard, a bit crazy and a bit scary. It sounds like a risk. 
And it is ALL those things.
BUT the results you get from a stretch goal are worth it:
courage 
determination 
agility 
the ability to manage risks, and
self-belief.
In summary, a stretch goal is a hard goal that really pushes you outside your comfort zone so you can truly discover what you’re capable of.
It requires you to be creative, resourceful and focused, to be courageous and determined, and well organised.
Top performers know that failure is part of the process so more than anything, stretch goals are an exercise in developing self-belief, acceptance and persistence by achieving bigger things than you thought were possible.

Choosing a Stretch Goal

When choosing an audacious stretch goal, it makes sense to select an area in which you have a good chance of succeeding, right?
Think about an area of your business that you find super challenging, but which is within your reach.
Maybe it’s the courage to speak at a networking group – if live conversation is generally a strength of yours already.
Maybe it’s submitting an article to an online magazine you’d love to be featured in, like Mamma Mia, or Thrive Global.
Maybe it’s running a free 5-day challenge to people in your audience and getting in touch with everyone you know to help you promote it.
Maybe it’s asking for help from a mentor to get some tech set up, or attending a course, so you can finally get your business going.

Alternatives to Stretch Goals

If you’re not quite in the right headspace or resource base for a stretch goal, you can choose something different.
Here are some ideas:
Choose a smaller goal that you KNOW you can win (confidence)
Choose a small-risk goal that might be a loss but that will teach you something (knowledge and growth) 
Create efficiencies in what you’re doing now (improve, enhance)
Create a buffer of time, money or other resources to help you overcome your current obstacles (build a buffer)

Smaller goals can still give you valuable belief-building wins and valuable lessons.
Recently, I challenged myself to do 30 minutes of exercise every day of the month. I managed to exercise every day, but it wasn’t always 30 minutes.
So, I won most days, and lost a few.
But I learned SO much in that process.
Committing to exercise no matter what forced me to be agile when situations changed, so I could still fit in some exercise. 
It made me schedule time each day to fit it in.
It made me think creatively to overcome my barriers to exercise: tiredness, rain, cold weather, a busy schedule.
Most of all, this challenge taught me to anticipate disruptions and plan for them so I could fit in some exercise every day, no matter what.
The result?
Yes, I ‘closed my rings’ on most days (still wearing the Apple watch).
But I also sharpened my agility, and I learned more about how I work and planning, how to get the best out of myself in any situation, how to persist, and I enjoyed more work life balance, a better mood, more focus and a sense of achievement. 
Stretch goals can be something that boost your business to the next level, by helping you muster the courage to propel yourself past, around and over the obstacles.

Behavioural Strategies to Support Mental Wellbeing


 
We are all aware of the strangeness of this time and also how different the experience of this pandemic has been from one individual to the next. So many factors will affect where we sit in our sense of wellbeing, but one thing that we all share is a feeling of uncertainty of what lies ahead. Now this is not news. We are being bombarded with media coverage of the situation and the adverse effects on various populations, and it is a time when we need to collectively come together and support each other, however, it is also a time when we need to dig deep into our own experience and understand the effect this uncertainty may be having on our mental and emotional health. It somehow feels wrong to dwell on our personal situation but the danger is that we don’t acknowledge and find coping strategies to deal with whatever challenge we are facing, no matter how small it may seem in the bigger scheme of things. Our clients need support in this time, but we too need to be monitoring our own mental state.

Many factors can result in stress and anxiety. But at this time there are some key changes that will affect many. To name a few:

• Finances
• Job loss
• Fear of sickness
• Separation from loved ones
• Isolation
• Loss of loved ones and inability to get closure
• Trip cancellation
• Unwillingness to make plans and have things to look forward to

Many of us are experiencing a sense of destabilisation in the world as we know it. So what is in our control right now? By following a step by step process perhaps we can regain a feeling of equilibrium during this difficult time. What people often fail to realise is that there are many physical behaviours we can adopt that will have a profound effect on mental stress. That is not to say that self reflection is not of value and changing our thinking will not help, but if we combine the two, then we get the biggest benefit. So here’s a step by step approach that used both our minds and our bodies:

STEP ONE – Take Stock
Become self-aware of what emotions you are experiencing but also what physical sensations are might be indicating that our body’s needs may not be being met. Where are you holding the stress?

STEP TWO. - Identify what is in your control
Work out what you can change and what you need to accept. Don’t waste time ruminating over things that are outside of your power of influence.

