I thought back to all of the investments that I've made in my business over the last almost six years now. And I'll be honest with you, some of them have been tremendous. Without them, I don't think I would have seen the growth that I've seen to date. And they are allowing me to continue that growth into 2022 and beyond. And some of those investments I made were not so hot. And I've talked about this before on the podcast. And I believe in being fully transparent with you. I do have a laptop filled with courses and programs that I bought with the best of intentions and didn't necessarily see all the way through to the end. So if you're like me, know that you're not alone. And also, let's not make ourselves feel bad about that. I do like knowing that I have a slew of resources available to me because I've purchased them over the last five years. And so when I need something, I essentially have my own digital library that I can go back to and reference at any time. And I do. So I no longer feel like I have to finish every single course that I buy in order to get the most out of it. In fact, if I'm able to take one or two key takeaways that I then implement in my business, I consider that a success. But even still, there were a few courses and a few investments that, looking back, really did not have the return on investment or the return on my resources that I would have hoped. And that's why I want to share with you today the three things that I do recommend you consider investing in in 2022 if you are looking to grow your business. Before I get into them, though, let me just say that these are suggestions. They are not mandates. I know coaches who have not incorporated these three suggestions into their business, and they still have a successful business. They're seeing clients, they're making money, and they're doing it on their own terms. So the suggestions that I'm about to make are just that, suggestions. To quote one of my favorite Peloton instructors, Dennis Morton, “I make suggestions, you make decisions”. So please take these recommendations in the spirit in which they're intended, which is as options for you to consider, not mandates for you to incorporate into your business. You know your business best, you know the type of growth that you're looking to achieve. And you also know your budget and what is reasonable to invest in. At the end of the day, you are the expert in you and in your business. So please pay attention to your intuition, to your inner voice, and allow it a seat at the decision making table. Just because I am recommending a particular product or service, does not mean you have to buy into it. You know what's best for you. The other thing I want to mention is that if you are just starting out in your coaching business, you may not need these three things right away. They might be things you want to consider once you are 3, 6, 12 months into your business. So if that's you, if you are just getting started, I do want you to listen to this episode. I think you'll find it to be helpful. But keep in mind these are not things you need to invest in today. For more information about what I do think is worth spending a little bit of time, energy and yes, money on early in your practice, I will invite you to go all the way back to Episode 13 where I talk about tools for your coaching business. In that episode I share the resources I used when I first started out and the resources that I use now that I'm a little further along. You can also find a cheat sheet to those resources by going to CoachwithClarity.com/tools. You don't need to enter your email address, it'll pop right up as a PDF that you can download. There's some links in there as well. So if you want to check any of those products out, I've made it really easy for you to do so. But again, if you're just starting out, please, I don't want this to generate any feelings of FOMO or overwhelm, just file this episode away as one that you might come back to when you are ready to make some investments in your business. Okay, let's talk about the first investment you might want to make in your business in 2022 if you haven't already. And that is a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management. So this is technology that helps you manage all of your relationships, and your interactions with your clients, your referral sources, and your potential clients. I view my CRM system as essentially my one stop shop. So whenever I need to connect with a client, or a prospect, or a referral source, I have all of their information in one place. It makes it so easy and so streamlined to build and nurture those relationships. And that is what a CRM can help you do. So instead of having all of your client data and referral source data and all of this information in various places, a CRM essentially creates a home for it. A good CRM also includes other tools to make connecting with and serving your clients even easier. So it might include a scheduling feature so that people can schedule appointments with you, it likely includes a way to share documents for electronic signature. So if you have contracts or agreements that you need your clients to sign, you can do that through your CRM. Typically, it also includes an invoicing system, because this is a business after all, and you do need to get paid. And the easier we can make it for your clients to pay you, the more likely it'll happen in a fast manner. And that's also what a lot of CRMs can do. So we're keeping all of your client information in one place, we've got your contracts, we've got your invoices, we've got your scheduling. You may also choose to take notes and share them with your client, you can do that within a CRM. There may also be a way for you to share materials, whether PDFs, links, and so forth, through your client relationship management system. So that's why I recommend that every coach consider incorporating a CRM system into their practice. Now I know a lot of coaches, and let's be honest, a