During the early stages of growth in your health coaching business, there will inevitably be moments where you find yourself wondering, Should I stick to the plan or pivot for a better chance at success? How do I know if it’s time to persevere or shift gears?

Today’s article shares the most common reasons you might have to course-correct in your business, and they’re brought to life with real-life experiences from some of our expert health coach grads. Stick around ’til the end where you’ll find 8 questions to deal with ambivalence so you can confidently make the decision and adapt your business strategy in no time. 

4 Reasons Coaches Decide to Pivot for Success

1. No One’s Biting

It’s common to think you’ve got this great business strategy, or a “proven” method to attract more clients, and then to put a lot of time and effort into implementing that method. After putting in the work you realize no one is taking the bait. This happens to coaches with everything from a freebie to an entire sales funnel or coaching offer.

Take my story for example. I was off to the races with my first freebie (a PDF guide to intermittent fasting), and it was great at attracting people to my email list. The issue was that once I made an offer to my warm email list, no one was biting. I went back to the drawing board, and created a free, 3-part video series to accompany the PDF, and I even gave a peek inside my course that I offered. The result was a slight improvement, but I eventually suspected that my PDF needed to be completely reimagined.

I began to see lots of interaction, email opens, clicks, and replies. I knew my audience was engaged, but still barely anyone purchased my low-cost online course. My next pivot was to change the offer at the end of my email sequence, inviting them for a free strategy call for 1-on-1 coaching, while another email invited them to join a waitlist for my fasting course. This is a lesson about iteration, meaning that trial and error are required in order to find what works.

2. Your Business Growth Hits a Ceiling

As new coaches, it’s challenging to estimate when and how your business might grow, how you’ll manage that growth, and how you can scale when that time comes.

Coach Erik Olsson said it became immediately apparent to him that his business model needed a revamp when he onboarded his first 4 clients who all started a 3-month program at once. “Quite soon I realized I’d have to change the trajectory because just the four clients took a lot of time and energy—I couldn’t imagine having 10 clients all at once. Since then I’ve been focused on building online courses, membership sites, and serving as a coach mentor to other primal health coaches in areas I excel at.”

“Change isn’t easy…I understood I had to do something in the first 6 months of my business, but it can be like an oil tanker; it takes time to change directions. I tried so many different things, just trying to find what sticks.”

I had a similar experience when requests for my 1-on-1 coaching multiplied in what seems like overnight. I offered health coaching in 1-month packages with the option to renew each month, but that became difficult to juggle and totally unscalable with 11 clients at once. A business coach helped me see that a 4-month coaching package would allow for more efficiency and growth along with a better estimate of my availability and income. I never would’ve had the courage to offer solely 4-month coaching packages if I hadn’t reached that ceiling in my business’ growth, but it was indeed a scramble to manage in such a reactive state.

3. A New Perspective Inspires New Strategy

Think of this as any situation through which your experience—whatever happened to you in business or in life—has changed the way you see your situation, and now it becomes obvious that you need to switch gears.

Take Coach Julian Halton’s experience for example. He says, “I started coaching in Boston, MA, where it was fairly easy to book and retain clients. I listened to their goals, explained a timeline and strategy along with the cost of coaching, and off we went. When I moved to Southern California, however, this approach didn’t work at all. I learned to become much more patient, step back and really listen to the client. Then, the process involved establishing a connection and trust, before suggesting that they hire me as a coach.”

Here’s another example from Coach Julie Graham who needs to shift gears now that she’s coached enough of her ideal clients. “12 weeks is just about the time the training wheels come off and healing begins for my niche clientele, menopausal/post-menopausal women. I’ll lengthen the program to 6 months in order to maximize the effectiveness of my coaching. I’m also changing my marketing message away from fat loss because it’s frustratingly slow for my ICA, even with a ketogenic diet.”

4. You’re Searching for Authenticity

What we do in our pursuits as health coaches is fundamentally fueled by passion. When the passion starts to fade, it’s only natural to wonder, how can I show up more authentically or reignite the enthusiasm I once had?

I asked Coach Margaret Steffie about going back to the drawing board, and she said, “This has happened more times than I can count. It has to do with breaking the ideas I’ve been programmed to believe about business strategy.”

Margaret put her efforts into social media as a strategy to get clients, but even with consistent effort it’s done little for her and her business. And that’s when she asked herself, “What are my strengths and how can I use them to my benefit? I do my best when making face-to-face connections, so I had to think of other strategies…”

She’s moving in a bolder, authentic direction, now, working with a publisher on her upcoming book called F*ck the Freshman 15: Finding Optimal Health Before Chronic Disease Finds You. As she writes, Margaret is simultaneously connecting with businesses that attract her ideal readers, so that she can offer a workshop about the topic of her book, a custom fitness class, or even wine tastings.

“I’m multi-passionate and find it hard to settle if something doesn’t allow my full self to come through. My passion for health coaching has definitely been reignited by this new path.”

Dealing With Ambivalence

Business decisions can sometimes be paralyzing—like when these coaches decided to change their business name. Ask yourself the following questions when you’re faced with such ambivalence so that you can stand firmly in your decision with more confidence.

8 Questions To Gain Clarity:

  1. Who can provide input on this decision?
  2. How would you advise a friend on this decision?
  3. What might an experimental test run look like, and is it possible?
  4. What do I not know yet? What missing variables or information would help me make the decision?
  5. What am I making assumptions about, and what if the opposite were true?
  6. What are the alternatives? Imagine the full scenario that might result from each decision.
  7. What is aligned with my values?
  8. What’s the worst possible outcome and how likely is it that it would come to that?

We know you want to succeed as a health coach, so just remember that while your big-picture goals might remain the same, the path to get there will take some unexpected turns. It happens to us all, and we’re smarter, more resilient, and more successful because of it.

I can think of no better way to conclude this collection of insights than to share something Coach Julian said to me.

“We should always be open minded to change. Change is constant and if you don’t evolve you will rapidly find yourself living among dinosaurs before you become a fossil. A great coach welcomes growth and continually questions their approach, seeks to learn new things and explore different methodologies.”

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