STEP THREE – Check in with how you are treating your body
What we eat or drink, how we move, rest, sleep, hydrate and breathe are all physical behaviours that can nurture vitality. If things are not right in any of these areas, our energy can be depleted. e.g. Do you need exercise or rest?
Check on each and see if there are any areas that you can change or improve. How will you do this?

STEP FOUR – Renew with nature
Get outside whenever you can. Use nature to improve your mood, help your sleep, release hormones and general performance in life. We have never needed nature more.

STEP SIX – Eliminate unhelpful behaviours
What habits are you developing that are not helpful? Is it something you are regularly thinking and telling yourself, or something you are doing to cope that is working against you? Identify and replace them.

STEP SEVEN – Love yourself
Engage in regular doses of self-compassion. Understand your emotions and how you deal with them. Be aware that sadness can wrongly be expressed with anger. Talk to your close friends and family. Discuss what’s going on for you. Follow physical pursuits that replenish you. Be your own wellness coach.

STEP EIGHT - Trust
That life will unfold in the way it is meant to. Let go of the illusion of control. We never really had it!

And remember this statistic. A researcher in trauma (Donald Meichenbaum) said that an estimate of all the people who had experienced trauma, 30% of them suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and 70% of them experienced some form of personal growth! And the difference was the person’s belief about the event. If you believe it is possible to grow, you will.
Care for your client’s during this time, but also care for yourself.

What does Group Health and Wellness Coaching have to offer?


The growing amount of research on health and wellness coaching, delivered in a person to person setting suggests that coaching can be an effective intervention for many lifestyle related diseases. (Sforzo et al, 2017, 2019). But can health and wellness coaching delivered in a group offer a valuable contribution to the field and if so, what are its strengths and what are the challenges facilitators might face?

The literature on this method of delivery is much less advanced although several papers articulate a similarly positive effect and, in some ways, a format that can potentially benefit the participants in quite unique ways to the one on one conversation most commonly held.

In 2013, Armstrong et al reported on seven programs that used a group coaching approach throughout the United States – either by telephone or in person and using both professional and peer coaches. Results showed a wide range of positive outcomes including a sense of satisfaction and increased self-efficacy, some change in lifestyle behaviours, reduced pain and in one program, gains in facilitator’s listening and goal-setting skills.

In 2019, Yocum and Lawson reported on a workplace group health coaching initiative that involved 8 employees in leadership roles over a five-session program. Outcomes showed “positive change and growth” with reductions in stress, increased self-awareness of self-identity, values and desired goals. Again, facilitators reported similar personal gains.  

A case study followed an integrative group health coaching experience with four participants over four sessions and found that even in this short time period, group members experienced an improved sense of well-being.  (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

The above suggests that group health coaching can provide an alternative, lower cost option for client engagement with potentially additional benefits. Out of the reports cited the following strengths were noted for group interventions:

  • Participants experienced a sense of community and great sense of responsibility to follow through on commitments
  • Less isolation
  • Learning from others’ experiences
  • Enhanced creativity  and courage to try something new
  • Authentic communication and support
  • The opportunity to provide streamlined education or information which may be harder to deliver in a one on one setting
  • The use of tools such as mindfulness and other stress reduction strategies delivered in a group setting
  • Personal growth and understanding of facilitators
  • Sense of cohesion
Of course, strengths are also tempered by challenges and some of these included:

  • Logistics of bringing people together and managing their availability
  • Whether the group should be a closed group or open for people to “drop in” (which would work against any cohesion they might have experienced meeting with the same people each session).
  • The need for group guidelines, ideally created by the group members
  • Recognition that group work is not for everyone – some may not feel comfortable sharing and others may be disruptive. The facilitator has to be skilled in managing group dynamics.
What was of interest was that all members joined the program with the aim of improving “well-being” which can sometimes seem an elusive or vague outcome for many.
One program broke down the dimensions into health relationships, security, purpose, community and environment (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

In the work-based group, participants developed themes which were improving life/work balance, developing stress management strategies, increasing self-care, focus on healthy living, desire for accountability and lasting change and learning tools to pass on to other staff.

Information on the even group programs showed that the health issues that were targeted included general health and well-being, survivors of stroke, chronic pain, stress, and other chronic medical conditions. (Armstrong et al, 2019.)

Although there is a great need for further research into many various aspects of group coaching programs, these articles suggest that it is definitely a promising way of using the principles of coaching to support positive change.