lot of business owners in general, may delay this one. They might think that implementing a brand new CRM system will be an unnecessary expense, or it'll take too much time, it'll be too difficult to learn how to use. And some coaches may think that the current way that they're running their business is sufficient. And you know what, if it is, then if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you like how your current systems are working for you, and you don't want a CRM, then by all means, keep doing what you're doing. But I know for me when I first started out, my system was a hodgepodge of Google Drive, and emails, and a calendar, and a written planner. And I just felt like all of my information was all over the place. And I didn't really know where I was in my own business. The minute I invested in a CRM, all of a sudden, I felt much more empowered in my business. And I knew the steps I had to take in order to nurture client relationships and deliver on what I promised in my coaching agreement. So it gave me a lot of peace of mind to have a CRM and then the subsequent systems that were practically automatic. I knew that whenever my clients scheduled an appointment with me, they were going to get a reminder email, because I set it up in my CRM to do so. I knew that whenever I sent a contract, once it was signed, the invoice would follow immediately, because again, I set it up that way in my CRM. So there's all sorts of things that we can do within a CRM that will save us time in the long run. So yes, there may be a bit of a learning curve at the start, you may have to invest a few hours in the setup. But once you do, then you will receive that time back tenfold because you will not constantly be reinventing the wheel with every single new client. So basically, having a CRM makes your life easier for you and for your clients. And I also think it kind of kicks up your professionalism a few notches, because when your clients receive these beautifully branded automated emails from you, and they know what to expect, and they know how easy it is to schedule an appointment or to pay an invoice, it shows them this as someone who has their systems together, they know what they're doing, and I can trust them. So when we use a CRM properly, it can actually improve our credibility with our clients. So I think that is a significant advantage to using a CRM. So at this point, you might be wondering, “Okay, Lee, I'm sold, I know I need a CRM, which one should I use?”. Well, there are a lot out there, and many of them have free trials. So what I would suggest is, think about the people that you've already worked with as a client who have used CRMs. If you've worked with a coach, or a copywriter, or a website designer, odds are they have used a CRM when working with you. If you've received a contract to sign electronically, if you've received an invoice to pay online, it's probably come from their CRM. So if you can go back and look to see if on any of those emails, it says, where it came from. If you enjoy that experience, if you found it user friendly, then that might be a program to consider using in your business. There are two CRMs that I have really enjoyed using as a client, and that I've also brought into my business. So the first one I want to mention is HoneyBook. HoneyBook is a robust CRM that handles pretty much everything that I've just described in a way that is simplified, streamlined and easy for your clients to use. Now, I did not start out with HoneyBook. In fact, I've just begun the process of transitioning to HoneyBook. And it's because over the past year or so, HoneyBook has made some improvements that have made it a better fit for coaches. I knew a lot of photographers, wedding professionals, and designers who would use HoneyBook. I was never really convinced that it worked well for coaches, and one-on-one or small group service providers. And then someone from HoneyBook reached out to me and said, “Nope, we've got some new things, you know, coming down the pike, would you be willing to try this out?”. And so that's what I did, I used HoneyBook with a limited number of my clients and got to know the system a bit. And the more I got to know it, the more I really liked it. So I am still in the process of transitioning over to HoneyBook. But I have to say, I really like what I'm seeing. Now, not only does HoneyBook offer a free trial, but they've also given me the opportunity to share a 50% off link with all of you. So if you go to CoachwithClarity.com/honeybook, you can sign up, you can get a free trial, and you can save 50% on your first purchase. So if you decide that you want to sign up for HoneyBook for a full year, you will get 50% off that first year. Which is a huge savings. So again, if you go to CoachwithClarity.com/HoneyBook, you can access that free trial and that 50% savings. The reason I'm able to share that discount with you is because I've decided to be an affiliate for HoneyBook. What that means is that when you make a purchase using my link, HoneyBook provides me with a small commission at no additional cost to you. So I do want to be transparent and let you know that when you use that link, HoneyBook will give me a small amount of money when you become a client. In fact, I use my affiliate income to support my free offers like this podcast and many of the other free products I make available. So when you use any of my affiliate links, including the one for HoneyBook, you help fund all of the costs associated with producing this very podcast. So first, let me thank you for doing so. And let me reassure you that I only share affiliate links for products I actually use. I am NOT an affiliate for programs and services that I don't believe in and that I don't like. So when I share an affiliate link, it's because I use it, and I like it, and I like it enough to feel confident in recommending it to you. So if you have any questions about my approach to affiliate programs, please feel free to ask them. I