Once Upon a Time: The True Story of a Coach Who Couldn’t Help His Client

How saying the two lines no coach wants to say, and no client wants to hear, can transform your business.

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idea coach and transform businesses

I started dreading our weekly meetings. I wasn’t sure why, but what started as an exciting partnership had turned into a slog. Progress? Slow, but not steady. Growth? Sluggish at best. And I just didn’t feel like the client was getting a strong value for their investment.

I am passionate about helping small businesses hone their marketing and messaging so they can engage their customers and fans. When done right, I know it brings clients closer to the business, increases loyalty, and inevitability results in sales. 

But the more time passed, the more I realized something just wasn’t working with this client. I started waiting for the right time to have the hard, “it isn’t you, it’s me” conversation. So, eventually, when the opportunity came up in a conversation, I jumped on it. 

“I love working with you, but we’re not getting anywhere. I think it would be malpractice for me to keep taking your money if you’re not getting results.”

I said it. I put it out there. The two lines no coach wants to say, and no client wants to hear. I understand this is a subject not a lot of coaches talk about because our whole schtick is to tell everyone how great we are. For me, I’m supposed to be the idea coach and transform businesses. 

Blah. Blah. Blah. 

The reality is this happens. A lot. And I got tired of feeling sub-optimal. 

You know what happened? Nothing major. We mutually agreed the client would go a different direction. But something changed after that conversation. Whenever a client relationship ends, for whatever reason, it bums me out. I tend to moped around. But this time, it hit me. 

I let them go because we weren’t getting results. Our results weren’t what we expected because we stopped working on the original mission, increasing sales and instead we were working on operational fires because of the Covid-19 disruption. 

I dreaded our calls because the content wasn’t engaging to me. Our coaching and time spent together had drifted out of marketing and sales—my sweet spot and passion—and into personnel and operations. I’ve got loads of experience in this area, but I don’t enjoy it as much as idea generation and marketing campaigns.

I’m sharing this story because it reminded me of two things:

  • We need to make sure we’re always focused on our specific areas of expertise to drive the most value for our clients. 
  • We need to remember a client relationship is a two-way street. You have to be equally as engaged and interested in what you’re talking about for results and synergy to happen. 

Change is never easy. But I can tell you this—I feel better spending my new free time on other clients and projects. And that client? To this day, my relationship with them is still strong because they appreciated my humanity in sharing the problem and then giving them a mic in coming up an amicable solution.

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