This 5-Pillar Mindset Pushed My Coaching Business Into 6-Figure Territory

Written by Lena Elkins

Photo by Lena Elkins

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Last week, I hopped on a Skype call with a client who looked like she had drunk five cups of coffee and spent the past 72 hours on WebMD. You know that look: paranoid, anxious, and scared that something is bound to go horribly wrong.

"I just read online that 90 percent of businesses fail. What if that happens to me? What if I charge too much? What if my website looks terrible and I don’t know what a sales funnel is and I don’t have time to market myself on social media? I think this is all too much for me—building a business seems out of my league. My family said I should start applying for full-time jobs again, so that’s what I’m going to do."

This was a shock. Just one month prior, she was confident, excited, and determined to leave her 9-to-5 and create her own graphic design agency. But something clearly had changed.

It’s no wonder so many people cling to their corporate cubicle desks for the next 50 years. Even if they’re capable of channeling a determined, entrepreneurial mindset, deep down, most people are terrified of what will happen if they take the chance to pursue something of their own.

I wish I could respond to each of these concerns saying that there’s nothing to worry about and that their businesses are going to thrive. But I can’t predict the future, understand each one's circumstance, or the choices that they’ll make along the way that will lead to one result or another.

But what I can do is share the five most prominent factors that, from what I've noticed in my practice, tend to break early-stage entrepreneurs and provide high-level strategies to overcome them. If you can identify exactly where things go wrong and actively overcome them in your business—instead of stressing, complaining, and procrastinating—you’ve already beat 90 percent of your competition trying to do the same thing.

Let's talk about the first and most important of the five factors: mindset.

When I first launched my business several years ago, I was focused on one aspect: money. I was so determined to prove to myself that I was capable of generating revenue independent of an employer, that I was willing to work with just about anyone. So I signed a client...even though others has warned me that he wasn’t exactly "reliable."

After two months of working with him, I hadn’t received a paycheck for my monthly retainer. And then, when I heard from two other freelancer friends that he also hadn’t paid them, I hit my breaking point.

What was I going to do? Chase him down to get this money? Or do I just give up like my friends did? What the hell is wrong with me that I allowed myself to be in this position?

If I had chosen to prioritize mindset work from the beginning—instead of simply making money—I would have been able to work on my own self-worth as a service provider. I wouldn’t have signed a client who clearly didn’t respect me and would have instead had the patience and faith to wait for the right client. I also wouldn’t have reacted in such a self-loathing way. Instead of accepting that I had made this mistake, identifying the lesson learned and moving on, I chose to wallow in it and beat myself up over it. I took it as a sign that maybe I was a terrible freelancer instead of asking myself "What can I learn from this to become better?"

That was mindset mistake No. 1.

After a few months of reflection, I finally took a step back and connected with my real value as a freelancer. I stopped charging a mere $25 an hour and started charging $100 an hour (and made sure that every client signed a contract!). I would have never been able to do this if I hadn’t taken the time to channel the right mindset and change my perception of my work.

This is why your mindset needs to come first. Otherwise, you’re approaching your entire business backward.

But when people launch their businesses without exploring personal value and expect to turn a profit, they're skipping over the entire foundation of their business. Think about it: Would you buy a house without a floor even if the house looked awesome from the outside? No! Same goes with your business. Without establishing the foundation of your business—your mindset—you're walking on thin ice. But don't worry—I have some solutions to share with you.

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1. Patience.

When you grew up, you knew that if you cleaned your room, your mom would be happy. You knew that if you put a ton of effort into your homework, you would get a good grade. And when you worked at a full-time job, you knew that you'd receive a paycheck at the end of each month. Basically, from ages zero to 20-something, there were a series of reactions that you knew you could depend on almost immediately after taking action.

So when people enter the entrepreneurial space, they typically expect the same. They expect immediate signs that what they're doing is "working," whether it's in the form of press praise, social media followers, or money. And when they don't get that immediate reaction that they've become accustomed to their whole lives, they take it as a sign of failure and quit.

The key is unwavering, nonstop patience.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I used to majorly struggle with patience in my business too. I would anxiously sit by my computer, waiting for a Facebook notification from someone saying "I want to work with you!" the second I launched a sales page. And it was nerve-wracking as hell.

