You don’t have imposter syndrome. You have this.

Hey there, new coaches who are scared to start putting your offers out there (hi, I assume that is MOST new coaches!). This post is for you.

A lot of our students in our Uncage Your Business program freeze up when it comes time to actually start asking people to be their clients.

They often tell us that they have “imposter syndrome”.

So I wanted to set the record straight about what is actually going on for MOST of these new coaches (hint: it’s not actually imposter syndrome), and help you correct it ALSO so you don’t get stuck in the same trap.


Imposter syndrome

First off, let’s talk about imposter syndrome. This sneaky little bugger is when you’ve already rocked the thing you are doing, have a proven track record in getting people results, are objectively GREAT at what you do… but you still feel like a fraud and doubt your abilities. You know you have the skills, but that nagging voice in your head says otherwise. Sound familiar?

It is a WHOLE phenomenon that disproportionately affects women. On the one hand, it’s been a helpful term for people who feel this way as it helps them see that it’s not just them that feels these fraudulent feels.

On the other hand, the concept in itself is problematic for the following reasons (excerpt pulled from this fantastic article in Harvard Business Review that you should definitely check out)

The impact of systemic racism, classism, xenophobia, and other biases was categorically absent when the concept of imposter syndrome was developed. Many groups were excluded from the study, namely women of color and people of various income levels, genders, and professional backgrounds. Even as we know it today, imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests in both women of color and white women. Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.

Go read the full article to learn more.

All that being said, this “imposter feeling” still exists in many business owners, 

HOWEVER, I don’t believe that it is actually what is  going on with most new coaches I talk to.


The other thing that is really going on

So if it’s not this imposter syndrome that is causing you to feel like a fraud, what is it?

It’s a lack of experience.

There is a big difference between having coached a lot of people with great success and glowing testimonials and still feeling like you don’t know what you are doing or that it was all a fluke…. and NEVER having coached anyone (or not many people) and questioning whether you can actually get people results. You simply don’t have enough experience.

For MOST new coaches, coaching is a new skill you are learning. Even after coming out of coaching school, many new coaches still don’t feel totally confident in their coaching, because  they still need to practice.

And not only do you need to practice, but you need to practice within your chosen niche.

You need to work with enough people and apply your process within your niche, then refine your process based on what worked and what didn’t work for your niche.

It’s a whole process of figuring out what works best to get your clients to where they want to be, and doing it enough that you can SEE the results you are getting people.

The reason this distinction between imposter syndrome and lack of experience is SO important is that I see many coaches solving for the wrong thing.

They spend a ton of time and energy trying to think their way to confidence – cheerleading themselves, using affirmations, even hiring mindset coaches to help them work through their imposter syndrome.

And while we LOVE mindset work in our Uncage Your Business program, you can’t THINK your way to competence. You need to actually DO THE THING in order to develop your skills and gain competence as a coach in your specific niche.


Confidence ≠ competence

Here’s the real fucked up thing and why it feels SO important for me to write this post and make this distinction — you CAN think your way to a false sense of confidence And that gets dangerous. 

But confidence doesn’t mean you are good at what you do.

We often see business coaches cheerleading people, encouraging you to “own it”, and “fake it til you make it” and to “act as if” you are already a successful coach… and then telling you to set premium prices, because “you’re worth it!”. 

This is a massive problem, for you and for the industry. Because if you have confidence and not competence, then you are just swindling your clients into a service that can’t actually deliver on its promise


No other industry does this

Let’s look at the field of medicine. You need to go to school to practice medicine. You go for many years, actually. You get supervised by professionals, You have to pass exams. You may not feel like you know what you are doing at first, but over time, as you practice your skills with real patients in a supervised environment, your skillset grows, and your competence grows.

How fucked up would it be if doctor skipped ALL that and took on a coaching approach, cheerleading themselves, “faking it til they make it”, repeating to themselves that they are worthy of having patients…. and then walking into a surgery room like they have been doing this all their lives, with their poor patient putting ALL their trust in them (they seemed confident, afterall, during their consult!). 

