As we dive into the New Year, it’s important to look at our money in a serious, yet easygoing, way. Easygoing? When taxes and budgets and forecasts and cash flow and all the “can I afford to…” questions can be overwhelming and massively stress-inducing? Yes, with the right help and guidance. After all, as coaches, we have some specific expenditures and numerous online expenses. We can’t have just anyone help us and we certainly can’t do things only part way. This is where having excellent bookkeeping (and possibly hiring a bookkeeper) comes in.
Mark Butler is my go-to guy when it comes to financials. I originally met Mark when he was the CFO for The Life Coach School. Since then, we’ve gotten to know one another quite well through working together on various efforts, coaching, bookkeeping and financial questions. Mark’s genius superpower is that he has the ability to view money in a neutral way. Peeling away the emotions wrapped around money is key to succeeding not only financially but also in wisely appropriating energy to build one’s business.
“A lot of people struggle to view money as a fact. They give it a lot of meaning and it carries a lot of hope, shame, anger… and a lot of emotion tied up in money.” – Mark Butler
Mark Butler started Let’s Do The Books to meet the need and desire of business owners to have a bookkeeper and financial adviser who understands online business. Someone who knows what PayPal and Stripe are and how they work. Someone familiar with launches, masterminds, group coaching, retreats, memberships, ebooks, courses, freelancing, and productized services.
About himself and his own journey, Mark says…
“I started my first online business in 2004. In the last sixteen-ish years I’ve made money using every one of the business models I listed above. I’ve built my business around coaches, creators, and freelancers.
I fell into bookkeeping in 2014. Although I’d made money using all kinds of online business models, I’d never figured out how to manage that money. I went through some feast and famine, got in and out of debt, and finally sold my online businesses and limped away in early 2013.
I took a job working for my good friend, Jesse Mecham. He was the founder of a personal budgeting software called You Need A Budget (aka YNAB, pronounced why-nab). I spent my first year at YNAB as the staff writer, but then I wanted to make more money.
I asked Jesse if I could start coaching small business owners, using YNAB as the platform. He said go for it. There turned out to be demand for the help, and within a year I was back on my own as a full-time money guy, working almost exclusively with coaches, online business owners, and freelancers. That’s why I understand you and your business so well.”
Molly Claire: Welcome to the Masterful Coach Podcast with Molly Claire, where coaches learn Skill Mastery, Business Mastery, and Life Mastery at a whole new level. If you’re ready to create a meaningful coaching business that makes a difference, you’re in the right place; and now your host, master coach, instructor, Molly Claire.
Hey, coaches, I hope you are all gearing up for an amazing year to come. I want to make sure that you all know about our free master class in the Coaching Collective that we have coming up the beginning of January. So if you have not yet had a chance to register, go to thecoachingcollective.com and you can sign up for the free masterclass there. Aimee Gianni will be running the call talking all about how to use visualization to reach your goals. It’s going to be an amazing class as always, so hope you can make it.
Today I am sharing with you an interview with the amazing Mark Butler. Mark Butler and I, as you will hear have had many different relationships in the coaching world, and I’m just excited to bring his wisdom to you. And I feel like as we dive into the New Year, one of the things that sometimes it can be very easy to avoid is really looking at our money and taking it seriously. And what I love about Mark is that he does take money seriously and yet he’s very easygoing. And he brings a very relaxed and open view of money and it is so helpful and awesome. And I know you are going to love it. So here we go. Let’s hear from Mark Butler.
Okay, so here we are. I have the amazing Mark Butler with us. Hello, Mark.
Mark Butler: Hi Molly.
Molly Claire: How are you?
Mark Butler: I’m good. It’s a snow day here where I live. So I have kids around that shouldn’t be. Other than that, we’re fine.
Molly Claire: Yeah. That’ll have to be for another podcast episode, right?
Mark Butler: Yeah, yes.
Molly Claire: I’ve got it’s like 76 here today. So what can I say?
Mark Butler: That sounds better.
Molly Claire: You wish you were here?
Mark Butler: Yes.
Molly Claire: Well, I’m excited to talk with Mark and to have him share his wisdom about money in your coaching business today. Mark and I we were just talking before we started this, about when I first met Mark, so mark was the CEO for the Life Coach School, and…
Mark Butler: CFO…
Molly Claire: Yeah, yeah CFO. Sorry, the CFO, and I’ve been training coaches for a while and I was training coaches, I think it was maybe the last in person training or one of the last ones.