To my disbelief, I made $12,000 within the first five days of launching the program.

But during my second big program launch in my coaching business, I decided to not wait by the phone with inquiries from potential clients. I told myself that the right clients will come. I did the work up front—I created the sales page, I scheduled the email sequence, I ran the Facebook ads, I shared the info in my Facebook group, Millennial-Go-Getters—all of which had taken more than a month of straight work. And now, I just had to take a deep breath and trust that the results would follow. This was going to take more patience than ever.

To my disbelief, I made $12,000 within the first five days of launching the program. I credit that to my patience and acceptance of the entrepreneurial process. If I had been stressed, insecure, and obsessive, that money may have never come. But I accepted that when building a business, progress is always happening right under you—it’s just not always visible.

For some reason, entrepreneurship is portrayed to look easy today. But the ones who get big and succeed in the long run are the ones who continue to put in the work even when there is no "proof" that it’ll pay off.

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So, how can you cultivate better patience?

Take five minutes every morning without distractions to self-communicate your intentions for the day. Ask yourself "What am I specifically trying to accomplish today? How will I react if something doesn't go my way or someone doesn't respond how I want them to?" Then, communicate those intentions to one other person. Psychologically, it will hold you accountable and encourage you to follow through. Without this basic self-awareness and daily intention, it's easy to get off track, become discouraged, or get frustrated and give up.

Welcome patience into your daily actions and thoughts.

2. Creativity.

Similar to our expectations about reactions, we often expect life's guidelines to be handed to us. This is the "employee mindset" that’s instilled in us from a young age. We're told what homework to do, what household tasks to take on, what errands to run, and what assignments to complete at work. It’s so ingrained in our habits that many of us are not even aware of it.

As an entrepreneur, no one is there to give you instructions. No one is going to hand you an itinerary or list of tasks. For a lot of people, it's the first time in their lives that their decisions have to come from within. And this scares the shit out of a lot of new entrepreneurs. Some people feel so alone, lost, and overwhelmed by the lack of direction that they quit.

I’ll never forget the day that I frantically called my mom after considering investing in a business coach. This was going to be a $10,000 investment, which is more than I had ever paid for one single item in my life. "So, what do you think?" I asked her nervously. Even subconsciously, I needed my mother’s approval and opinion before making a decision that really had nothing to do with her. And her response? "That’s way too much money, Lena. Who taught you to spend money like that? You should save it and just keep working."

I saw a full return on my investment within two months of ending my work with this coach, and then some. It was worth every penny.

But deep down, I felt that I needed to work with this business coach. It’s exactly what would help my business double or even triple revenue within the next few months. And even though it was one of the scariest decisions I had ever made, and certainly one that my superiors didn’t approve of, I decided to go for it.

This was the first major decision I had to make in my business without anyone else’s guidance or approval. But by taking this risk, stepping out of my comfort zone, and making a choice that no one else approved of, I was able to set myself free. Today, I’m no longer afraid to trust myself and my own intuition. I no longer depend on others’ approval to make decisions in my business and execute at full-speed. I would have never been able to do that if I hadn’t made such a major choice (a $10K one) without needing anyone else’s support but my own.

The result? I saw a full return on my investment within two months of ending my work with this coach, and then some. It was worth every penny.

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How to start getting creative? Just start listening to yourself.

What most don't realize is that many of the answers you seek you already know. Your natural intuition knows what to do! Take 30 minutes every day to check in with yourself and your progress. Depending on your work style—think about or write down how you're feeling, what isn't sitting well with you, and what needs to be adjusted. Then, flesh out the practical steps to make it happen. Again, sometimes it's as easy as sending that email or writing that post.

3. Positivity & open-mindedness.

Your thoughts become your reality. Your attitude generates a certain response from others. And most importantly, what you put out into the universe is what the universe will give back to you. It’s all about how you choose to perceive and receive.

If someone sees herself as a victim of her circumstances, that other people don’t treat her well, or that she's trapped in limited possibilities, then her actions are going to result in complaining, excuse-making, closed-mindedness, and general sadness.

