So many coaches! What kind do you need and when?
I often hear from clients that, before they found me, they weren’t exactly sure what kind of help they really needed in their business. They wondered, “Do I really need branding help? Or just a business coach or accountability partner?”
So I want to talk a little bit about the different kinds of business help that you might be needing along your journey. Because being stuck isn’t nearly as bad when you know the right help you need to get moving again.
PHASE 1: Business Clarity
Let’s look at the case of a creative visionary named Juliana. Juliana’s art business started with lots of little ideas – she knew what she loved to do, where her talents lie, and that there were people out there in the world making money doing various forms of similar work. As an artist, she even had some pieces and the beginnings of a unique approach that made her work different and interesting.
But when people asked her what she was up to, she considered her business idea so new and incomplete that she shied away from sharing anything concrete. She felt like she was constantly holding her business back from actually getting anywhere with her indecisiveness and confusing description of what she did. She hadn’t really solidified the details of the business she was creating: how to explain its value, where she was taking it, or what it was really all about.
We’ll call this first phase the “Business Clarity” phase – when the big pieces of a business need to come together into a cohesive vision so that you can really get behind your idea and give it the push it needs to get off the ground.
Note: Jumping right to marketing help at this stage is like fueling a vehicle that’s missing some core components. A bad idea!
The help you need at this point includes a strategy component.
You need business strategy – how you’ll make money, who you serve, what you sell, why your business exists, the processes and approaches you use to do what you do, etc.
And you need messaging strategy – the value you provide to your audience, how you’re different, your unique stories and point of view, and your own voice and personality to bring to life.
Many business coaches and strategists will stick to business stuff.
Many brand coaches and strategists will stick to messaging stuff.
A great strategist (regardless of their title) will help you with both simultaneously. (That’s the approach I take when I work with clients one on one or in my Substantial Branding programs.)
PHASE 2: Setting Up Shop
Great! So Juliana made those key business decisions and developed some strong messaging. Clarity was no longer an issue, so what happened next?
She needed to turn those strategy decisions into a tangible expression of her brand across every aspect of her business – from her offerings, to her visuals, to her website copy, to her social media, to her interactions with customers.
We’ll call this the “Setting Up Shop” phase of business creation. Often you need extra hands with specialized expertise to help you as you establish your online home and all of the physical pieces of your business.
You might to hire a visual branding expert or designer to help you establish a new visual identity that suits your strategy decisions. (Or you might take a course that helps you DIY for the first time around, and that’s okay too.)
You might hire a copywriter or editor to help you turn the messaging into website copy that reinforces your brand and inspires sign-ups and sales. You might also get them to help create emails, blog posts, and social media posts as well. The brand strategy work will make all of this easy!
You might hire a business or brand coach to help you keep the momentum going and serve as a sounding board and advisor as you make all of the big and small decisions that go along with this phase of business. But your brand strategy will be the real anchor here — keeping you focused and on-track as you face this whirlwind of new decisions and possibility.
Depending on your business, you might also have to hire somebody to help you create your actual products and the infrastructure for selling them.
My suggestion is to keep your business infrastructure as lean as possible during this phase until you get some traction on a simple offering within a simple business model. That said, you’ll still have the big picture in mind and have a good strong sense of how things will grow and the kind of opportunities you want to make happen.
PHASE 3: Gaining Traction
Ahhh, done! Juliana now has a solid online space (clean, simple, clear) that explains what she does, appeals to her ideal audience, leads them to join her community and possibly buy her art, and provides a forum for sharing of her story and connecting with people.
This is just a starting point for her. Her online presence will evolve and grow as she continues to learn more about her people and what they want. To do that, she needs to grow her following!
So she has entered what we’ll call the “Gaining Traction” phase of business creation.
This is when you have only one goal: get in front of your people and start providing value until they buy from you. It’s experimental, it takes getting your hands dirty, and it can’t be done without mistakes. Many call this part “the hustle.”
Depending on your chosen methods (which will be informed heavily by your brand strategy, by the way) you might finally be ready to hire that marketing, sales, content marketing, media, or social media coach.
Get the help you need to give your business a proper push and start getting some customers in the door (some people find an accountability partner extra valuable during this period, as well.) Then watch closely and gather the insights that will flood in with close customer interaction and trial and error.
Because you’ll need this added wisdom for the next phase of business creation, which we’ll call “Leveling Up.”
PHASE 4: Leveling Up
This phase is like a grown-up version of the “Business Clarity” phase. You’ll be revisiting your same business and brand strategy decisions with some concrete results and customer feedback in your back pocket. With this new clarity, you’ll be able to further hone your message and tighten up your business decisions to take things to an even higher level of success.
Once again you might seek out a strategist — somebody that can help you take all of this information and work it into an improved set of decisions and messaging. Depending on the scope, this might feel like a bit of a “rebranding” even though it’s really just natural evolution.
At this point you often need another kind of help as well. This phase of business can be especially uncomfortable as you need to think bigger, envision new possibilities, and show up more unapologetically in your very own way. That takes guts! So you might seek the support of a coach or a mastermind that can rally behind you as you make your ascent to the next level.
Don’t stay stuck.
The cycle will continue – fine-tuning how you’ve set up shop, digging back into marketing and experimenting in new ways, etc. And each go round, your business will get better, and hiring help will not be as much of a financial strain.
So stop trying to do this all in one single trip.
If you’re spending too much time at the beginning of this cycle, it’s probably because you either haven’t found the right help to get business clarity, OR, you’re acting as though you only get one chance. Take your best guess at those business decisions, create a minimum set-up, and get into connecting and experimenting as quickly as you can.
If you’ve been stuck at the leveling up phase, the same might be true. Find somebody to push you out of your comfort zone and help you see your business in a new light.
There’s always a way (and often a person) to keep moving you forward, toward more business growth and success.
Take the first step now.
I love helping visionaries with big hearts and over-active minds get unstuck and figure out their next step. If you happen to be stuck in the business clarity or leveling up phases of your journey, book a free virtual coffee date now! Let’s chat about working together and getting your business story straight.