Armstrong, C., Wolever, R. Q., Manning, L., Elam, R., Moore, M., Frates, E. P., Duskey, H., Anderson, C., Curtis, R. L., Masemer, S., & Lawson, K. (2013). Group Health Coaching: Strengths, Challenges, and Next Steps. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(3), 95-102. https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2013.019

Schultz, C. S., Stuckey, C. M., & Lawson, K. (2019). Group health coaching for the underserved: a case report. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 13(1), 3-7. https://doi.org/10.1080/17521882.2019.1656658

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Todorova, I., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Faber, A., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2017). Compendium of the Health and Wellness Coaching Literature. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(6), 436-447. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827617708562

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Rauff, E., Edman, J. S., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2019). Compendium of Health and Wellness Coaching: 2019 Addendum. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 155982761985048. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827619850489

Yocum, S., & Lawson, K. (2019). Health Coaching Case Report: Optimizing Employee Health and Wellbeing in Organizations. Journal of Values-Based Leadership. https://doi.org/10.22543/0733.122.1266


How to Build a Referral Network with Allied Health Practitioners




Working in an industry where quality and credibility are essential, Health and Wellness Coaches can gain a huge advantage when starting their businesses by networking with allied health practitioners. 

It takes time to build rapport and relationship in allied health, but these specific relationships will help you to build the most meaningful connections.
And if you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline.

In my local coaching business, I networked extensively with GP’s and involved them in the development of my program approach, and within 2 years was being listed on GP care plans and referred clients on a regular basis.

Let’s take a step back and explore what all this means and involves, so you can start building your own relationships with allied health practitioners.

It Starts with Trust

Even when someone is ready, willing and able to get help with their health and wellbeing, they will generally only buy from someone they know, like and trust.
As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

Further, consider how much more weight an Allied Health Practitioner’s referral has, compared with a referral from a friend or family member. 
People see medical and health professionals as trustworthy and reliable, and that sentiment transfers to you as a referral partner.

It therefore makes sense to start building Allied Health relationships early on in your business, so you can position your business as credible, professional and reputable.

Referrals Build Referrals

An easy way to get referrals from Allied Health practitioners is to meet and network with them and refer people you know to them. Even if you don’t have any clients, you can become their client, or refer people you know to certain practitioners.

Do this and they will get to know you and will more likely want to reciprocate.

Which local practitioners could you use the service of and refer people to?

Networks Build Collective Knowledge

When you maintain your professional networks and relationships, you enjoy an added benefit of keeping your finger on the pulse with developments in your area, and in the health industry more generally.

For example, I recall a Medicare Local meeting that I attended in my Shire. 

I had the chance to network with Allied Health professionals I knew, meet new practitioners in the area, learn about some of the common problems our sector was facing generally in terms of funding, information sharing gaps and key client issues (some of which I could help with) and, I was able to make a couple of useful contributions to this meeting.

I learned very quickly that these sorts of events were worth attending and helped me to support other practitioners while also building trust in my network and identifying new business opportunities.

In addition, as Allied Health practitioners came to know me better, they understood how I helped people, and could send clients to me that were the right kind of client for my niche with the exact problem I helped to solve.

As they say in marketing, I was getting pre-qualified client referrals who were suited to my program and to my way of working. 

The impact of this was to increase my sales conversion rate such that around 90 - 95% of all enquiries would buy from me.

How to Start Building Your Allied Health Network

Here are five steps to getting started with your Allied Health Network.
1. Get professional business cards printed with contact details and website/social media links (ideally LinkedIn)
2. Develop your professional identity along with a clear, simple elevator pitch-style overview of who you help, what you do, and how you deliver that (see the Coaching Success Accelerator, Unit 1, for a step-by-step process)
3. Visit www.healthdirect.gov.au/Australian-health-services to identify health services in your local area and make a list of those relevant to your services and niche.
4. Decide on how you will approach Allied Health professionals to make contact – for example, would you 
a. send a letter, 
b. phone to request an in person meeting, 
c. book an appointment as a client
d. attend an Allied Health event, or
e. Approach a chronic disease organisation?
5. Start scheduling appointments and reaching out to those professionals to introduce yourself and discuss a referral process that suits you both.  They may have something in place that they use, or you could develop something together.

Summary

Referrals are a great way to start and build your business. 

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

That means you can convert a higher percentage of enquiries to sales.

Further, you get to keep your finger on the local and industry pulse and help other practitioners, plus identify business opportunities.
What are you waiting for?