But on the other hand, there are people who see their relationships and daily interactions as a blessing. They believe that there are unlimited opportunities, that everything they want in life is available to them, that they are worthy and loved, and that only good things lie ahead. Their behavior is a reflection of that perception through positivity, open-mindedness, appreciation, joy, and ambition.

What most people don’t realize is that these perceptions are a choice. It’s up to you to choose how you want to see and treat the world, and depending on what you choose, the world will treat you exactly the same. I know this because I’ve done it both ways, and I can guarantee you that the latter produces far more satisfying results.

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Here's how I turned my limiting mindset into an infinite one.

When I launched my first business, I was sure that my reality was a limiting one. Clients would only pay me a limited amount of money because I was a new freelancer. I was worried to lose the clients I did have, so I charged them little and worked too much and allowed them to treat me like an employee. I was scared. And as a result, clients walked all over me. I was resentful toward them and they probably knew it.

But after several months, I chose to start looking at my situation not as limiting but as abundant. I had skills that people were willing to pay for. How cool was that?! Some of my clients were nightmares and should be fired, but others weren’t so bad.

So, I let go of a few clients and invested in building positive relationships with the ones I thought could improve. As soon as I stepped up and started going out of my way to be more open-minded, kinder, and patient with my clients, I couldn’t believe how quickly the situation changed. I proposed raising my rates, and they happily accepted. Within one month of making this mindset switch, one of them actually recommended me to a friend of his who also owned a business, who I then ended up signing a $5,000 monthly retainer with.

I’m telling you, your mindset becomes your reality. Choose your thoughts wisely.

4. Goal clarity.

"When it comes to choosing your goal, get really specific. Otherwise, how will the world know what to give you?" This really resonated with my philosophy on building a strong foundation for your business.

People love to enter their businesses with these grand, nonspecific goals like "I want to make a lot of money" or "I want to get a bunch of clients." What specifically are you aiming toward? And why are you aiming toward that goal? That vision is what’s going to propel you forward to achieve it.

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Here's a real life example of setting a specific, highly intentional goal.

For example, when I first started my coaching business, I didn’t want to simply set vague, low-level goals for myself. So, I got specific. While I don’t remember exactly what it was, it was very close to this: I want to drive $8,000 a month in passive revenue from my master course, and $5,000 a month from my one-on-one coaching programs. I am going to do this by investing $500 a month in Facebook ads, getting featured in three major publications, and setting five one-on-one calls with previous clients who might be interested in what I’m offering.

What goals can you set for yourself that are both big AND specific? Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Write it down, set a deadline, and if you feel so inclined, share it with people you trust.

5. Honest self-love & intuition.

The entrepreneurial journey is no walk in the park, and people can be brutal when it comes to giving you feedback. You’ll even be surprised that your loved ones will often discourage you, tell you that you don’t have what it takes, and criticize your ideas.

And because we obviously love our families and partners and friends, we naturally believe what they say. Random haters on the internet can insult me all day without me blinking an eye, but if my mom told me the same thing, there’s a good chance I’d close up shop right then and there.

The key here is to make time for yourself.

It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Take time every day in the form of journaling, meditation, or walking alone to check in with yourself and see what you need.

But our hearts and minds require so much more than that! We are complicated creatures! If you’re feeling uninspired or sluggish and burnt out, take some time for yourself—even the busiest, most successful businesspeople have an activity that resets and rejuvenates them. Get a gym membership. Sign up for an art class. Get a massage. Do something that makes you forget about work for a little while.

I used to feel bad about "treating myself," especially when I was stuck in a limiting mindset about my business and income. But as soon as I started prioritizing myself and seeing the possibilities in my business as endless, I decided to start doing something as simple but as powerful as getting my nails done. Now, every two weeks, I got to the nail salon and get a fill on my acrylics. You would think that this sort of silly thing wouldn’t make a difference, but it somehow made me a much more confident, outgoing entrepreneur. Strange how these things work, right? Before I got on this nail kick, I probably live-streamed for my followers once a month and loathed it. But ever since my nails have been looking good, I get on video and record for my community once to twice a week. Why? Because this small change made me feel so much better about myself, and in turn, it’s allowed my followers to connect with me on a deeper level by constantly seeing me on video.

From my experience, curiosity, and a drive to make the world better a place is born from self-love.

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