How to Become a Business Coach

What Naval Ships Can Teach Us about Business Coaches Who Succeed

By on October 1, 2019

In a recent Monday Morning Memo, advertising guru Roy Williams warns against the fallacy of “survivorship bias”–something that we here at the Coaches’ Coach have seen over and over again among business coaches struggling to make their practice profitable (HINT: business coaches who succeed stay aware of it, and adjust for it). But what is survivorship bias, exactly? Roy explains with an anecdote from the navy:

When the Center for Naval Analyses evaluated the bullet holes in aircraft returning from missions during WWII, armor was recommended for the areas that showed the most damage. An engineer, Abraham Wald, popularized the term “survivorship bias” when he pointed out, “These are the planes that were able to return to base. The areas we need to reinforce are the areas that are undamaged on these planes, because those are the areas where damage makes it impossible to return.”

In other words, as Roy defines it so succinctly, “when we focus our attention on those who succeed–and ignore the lessons of those who failed–we tumble headlong into survivorship bias, a dangerous but invisible fallacy of logic.”

Over the past fifteen years, we’ve been studying not just the business coaches who succeed, but also the business coaches who fail miserably. And we’ve come away with the top three factors that separate them.

1. They don’t have sufficient start-up capital

I call this a “war chest,” and if you launch your business coaching practice without one, you’re almost guaranteed to fail. This is the money you need to begin marketing–and to tide you over until you begin to generate sufficient revenue. A huge mistake too many business coaches make is blowing their war chest on things that are unnecessary, such as office space and franchise fees, instead of marketing their butts off. My advice? Don’t buy a franchise, work from a home office, and put all the capital you can toward generating leads.

2. They don’t want to learn to sell

Some coaches get into the business because they want to help people–which is fantastic, that’s the heart of business coaching–but they bring an aversion to sales. Let me be blunt: if you don’t learn to sell, you won’t succeed in this business, period. Contrary to some who believe you’re either born knowing how to sell or you aren’t, sales is a skill. And like any skill, you can learn to master it. But if you don’t, you’ll never become one of the business coaches who succeed.

3. They don’t have anyone holding their feet to the fire

I’m always surprised at the amount of business coaches who don’t have a business coach. Do you believe in the process you’re selling or not? Just like any business coaching client, you need someone to hold you accountable, to help you ensure you’re doing the difficult things every single day that are required to be successful in this business. Don’t just talk the talk–walk the walk, and hire your own coaches’ coach.

If you’re looking for someone to make business coaching sound easy, you’ve got the wrong group. Here at the Coaches’ Coach, we’ll tell you the things you need to do to be successful in this business. Some of it isn’t particularly glamorous and some of it requires old-fashioned elbow grease. But at the end of the day, we know what separates the business coaches who succeed from the business coaches who fail because we’ve been in the trenches with both for the last fifteen years.

Here at the Coaches' Coach, we'll tell you the things you need to do to be successful in this business. Some of it isn't particularly glamorous, some of it requires old-fashioned elbow grease, but at the end of the day, we know what separates the business coaches who succeed from the business coaches who fail because we've been in the trenches with both for the last fifteen years.

Learn what you can from both the successes and the failures and you’ll be poised to beat the odds.

For more hard-hitting advice on becoming a business coach, don’t miss our FREE ebook, How to Become a Business Coach.

Eric Dombach

About Eric Dombach

Eric Dombach is the Founder of Coaches’ Coach. In 2001, he founded a business coaching firm that, by 2005, was generating more than $1 million USD in revenue, 23% operating profit, and average annual growth rate of 140% per year. In 2005, he sold the firm to 4 of his employees for $1 million U.S. dollars, generating a return on capital of more than 800%. Since then he has trained more than 1,300 independent and franchise business coaches in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Australasian markets.

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