[Article] Rules, Tools & Pools – 3 Common Mistakes Coaches Make

Most people who want to learn how to be a life coach have all the desire in the world, a heart of gold, and a great work ethic.  I applaud you.  Helping others live a better life is the most noble thing you can do.

But the vast majority of new coaches don’t get their businesses off the ground successfully because they never master how to get coaching clients.  (pretty important piece of the recipe)

There are 3 main reasons new coaches struggle to build their businesses – Rules, Tools & Pools.

1 – Quit Looking for the Rules

Too many coaches are restricting themselves by searching for the “right” and “wrong” things to do in their business.  I always hear questions like…

  • How much should I charge for my products, programs & events?
  • How long should my teleseminars/videos/webinars be?
  • How should I be marketing to my audience?

The answer is always… it depends.  It depends on your industry, your perceived valued, your positioning, your strengths, your ideal client’s desires, etc.

Now I know that’s not what most people want to hear, because they always like to be sold a one-size-fits-all-so-I-don’t-have-to-think system.  But those don’t work.  Stop buying them.

You bring your own unique qualities to the market.  You have a personality and a perspective that nobody else has.  And so does your ideal prospect.  Don’t try to fit all that into a generic box.

Of course, there are fundamental concepts that cannot be avoided or ignored, if you want to succeed in business.  But on top of those fundamentals, put your own authentic ingredients into the recipe.  That’s how to stand out and get people to notice.  

We don’t want your version of someone else.  We want YOU.

2 – Quit Selling Your Tools

This is easily the biggest marketing mistake I see new coaches make.  And it’s deadly!  Let me explain this one with an analogy.

If I have a splinter in my thumb, I am only interested in one thing – GETTING IT OUT!  I want the pain to stop.

If you tell me you can help get it out, I’ll hire you.  And I really don’t care if you plan to use tweezers, duct tape or your teeth!  I just want it out.  I’m interested in the result, not the tool you plan to use. 

Marketing is the same way.  Sell outcomes.  All the time.

The challenge is that new coaches tend to be really proud of the shiny new tools and certifications and skills they’ve learned along the way to becoming a coach.

And we tend to think people are going to be as excited about the shiny tools as we are.  But you have to remember that you are on the other side of your breakthrough, and from that reflective point of view, you see the value in the tools.

But your prospects are still standing in their ‘stuff’.  They just want the breakthrough.  

So, don’t talk about your EFT, ICC, or LMNOP coaching skills.  Talk about what those coaching skills will help people achieve.  Will they experience more happiness and fulfillment?  Financial abundance?  Better relationships?

That’s what people buy.  They want the view from the top of the hill, they don’t want to buy the hill.

3 – Quit Putting People into Pools

What would make you feel more special… somebody communicating with you individually, taking the time to know what you want and how they can help you specifically, or being thrown into a big pool of people with someone yelling at all of you at the same time through a bullhorn?

Yeah, me too.

If you really want to create connection (you better), market and communicate with a single person, your seeker.  

Somebody out there is desperately seeking the wisdom you, and only you, have inside your head.  Your job is to get in front of, speak with, and serve that single person.  Individually.

But if you’re like most coaches, you might not want to do that.  It’s often referred to as “finding your niche” and it’s the most resisted piece of advice I ever give when I teach marketing to life and business coaches.  

And I get it.  I violently resisted it too.  But then I had to file bankruptcy because I broke this fundamental principle over and over again.  That’s when I finally stopped resisting.

Most new coaches try to be everything to everybody, which I completely understand.  Your stuff can probably help most people improve their lives.  The problem, however, is that you can’t communicate with “most people” at the same time.

Markets don’t buy things.  Groups don’t buy things.  Individual people buy things.

Now, if you do want to help more than one seeker, that’s fine.  Just speak to them separately.  Aside from my coaching for coaches platform, I also have a passion for…

  • advising parents how to raise empowered kids
  • helping entrepreneurs get rid of internal fears & limiting beliefs
  • teaching couples how to E.N.R.I.C.H. their relationships
  • empowering speakers to be magnetic, compelling & persuasive on stage

But, I would never try to talk to them all at the same time.  Seriously, that’s just rude!  =)


When you avoid these 3 costly mistakes, you’ll set yourself up to succeed and separate you as well as your business from the herd instead of blending into the crowd.

In today’s world, where people are being yelled at and marketed to constantly, that’s imperative!  

Have the courage to be unique, the wisdom to offer people what they want to buy, and the courtesy to serve them individually.  Then, watch your business take off!

Let me know your thoughts…

8 thoughts on “[Article] Rules, Tools & Pools – 3 Common Mistakes Coaches Make

  1. Romeo

    Again, more enriching content. I love how we can all get a piece of your coaching brain. =) I love ALL that you put on here…what struck me the most is “putting my own authentic ingredients into the recipe.” I notice that I may sometimes use other people’s ingredients ….but you reminded me that my OWN ingredients is just as good for me …if not better…because it’s my own. You reminded me that my own is not only good enough….but great enough!! Thanks!

    1. Sean

      I like that reframe – it’s not just GOOD enough, but GREAT enough! So true. I like to tell people, don’t try to be like anyone else. They’re already taken. What the world needs is a more fully expressed YOU. Just like you say… L.I.F.E. is about Living In Full Expression. Isn’t that how it goes? I just saw you drop that from the stage in INDIA!!!

  2. Sara

    I totally fell into some of these traps early on. The worst was comparing myself to other coaches, and trying to be everything to everyone. Much better now I know where I best serve and support. Mostly thanks to you Sean for your clarity, and using your experiences to help me stay away from HUGE mistakes! Thanks!

    1. Sean

      Stop It!!! =) It’s easy to fall into these traps. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, and create the competition mentality. But it’s also deadly in the coaching game!

  3. Scott

    I appreciate how you can put things in simple terms with simple analogies we can relate to. Thanks. Shocking revelation…as a customer of any business I want to feel like the most important customer they have and it needs to feel genuine. I guess if we can be totally present in the moment that would happen naturally. No gimmicks needed! Thanks.

    1. Sean

      You said it – the most important customer they have. We crave that. People already feel disconnected most of the time, and unimportant. And too many coaches do the same thing in their marketing – treat everybody the same. That’s not the way to stand out. Thanks for that comment.

  4. Kelly

    I am fairly new to life coaching but I can see how Rules, Tools, & Polls can help me avoid pitfalls as I start on my journey. I appreciate being able to benefit from your experience! Thanks so much for freely sharing and helping others.

    1. Sean Smith

      Welcome to the secret society, Kelly! Actually, it’s not so secret, but it’s very fulfilling. You’re gonna love this work!

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