Mark Butler: I think the last one it was.
Molly Claire: The last one and I looked at my roster of who I was training, and there was Mark Butler. And I remember feeling so much pressure, like I better do a really good job, because there’s a lot on the line, I better really impress him. So that was my first experience with you, Mark.
Mark Butler: Which is so funny now that we know each other so well, but yeah, of course you were amazing. That was an amazing week. I would pay for that again today if I were going to do that again. It was such a fun week. So many good relationships came out of that week. Yes, we had such an amazing group Molly’s Millions, right?
Mark Butler: That’s right. I forgot about that, yeah, Molly’s Millions.
Molly Claire: Yeah, so anyway, fast forward. And Mark and I have had different coaching relationships from it started out of course, me teaching you coaching you some. And now Mark, you coach me individually, a little in my business, and Aimee and I in our business partnerships. So we know each other well, inside and out in a lot of ways.
Mark Butler: Yeah, we really do. It’s been fun. It’s one of the highlights for me for sure in the coaching realm.
Molly Claire: Yeah. So okay, Mark has so much wisdom. He is the financial guy. I’d love to hear from you. Mark, tell us a little more about what you do. What is your business?
Mark Butler: My business for the last eight years is that I’ve been a bookkeeper and a CFO for coaches. So that’s almost eight years now. So what that means is every year at tax time, we all have to turn stuff over to our accountants so they can tell us how much we owe in taxes or how much we’re getting back. The work that’s involved with making sure that information is correct is called bookkeeping. And my team and I do that for coaches with a service called Let’s Do the Books at letsdothebooks.com and I’ve been doing that work since early 2014. Along with that, I’ve also done a lot of coaching and this is where people started to call me their CFO. And what that has looked like is me looking at that bookkeeping with my client and then using it to help them create budgets and forecasts and have conversations around. Can we afford to hire people? Can we afford to advertise more? Can I afford to pay myself more and just helping people stay clear and confident with the money in their business? So we met Let’s Do the Book as I was their CFO.
I’ve been the CFO for lots of those kinds of businesses. But that kind of — I don’t know if you and I’ve talked about the spirit very much, but that part of my business is kind of winding down. I’m not really doing that much anymore. But that’s what brought me here.
Molly Claire: Yeah. Well, and as you were talking, and I was thinking about it, you do all of that bookkeeping stuff and the coaching, but I think me and my experience with you, sort of your gift, or your genius superpower, whatever you want to call it, I think really kind of goes beyond that. I think you’re really good at taking a step back and looking at the big picture of what’s going on for someone, and where they really need to put energy in their business. Do you agree? Would you say that you feel that is true for you?
Mark Butler: I’m actually super flattered and honored that you would say that. I think I agree. I think I agree with that. The thing that if someone were to say, what do you think is your superpower? My own opinion, the thing that has emerged for me, since working with all these coaches is I realized that I am able to view money in a more neutral way than most people. I think a lot of your listeners probably know the thought model, and if they don’t, the thought model says that the foundation for understanding our thoughts and our feelings and actions is having a very clear view of our circumstances. So sort of what are the facts of the situation that I’m dealing with? And then how do I think and feel about those?
Well, a lot of people struggle to view money as a fact; they give it a lot of meaning and it carries a lot of hope, shame, anger, a lot of emotion tied up in money. And I think my superpower is that I do that less than the average person. I’m able to view money more neutrally, which then helps me talk to my clients and from a very clean space and say, “Okay, what’s actually going on with you? How do we want to think and feel about this?”
Molly Claire: Yeah, a lot of objectivity. Yeah. And I would agree with that, too, because that was the other thing I was going to mention, in my experience of working with you that. In fact, I remember early on when I started working with you, every time we would come to talk about my money, there would be a little bit of fear of judgment, what’s he going to think looking behind the scenes in my business? What will his opinion of me be? And I think it’s actually interesting to think about that, because I don’t think that way at all right now, because I do think that when people work with you, there’s this neutralizing of all of these meanings around money, which, like you said, just allows us to be objective about it factual and actually productive with it, rather than kind of spinning in all the emotions.
Mark Butler: Yeah, because if we stayed too much in emotion around money, then what we find is even when the circumstances change, we’re just as anxious or unhappy as we ever were. That’s one of the biggest lessons for me, maybe something that’s really helped me stay very neutral about money, is I’ve had a chance to see so many people in so many different financial situations, and I’ve been able to observe their emotions within those financial situations. And I’ve been able to see that people’s feelings are not as tied to the fact of their finances as they think they are. Because I’ve seen people who have hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars be extremely stressed out, extremely anxious, and fearful, and I’ve seen people who are consistently overdrawn their checking account, who mostly feel fine. So my job is to help people disconnect as much of that emotion as they need to in order to actually make progress in the direction they want to go.
Molly Claire: Yeah, yeah and I do think you bring such an interesting perspective, because you’ve worked with coaches, like you said, from, you know a lot of coaches who are brand new, and in that phase, and also coaches that are making millions of dollars. So I think it brings a unique perspective. And I also would love to know what drew you to this, or I mean, why this, why money?
Mark Butler: Money’s always been kind of a fascination for me; I grew up in a family where there wasn’t a lot of money, there was enough. But I definitely have vivid memories, you may appreciate this, you have sons who are in this approximate age range. But my son is shoe obsessed, and a lot of the shoes that were like super cool and popular when we were in junior high ish. They’re like making their return, and my son will show me these shoes. And I’ll have this visceral memory of I remember who owned those shoes in seventh grade, and I didn’t. Like well, we would never like no that was that was like so beyond out of the questions. So I think I kind of was aware of the fact that I didn’t have some of the things that other kids had, and I started to think about money. Then as I got older, I kind of had some mentors who had a lot of money, and then I started to think, well, that’s the path to happiness is being rich. So I chased that for a while trying to start businesses that would make me a lot of money.
Between 2009 and 2012, I had some online businesses that did very well; they made some millions of dollars in total revenue. But I was really anxious stressed out all the time I had debt, and I kind of kept getting into debt, even though I had a lot of income, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on there. And then I became close friends with a guy named Jesse Meacham who started a company called You Need a Budget, and we shared an office, and he has this company that provides people with software and education around how to deal with their money.
I sold those businesses in 2012, and I asked him for a job and he gave me a job. It was in the year, the first year that I worked with him that I really kind of sorted out what are my thoughts and feelings about money, what’s going on with me, I formed new habits around money. And after a year of working with him, I asked him if he would let me take his philosophy, his software, and implement it for other business owners. That’s kind of how Mark Butler, bookkeeper and CFO was born was in implementing the You Need a Budget philosophy in small businesses, and it just happened to be that probably 6 of my first 10 clients were life coaches. And so that that’s how it all came together where I was the bookkeeper. I was the CFO, and my specialty became coaching businesses.
Molly Claire: Yeah, what I love about that is that we talked about you having sort of this more neutral than most people’s view on money. But it’s not like you just were born with this amazing relationship with money.
Mark Butler: No, I would say I’m 42 now, I was probably 30. This is just less than five years ago, where I really started to adopt this neutrality, and it was because I kept seeing happy poor people and miserable rich people, and everything in between also, happy, rich people, also miserable poor people, they’re just, I really started to see that your happiness didn’t have to be tied to your money. And I got very curious about that, because I had been so convinced that more money definitely meant more happiness, and it was in working with all these people that I started to question that. And then I sort of landed on this idea that I view money as — other things being equal, I’ll choose to have money versus not having money. But I’ll never over invest in the idea that the next dollar is going to really change my happiness. It’s going to bring some convenience, it’s going to create some fun experiences, and there will be ease in my life that may not be there, if I didn’t have as much money, I choose all that. But if you took my money, however much it is; if you took my income away from me, my savings away from me, I know that the next day, I could still be a completely happy, fulfilled person. And that’s where it’s this neutral, but I call it the preferred neutral, like, I’ll choose it, but it’s still neutral.
Molly Claire: What’s so interesting, as we talked about, in the coaching world, there is so much emphasis on circumstances being neutral, right? Whether you use the LCS thought model or just the idea of the power of our thoughts, right? But somehow we think money’s a little bit different circumstance, it’s not really neutral, like everything else, maybe. But money isn’t.
Mark Butler: You’ve probably heard me say before that, as life coaches, we’re sure that circumstances are neutral, but money is probably our favorite neutral circumstance. And because you can’t quite pry the idea and it gets caught up in ideas. Life coaches love the word abundance. They love the word manifest, and I kind of poke fun at some of these ideas, not because I think they’re so bad, but sometimes people really weaponize them against themselves. ‘Oh, I’m not being abundant enough. I’m so scared. There’s something wrong with me. She’s clearly abundant because she has a lot of money.’ No, okay. No, that is not strictly speaking factual. So I like to poke holes in some of these things because ideas like abundance and manifest all this, they can be useful.
But if you notice that I once was talking to a person, a live coaching setting and we were talking about the idea of abundance and how she wishes she were more abundant, and I said, “Let me ask you a question. When you think about the concept of abundance, how do you feel?” She paused and she said, “I feel miserable.” I was like, “Yeah, I’m I think maybe it’s not that great of a concept for you right now. Let’s see if there’s another angle to come at this whole idea with.” She just felt this massive relief when she stopped worrying about her lack of abundance. What an ironic thing to say right? Learning about her lack of abundance, let’s take a different perspective on this and let’s not be miserable in our attempts to be abundant.
Molly Claire: It’s so true that we can weaponize it and weaponize anything really, right? It’s like oftentimes when I’m working with new coaches, especially; they always want to say, well, what’s the thought? Like, what’s the good thought I should use, right? And it’s like, I don’t know, I thought what feel amazing to me might might feel terrible to someone else and the idea of abundance. So I think it’s so important to pay attention to how those things feel right? For everyone listening right now, even just to write down some of your thoughts about money, even those that seem like useful or helpful, right? And notice how it feels to you because one I hear a lot I know is like, I just need to fix my money, beliefs. It’s just that I have limiting money beliefs, and if I can fix these money beliefs, then everything will be fine. And it’s like; try that thought on, and it’s like this sense of frustration, the sense of stuckness, whatever it is. And it’s like, we have this idea that there are limiting beliefs, and then there are non limiting beliefs. But the reality is that we just all have all of this, this web of thoughts about money, right? It’s just our perception of what money is. And so I think we want to be aware of those, we want to be aware of what are our thoughts? What are our beliefs? How do I view money from that place of curiosity so that we can have growth, but this idea that I need to find and eliminate these limiting beliefs, I haven’t found that to be very useful very often.
Mark Butler: If you think back to sort of what you taught me at Life Coach School, and what so many people have learned in their life coach training, when someone is really dying to find the right thought, it’s very often because they are not seeing the circumstance as neutral, they’re not coming from a place of curiosity and exploration. They’re coming from a place of insufficiency, of lack of self criticism, of wanting desperately to change a circumstance or like, I’ve got to change the circumstance, because it’s not neutral. So I just need the magic thought that will get me out of it and it’s like, now the foundation is getting from anxiety, fear, shame, back over to curiosity, and then going on the exploration and the thoughts, then we’ll just, they’ll bubble up as you go exploring.
Molly Claire: Totally, yes. Oh, my Gosh, I feel like I could talk about this for hours with you. Okay. Tell me, I’d love to know, what are the most common challenges that you see among life coaches? And I know, this is kind of a broad question, because of course, you work with people that are brand new, somewhere in the middle, millions of dollars, but maybe if you could just address maybe a couple of those populations of some of the most common issues that you see?
Mark Butler: There’s one of the most nuts and bolts ones that I repeat constantly. And this is, especially for people who are relatively new in their businesses. I beg and plead with them to set up a dedicated checking account for their business, and this sounds so mundane, right? But I beg them to set up a dedicated checking account for their business, and if they want to use credit cards to set up a dedicated credit card for their business, which sounds like an administrative task. And it is, but also, there’s a big moment where a person takes ownership of her business, by giving it its own checking account, it’s like a symbol.
This business is its own entity. It has its own goals; it has its own desires. It has its own resources, and I’m going to give those resources a container called a checking account. It also by the way, it’s like a great vote of confidence in your willingness to deal with your money. This especially comes up with our bookkeeping team, when we onboard a new client, one of the first questions we ask is, do you have separate bank accounts for your business, and we don’t care either way, we’re happy to work with people, wherever they are.
But it’s a sign if someone has been running their business out of their personal checking account. It’s a sign that on some level, they’re scared to deal with the money in their business. So they’re kind of sweeping it under the rug by just being like, I don’t know, I’ll deal with that later. I’m just going to let it kind of like I have my business. I have my personal it’s all mixed up. I don’t know, I’m not going to do that. So it’s like this great vote of confidence in your business to say, ‘No, I am an adult. I’m a CEO. I’m a new CEO, but I’m the CEO. I’m going to give this thing a checking account, and I’m going to put money into it and call that the business’s money.’ It’s a huge deal. It’s a big kind of a symbolic moment for newer business owners.
Molly Claire: It may not be simple, but it’s simple. People build it up in their heads like but I don’t, I have to form an LLC? Should I form an LLC? And to all of that, I say yes, probably. And that is also much easier than you think. But even if you don’t do those things, you can just set up another checking account that sits right next to your personal checking account and this one’s just called business.
And you run stuff through there. It’s your first real act as the CFO of your new venture, and it’s a big deal. It’s a surprisingly big deal.
Molly Claire: Yeah, I bet. And what about for businesses that are a little further along? Like, for example, the Coaching Collective, I know, it’s a partnership. So in that way, it’s a little different. But what about those businesses that are, making several hundred thousand going forward, a million beyond what do you see there?
Mark Butler: I would even point out there’s an intermediate group, they’re sort of the people who are beginning then other people who are like, holy smokes, this actually worked and I made 100,000. I never thought I would, but I did, out there celebrating that. I think that’s a big deal for those people…
Molly Claire: I’ve got to interrupt for a second.
Mark Butler: Please do.
Molly Claire: Because, I also think I know there are people listening who have made like their first 10,000 or their first like, 15, 000, 20,000, and it is a big deal.
Mark Butler: Yeah, I agree.
Molly Claire: And so like, I know, so many of you listening, it’s like, oh, I can be happy when write 100k. That’s the thing. It’s not really the thing; it was way harder for me to make my first $10,000 than it was my first $100,000. So wherever you are, every client that comes in, you got to celebrate it. It’s a big deal. It is work to build a coaching business.
Mark Butler: Totally. I used to say all the time, I would say 10,000 is halfway to 100,000.
Molly Claire: 100%. I love that. Love that idea. Okay, so keep going.
Mark Butler: Yeah, great point. I’m so glad you pointed that out. But the biggest thing and this is actually true, whether it’s 10,000, or 100,000, the thing that sneaks up on people is taxes. When people are like, this is amazing, I’m making money, I can’t believe I’m making money, but then they’re not ready for taxes. And what I mean by that is they have not been thinking, ‘Oh, I’m probably going to have to pay taxes, I should hire a bookkeeper, I should find a tax professional to make sure that I’m on track and not getting shocked by a massive tax bill and that I don’t have the cash to pay my taxes.’
So that’s kind of that intermediate group. The people who are making hundreds of thousands, they’ve typically had the experience where they got caught off guard by a $20, 30, $50,000 tax bill, and then they don’t get caught off guard again, those people, their biggest challenge tends to be team, it tends to be switching from a creator and a coach to end in a subject matter expert, to a manager and a CEO of a team of 3 to 20, or however big your team is. So the way the money touches that is that they kind of struggle to know how much should I pay people? And there’s no right answer to that.
When somebody gets that phase, I have to encourage them. It’s not really a budgeting question directly more directly its, are you developing yourself as a manager of people? And are you creating a philosophy within your company for how the team is going to function? It’s no longer about? Can we help our clients solve a problem? It’s about can I facilitate my team and helping people solve their problems? You and I both have examples. You and Aimee’s business is right on the cusp of this, and we have lots of examples in our world where it becomes less about the person’s ability to deal with their clients directly and more about their ability to facilitate a team doing it, and that’s kind of businesses at your level and similar, that becomes their greatest opportunity and challenge.
Molly Claire: Yeah. I think that as you were talking about that, I know, Aimee and I have had a really fun time, scaling our business and trying to really make sure that we are providing sort of this intimate personal experience where as things grow, people are having a way better experience than they were before, and so that combination of yes, we’re expanding, and we’re scaling. But we are bringing in such great people and so many great things that these people are doing with you that it’s even better. And I love the process of growing the team and being able to mentor them. I just think we have the best team too. So yeah, that’s always nice. We do have a great team.
But yeah, I know that’s a question that Aimee and I have had a lot for you. How much do we pay people? We always get stuck on that, and then we come to you to sort through it. But I think that as you’re talking and I know this isn’t exactly what you said. But this kind of brought this to mind for me. That there’s how much you pay people but there’s also sort of the atmosphere or culture that you create, even within your team that’s maybe more important than what exactly they’re making in any one given job because that is kind of their quality of life in their job and their business.
Mark Butler: There’s a transition that a business owner doesn’t have to go through.
But many of them, I don’t know should, maybe too stronger word. But I was just having a conversation with a client yesterday and she has crossed into the multiple millions, and she’s doing that with a relatively small team. And we were talking about one of her team members in particular, and about how much to pay this team member because she’s very happy with the person and the work she’s doing and how much more, give her a raise, I’m going to give her a bonus, all these good things. And I said, “Hey, look, the money is an important part of the conversation. But it’s not the most important part of the conversation.
The most important part of the conversation is what is your vision for her in your business? Does that myth match her vision for her life and her job? Are you and she syncing up regularly on the relationship that you have, and on her performance within that relationship?” Because we tend to really make this is especially true of business owners who have kind of surged to success, they tend to view their team as just more hands for their brain. Like, I’ve got more tasks; I need to get people in here to complete tasks for me. There’s nothing wrong with that during high growth phases.
But eventually you realize, wait a minute, if I start to think about my team members as brains, and I start to mentor and develop them and make sure that their job aligns with their vision for their life, then they eventually they take over the creation of the business and you’re able to settle back into more of a — well, honestly, whatever role you want. But only if you get to that point where you start few people as brains instead of just viewing them as hands, and I think that’s a hard thing. But when you get into over a million into the multiple millions, your job actually switches from being like, if I’m a life coach, my job starts to switch from being just about helping people feel better, and it starts to be how do I run a team that delivers amazing experiences that help people feel better for the different project?
Molly Claire: Yeah. And as you’re talking too, I think, I know, I’ve seen this to be true in our team is making sure that you have the right people in the right seats, because you can mentor each person. But I think it’s really important to make sure that you have the right skill set and the right personality for each position, so they can take ownership of it.
Mark Butler: Yeah, something that I think everyone is going to do at least once I’ve done it at least twice. But something that all of us do at least once is we fall in love with a team member, and we view them as, like this conversation from yesterday, my client was viewing this particular team member like, well, she’s going to be running my company one day, she’s going to run the whole company, she’s going to be managing people, she’s going to be doing all this stuff. And I said, “You know, maybe she might want and be able to do that job.
But if she doesn’t want or if she’s not able to do that job, that’s okay, someone is going to do an amazing job of running your company, and she, she may just be so thrilled with the role that she has that she’ll sit in that role for the next 10 years, and it’ll be such a great fit.” So we it’s like, we have to be careful about falling in love with people and sort of making ourselves responsible for their long term. Like, I’ve got to figure out how to help her make a million dollars. No, you don’t. You have to give her an amazing job and help her develop herself. If she really wants to make a million dollars, it’s her job to figure out how that happens, and if she leaves you, it’s going to be okay.
Molly Claire: Yeah, it’s so true because we do. I’m in love with all of my team members, right? And you want to just make everything amazing for them and help them to achieve all these things. But yeah, what you’re saying is so in line with the Coaching Collective idea, right, that everyone has their own unique, ideal life that’s perfect for them, their own unique abilities, and what they do and finding those and really leaning into them is I don’t know just how you have more purpose and more success.
Mark Butler: Satisfaction; meaning, I totally agree.
Molly Claire: Yeah. Okay, so you’re telling me before we started talking about something that you hear all the time from coaches. Something along the lines of like, I’ve got to start looking at my money tell us.
Mark Butler: Yeah, I’ve got to figure out my money. I’ve got to figure out the money piece Mark. If I just figure out the money piece, and they would say that I you know, I’ve met people at conferences, people sign up for strategy sessions. And it was always like; ‘I just got to figure out the money.’ And there is some truth to that, that’s why I own a bookkeeping business. A bookkeeping business helps you have clarity around the money. But in businesses that are as simple and elegant and beautiful as coaching businesses are, there’s not that much to be done with the money in terms of strategy and planning. Honestly, the money comes in. You decide how much of it to keep and how much of it to pay out to advertising and team members, that’s it.
And that’s pretty much it. So usually what I realized after probably dozens of these conversations is when people were coming to me to say, I’ve got to figure out the money, they were almost always experiencing problems with their marketing, because coaching businesses are mostly marketing. It’s having people become aware of us and our work and liking us and trusting us and believing that we’re going to help them solve their problem. That is marketing. So when people would come to me and say, I’ve got to figure out the money, I would look at their business with them, and I would say, “Oh, are we just talking? Because you just had a launch not go as you hoped it would? And then you decided that was probably because you weren’t very good at money?” I hope to the listener doesn’t sound like I’m being condescending. I was sort of curious to be discovering this because it became a real pattern. ‘Oh, my last launch didn’t go like I wanted it to. I think I’ve money issues.’ No, if your last launch didn’t go the way you wanted it to you have a marketing issues. And if you’ve run out of money, it’s probably just because you spent it all which I can help with. But if we use our coaching tools, usually when a person has spent all their money, it’s because they experienced fear, and then in a reactionary way, they’re like, I got to sign up for something. I got to hire new team member, I got to sign up for a mastermind. I love masterminds and I love team members. But when those decisions are made from fear, we usually find regret on the other side, as opposed to when those decisions are made from clarity and confidence, we find happiness and productivity on the other side. So that’s what I was saying to you earlier, when people come to me and say, I’m having issues with my money, it’s usually more true that they’re having issues with their marketing.
Molly Claire: So interesting. I mean, I see that in so many different ways, not even just with money, right? Our coaches will not have a great launch or not get the response, and then they start making it mean, all of these things, right? Like I’m not a good coach, and it’s like, hold on a minute. Maybe you haven’t figured out the marketing yet. But it has nothing to do with how good of a coach you are, or how capable you are anything like that. So I think really anytime that any of the coaches listening think I just have to figure out the money, or I need to be a better coach, or I need to do this or whatever, just like take a minute and kind of trace back where that all began. And I really think you need to sift through it and have someone help you to be more factual about it and what’s really going on.
Mark Butler: Yeah, you got to be more factual, and you also have to develop the habit of viewing other signals as important because we tend to view money as non neutral. We make it the most important signal definitely in our business, sometimes in our whole life. If there’s more money, then I just use it as a signal. Okay, I’m safe. I’m happy, I’m good. But for business, especially for new businesses, money is sort of the last thing to arrive.
Molly Claire: Oh, that’s so true.
Mark Butler: So all along the way, while they’re waiting for the money to arrive, if they’re deciding to have it be the only meaningful signal, that’s a recipe for misery. But if they learn to look at other signals, signals, as simple as my friend told me, they read my newsletter, and they’ve been thinking about it all week, since they read it. A client sent them a text and said, “Hey, our last session was super impactful. I’m still thinking about it, or I have the best interaction with my husband today, because of that session.” These are the signals that are much more useful to us while we’re waiting for the money to arrive. And if we can really invest in those signals, mentally and emotionally, then when the money does arrive, we’ll be on much less of a roller coaster, because we’ll have learned to look at all the other signs of life in our businesses, and let money just be like, ‘Oh, that’s fun. That’s nice.’
Molly Claire: That you’re not so dependent on it.
Mark Butler: Not dependent on it.
Molly Claire: Yeah. Okay. I think this is like the most brilliant thing that I have heard in so long. I think this is a big deal. Because it’s true that we do more work. We do all of this foundational work in the beginning of our business, and we don’t see a lot of financial return on it. But then along the way, somewhere, I feel like I always say and I know some people are watching this, but some people are just listening to the podcast, so I’ll kind of describe this. But I think that sometimes we think that a business sort of goes up in a diagonal, but maybe goes kind of up, down, up down, but the general trajectory is up on money. But I think really, it’s almost pretty flat lined for a while, like there are some spikes, but it’s kind of flat lined, and then at a certain point, I think it goes up pretty significantly once you pass a certain point.
That’s been my experience anyway. Would you agree with that at all?
Mark Butler: Yeah.
Molly Claire: Okay, all good. I thought you’re going to tell I’m wrong.
Mark Butler: No, for the math nerds in the audience, what Molly’s saying is that it’s not linear, it tends to be more exponential, and it tends to be like, nothing for a long time and then a lot. Can be how it goes. I’ve seen that a lot of times. The difficult part is people they’re begging you, Molly, they’re begging me to say, okay, but for how long do I have to endure the flat part? And there’s no answer to that question. All we can control is the improvement of our skills and our energy that we put into relationships and marketing, and increasing our ability to solve people’s problems, and increasing the number of offers to help that we make making more offers, and things tend to take care of themselves.
What’s been really fun for me along those lines, is I a couple of years ago, yeah, it was a couple of years ago, I had a little program called Office Hours, where newer coaches would come and we would just chat for a few minutes, and people would listen on the conversations. I didn’t choose to keep doing office hours. But I’ve caught up with a few of the people who were in that program, and they were making no money when they were in that program with me. And that I don’t talk to him for a year or two. It is so fun to me to run into them a year or two later and have them say, ‘Yeah, I’m completely full. My business is full, I’m making great money, and I’m having a blast,’ because it’s still very clear in my memory, how unsure they were how frustrated they could be some times how uncertain of can I even do this? Is this ever going to work? For me, it’s working for her so much faster than it’s working for me all the drama that we have about these things? So it is coming; we don’t know exactly when it’s coming. But it’s coming.
Molly Claire: Yeah, and I love I just want to go back and highlight that brilliant point that you made about have these other signals, I actually think it would be a good idea for everyone listening to kind of make a list of what are the signals, I’m going to look for that I’m having growth and success, beside the money, what are those things? Because I think then you can have those markers that can kind of keep you moving along, right? Keep that sense of hopefulness and keep you committed to the end goal.
Mark Butler: Do you know what those people don’t know that I know, because of who I’ve worked with, if you use the money, as the end all be all, the day will come where you realize the money doesn’t actually deliver that and you’ll find yourself with millions of dollars, and you’ll be very confused about why you’re so bored and so unhappy. And not forever, necessarily, but I’ve had multiple super high earning clients over the years, say to me, ‘I guess I really did think that I would feel differently when I had all this money, and I don’t. I’m happy with my work but I really thought that once the bank account set a certain number I would truly life would be more different than it actually is.’ So I’m in this funny position where I’m constantly bringing that information back to people who are more on the Getting Started side of things, and I’m telling them that and I’m watching them be like, ‘Well, I’m pretty sure though that when I get there, it’s going to be different from money.’ I’m always like, ‘Okay, probably. Good luck.’ The money won’t do for you what you think it’s going to, it will do a lot. But you can enjoy it. Love your business every single day because of the work that you’re doing and how you feel while you’re doing is independent of the money.
Molly Claire: Yes, totally. I love it. It’s so brilliant. Okay, I want to ask you one more question before we wrap up. What do you see in the most successful coaching businesses? What are they doing well?
Mark Butler: Oh, well, two things. One, I already said this, but marketing. Yeah, just they’re the best coaching businesses tend to be the best marketing businesses and we can talk, we could have hours of conversations about the implications of that. But it just tends to be where you see a coaching business doing amazingly well; you will find a coach who has found her or his rhythm with their marketing activities, so there’s that. The other thing I want to say doesn’t really relate to money. But the thing that I observed in like outlier successful coaching businesses is a willingness to say the same thing 10 million times over the course of 10 or 15 years, and generate enthusiasm for it that on the 10,000,000th time like they did on the 50th time. I think that is a superpower. I have praised my clients to their faces so many times over and over like; I don’t know how you generate the energy to say that again today. You said it five years ago. I think it’s the thing I admire most I think it’s the thing I aspire to because long term success maybe in any business;
But especially in a coaching business seems to be the willingness, once you have found the thing that resonates with people to say it a million times, and to make it your life to keep saying it. I’m in awe of that.
Molly Claire: I love it. I love it. Well, it’s a good thing. I’m pretty excitable about things I do get when I’m excited about something that…
Mark Butler: You do, you bring that energy, and I think that’s your superpower; you know what you’re excited about, and you bring that enthusiasm. I think it’s very attractive to the people who work with you.
Molly Claire: Well, thank you so much for being here. Any last words of wisdom or advice for any of these amazing coaches listening?
Mark Butler: Just keep going, just keep going and keep looking for ways to enjoy the work you’re doing right now. Because it doesn’t get any better than enjoying the work you’re doing right now. I’ve said this a lot. There’s no number on a P&L on a spreadsheet, there’s no number on a spreadsheet that will feel better than to you, than having a client reach out to you an hour or a year later and say, ‘Everything’s different because of the conversations we had.’ So just stick with that and you’re going to do great.
Molly Claire: Amazing. Thank you so much, Mark, appreciate it. Where can people find you by the way? I’ll have your information in the show notes. But where can people find you?
Mark Butler: Few places; if you’re a life coach, you need a bookkeeper period. It’s one of the nice things about my product is it’s like a utility everyone has to have it. So go to letsdothebooks.com. We have super friendly pricing and we do a great job with bookkeeping for life coaches. And the other thing I’m doing is a thing called Money school. You can find that at moneyschool.works and if you like the way I think about money, go to moneyschool.works, sign up for the newsletter and good stuff for you over there.
Molly Claire: Awesome. All right, thank you, Mark.
Thanks for listening to the Masterful Coach Podcast; you can check out www.thecoachingcollective.com for info about the ultimate program for coaches building a business. To find out more about Molly, you can visit www.mollyclaire.com
Molly Claire is a 7-figure business builder with a blended family of 10. She is dedicated to helping women overcome their own limits, make the money they want, and have the time, freedom, and flexibility to be with the people in their lives that matter most. Especially the little ones.
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