In this new episode, I have a lot to say as I share my thoughts on the evolving and changing dynamic and landscape of the coaching industry. After 18 years as a business and leadership coach and educator and with 20+ years in the coaching industry, I have seen a lot and have plenty to comment on when it comes to the focus of today’s episode.
I have a renewed commitment to champion more ethical business and marketing practices in the coaching industry and knows this will benefit coaches, and most importantly, consumers.
This episode is not just for coaches. All of us are potential clients of coaches and online service providers (OSPs), so you want to be informed. Something I plan on talking a lot more about. It is a non negotiable IMO.
I shared a post on Instagram a couple of days ago about things I am actioning.
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I read a story over the weekend that literally made my blood boil. Now it that was shared on social media by someone I know and I 100% believe it happened because I know she’s no need to share anything that’s not true. And I also hear stories like this often and have done for years. The story went a little bit like this a contact of the story sharer reached out for guidance and support to the coach she’d hired told her she wasn’t committed enough when she asked a question about where to find something in a resource that had been shared. I literally I was like, WTF I don’t say very often, but like that was what came to mind.
Years gone by, honestly, I would have been surprised at this. But sadly, I’m not surprised anymore. In fact, I interacted with someone in my own extensive business circle just recently who felt unsafe to ask questions based on experience she’d had. And she reached out to me with a what do I do? I don’t know how to navigate this. This is not okay. Not at all.
Hey superstar! Welcome to a new episode of She Leads She Thrives. I’m Shannon Dunn, your host here on the pod.
The I’ve just transitioned into my 18th year coaching in my own business as we began 2023. And I first began coaching and learnt about coaching methodology over two decades ago. So over the years, I’ve observed a lot about the coaching and helping industries and today I’ve got some important things to talk about with you. So get yourself a cuppa, get comfy, settle in for a ride. If you’re listening whilst walking, or driving, watch the path or road like no accidents please, you can always come back and listen to any episode again and check out our show notes have access to the full transcript. My team and I publish one with every single episode.
Now, okay. If you’re in the coaching industry, particularly in the era of bit of coaching that’s business related, then you’ve likely seen a shift in the industry over the recent months. It’s been coming for a while in my certain personal opinion. It’s time to share some of my views on what I’ve seen and heard and continue to hear, and to offer considerations for you as a consumer seeking to hire a coach or consultant and mentor, a guide or healer, whatever they call themselves.
If you haven’t seen or heard anything, then listen in – this is important for us all to understand. And I will just reiterate, this is my viewpoint. So this is my experience, you may have a different one and coaches that you’re working with reaching out to connecting with, learning from, following on, all of the social media may have different views as well if I don’t know many of them do.
Now, if you’re not a coach but you’re in business or leadership or seek personal development, then listen in to. You’re an important part of the coaching and support industry equation as a potential client, whether that be for business, health, wealth, life, relationships, or anything else that you seek support for. So what I’m sharing in this episode is not isolated to coaching because these shifts to more ethical practices and not just for the coaching industry or self help industry. They’re, in my experience and opinion, for all of offering services and products.
As I mentioned, the stories I opened with are not isolated. In fact, my, in my business I’ve frequently been the coach people turn to when they’ve had a poor experience elsewhere. Many years ago, private client after private client came to work with me after having worked with one or both actually of two coaches who were quite dominant in Australia at that time. These clients, over a dozen of them in quick succession shared consistent stories of how they responded to and spoken to.
I remember so clearly at the time feeling so disappointed at the mistrust that had been created, and the beliefs about coaching that had been reinforced. The reality was of the initial six months of one on one coaching, we did all that I did with each of these incredible souls, a large percentage of that was what I call identity and belief work. You see, these individual women felt so defeated and deflated after their experiences, that they were in a chaotic state of questioning, self judgment, lack of trust and comparison. And, you know what, a whole lot of other things as well, for some of them. Nearly all talked to me about how much they’d felt a failure and not important, because it was a pattern of one of the coaches, particularly that they’d worked with, to in their words, ignore me now I’m not paying her.