It’s time to follow a simple, five-step process to building your referral network so you can general a steady stream of enquiries to fill your programs and sales pipeline.

Financial wellness – a new or an ignored frontier?


Life is never simple, which is why it is so interesting!  Here’s an example. Have you ever had several goals you wanted to achieve, yet at times they seem to conflict with each other?

One case of this that we hear often is from people who want to “follow their passion” (in their professional life), but also want to be financially secure.   Yet their passion may not hold the level of certainly around financial security they require.  

Of course, this applies to many of students who want to study health and wellness coaching, yet are concerned that it may not pay the bills.  When we get a dilemma like this, we can experience tension, stress and a sense of “stuckness” as we struggle with what really amounts to two conflicting values.  So how do we get round this?   We may also experience a sense of guilt or disappointment in our failure to follow our heart.  After all, surely financial “stability” should not be as important as doing what we really want do – living the professional dream?

Yet finance (or fears around lack of finance) is one of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to people achieving their goals.

Lea Schodel, a recent graduate, does a lot of work in the field of financial wellness.  She says,

“Money has such a large influence over our day to day lives, our sense of success and self-worth and our overall happiness and wellbeing. Our career choices, our ability to spend time with our family and friends, or to do the things we love, whether we can join a gym or practice yoga, how much we can spend on food, healthcare, self-care and other treatments, the type of neighbourhood we live in, the relationships we have and even our self-esteem are all impacted directly by our relationship with money. 

Our finances play such an integral role in our total wellbeing yet, so often they are ignored, put to one side or handed over to someone else to manage.

The elements of wellness

Image souce:  wellnessutah.com

There are many elements that comprise of our overall wellbeing: Social, Physical, Emotional., Spiritual, Environmental, Occupational, Intellectual and Financial. What is important is to recognise that there are many elements (other than diet and exercise) which contribute to or detract from total wellbeing and we cannot have total wellness unless we pay attention to and seek balance with all elements of wellbeing in our lives.

So how can we align our goals so that we achieve both a career we love and healthy finances? 
This was a question we had to address when we put together our latest training program – the Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching with Business Pathway (PCBP).  We love helping people learn to coach. And we have recognised the need for support in setting up our own business for some time. We have provided the Passion to Profit program almost as an add-on for people who finished the training and then realised they ill-equipped to actually make money from coaching.

So, we decided that we would combine all our programs and offer an inclusive “journey” that guided people along the path to becoming a proficient and effective health and wellness coach but at the same time, kept their eye on the end game – how they would make this work for them as a business.

To date, we have had a great reception to our PCBP and we can’t wait to work with the people who have enrolled at the start of this year.

View the details on our Professional Certificate program here.

We are also looking forward to Lea’s professional development webinar which she will hold later in the year when she will help our coaches learn how to “talk about the money”.  In this sense, when our clients present finance as the biggest obstacle and which we so often skirt around!  Watch this space.

You can get in touch with Lea at: lea@leaschodel.com

Why Authenticity and Connection Are Your Best Marketing Strategies


Why Authenticity and Connection Are Your Best Marketing Strategies



About 3 years ago, I coined a phrase – Authenticity is the Best Marketing Strategy.

I was struggling to understand online marketing and I was used to the traditional marketing approach.

In case you’re not sure what traditional marketing is, it looks something like this:


“We deliver exceptional outcomes to exceed your greatest expectations.”

“We give you personalised service to help you achieve your goals.”

“We focus on helping you to achieve your goals in a way that suits your lifestyle.”

You can spot traditional marketing a mile away, It uses big-company statements (we) with logic-brain promises (achieve your goals) and have no hint of you, the business owner in them.


Well, times have changed.

Think of a famous business in your industry and I bet you the business name is somebody’s actual name.

Like Michelle Bridges. Jenny Craig. Tony Robbins. 


Here’s the difference: 

  • Traditional marketing uses logical, objective language. It feels impersonal.
  • Authentic marketing uses emotional, subjective language. It feels personal.
Most of all, when you the business owner can be authentic AND heartfelt, you will create a connection….which builds trust, rapport and a greater chance of getting a new client. 

How to Be Authentic in Online Marketing

If you have spoken with me before, you know that I say all things marketing come from a deep understanding of your ideal client. 

When you understand your ideal client, then you speak their language, and connect with them much easier. This is true in both offline and online markets. 

But in the online world, you are dealing with an audience who may have never met you in person. 

