Roadblocks Coaches Face

Roadblocks show up when we don't know enough about our own businesses in order to create the success we see in our visions. Here we break down the roadblocks most coaches face, and give you a roadmap to avoid them in the future. Nothing in coach business success, or failure, makes sense, except in light of how well the coach knows their own business.

We all face different roadblocks every single day. The question isn’t whether you face those roadblocks, not even whether you get around them. The question is do you see them for what they are? If you think the thing slowing you down is the barricade in the road, then you might go around it, you might move it out of the way, you might start driving again, but did you solve the problem?

Or might you have a bigger problem as a result of moving the barricade?

Understanding your business means you’re able to understand the problems you face. It is only through how well you understand your own business that you’re able to understand your level of success or failure. If you’re not sure about what you’re business actually is, then you’re more likely to face significant roadblocks.

You’re a coach. You’ve heard how you can make a difference and also make money. You know what makes you stand out from other coaches, but there’s this cow standing in the road. It prevents you from bringing your message to the people who need to hear it. You honk your horn, create tiktok videos, and try to get it to notice you, but the cow refuses to move. You’re stuck before you even get going. 

There are specific roadblocks most coaches face. These roadblocks are felt, to some degree, by anyone starting a business. It’s because these roadblocks are so universal that we see so many people telling you what to do and how to do it.

The secret to getting around these roadblocks has to do with how well you know your business. The solution is personal and individual to each coach. The good news is there’re methods of exploration that consistently work for most businesses. The rest of this post is devoted to talking about the common roadblocks – as well as how to gain clarity in order to mitigate the roadblocks you face.  

First, I’d like to encourage you to pause and reflect on where you’re really at right now. 


Not where you’re at if you squint and pretend your Great Uncle Steve is actually a client. 

For instance, as I’m build the Hey! Lemonade platform, I have almost no social media presence. I have limited time for 1:1 clients, and am not running any of my group programs. In the last 6 months, I’ve had 2 paying 1:1 clients and 1 round of group coaching. That’s it.

In order to gain clarity about where I want to go, I need to be very honest about where I am – otherwise any forward movement will look like standing still.

Second, define success. Not the end goal success, but the next step success. What specifically does that look like?

Right now how I measure success should not be based on having a full client load, or enough income to cover all bills. Yes, that IS success, but it’s several steps from where I’m at right now – the jump is unlikely for most businesses just starting out. 

Measuring  success based on the finish line vs the process leaves most people feeling frustrated, incompetent, and leads to sabotage levels of  procrastination. 

This is the first main roadblock coaches face. How they measure success. 

How to measure success needs to be a full separate post, so I won’t dig into it any more deeply here. 

Right now the main point to understand is that between here and the mile marker there are hundreds of other steps that all need to be treated as success.

The rest of this post is dedicated to the 4 broad roadblock categories coaches face while building their businesses. Any specific roadblock likely falls into one of these categories. If by chance you have a roadblock that doesn’t fall into one of these categories, please let me know in the comments. It’s important to me to know what coaches face, so that I can better support them in building and growing their businesses

The good news is: once you know what these roadblocks are, you’re more capable of working around them. The bad news is: the solution is seldom something you can accomplish in an afternoon. Sometimes it takes weeks, or months, worth of deep dives and exploration in order to work around these roadblocks. 

The 4 roadblocks are:

  1. Lack of clarity
  2. Listening to the wrong advice
  3. Lack of skill
  4. Limiting beliefs

Ouch. Some of those hurt. Lack of skill and limiting beliefs? Isn’t admitting lack of skill a limiting belief? 


Pretending you don’t lack skill is more of a limiting belief than actually admitting lack of skill. Don’t worry, we’ll dig into that. 

First, let’s talk about clarity. 

Lack of Clarity

Business clarity has to do with niche, target audience, outcomes, and modalities. But it also has to do with values, identity, vision, capabilities, actions, and where you show up.  

Coaches often jump straight to niche. The advice out there either tells you to start with a niche, or start with why. 

A few months ago I submitted a coaching session for review, the client wanted a day to day plan for their life, one of my questions asked them where they wanted to be in 5 years. Their response was, “I don’t know.” 

The reason the client responded with ‘I don’t know’ was because there was no bridge that made 5 years matter when they were focused on the here and now. 