They went on to say how, when they were in contract with a coach in question, they’d felt like the most important person in the world to that coach. I often heard a phrase along the lines of I can’t believe I thought we were friends. And she really cared about me. I felt their pain, their disappointment, frustration, sadness, and even their grief. Some were extremely traumatized and wondering how they are smart women had fallen into the trap. That’s the kind of language that was used so strong, such powerful words that tell so much.
So our priority focus was really on kind of rebuilding them, I guess that’s the best way to describe it. And as a coach, I definitely stepped into a role of reminding them exactly who they are and reinforcing beliefs that create resilience, strength, leadership, self compassion, kindness, amongst other things, and open the lens of curiosity in place of judgment, criticism and destructive self limiting comparison. Once this piece of work together began to create personal change and shifted beliefs truth and momentum, it was then we could actually focus on the business support and coaching they’d come to me for initially.
In every session, I sat in a space of compassion and gratitude, so grateful they trusted themselves enough to find someone different to support them as a coach, and so grateful, so grateful they reached out to and trusted me. I didn’t then and I don’t still take lightly the decision people make when they choose to work with me in any capacity. From a free training to being in a Facebook community to tuning into this podcast, attending an event I’m speaking at, reaching out to ask a question, because you trust I’ll listen and help how I can, to paid the experiences or from masterclasses to education programs, a group mastermind coaching, to work with me in retreats and strategy sessions and one on one Thrive Factor profiling, or any other way that our exchange occurs. I’m opening even more to gratitude for the choice you made to spend time in my space listening, learning and interacting. And I learn from you too, there’s so much that I learned from every single client interaction and I’m so grateful and honored to be a part of those.
So now promised today, I was going to talk about the shifts I’m seeing in the coaching industry. And you know what, there are so many of them. So I’m going to limit it to just a handful of the key ones that I see are important to share today. And I share this through the lens of business coaching as that’s the core space both I work in, learn in and pay attention to. But I believe wholeheartedly this is happening across coaching, or it will do in some point in time. And very soon, I believe. They also do need to say this, I think if you’ve listened at any time to any of the podcast at any point, you know that I love coaching. I love being a coach, I adore coaching as a way to work with people. And I believe in coaching certification, ongoing training for coaches and coaches seeking support to unpack their stuff.
That’s something called supervision in the therapeutic and psychological industries. Now, if you’re new to the podcast, welcome, I wanted to share, it is my truth. So you know that up front before I go on, I’m not here to diss the industry. I’m not here to criticize the industry. I’m here to shine a light on things that we can do to improve. And it’s not every coach that I’m talking about or talking to, not at all there are incredible women and men in the coaching industry doing phenomenal things in a very ethical way. But there are others that are not.
So I’m not here to be part of an industry there’s littered with unethical practices and unsafe ways of working with others. I’m not planning to walk away from coaching, as I’ve seen many coaches do many amazing coaches do. Instead, I’m rising to the invitation to be part of offering something different. And what’s really I believe best for a client, and coach and the world. So the things I’m seeing called out most, and it very much is like a calling out. Some of its not very, I would say, compassionate, it’s got room for opportunity for being more compassionate. But it is very much a calling out. And, you know, they often relate to a few main points. And as I said, there’s plenty more I can talk to. But for time considerations, I’ve just focused on the ones that I feel most important to talk to you right now.
So one of the shifts I’m seeing, or I’ve seen, is highlighting what’s not okay about marketing strategies that reinforce messages saying things like, you’re not some kind of enough if you don’t join XYZ, whatever that is. Now, this could look like a piece of copy on a social media post that says something along the lines of you can take as long as you like to join, but the price goes up every hour. And if you were really committed to your success, you’d save money and take action now. This is not okay. Right? You know, I’ve just kind of riffed off that, that example of copy, but oh goodness me, I see it all the time.
So pressuring people into buying like this is not ethical, yet it’s a strategy that is seen across many parts of the coaching industry, it’s rife in business coaching. I get the notion of staggered payments, you know, where the payment increases, the closer you get to starting something like I understand the psychology behind it. I’ve talked through strategies with clients who wanted to try this approach. I’ve tried the earlybird pricing strategy myself. But I’ve also come to understand how this is not in the best interests of all. And I do not believe in pressuring people into investing in any way that that’s done. And I don’t want to make people feel bad for not being able to or not wanting to buy. That’s not okay, though.