It’s harder and it takes longer to build trust and connection when you’re online. 

That means you need to know your ideal client and tell stories that they totally relate to. 

I’m not talking about knowing their age range, number of kids, and top 3 frustrations. I’m talking about knowing their deeper stuff…the kinds of things that might come out of a really thorough, deep-diving vision session.

Stuff that might surprise or delight them, and which will deepen any existing connection with you really quickly.

A Recent Example

As a solo business owner who lives “in the sticks”, I get inspiration from a few people I have grown to trust, admire and respect in the online space over the past 3 years.

Here's a recent example of how I experienced a deeper connection with someone I've been following because of her authentic approach to marketing. 

Read this story, see how it pans out, and think about how YOU could connect with people like this to get more engagement and new clients. 

How could you apply this formula in your own business?

The Business Magician

I’ve been following Keri Norley, Business Magician for the past 3 years. 

I initially saw her posting in a Facebook business group and started following her because she’s a mindset coach and I loved her powerful, inspirational posts. 

She posts more than just powerful inspirational posts – she also shares parts of her own story. 

That got me curious enough to subscribe to her newsletter.

Pricking Up My Ears

In the past year, Keri’s stories have made me really sit up and listen because I relate to all the things she’s sharing about her personal life.

Keri started a weight loss journey earlier this year and this is a core area in my business, so I was keen to understand how she was navigating this.

More recently, she has started talking about gymnastics and learning how to do handstands and the splits. 

It’s been a secret dream of mine to be able to do both of these things as an adult, so it suddenly feels like all other emails have left my cluttered inbox as I watched her progress with keen interest.

A couple of weeks ago, Keri posted a video of herself doing a handstand, and a photo of her doing the splits.

I was blown away. She did it! 

And....maybe I could, too.

So last week I wrote Keri an email to express my admiration for her persistence and results…and to ask her HOW she did it.

The Connection

Keri has thousands of subscribers on her list, and she’s undoubtedly busy. I didn’t expect a reply, but I wrote this short email to her simply to express my admiration and gratitude for sharing:

Hi Keri
I love this. And funnily enough, wanting to do the splits has been a lifelong dream. My brain says...you can't do that. Did you really do this in such a short time? Amazing. INSPIRING! 

Best wishes
Melanie.

Think about it – would you want a potential client on your list or who likes your FB page to reach out to you?

Would you want to attract people with your authenticity?

I know I would. And Keri does it so well.

So it was no surprise that Keri wrote back, detailing what she’d done to improve her flexibility and how it had happened for her. It was a detailed email that gave me the exact steps she followed to achieve the outcome I wanted.

And this is how her email finished:


I know so much of it is to do with my mind.  :-) 

You got this girl.  Like I said in the post... JUST START. Let it be the metaphor in your life... overcoming that fear... what else can you do, right?

MWAH!
Keri

I felt pretty touched that she'd taken the time to reach out, and there was a real sense of rapport, support and connection.

Would I now recommend Keri to others, or buy a service from her? YES! Because I feel like I know her, and I like her, trust her and now have connected with her. I'm a loyal fan. 

Do you want more of those?

A Powerful Lesson

You can engage people in a heartbeat by being authentic, honest and heart-felt, using emotional language and describing a journey, and by connecting with them.

As a side note, I had a real 'aha' moment when I reflected on this experience.

I thought of Roger Bannister, the first man to run a four-minute mile, on 6 May, 1954 in Oxford, UK.

Until that date, nobody believed it was possible to run a four-minute mile. Nobody had done it.

After he set that record, it was just 46 days until somebody else ran a mile in under 4 minutes. The belief barriers had been broken, and pretty soon, more people were doing it.

So I realised this: in business and in life, the most successful person believes in themselves enough to take a risk and face fears and overcome their obstacles to success. 

Everyone else is waiting for someone else to prove that it can be done.

Don't wait until your marketing is perfect. Quit comparing yourself to others who are more experienced or seem to be doing better than you.

Just speak from the heart, consistently and conscientiously. People will relate to you, they will be curious, and follow you. 

Maybe they'll go on a journey just like I did with Keri Norley.

Have you had an experience like this, where you really connected to someone? Post in the comments below and let us know how it panned out and what you can apply to your own business.

Building Confidence In Your Coaching Business


Building Confidence In Your Coaching Business 


When you work in an office or team environment, you have people all around you for support and encouragement.

But when you learn a new skill like coaching, and then you start your own business in a new and unfamiliar field, you may at times feel alone and a bit nervous about your future.