Finding clarity about our business requires us to build the bridge that shows us, and clients, why it matters. It’s like that coaching session. If we jump to the conclusion without building the bridge that tells us why it matters, then we’re less likely to find the right niche, or less likely to be satisfied with our messaging. I believe most coaches jump into a niche too soon. A niche without true clarity leads to a foggy, boggy mess of overwhelm and negative beliefs.


Exploration To Gain Clarity

The great news is coaches already have great tools at their disposal that help them explore. The one I like best is the logical levels, kind of like a hierarchy of needs, the logical levels help us look at our business from different view points. 

You can start at any point in these levels – what are you already clear about? Once you know what’s already clear, then you can explore the other levels more deeply. I’ll begin at the bottom of the logical levels pyramid and work my way up.
Each level has two parts. The part that’s you focused on your business and the part that’s your client/audience focused on you/your business. Part of your exploration requires you to explore your business from both your perspective as well as your audiences perspective.

  1. Environment

    Where do you connect with potential clients? Where do you host your client sessions? Which social media platforms do you use? 

    Your physical space as well as your online space all impacts you as well as your business. Do you share glimpses into your real life? What does it look like?   

    Different social media platforms tend to have different audiences. They also have different types of content. Sharing long form content on Twitter is less effective than sharing short witty phrases. Focusing on Stay At Home Moms and posting on LinkedIn  is less likely to be successful than posting on instagram or Facebook.

    Finding your audience is a lot easier when you understand the different platforms.

    To your audience, your content is the ‘environment’. Your content needs to communicate your business values, acknowledgement of the problem, recognition of the client as worthy just the way they are, and also actionable hope that can bring the client toward a solution. 
  2. Actions

    Actions are the things we do in our business that move us toward our goals. These can be actions we take during a coaching session, or the actions we take to build our business.

    Create content related to your business, post content, talk about coaching, talk about your areas of interest. Run webinars or workshops, network, read, learn, and connect with others.

    In order to create content, webinars, workshops, or take any of those actions, you need to know what you’re creating.
    What platforms do you create content for? What audience?
    What’s the main message? What’s the main problem? Solution?

    What emotions or values do you want to communicate?
    Knowing what actions to take is a lot easier when you understand what you want to communicate, what outcome you want to create, as well as where you want to share your content.

    What actions do you want your audience to take? What about taking these actions is important for your audience – in other words, what do they get out of taking that action? What about your audience taking that action is important to your business? 
  3. Capabilities & Skills

    We each have areas where we are confident in our abilities. We also have areas where we’re less confident.

    What are you good at? What might you want to improve as a coach? In your business what are are you good at, what could be better?

    Businesses require marketing, sales, social media management, professional development, technological management, as well as so many smaller tasks that show up over and over again.

    It’s highly unlikely you’re good at all aspects of building a business. Though it is possible to get better at any of those aspects. If you were to get better at any one aspect necessary for building a business, what would give your business the biggest positive impact?

    What about your audience? What skills do they already have? If they were to develop in any one area, what would give them the biggest positive impact?  
  4. Values

    Values are the compasses that guide us in our lives, and our businesses. Our values help us determine how we talk about our topic, they even determine what our topic is. Our values connect us to those who share, or want to share, the same values, they give us language to use, and also help guide the visual content we create.

    Our audience is filtered based on the values we communicate, as well s how we communicate those values.

    For instance, freedom means different things to those on the left vs the right of the political spectrum. If you aren’t clear about how you intend to talk about ‘Freedom’, then your audience interprets your content based on whether they assume you’re ‘with them’ or ‘against them’.  That decision is based on the other content they’ve already seen, or the language you use in the single post they consume. What message do you want to convey? Liberty, equality, or choice related to the whole talks about freedom from – and appeals to left leaning people. Where as tradition, patriotism, and personal choice, talks about freedom to – and speaks to those who are right leaning.

    The Golden Rule says to do unto others as you would have done unto you – and this tends to lead to larger divisions. Instead consider what the other person, your audience, wants, and communicate that to them. 

    What are your business vales, what are your personal values? In what way do you show these values in your messaging? What words relate to those values, are different words used for different types of people within your larger audience? 
  5. Identity

    Your identity as a coach determines the language you use, as well as the type of people you appeal to. Are you an expert? Are you someone who struggles, but through coaching have managed to get ahead? Are you someone who has a single focus, or a wide variety of interests?

    Who you are, and how you show others who you are, determines who’s most likely to be attracted to you and your work.

    How you communicate who you are relates to all of the previous points as well as the following points.

    How about your audience? Who are they? Who do they want to be?