Now, in fact, here’s a bit of a an honest truth of you, I made a decision last year to scrap staggered pricing such as the earlybird offer. But you know what, for some reason, I went back on that decision, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. And I know myself to be a very aware, conscious and considered person. But I’m also human, and I got swayed. Yeah, but I’ve seen what happened. And just you know, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve worked through how I got distracted and why it happened. And with that have gone back to my decision to offer a single price with payment plan options for the majority of things I offer. And also do being really conscious about what is a fair exchange from a dollar perspective for what I offer in what all the different ways that you could work with me.
I see wild crazy prices offered in the coaching space, definitely in the business coaching, but in other coaching spaces as well. And I really don’t agree with most of them. Now, perhaps you’ve had experiences where you’ve seen or been swayed or pressured by marketing that really doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Even though you’ve challenged the creator or share of said marketing would likely say it’s not the case at all.
Okay, that’s one thing I want to talk to you about. Something else that I want to highlight that is a shift I’ve seen is this – clients are asking for more transparency from the actual and potential coaches, and oh, my goodness, it’s so needed. And I’m so here for this. Now, let me share three examples with you about this. And these are kind of all intertwined to shifts I’m seeing in the coaching industry, and shifts that I believe are more in line with us moving towards more ethical business practice.
Now one example is the transparency could related to their earnings if that’s part of their marketing strategy to share their sales and cash earnings. Okay, let me just say “Good on you for making money”. as a coach, if you do this, that’s amazing, because leading a successful coaching business that earns an amazing income is hard work. 100% is. There’s more on that and the next thing I’m going to talk about when I feel more transparency as needed. But let me also say this, it can be so easy to think that because a coach shares their Paypal or Stripe screenshots or whatever else, and shows they’re, you know, earning big money, that they’re also a phenomenal coach, but not necessarily. Not at all. Many of them are exceptional at sales and selling and marketing. But it does not equate to them being exceptional at teaching you the same which actually, incidentally, is not coaching, teaching and coaching are not the same thing. But that’s for totally for another day.
Now I’ve seen a trend burst onto the coaching scene the last probably two to three years increasingly so, that’s normalized using your earnings as a marketing strategy, but it’s not the thing to base your decision on when choosing who to coach with. If I cared about my future coaches earnings, which I don’t, the questions I’d be asking before hiring someone are, is what they are sharing profit, or is it sales that reflect future future potential income, or is it cash they’ve already been paid?
What were the expenses paid to achieve this income? How many clients, programs, services were sold and how many participants or gave raving reviews or testimonials of their actual tangible outcomes, like really tangible outcomes? What is the coach’s way of working with clients? You know, do they actually coach? Or do they outsource a large part of it to a team or support coaches, which is okay, but you know, be transparent about that. If they outsource part of the coaching and teaching, if it’s a program that is education focused, do you know this when you invest? Like if you are drawn to the here’s my income as a strategy, go for it, that’s your choice entirely. But know that you do not always get what you pay for and there are so many legit coaches who prioritize client experience and outcomes over their earnings, who will likely coach you forward in a collaborative relationship that you’re going to find so value filled. Find them, hire them. They’re waiting for you while sharing content that’s meaningful and useful. You know, if you’ve got a story about this, and your experience with a coach was all about their income, and not yours, I’d love to hear it, you know how you can reach out to us all our contact details are always in our show notes.
Okay, to extend on what I just share, the transparency we’d all benefit from could be related also to the coaching methodology and whether they actually trained or qualified as a coach or not. Now, I’ve made it very clear for years now that I believe coaches should be certified and actively participate in ongoing coaching training.Training that supports them to actually work with people. Now I’ve seen many high profile coaches claim they don’t believe in qualifications, some focus their messaging on how long they’ve been doing what they’ve been doing, and use their I guess, tenure as experience as the way to justify their coaching. And they’re often the same ones who share their earnings. You know, it’s got an undertone. From my perspective of look, lots of people are paying me so I must be amazing and know what I’m doing. But you know what, that’s not the case at all.
I shared a couple of posts on Insta, kind of late last year. Now it was, and there are a lot of interactions. So let me share some of what I wrote and shared then. Okay, now one had the heading, “You see a coach you follow sharing her multiple five figure price for a 30 minute call, and” I just kind of left the ellipsis of dot, dot, dot. Then I went on to share this.
The thing about pricing across many industries, and particularly coaching is there’s no exact guide that tells you what to charge or what you can earn. Every business coach you see promoting that 30 minute call, or five days in Voxers is upwards of multiple five figures to invest in, there is a coach out there likely smarter, more able to actually coach you and work collaboratively with you to move towards and experience the results you want and deserve. And who is a fraction of the investment you think is actually expected. Them charging less isn’t a sign they don’t know what they’re doing.
You wondering why you can’t get the same kind of dollars is not evidence to decide you’re going to be already or failure either. Perhaps you’ve just started your business. You’re not a coach or mentor or consultant, you work in an industry where there was influence on what you can price. And there are plenty of industries out there that actually give you pricing guides. Or maybe you haven’t yet mastered sales and marketing. But comparing what you’ve got coming in to someone’s share on social media is not a measure for success. You and your success is unique. Your speed of achievement is also unique. Some people move faster and cheaper at different rates than others. It’s a rare few, from my observations over all these years, rare few people who actually make mega bucks in the coaching space, but know this. They aren’t necessarily smarter, prettier, younger or more experienced than you. They don’t have some kind of magic that’s only accessible for a few. They have likely worked out their success pathways, honed their skills to successfully sell what they offer, then they sell often, they’ve built community and they haven’t done it overnight like it might seem.
Business is hard. I mentioned this a little bit a little while ago. And it’s hard in any climate, no matter what the financial situation is across the world. There’s no one pathway to success and just as you show up to and follow despite what you’ve been told to. And at the time I’ve seen people I follow and whose opinions I value call on business coaches to be more honest about what it actually takes to build a successful business. And it’s so refreshing to hear and and see a successful coach talk like this because it doesn’t happen enough. I feel this need for more transparency on pricing too.
So please invest to work with people who are your cheerleader, mentor, reality check and expander are those who know what they are doing, who know how to hold space for you to rise and understand how to ethically and with grace and integrity coach you forward. People who have genuine coaching and business expertise, who are credible and not focused on showing how many sales they received to prove their worth hiring.
People who know how to coach you, not try and get you to fit into their failproof solution. Now, while the core of this post, you know, was in some ways about pricing and not using the pricing or the let’s just say the “look what I’ve earned” kind of strategies, I was also highligting the issues with untrained coaches. They’re not the only ones who ask what I consider ridiculous prices for what they do. And you know what a qualification is not a justification for a pricing higher either. But a qualification can offer significant benefits to a coaching relationship.
Now, I was thinking about how do I describe this and I literally got shared with me the most incredible posts from a New Zealand-based coach called Anna Squelch. And Anna shared the following. “A coaching qualification, (and she’s got in brackets at the very least) gives you a scope of practice in which to operate your coaching business. Without one, there are no boundaries between you and your client and the type of support you will be providing for them. This is where we have many coaches with no qualifications cosplaying as therapists and mental health counselors causing serious psychological, and she’s also got in brackets “and financial harm” along the way.”
You know, I agree with what Anna shared here, you know, and be a discerning consumer, ask your coaches what they’re certified in, or trained in, and what ongoing training and professional support they engage in. A qualification is not a foolproof guarantee or promise you will receive the experience you invest in. But in my experience, it can significantly help to be you know, to be that becomes your reality that you actually get what you pay for.
Now, you can imagine I’ve got more to say on this, and some phenomenal new guests conversations to share with you in coming months with this and many other things around the whole ethical business practice, and particularly in relation to coaching are going to be topics that we’re going to be discussing.
But here’s another one about transparency. Now it could be related to the actual support offered in their programs and even their one to one. Now to scale a business is important, if that’s your goal, right? Not everyone wants to scale to a certain level or beyond. To scale means for lots of people in certain businesses in coaching in the helping industries, getting help deliver what they deliver in their businesses. Now I’ve seen coaches the last few years hire other coaches do the coaching and their offerings and that’s okay. Hiring genuine experts is a great thing. I personally have paid for experts to teach in my space and we’ll be doing this and in so many different ways moving forward. And we particularly do it in the Thrive Factor Coach leadership coaching certification.
But what’s not okay is when you don’t tell people this is the reality. As a consumer, you might read or hear something like this, “There’s three times one on one sessions included in the group program.” That’s fabulous, but with who? Like who’s leading those one on one sessions, because I signed up to be coached by you. While you might read or say something like this “Guest masterclasses with industry experts”. Sounds enticing. But who are they? Do I know them? What is their extra expertise to actually want to work with them or learn from them?
I’ve got another story to share with you about my personal experience with this. And it relates to a mastermind I was in a while back. I asked a lot of questions for investing. And I was confident in my decision to join the experience was not what was promised. One of the worst parts was when I was involved in one of the day long sessions the night before late, I received an email to say what was included on the following day. And most of the morning was dedicated to something I offer in my own business as a coach and offered by another business coach who I had absolutely no interest in working with or learning from. Now, and I’m not a closed person I built truly believe I can always learn something new. But you know, this particular focus for this coach and what you were delivering this session was something I had already completed in my business and worked through with my own coach – I did not need to repeat it.
So I was committed to showing up. But better use of my time would have been to spend that half day doing something else. The lack of transparency early enough for me to make more informed decisions was the issue for me. Perhaps you’ve had experiences like this of your own. And if you’d like to share, you can always email through to firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram @Shannon_ thethrivefactor. Be sure to reference the podcast because I get so many spam messages and I would hate to miss a message from you. So but yeah, come and share, tell me what your experience has been like.
Now I have shared a lot today I said I was going to. But these are opportunities that we can all benefit from. I’m not sure the exact solution or pathway to a more ethical inclusive coaching industry. But I’m so happy to see subtle changes happening and I’m championing a more client focused experience, a more transparent one, a more ethical one for everyone involved in the coaching equation. As things arise, I’ll bring them back to this space to talk about them. I’ll share my experience and my views, and what I’m seeing and sensing and I’ll be talking more about this with guests, as I mentioned where that’s appropriate. Not every one of my guests is going to have the same views as me, but a lot of them do. And you know what, more and more I’m seeking out the kinds of women that are really going to be contributing to this kind of a conversation.
She Leads She Thrives is about having the uncomfortable conversations. delving into the reality sharing the truth that I believe is a form of leadership. And it really starts with self leadership. It starts with you choosing how you’re going to lead in life and business. Lead yourself as a priority. It’s not about agreeing with everyone and not following trends. It’s an invitation and an opportunity to follow what’s right for you and to listen more to your ideal clients, to listen so that you hear what they actually want and need, to go meet them where they’re at.
Lastly, for today, a practical thing that you could consider doing. I invite you to understand what matters most to you as a client, and to use that as a guide before investing in a coach and mentor guide a program or training. Honour yourself and what you want and need. Believe there is someone out there who was ideal for you, I believe there is. I’ve worked with them both as client and coach there are just the most incredible people out there who are genuine and trained and understand how to work with you and ethical as much as they can be and they’re learning to be.
Coaching as an aspect of the self help industry is here to stay. It’s not new, I’ve even seen a number of of comments in relation to the shifts that were happening and some kind of significant things that happened in the latter part of last year around some very high profile coaches who were being called out for really the unsatisfactory experience of a large percentage of their clients over some time. And I saw a lot of people saying, but “coaching is new”. I did my first lot of coaching training over two decades ago. It’s not new. The rise in the industry is new. Yeah, as I said, I first trained as a coach two decades ago, what’s new really is the rise of a certain type of coach whose enthusiasm for helping is overriding what’s really important about coaching. So as always, do your due diligence, trust your instincts, got a question? – reach out, remember to you were born to thrive. I see you, I believe in you. You’re doing an amazing job. Keep being you.
Thanks for tuning into today’s episode. You are so valued and appreciated.
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