want to be completely honest and transparent with you. I think that's important in any coaching relationship, including the one that you and I have through this podcast. So that's enough about affiliates. Just know that if you go to CoachwithClarity.com/honeybook you can get your free trial and 50% off your first year of using that CRM. If you decide that HoneyBook is not for you, that's okay, because there are plenty of other options out there. Another very strong option is Dubsado. That is the CRM I started with. It's the one that I'm still using with some of my clients. And it is robust as well, from scheduling, to invoicing, to contracts, to taking notes, to creating client portals. Dubsado can do it all. So Dubsado is another strong option as well. There are other CRMs that I'm familiar with, that I don't have personal experience with, but that I've heard good things about. For example, 17Hats is one, CoachAccountable is another. So again, there are options out there. Make sure you do your homework, try them out, take advantage of those trial periods, and then select the one that feels the most user friendly and efficient for your business. So that is my first recommendation when it comes to making an investment in your business for 2022, to find a CRM platform that you love, that you can use with your clients. And again, based on my experience, and what I've seen, my number one recommendation goes to HoneyBook. Now the second thing I encourage you to consider investing in is your website. Now I do believe regardless of what stage you're in, in your coaching business, you need a website. You need some sort of virtual real estate that is all your own. And having a website legitimizes your business. Now there are two main purposes for a business website. The first purpose is the one that most people talk about, it is a way for clients to initially find you. So whether it's through a Google search, or through other links, perhaps a client is coming on your website, and this is their first exposure to you. This is what a lot of people think about in terms of websites and why you want one. But I'm actually going to suggest that when you're starting out, the second purpose of a website is actually more important. The second purpose of a website is that it's how people can verify you. They will go to your website after they already know about you. And they will make sure you are who you say you are, and you do what you say you do. When I first started my business, most of my connections came through personal referrals, or through networking. So I would go to Chamber of Commerce meetings, I would go to local professional organizations, I would engage in online networking events, and I would share who I was and what I did. And if I had a business card or a virtual business card, I would share it and it had my website on it. People then would go to my website to learn more about me, the work I do, and how they could follow up. I was not finding new clients through my website. My website was being used by people who had already connected with me, to learn more about me, and to get to know more about my business. That is why I think it's important to have a website at every stage of business, even if you're first starting out. Because you will be making those connections, and people will go to your website to learn more about you. Now, when you're first starting out, you don't need a fancy website with all the bells and whistles, you really only need a one page website. And on that website, it should be clear who it is you serve, what it is they need, how you help fill that need, and how people can contact you to learn more. That's really all you need on your very first basic website. And as you grow, and as your business continues to grow, then it becomes more appropriate to build out your website. At this point, you may want a multi page website that includes a homepage, an about page, a services page, a contact page. You may want to have a blog, you may want to have your website be the home for your podcast, or for your YouTube blog. There's all sorts of ways that we can leverage your website for business growth. And this is typically what we want to do once we have 6 to 12 months in business and we're really looking at growing our reach through our website. And it's at this point that you may want to invest time and money into growing your site. This is particularly important if you are starting to have multiple revenue streams in your business. So if you are expanding beyond one-on-one coaching and you're having small groups, or a membership, or a mastermind, having a more robust website is an appropriate next step for you. So now let's talk a little bit about how you can actually go about investing in your website. So if you want a professional looking website that ticks all of the boxes and helps people make the decision to work with you, you have three general options. You have the “Do it Yourself”, or the DIY, you have “Done With You”, and you have “Done For You”. And each of these have their strengths and their limitations, and each of these likely have differing financial investment requirements. But if you want to DIY your own website, you may want to invest in a course or a program that can help you become a stronger sales copywriter, and maybe even design your own website. Now on an earlier episode of the Coach with Clarity Podcast, I interviewed my friend and colleague, Shannon Mattern, whose five day website challenge helped me design and get my very first website up and running on my own. So we will link to that episode and to Shannon's five day challenge in the show notes. But there are certainly options out there that, like Shannon's program, can help you master the fundamentals of website design so that you can do it yourself. Likewise, there are also copywriting programs out there that can teach you how to write in a way that works for your website. So even if you're DIY’ing it, there will still be some training or