    The way your audience identifies themselves influences how you talk to them, as well as    Who do you need to be? If you’re that person, how would you do things differently? How would you show up? How would others know you’re that person?  
  6. Vision

    When you bring all of that together, you have the scaffolding for your vision. Now you can see a future that you’re capable of creating, one step at a time. What do you see?

Now that you’ve explored the logical levels that show you clearly where you want to go, you can step backwards and explore how you might get there.
What experience, knowledge, or skill, is necessary in order to move you one step closer to your goal?

There’s a reason coaches often work with people who have similar life experiences as they do. Often this is where coaches have enough experience to gain the clarity they need. 

Something that gets in the way of clarity – and success is taking the wrong advice. The good news is there’s a way to discern which advice isn’t right for you. 

What Counts As Bad Advice?

Advice is bad if you decide to take it, even if it’s not right for you. It’s also bad if it’s good advice, but you decide not to take it because it feels uncomfortable to face the gap between where you are, and where that advice tells you to go. 

The most important way to discern which advice is right for you is to know what your values are, and use them to weigh against advice. Is something in alignment with your values? Then it’s potentially good advice.

Do you know what your goals are and what you need to do and accomplish to reach those goals? Great! Does this advice help you move in the direction of your goals? If not, then rethink this advice! Does the advice offered take into account where you’re at in your business/life? If not, then it’s possible this isn’t good advice. 

It’s that simple. 

If it recognizes where you’re at, helps you move toward where you want to be, and is in alignment with your values, then it’s likely good advice. 

In most cases you have time to reflect on the advice before taking action on it. If there’s a time limit, ‘Make your decision now, or this offer disappears/prices go up!” The person giving/selling that ‘advice’ is using loss aversion in order to manipulate your response. It could be good advice, but it’s also likely that it won’t actually help you. 

*If this is a sales technique you use, there are other techniques you can use that get you stronger results. 

Lack of Skill

Coaches need a few skills in their repertoire in order to be successful. First, they need to be good at connecting with people either online, or in person, in order for the audience to move from just lookin’ to ready to talk. 

They also need adequate skills in sales in order to move their potential client from talking to saying ‘Yes!’ 

Of course, we also expect a coach to have adequate skills as a coach. 

Each of these areas can be broken down into smaller chunks. Connecting in person means knowing what to say and how to say it. Knowing where to connect matters as well. In person there are a variety of places and many different ways you can connect with people.

Online a coach has their website, directory listings, and social media platforms.

Each location has different requirements and expectations. How a coach connects on Facebook is different than on twitter. How they connect at a trade fair is different than how they connect at a corporate event. 

Where do you want to connect with your audience? How confident in your connection skills are you in that space? What would make them even better?

When it comes to your coaching skills, how confident are you? Go ahead, scale it! On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being fully and completely confident, how confident are you? 

What helped you get as high as you are? What might help you get 1/2 a point higher? 

Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs are one of those things that pops up over and over again. It’s easy to see our faults and the ways in which we get in our own way. It’s easy to tell ourselves we’re not good enough because we easily see the gap. 

But those limiting beliefs aren’t based on reality. I know. You can clearly point out the ways in which they’re true. I want to challenge you to see the ways in which they’re false. 

Our limiting beliefs come from the darkest things we’ve ever thought, heard, or felt about ourselves. But there’re are so many more things we’ve heard, felt, or seen that tell us all the ways in which we’re okay. We’re good enough. And we can move toward our goals.

The negative voices may be true (at times) it doesn’t mean they’re the only truth. It also doesn’t mean that because we struggle we don’t deserve to do better or have better. Everyone struggles. But some people don’t give the negative thoughts as much room in their lives.


We all face different roadblocks every single day. We all struggle. We all wish we were already where we want to be. Success isn’t about not facing these issues. Success is all about knowing we’re capable of taking one more step, even though we struggle.

The question isn’t whether you face those roadblocks, not even whether you can get around them. The question is do you see them for what they are? Roadblocks give us information about where we’re at and what we need to discover about ourselves and the work we do. So often we’re told to push through the roadblocks until we hit the open road. The problem with this approach is that pushing through the roadblocks is exactly like driving down a closed road – you’re likely to run into problem after problem because you never actually solved the issue that brought up the roadblock.

Sarah Langner

Sarah Langner

Sarah Langner helps invisible people become visible and works to build bridges between people, ideas, and ideologies. The sweetest part of my life is my family, my friends, desserts, and, of course, Disney World!

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