And then the doctor having absolutely no clue what they are doing or how to help the patient that is cut open in front of them.

It simply wouldn’t happen.

Or this example:

Imagine trying to THINK your way into being a double-black diamond skier, when you have never put on skis before. You can’t just will yourself into knowing how to ski, no matter how hard you try. You will absolutely break your neck when you drop into that double black diamond bowl.

So why is it any different in the coaching industry? There seems to be this belief that we can bypass the work that goes into actually being good at what we do, and think our way to competence and confidence.

All the affirmations, and positive self-talk, and spending time perfecting your website so you appear like you have your shit together – none of it is going to help you become a better coach or develop the competence that you need in order to build true confidence in your coaching. 

You want to know the only thing that will actually help you? 

Actually diving in and coaching real people within your niche

It feels a little bit chicken and egg right? You do need some level of confidence and competence to dive in and actually start doing it, but actually doing it is what is going to give you that competence and confidence.

But you have to start somewhere. So here is what I recommend.


Beta Testing

Beta Testing is basically trying out service out with real people so you can get feedback and make tweaks.

If you’re new, we highly recommend beta testing for free.

Working for free takes the pressure off of having to feel like you have to be perfect.

I recommend being upfront and actually telling your beta test clients that you are a new coach, and developing your skills, and want to offer some free sessions so you can practice and get feedback.

Not having the pressure of having to perform a certain way simply because somebody paid you money is going to do massive good for your mindset! 

The pressure is off and you can dive in and just focus on coaching, and it’s ok if it’s messy.

You can even ask your beta testers for feedback on how it is all feeling as you go, so you can improve your process along the way.

And definitely ask them for a testimonial at the end of your work together!

I promise, by the time you have beta tested with 5 to 10 people, not only will your competence be there, but your (real) confidence will also be up!

Seeing your beta clients get results is the best thing ever, and once it is time to start charging and doing consults with real clients, any sense of lack of experience or imposter syndrome will have melted away.

I know it can feel scary to dive in when your coaching process still feels messy, but it is LITERALLY the only way.


Not having competence will make you sabotage your business

I remember in my early years of coaching, I would get on consult calls and feel terrified that people would say yes to working with me. I would sit there before the call praying that the person didn’t show up, and then I would be SO nervous on the call. When I hung up I secretly hoped they wouldn’t hire me. And when they did, and that money hit my Paypal account, I would almost feel sick to my stomach. 

I was working with a coach at the time who had encouraged me to niche into one particular area and raise my prices. I hadn’t worked with many people in that specific niche, and I wasn’t sure of my level of competence. 

Now I can see that I definitely should have worked with a few more people in my new niche for free, before setting those higher prices!

I don’t want you in the same boat! You want to get on your consult calls for paying clients KNOWING that you can coach them to awesome results and feeling like your pricing is a steal for them.

Ok, but what if you are actually terrified of working with people?

If you are SO scared to dive in and have no idea what you would even do with a client, I would ask you if you have done a coach training program? If not, absolutely start there. 

Coaching is NOT just about listening to people talk and giving advice, and there are real skills you need as a coach to help get people unstuck in their thoughts and beliefs and move them through to a transformation.

I think every coach can benefit from more coach training. So if you feel majorly stuck, I would invest in a reputable coach training program to help you learn and practice the skills you need in a very safe environment.


Bottom line

You can’t mindset your way out of lack of experience, so get ready to get a little messy and dive in with some practice clients. EVERYTHING about your business will progress so much faster when you are out there doing the work with actual people instead of working on things behind the scenes.

Remember — confidence comes from doing the work and getting really good at what you do. And the only way to do that, is to do it.

If you need help moving past this hump and getting some beta test clients in the door so you can build your confidence, this is a huge piece of what we focus on in Uncage Your Business. Click here to learn more about the program and how we can help you build your competence, build your confidence, and get PAID clients faster.