educational investments you may want to make to ensure that your website is the very best it can be. However, if you are at the point where you want some one-on-one support, then a done with you or a done for you approach may be a better option. And in those cases, you are going to want to partner with a website designer and a copywriter to co-create your website with you. Now there are wonderful website creatives out there. I've had the opportunity to work with several, and I would wholeheartedly recommend them. And yet I also know that what's right for me won't necessarily be right for you. So what I would encourage you to do is to take a look at the websites that you really like. It could be for other coaches, but it may also be for service designers, and start looking at the elements about those websites that really resonate with you. You may want to reach out to the person or business behind that website and ask them, “Who designed your website?”, or, “Who supported you in writing your copy?”. You can ask for those referrals from the sites that you love. And sometimes you may even find them credited at the bottom of the website. So you can do a little homework and allow the websites that you really like to lead you to the design team and the copywriters behind them. Now because partnering together to create a website is such a personal process, I also think it's important that you feel like you have a relationship with the people you're working with. And that's where the power of podcasting can come in. I don't know about you, but when I listen to podcasts, I immediately feel connected to the voice or voices that I'm hearing. And I have found a lot of colleagues, friends, and people that I've worked with through podcasts. So you may want to do a search for some podcasts, either about website design and about copywriting, or podcasts about coaching that have interviewed website designers and copywriters. Get to know them through their podcast appearances, through their interviews, and you'll start to get a sense of whether this is someone you want to work with. Now, of course, you don't have to limit it to podcasts. You can also look at blogs and guest blog posts. You can go on YouTube and watch videos and you can start to get a sense of the personality and the style of the designers and copywriters behind it. So in addition to asking for referrals from people you trust, I also recommend getting to know these experts through their podcasts, interviews, blog posts, video features, and the like. That will give you a lot of information so that you feel prepared to enter into that professional relationship with them. All right my friend, we have covered two possible investments you might want to make in your business in 2022. We've talked about a CRM, or a client relationship management platform, and we've talked about your website. The third and final recommendation I want to make today is that if you are not already investing in your own coaching, that should be at the top of your list of investments for 2022. I strongly believe that great coaches have great coaches. And as a coach, I so appreciate having that outside objective experience and wisdom that I gained from working with my own coaches. I also believe that if we are going to extol the virtues and the power of coaching, then we need to be walking our talk. And we need to be working with our own coaches in order to improve our personal and professional performance. So when it comes to investing in coaching, you have a few options. You might want to work privately with a coach through one-on-one coaching, or you may want to be part of a group coaching program. So in terms of figuring out which is right for you, keep in mind that regardless of whether you go with individual or group coaching, the whole point of coaching is to help you achieve whatever it is you want faster, more efficiently, and with more joy. We did not start our own coaching businesses to be miserable. So let's make sure we inject some fun into it. And working with a coach can help do that. The other thing to remember is that working with a coach makes you a better coach. Not only do you get the benefit of someone else's perspective and expertise, but you also get to observe their coaching style and approach. You can take what you like, modify it for your own practice, and become a stronger coach. Plus, you can move forward taking steps in your business knowing that you are not alone, and that you always have someone in your corner cheering you on. So when we're looking at coaching, we do need to understand the differences between individual coaching and receiving coaching as part of a larger group. And the fact is, you may benefit from different things at different stages in your coaching journey. So it's worth taking a little time to consider where you are right now, what you need, and what type of coaching program could best meet your needs. Now honestly, one of the key differences between individual and group coaching may be financial. Oftentimes, group programs are less of a financial investment. And so that can be an advantage. Plus, you also have the benefit of being a part of a larger cohort of other people who have similar goals and similar values. And so you can learn with them and from them. There's also a great deal of comfort that can come from having group support. And I know that when I've been in group programs, I've had the added benefit of creating friendships that have really stood the test of time. When I think about the people I consider to be my business besties, I've generally met them through some sort of group coaching program. So that is a huge benefit to pursuing a group program. On the flip side, there are some serious benefits to a private coaching experience as well. And if you find that your growth plans for your business are growing increasingly complex, it might be the right time to look for a greater degree of personalized attention. So you might want a coach who can really