In 2010 I left the corporate marketing world and launched my own business as a small business marketing consultant. The transition seemed easy at the time.
I had no problem marketing my services to my “ideal” clients. I was clear about how I could help them. I wasn’t worried about what they thought about me. I had no problem saying “no” to clients I didn’t want to work with. And if any of my clients questioned anything I was doing, I saw it as an opportunity for learning and education. No painful thoughts or limiting beliefs got in the way.
Everything was great.
Except that a year into my business I realized that I was dreading getting up in the morning. I didn’t want to go to client meetings. I didn’t want any new clients. I was starting to hate my business.
Two years in, I was exhausted.
That’s when I realized the way I was feeling about my new business, was the exact same way I had felt about my corporate career before leaving. I was still doing the same thing – and working with a similar type of client.
A type of client I felt safe with. A type of client I felt confident in helping. A type of client that didn’t trigger any fears, doubts or limiting beliefs.
Not my ideal client.
I realized that I was playing it safe. I had subconsciously chosen to work with clients who weren’t quite in my passion and purpose wheelhouse. They were sooooo close. But just far enough outside to not trigger any of my fears and doubts.
My payoff for working with these “close-to-but-not-quite-ideal” clients was a sense of safety and security – and not having to deal with a bunch of scary emotions.
Apparently this was a pretty big payoff, because I continued working with these not-so-ideal clients for a couple more years. I became more and more successful on paper. And more and more exhausted and sick.
I didn’t have to deal with those scary emotions, but my body started telling me this could not go on. It gave me a few big hints. Recurring colds that never went away. Weird lumps on my eyes. And finally rosacea. I started to wonder if my body was trying to physically stop me from meeting with new clients.
I finally got the hint, and started researching my next steps. I found Martha Beck’s book Finding Your Own North Star, and signed up for her life coach training program. Followed by Equus Coach and Soul’s Calling Coach training.
I loved it.
But how did all this life coaching fit into my business?
On a retreat in Mexico with Bev Barnes it hit me. Life coaches are my tribe. They are my people, and I can help them.
I realized that there are so many marketing and business programs out there to help experienced entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs with strong basics in business and marketing – but there wasn’t much out there to help new life coaches who were transitioning from a 9-5 career and learning how to build and market a business for the first time.
I was excited and motivated to put together programs to help my people – and I did! I loved the programs I put together, I was so excited about sharing them with my tribe.
But when I went to tell people about them something weird happened. I was terrified. And I froze.
I would start to write blog posts – but couldn’t finish them. I would put together emails, and erase them. I would create eBooks and not share them. I even created a full online course – but never launched it.
I didn’t understand what was happening. I’ve been helping people with marketing and business stuff for nearly 20 years. What was going on?
And then my old thoughts started to creep in… I started to tell myself that life coaches didn’t want what I had to offer. I should target someone else. Someone easier. Definitely someone less scary. Maybe small business owners?
Wow. My brain had looped me right back to my old target audience. My safe audience. It was like Gollum was holding out his precious ring and I was eager to latch on.
But apparently my body had other ideas. After spending so much time immersed in life coach training, I wasn’t able to numb myself like I could before. Dissociation was no longer my friend. And the idea of working again with my not-so-ideal audience brought on a sudden and severe visceral reaction.
So I dared to decide to face the fear & do it anyways (thanks Bev!). I started actually sharing my blog posts, launched my programs & courses, and have been working with some amazing one-on-one clients.
And I LOVE all of it. I wake up in the morning feeling energized. I feel excited and curious about upcoming client calls. And I love thinking of new and different ways to support coaches in my free content and courses.
But marketing all of this is still scary. Which is kind of weird for a marketing person. My fear and limiting beliefs still come up every time I think of sharing something with my tribe.
But that’s also how I really know that I’m finally working with my true ideal clients.
It’s scary because my work and my tribe are so important to me now. What I do has purpose and meaning – and if I fail, if I don’t help my people – it will really hurt.
But it’s worth it. Because along with the fear comes such a feeling of energy and purpose – along with a sense being really connected to something bigger than myself.
And if I can help just one more life coach get their important work out into the world – to move past their fear and do it anyways – it’s so worth it.
So I believe that sometimes a little fear can be a sign we’re on the right track. A sign that we’re pursuing something that is truly meaningful to us.
And at the same time, a complete lack of fear (especially if combined with some interesting body signals) might just be a sign that you’ve gone off track, are playing it safe, and not working with the right people – or offering the right services.
Grab my new eBook, Love Your Business, where I talk about all seven steps new life coaches (and all difference-makers!) need to take to transition from their 9-5 job and design, market & run a business they love – because it fits who they are: