If I could go back in time and shed coaching wisdom on the younger me, the list would be long. When thinking specifically about what I wish I knew about money when I started coaching, I can think of dozens of lessons; but I will limit it to these three:
Before I dig into these, I think it is important to give a bit of context as I am a believer that our perceptions around money come from our personal experiences. I come from a family that would be considered low income by an American standard. I did not grow up in a household where finances were discussed. Rather, I learned through observation that you have to work your butt off and your efforts are a direct reflection of your earnings.
When I started coaching, I got lucky and had early financial success that was not a direct reflection of my efforts. This was followed by a reality of struggles and led to me learning from those struggles, making some changes and leading to financial success.
Money is an uncomfortable subject for a lot of young coaches. Due to this discomfort, it is easy to “trust” that if you do a good job with your clients and add a few more a month then everything will be just fine. This is obviously not the case and is where a lot of coaches get into trouble. They don’t pay attention to their finances.
I would tell my younger self to hire an accountant, but to put in the work and allocate my own financials first prior to sending them to my accountant to ensure I understand what is happening in my business. I would know my expense structure, how much revenue I am bringing in monthly, my average price point per client, and how those are all trending year to date and compared to the previous year.
Sometimes when we have financial success without working hard for it, it sets a bad precedent. As I mentioned earlier, I had some early success in coaching and this led to me forgetting the lesson I learned as a young man that you have to work your butt off to have financial success.
I would tell my younger self to appreciate and to be grateful for the early success, but to not be fooled and that I should work harder to keep the momentum going. I would have appreciated the continued financial success, would not have let my guard down, and would have not become complacent. But hey, lesson learned.
We coach to improve the lives of those who we work with. If you don’t coach to serve others, I would argue that you are in the wrong profession. If we coach for money and money alone, we will have little or short-lived success as the inspiration and fulfillment to serve others is what is in the heart of a great coach (in my opinion, of course).
I would tell my younger self to lead with positive impact and to look at a growing or shrinking bank account as a direct correlation to the impact I am having in my community.
I hope at least one of these lessons learned is relevant for you and prevents you from making the mistakes I made as a young coach.
In fact, helping coaches learn from my mistakes so they can have great careers helping their clients is exactly what I do in the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program. This extends beyond financials, as I cover everything from program design to nutrition to marketing.