The ‘what ifs’ creep in, just like they did at first for Level 3 graduate, Miranda.

I’ve felt this, too.

In 2007, I moved from running a business amongst friends and colleagues in WA, to a small town in NSW where I knew nobody.

I thought I could learn a new skill (coaching) and just start a new business from scratch and make it successful.

Was I kidding myself?

Pretty quickly, I realised I needed two things: 

1. confidence in my coaching skills, and 
2. confidence running this business on my own.

And then later, I discovered an essential third thing….. support

In this blog, we’ll look at how coaching confidence is the essential first step to business success, and how to get confidence and support to grow your business.

Confidence in Coaching

The #1 thing you need to be successful in business is confidence in your coaching skills and delivery.

Fiona is delivering an interactive coach mentoring webinar on 15 November – I highly recommend you jump on this if your aim is to work as a professional coach, either in your own business or for someone else. Click here for more info.

Having some coaching confidence puts you in the best position to grow your business with confidence.

When I was 25, in the early stages of my career as a Biologist, I’d had a few science jobs but I felt unfulfilled, uncertain about the future and like I wasn’t making much of a real difference.

I dreamt of something more meaningful. 

Having some confidence in my technical skills paved the way for me to scratch that nagging itch and start a business with another scientist, that made some tangible differences in the world.

Confidence in Business

These days I run a successful business, as a wellness coach and business mentor.

 But when I started out in Perth, and more recently when I took my successful offline coaching business online, I had to get my head around a whole new skill set:

  • developing your brand image
  • identifying your niche market
  • understanding your ideal client at a deeper level
  • developing and packaging services that met our client’s needs 
  • developing and maintaining regular work, cashflow and profit 
  • writing proposals 
  • networking with peers and potential clients
  • having (and closing) “sales meetings”
  • articulating how you offer better/different value than your competitors
  • joint venturing
  • meeting the client’s desired outcomes and objectives in every block of coaching
  • setting up systems
  • working out budgets
  • guaranteeing client satisfaction. 
Some of these things were intuitive for me, but some of them involved flying by the seat of my pants!

There are a LOT of things you need to do to create a successful business. But you can get the support you need by doing these three things:

1. Set 1 – 3 small goals EVERY WEEK and simply take imperfect action. 

Perfectionist ideals hold so many people up. Try, try again, make mistakes, and learn from them.

2. Find a trusted mentor to support you through the unfamiliar processes and emotions you’re dealing with as a solo business owner. 

Yes, you’re capable and competent in many areas of life. You think you know what to do. It comes as a shock to find that it’s not quite so easy to run a business. Make it easy on yourself – work with someone you respect, who’s been there before.

3. Take specific training courses to learn how to do things properly. 

Save yourself time or money – either pay someone else to do things for you, or take a short course and learn exactly what to do instead of fumbling through things on your own.

Support for Yourself

As a coach, you want to be a role model to your clients.

So why are you doubting yourself, falling in a heap, feeling alone and isolated?

Realistically, you are a solo business owner. You have flexibility and freedom, but the pressure of doing everything in your business on your own.

You can fall into a heap and have nobody to bounce ideas off, brainstorm with, or get emotional support from.

Being alone in NSW, I had to create a new support network and especially in my business. Here are 3 things that have worked for me:

1. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business or other Business networking group. 

Meeting like-minded people who share the same goals, values and challenges, is comforting. You often find clients in these places, too!

2. Find a role model or role models that you trust and rely on.

After a few months of reading and learning about online marketing and business, I quickly identified 4 people I would follow regularly.

When I feel stuck, confronted or hopeless, I simply tap into one of those four people and read their latest blog, email newsletter, video or FB live. 

3. Find a like-minded group

I have been in a few online business groups for 3 years now. I find great enjoyment and a sense of connection by being in these groups and I’ve learned LOTS of great business tips.

Need an email program? To host an event? To share a promotional post? These people are there with opinions and ideas.

Recently, I ran the first Passion to Profit course with an online group and realised there was a need for WCA’s entrepreneurial coaches to collaborate on business building.

So I created the Coach to Coach FB group for that purpose. Here’s a link if you’re interested.

Wrapping it up

All in all, solo business is both enjoyable, highly rewarding, and sometimes challenging.

Building confidence in your craft and in building a business is the key to a smooth and successful journey to a successful and profitable business.

Who can support you best in your business? Let us know your ideas in the comments below.


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