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3 Online Business Mistakes I Made and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Sara Ottoboni, ACC | April 9, 2018 | Comments (32)

One of my favorite coaches once suggested that if I’m not making mistakes, I’m missing out on my learning journey. So, with that glass-half-full point of view, I’m sharing three of my favorite mistakes in the hope that it helps you on your journey.

Mistake 1: Positioning Myself as a Traditional Coach, Instead of a Modern Coach-preneur

Coaches come in all flavors and focus areas, and each of us has something of value to share, depending on where a client wants to go in their life. I am what you would consider a modern coach-preneur. This means I’m a coach with a flexible, entrepreneurial mindset. My initial mistake was over-focusing on racking up certifications and credentials, which meant I was adopting coaching models that didn’t always mesh with my unique approach or help me connect with my ideal client.

This is where the entrepreneurial piece comes in. It’s great to leverage tried and true coaching tools you’ll learn in a class, but it’s equally critical to build your own repertoire of techniques that are yours and yours alone. This will guarantee you’re emotionally connected to your work and clients. As Simon Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” The modern coach-preneur stands apart from the crowd with their coaching creativity.

Coach-preneur Takeaways

Get clear on why your business exists:

  • What’s the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do?
  • What difference are you trying to make in the world through your business?

Tips and Tools

Mistake 2: Generalizing Instead of Specializing

Initially I cast a wide net to potential clients claiming, “I don’t want to leave anyone out.” But my desire to help all people was my Achilles heel for seven months. Clients didn’t show up. I learned that if you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody.

Being a coach-preneur is all about attracting the right client for YOU. Yes, you need to think like a coach. But more importantly, you’ve got to think like an entrepreneur. Your approach, style and methodology are unique to you. Your client base needs to sync with what you’re offering.

Coach-preneur Takeaways

  • Find the niche you love and create a specific intention statement
  • Identify the people you can serve best. Who do you love working with? What are their demographic traits like age, gender, marital status, income and industry? What about their psychographic characteristics like worldview, values, beliefs, lifestyle or interests? Know them so well that you could walk in their shoes

Tips and Tools

Mistake 3: Staying in My Local Geography

I thought staying in my neighborhood was the answer. I love in-person sessions, so I put my energy into local networking events and conferences, and I relied on word-of-mouth referrals. The problem is I was missing out on everyone online. Time zones and boundaries don’t matter. With Zoom, Skype and countless other tools, you can coach people anywhere at any time.

Coach-preneur Takeaways

  • Banish the excuse, “I’m not technological.” Let an hourly virtual assistant help you adopt collaboration technology. Zoom is my favorite. Practice with family first, then you’ll be off to the races!
  • Launch a landing page or simple Keep it simple with a paragraph about you, what you’re passionate about and your service menu. Sites like Fiverr can connect you with a developer. Or, go it alone on sites like Squarespace. If I did it (and I’m not a techie), you can too.

Tips and Tools

Go for It. When you act, anything is possible.

sara ottoboni headshot

Sara Ottoboni, ACC

Sara Ottoboni, ACC, is a coach who specializes in expatriation. Her goal is to help people living abroad  make an expat plan customized to their unique needs and to provide ongoing support. After spending more than a decade around the world as an international student and expat spouse, Sara started her own business in expatriate coaching. She speaks English, French and Italian. She has a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Montreal. She worked for several years as a project manager in educational, nonprofit and cultural organizations.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (32)

  1. GREAT ideas. I totally agree that you have to niche down and then go BIG online. Thanks Sara for your insights.

    • Thank you so much Deneen. I really appreciate your comment. I’m happy to know you enjoyed the article. As you said, we have to go BIG online! Go for It. When you act, anything is possible.

  2. Thank you for addressing the concerns and delays that so many of us have about moving from “live” sessions to online sessions. I have been the beneficiary of your insight in the past, and I’m inspired once again by your action steps (it’s past time for me to hire a VA) If you’re looking for expert support on creating a successful expat life, you can count on Sara. She is smart, she is experienced, and she brings joy and a heart for service to her work.

    • Thank you so much Fran. I’m happy to know you enjoyed the article. In your comment, you mentioned “Action steps”. I’m in love with these two words. I really believe these two simple words are the foundation for a modern successful coaching business. Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate.

  3. I loved this article. Great advice and concepts that I will always try to keep in mind. Thank you Sara!

  4. David Ezell says:

    Great points Sara! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Thank you so much David.

  6. Hallie says:

    I love these! I love how you shared your takeaways!!

  7. Bravo Sara! Thank you for sharing your invaluable knowledge and experience with us! I have been fortunate enough to have the privilege of being coached by Sara…she is an amazing active listener and asks questions that get right to the heart of your challenge, helps you see a new perspective, connects it all to your deepest values, and moves you forward into your own unique solutions. Her coaching journey has truly been an inspiration!

  8. Great tips and resources. Thank you!

  9. Amanda Phan says:

    This is a wonderful article! Thank you so much for sharing your tips and tools. I also love the fact that you took your time to share many valuable resources with everyone.

  10. Thank you Sara for your very interesting blog, sharing your inspiring experience.

  11. Kasra says:

    I really starred and loved this post. Awesome advice. Thank’s so much Sara…

  12. jessica@talpaco.com says:

    Love the article, specially the structure (mistake, take away and tips&tools), super clear, vulnerable and straight to the point!
    Thank you for reminding me about Blue Ocean, I first discovered it through this great video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLgUnEtN1Ic.
    As an expat myself, I appreciate your specialization Sara. 🙂 We need you!

    • Thank you so much Jessica. I really appreciate you took the time to read it and leave a message. Grazie mille. Thank you for sharing the video. Have a great day. Sara

  13. Catherine Thiry says:

    Thanks Sara for this valuable , efficient , well structured post . As a new career transition coach not certified yet , I plan to launch soon and target a global clientele .I want to help women over 45 transition into entrepreneurship .Do you think my niche is specific enough ?

    • Hello Catherine, I hope you are doing well. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I really appreciate. You niche is very good. It is a great great departure, but it is a little bit too large.

      Response to these questions:

      A) what are the common frustrations of these women over 45?
      B) You said you want to help women over 45 transition into entrepreneurship. Can you be clearer about the term “entrepreneurship”? Which kind of business these women want to develop? Do you want to help women who sell products? Sell service? Sell services/products online or offline?……..As you know, challenges are different.

      If you want to discuss with me, book a free call with me. We can easily get more clarity in this free business coaching session. This is the link. https://calendly.com/saraottoboni/meeting/05-04-2018

      Don’t hesitate to book or ask. I’m here to help you. I don’t want you lose time and effort as I did.

      Have a great day.

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Sarah

        Thanks for taking the time to respond and ask the right questions , I really appreciate your help and insights

        I have just booked a call

        Have a great day


  14. Aqil Al Ajmi says:

    Sara.. That is a great shot of energy in me. Words that come out of experience resonate immediately. Thank you so much. I enjoyed the read!

    • Hello Aqil, I hope you are doing well. I’m so happy you enjoyed the article and you take the time to read it. What is your takeaway? Have a great day. Sara

  15. It’s good to know more about online businesses. It makes sense that you would want to expand outside your neighborhood, especially if you’re running an online business. That’s one of the biggest benefits of working online; the ability to reach people you can’t normally reach.

  16. Dave says:

    Thank you for sharing this article.
    I appreciate it and very useful content, Keep sharing.

  17. Louisiana says:

    Very much appreciated. Thank you for this excellent article. Keep posting!

  18. Grey says:

    This is a very informative—edifying article to all. Thanks a lot! Continue to post!

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