How to Become a Business Coach

Top Three Killer Constraints for Business Coaches

By on October 1, 2020
a person with multiple aspects

It’s no secret I think business coaching is one of the greatest gigs on the planet.

But business coaching isn’t for everyone. And before I encourage anyone to get involved in this industry, I ask them to make sure it’s really right for them. 

Fortunately, there’s a data-driven way to predict with startling accuracy what your level of success as a business coach will be. 

What is it?

It’s called the Flippen ProfileTM.

While I was building my business coaching firm back in 2004, I was introduced to Flip Flippen, a brilliant psychotherapist, social entrepreneur, and thought leader. Over the years, he has become a dear friend and one of my most trusted mentors and advisors. 

Flip combines his professional background as a psychotherapist and business owner with a sophisticated psychometric assessment instrument and a sophisticated set of psychometric profiling instruments and personal coaching methodologies that produce dramatic changes in individuals, corporations, educational institutions, and government entities around the world. 

Flip is the author of the New York Times and USA Today best-selling book called The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back, in which he shares one of his most compelling messages: each of us has personal constraints that hold us back from being all that we can be. 

But, he says in his book, we can overcome our personal constraints if we make ourselves accountable for and choose into learning new patterns of behavior. 

What Makes a Successful Business Coach?

About a year after I met Flip in 2004, I coordinated a research program with the Flippen Group and a well-know business coaching franchisor to coordinate a study of the psychological and behavioral profiles of more than 15 of the franchisor’s most prolific and successful business coaches. These coaches were all making great money — a truly elite group of professionals. They were banking between $20,000 and $40,000 USD per month (or USD equivalent) as business coaches, commanding hourly rates of $500 to $1000+ per hour. 

We wanted to see if there was a “common thread” in their success. The answer was surprising and exciting! 

There were eight common behavioral traits we discovered:

  • High Achievement Drive: The drive to achieve and accomplish great things. 
  • High Competitiveness: The drive to win/excel in competitive environments. 
  • High Critical Thinking: The tendency to critique performance and behavior. 
  • High Dominance: The need to lead, influence outcomes, and make decisions. 
  • High Playful/Energetic: The drive to have lots of fun! 
  • High Self-Confidence: The tendency to think highly of your own capabilities, decisions, and views.
  • Low Self-Critical: The tendency to not beat yourself up, not blame yourself, and not find fault with yourself. 
  • Low Willingness to Defer: The tendency to resist the opinions and preferences of others in favor of your own. 

But what about traits that kill success?

We discovered three profiles that tend to lead to a lack of success in business coaching.

The Pushover: Difficulty persuading, convincing, and winning others over to your point of view.

The cluster of scales that indicate the presence of this killer constraint are a combination of low competitiveness, high self- critical, and high willingness to defer. 

This is because prospective clients often need to be convinced of the need for change in their personal lives or business practices — something that makes folks with this profile uncomfortable. Coaches with difficulty persuading are unable to present themselves in a credible fashion, overcome objections to their services, and answer concerns about the coaching process. 

Even if they can land new clients, coaching engagements often fail because the business owner doesn’t change fast enough to generate the kind of increases in profitability and cash-flow that constitute healthy ROI on the cost of coaching. 

The Softie – difficulty evaluating and critiquing the work of others and carrying out crucial confrontations. 

The cluster of scales that indicate the presence of this killer constraint are a combination of low competitiveness, low critical thinking, and low dominance. 

Coaches with this profile have difficulty making sales because prospective clients often need to be shown exactly where the gaps are in their technical abilities and managerial practices. Prospects need to see the connection between their deficiencies…and their poor business results. 

Coaches with difficulty evaluating and critiquing the work of others do not point out these deficiencies — therefore, their prospects don’t see that they need business coaching to correct the challenges. What’s more, the Softie has difficulty confronting the stubbornness and fear of change which often stand in the way of closing a sale. 

When coaching a client, the Softie has difficulty creating an environment of discipline and accountability around the coaching process. In addition, the Softie is generally hesitant to present correction plans that confront the status quo. 

The Quitter – difficulty persevering and following through on commitments in the face of difficulty. 

The cluster of scales that indicate the presence of this killer constraint are a combination of low achievement, low self- confidence, and high self-critical. 

This is because building lasting relationships can be a slow and tedious process. Successful business coaches know they have to push a lot of leads (as many as 40 to 50 per month), through a sophisticated, relationship-based, sales funnel in order to get results. 

However, the Quitter has a very difficult time handling rejection, often internalizing lost sales opportunities. This leads to a lack of perseverance and follow-through on sales efforts — which of course creates lackluster results. 

When coaching a client, the Quitter struggles to create an environment of consistent attention to detail. Because results in business are all about the details, this leads to failed coaching engagements as the business owner and the subject business don’t make specific changes fast enough. When the Quitter loses client accounts, which inevitably occurs, the emotional impact of the loss can overwhelm the coach and lead to more despondency. 

Is it Hopeless?

Of course not! One of Flip’s great insights is that folks who deliberately seek to identify the personal constraints holding them back are able to proactively address these ineffective behavior patterns.

One of Flip's great insights is that folks who deliberately seek to identify the personal constraints holding them back are able to proactively address these ineffective behavior patterns.

Over time, the top-performers break one constraint after the next in a continual and relentless pursuit of peak performance.

So do you have what it takes?

Find out! Here are two resources to get you started:

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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