I started working as a mental training coach at 26 years old with literally NO idea what I was doing as a business owner. I had no experience in business, nothing on my resume, just hunger to forge my path in a field I fully believed in (but honestly wasn’t a ‘field’ yet).
I look back now, and I’m so grateful for my wide-eyed optimism, passion, and drive. I think without it, I may have hesitated, started thinking too much and found myriad reasons to not start working on this grand plan of mine to change the world and bring mental training to the masses.
However, the downside of not knowing what I was doing, was increased and unnecessary struggle. To some degree, all entrepreneurs have things they look back on and wish they had done differently; that’s just part of the journey. As they say in advertising, ‘50% of the money you are spending is a waste; you just don’t know WHICH half.’ I think that is true for entrepreneurship in general. You do much work that is a waste of time, and you don’t know it. Hindsight is truly 20/20.
Much of my mission now, in working with mental training entrepreneurs, is to give them a boost, a shortcut, a leg up. When I do, we all win: mental training can grow, we can reach more athletes and others can pursue their passion of helping young athletes succeed.
So, without further adieu, here are my top 4 mistakes. I hope you take these and learn from my failures so you can fast track yourself to success and we all can genuinely bring mental training to the masses.
Mistake #1: Selling to everyone
Okay, it wasn’t EVERYONE; it was people in sports. However, still, I should have niched down further and have been SUPER clear about whom I wanted to work with exactly. Call it my hubris, but I tend to think that EVERYONE can benefit from mental training (which I still believe). However, yelling that from the rooftops trying to get people’s attention isn’t efficient. It’s much better to niche down to one customer, one problem, and one solution.
For example, when I started, I was understandably hungry for clients. I worked with top athletic departments, high schools, and non-profits. Coaches, parents, athletic department, athletes, even corporations hired me. The list went on and on. Which of course SOUNDS good. More clients = more money right?
Each one of these groups or individuals all had different needs; they needed to hear a different message. These groups need to be reached in different ways, had different pain points, definitely different budgets, and each one required a different type of decision maker to take action. Trying to match my sales and marketing to ALL of these people meant I wasn’t zeroing in on any one of them with the messaging that made them say ‘Hell YES”.
It’s mentally difficult to go niche because it’s counterintuitive. You might think (like I did) that the way to get more business is to cast a wide net. However, in my experience, the opposite is true. You have to zero in on one group. Only then can you really focus, create amazing relationships, and then grow with a solid foundation.
Mistake 2: Outsourcing Marketing
When I decided to go big with my business, I brought on a business partner, employees, and rented office space. In other words, I took on a TON of overhead which meant I had to sell and deliver. I was traveling a ton and hustling to keep us afloat.
However, my team needed to create a marketing engine behind me, and I didn’t have time to do it. So, we outsourced to a marketing firm to run the campaigns and deliver the metrics needed to keep that engine running effectively.
The problem was that it stopped being my voice. It was generic, impersonal, and a little flat. It wasn’t BAD, but things got lost along the way.
Looking back, I realize that actually, two things happened. The first was the obvious issue I already mentioned; I was so busy trying to make money and keep us afloat that other things got lost. However, the second reason I didn’t realize until later, and it was this: I didn’t trust myself to let my brand be my voice. There was a part of me that hid behind the brand and was a little shy about how crucial it was that the company stayed ‘me.’ I allowed it to be outsourced because they were the marketers and I wasn’t.
I now know that no matter what expert marketers I use, their messaging will never be as authentic and powerful as mine. The messaging rings truer when it’s coming from me, with my passion behind it. I think that is true for most founders. The heart of the company should stay consistent, and that is especially important when building your messaging.
Now, this isn’t to say that there is NEVER a time to outsource. I outsource a ton these days, but I write my messaging and always make sure that it’s my voice that is representing my brand. It’s not a huge, obvious thing. No one really notices but me, but it makes a HUGE difference in my business and honestly makes me feel more aligned in all I do.
Mistake 3: I thought it was about price.
There is a saying in sales that (and I’m paraphrasing): it takes just as much work to sell a $1000 product as it does a $20,000 product, and I can honestly say that I have found this to be 100% true. This is especially true for service-based and informational products. After all…
• Who can say what the value is of helping someone change their entire mindset?
• Can you put a dollar amount on a team believing they can win?
• What is the value of an athlete that is mentally prepared to compete in college?
• How can you prove the worth of a high school athlete finally believes in herself?
I’ve charged anything from $9 to $30,000 for my resources and services. For my 1:1 coaching, I transitioned from $130/hour to $6000 to $12,000 to $20,000, and beyond.
However, in the beginning, I thought the barrier was price, so I created ‘cheaper’ products because I figured price was such a big issue for people (after all, it seemed every coach said they’d LOVE to do our training but couldn’t afford it). However, now I know, it’s not about price, it’s about VALUE. Also, if someone believes you can help them, and you CAN help them, there is no price too high for how their lives can change. It’s about finding the RIGHT customer, not about the price.
Now, that said, because I believe that mental training should be accessible, I will always have free or low-cost options. It’s just my way of giving back and maintaining authenticity in my business. However, for my time and my services, which is limited especially now with two kids, it’s about finding the correct customers whose lives I can change.
Mistake 4: I thought I wanted to go online all the way
Especially when I was trying to keep my business afloat, I put much energy into my online resources and courses. Selling online became the focus, and it was great because I had ‘passive’ income, I was able to help a TON more athletes and coaches that I could just by myself, and I had a more cost-effective training option for people that could never afford my services. I loved spending the afternoon with my daughter at the park and returning to sales alerts in my inbox.
However, I missed that connection with athletes. I was still leading workshops, but I was in-and-out, traveling the country to the next stop. I would hear about my clients’ successes through Facebook or in the comments section of our courses, but I didn’t get to FEEL the life-changing shifts they were making.
Moreover, in my heart of hearts, that’s what I love the most; watching a kid or team unlock their mindset and finally realize that their full potential is right there waiting for them to grab it!
I didn’t even notice it right away because I was enjoying creating courses and resources. After all, I loved the topic. However, without seeing that glimmer of hope in my athlete’s eyes, my work slowly started to feel stale and uninspired. Also, because I wasn’t working closely with athletes, I wasn’t being challenged with new issues that forced me to grow and think about things from a new perspective. I was getting burnt out.
I eventually got back to working with athletes 1:1. Not a lot, just a handful of really committed athletes. However, they kept me fresh, challenged, and inspired; something that makes ALL of my products and services better and gives me that satisfaction that I can SEE and FEEL the shifts in a real human being.
So, there you have it. These are my list of ugly truths about what I did wrong. I genuinely hope that these help you look at your business and your goals in a new light, and help you prioritize the tasks that will help you grow your business. Entrepreneurship is not an easily accessible path, but if there is one thing I know, it’s that we truly can learn from each other and save a TON of time and anguish by figuring out what others have done right (and wrong.)
Rooting for you…!
If you are interested in starting or scaling your Mental Training Business, I invite you to join my waitlist for 2018 The Mental Training Entrepreneur Bootcamp. It’s a 9-month intensive and intimate entrepreneur mastermind that will help you fast track your business growth and create a profitable, passion-filled business. You can learn more about what I do for entrepreneurs here.
And, you can join my exclusive, invitation only Facebook Group: The Mental Training Coach & Entrepreneur Community.
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