get into your business, into your business model, and help you construct programs, offers, and processes that are going to allow you to grow faster. Individual coaching often comes with much more personalized attention, not just within the coaching sessions, but between them. I know when I work with my private coaching clients, they have access to me pretty much all the time through email or through Voxer, they can always reach out and ask a question. They don't have to wait until our next session. I'm also the kind of coach that wants to know what they're working on. So they can share their works in progress with me if they'd like my feedback and my guidance. I believe in a wraparound approach to one-on-one coaching. So when someone works with me as a private coaching client, they are getting all of me. So there are clearly advantages and disadvantages to both private coaching and group coaching programs. And at the end of the day, it really comes down to finding a coach that is a good fit for you, whose approach is in alignment with your values and how you want to grow your business. And then when it comes to a one-on-one group, you'll want to consider those other factors we just discussed to see what you really need right now in your stage of business growth. Now when you're looking for a coach, you do want to make sure that you are working with someone who understands what it means to be a client-centered coach. You want to make sure that you're working with a coach who is prepared to keep your agenda front and center. A lot of coaches out there, unfortunately, come from the perspective of, “My way is the right way. So I'm going to teach you how I do it. And then you can replicate my process. And if you don't, you're doing it wrong”. I don't know about you, but that's not the kind of coach I want to work with. And that's not the kind of coach I am. I want my clients to feel empowered to take what we discuss in our sessions together and implement it in a way that will work best for them. Even better, I want to work with people who want to develop their own solutions. And so then my job is really to ask the right questions to unlock my client's creativity. That is what a deep coaching relationship looks like. And that's what I would encourage you to look for when you are interviewing your own coaches. Now, it can be a little tricky to find the right coach for you. But you do have a few options. Now, just as I suggested, with your website designers and copywriters, you may want to ask other people you trust for referrals for coaches. If you know someone who's worked with a coach and they've had a great experience, then it would make sense to connect with that coach and see if it might be the right fit for you. There are also other tools out there to help you find a coach. For example, at the International Coaching Federation's website, they have a “find a coach” tool, where you can access their database of credentialed coaches to see if there's a coach that is in your area, or who specializes in the area that you want to focus on. And when it comes to group coaching programs, I find that word of mouth recommendations are a terrific indicator that you found a good group. But again, take some time with this process, make sure that you are feeling connected to the person behind the program. Because again, this is a significant investment you're making certainly financially, but also in terms of time and energy. So make sure that you feel that the person you're choosing to work with is the best fit for you. My motto is, “People Over Programs”. So no matter how good something looks from the outside, make sure that you feel just as deeply connected to the person behind it. As I mentioned before, I do work with a limited number of private coaching clients. And I also have a small mastermind group that I run, which I feel like is the best of both worlds. It's a hybrid program in that we do have 2 group mastermind sessions every month, and I am also meeting individually once a month with each participant. So we get the best of both individual and group coaching within this program. It also includes quarterly workshops with guest experts, and provided it's safe to do so, it will include an in person annual retreat. Now, I have been working with a mastermind cohort since September, and it has been a phenomenal experience. And so I've decided to open up enrollment for a second cohort. Now, this is an intimate program, I'm only accepting four to six people in this next cohort. But if you get the sense that we would work well together, and if you're ready to take your coaching business to the next level, then let's connect. Send me an email to info@CoachwithClarity.com. Or come find me over on Instagram @CoachwithClarity and send me a DM. Let me know that you listened to this episode and you're interested in the mastermind. We can schedule a time to talk and discuss whether it is the best next step for you in your business. I am hopeful that we will start the next cohort in February. So I will be spending the rest of January ensuring that I have the right fit of people for this next cohort. And if you are getting that intuitive nudge right now, this might be for you, please reach out. We can have a discussion. I'll share all of the information with you. So that way you can make an informed decision about what's next for you in your business.
All right, my friends. That is it for me this week on the Coach with Clarity Podcast. Again, I hope you have had an incredible start to 2022. And I am so excited to continue to partner with you to create great things in your coaching practice for this next year and in the years to come. I will be back in your feed next week with a terrific interview with my friend and colleague Abby Herman, all about how to create content in your business that will connect you with your ideal clients. It is going to be a great show. So I hope you will join me then. Until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.