Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

My First Six Months in Business with Sarah Rusbatch

Posted on 28-4-2021 by Melanie White

Sarah Rusbatch is a qualified Health and Wellness Coach who trained with Wellness Coaching Australia through 2020. Sarah finished her course with the Passion to Profit business program. This article is about Sarah’s first six months in business and how she has built a global following and a viable business as a Health and Wellness Coach.

This article is an excerpt from two podcast interviews: one about why she was starting this business (Oct ’20), and one about how her business is going gangbusters! (Feb ‘21). 
It has been edited for length and clarity.

A Career Change
Before training as a Health and Wellness Coach, Sarah Rusbatch had worked for over 20 years working as a Recruitment Advisor, Executive Legal Recruiter and Career Coach at a global level.

But Sarah also had a growing concern about her alcohol intake and she had the personal experience of seeking help and taking steps to develop a better relationship with alcohol and ultimately, herself. With the right support over an 18-month period, Sarah stopped drinking altogether and as a result, found more meaning and purpose in life and a great sense of enrichment.

Training as a Health and Wellness Coach with Wellness Coaching Australia was a natural progression that helped her to turn her own experience with alcohol into a purposeful business so that she could help others do the same.

Here’s how the fist six months in business have panned out, after graduating with a Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching in December 2020.
 
Getting Started and Choosing a Niche
MW: Was there anything else that was difficult or that you were afraid of in the beginning? And how did you overcome that?

SR: I didn't have an understanding how to launch a coaching business. How was I going to work out what to charge? How was I going to build a program? How was I going to structure it? Because it's all very well having the qualification. But then what do you do after that? 

What Passion to Profit did really well was just gently guiding me step-by-step through what's needed, finishing with everything you need to know from a systems perspective; also just really practical things like sending out coaching agreements and all of the legalities, plus who is the niche, where are you going to market to your niche, and how are you going to build your program? I was really scared of all that just because I didn't know it but by the end of the program I felt really confident. 

MW: What helped you get ready to build your business and launch? 

SR: It was choosing a niche, and part of that was knowing that it's natural to be scared to niche down but that that's the only way to get success.  

I'm forever grateful for what the course has taught me in terms of just being able to back myself and know that what I was doing was the right thing to do. Because when you've got the qualification, there are so many avenues that you can go down and as a new coach you don't feel like you want to say “no” to anyone. 

I felt like I wanted to set up a business that could cater for every single person that came across to me so that I was never turning anyone down, but of course when you go through Passion to Profit you realize - how are you going to market to anybody if you look like you're covering every single thing?

What you helped me to do was really get to know who the ideal client was. I wanted to work with what their challenges were, what they were looking for and how I could help them.

Working with a niche just brings me so much more joy, because I feel like I'm an expert in my area. What I realize now is that without a clear niche, I could never have been an expert in terms of really understanding my area and be able to offer a great service in that area.

MW: That's a good point. So, by being general you don't get the chance to become a specialist and it affects your confidence in being able to being able to put yourself out there and see how you can tangibly help people. 

SR: Yeah, I found when I've been dealing with the same issues within my niche, I've learned so much from that and that's what made me a better coach in a very short space of time. I have been able to take that forward with the next clients that I work with. 

Creating Energy and Momentum in The First Three Months
MW: Okay, and so when you did finish and you graduated you got your Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching including Passion to Profit, was there any challenge that you had then or was it easy for you to go out and get into the market?

SR: I knew exactly what I was doing by that point. I was really clear, and I just ran a challenge, and I sold my program off the back of the challenge and filled all my spots.

MW: You make it sound so easy. “I just did a challenge and launched a program off the back sold all of my spots!” 
Let’s backtrack a little. Walk us through it.

You started by creating a free Facebook group in around October 2020, and quickly grew it with a sobriety challenge in January 2021, where you went all out and showed up daily to support your audience. 
What was the experience like?

SR: It was exciting, a little bit overwhelming and I felt a little bit lost at first. But I know the direction to go now because there are so many opportunities coming up, and I feel very proud and very excited with how well it's going in such a short space of time. 

I guess it's useful here to explain that I'm working in is women who want to stop drinking and discover more about themselves and find more fulfillment and purpose and passion in their lives, and I realized that I was starting the challenge at a good time of year because it was January. 

Everyone had just had a very boozy Christmas, feeling a bit rubbish, the start of the new year setting intentions, so I ran a challenge, and I knew that I was going to do this. 

At first, I thought I was going to do a five-day challenge, but then I thought, “well most people do dry January. I'm going to run a 21-day challenge in January to support people who want to take a break from alcohol.” 

I was overwhelmed with the number of women that joined that challenge, which boosted my confidence in knowing that I had so much to offer.

Every day I did a live video. Now, I would not recommend this because this is 21 days at 5pm Perth time every day. 

The intention was every day for five minutes most days. But it ended up being about 40 minutes each day! 

Even so, that made me realize how much I had to say on the matter and how much people were really enjoying and learning about the support and the tips and in the market, not many people were out there talking about these things. 

MW: How did you map out your strategy to really launch and grow so quickly? 

SR: I developed a clear strategy of how to sell my product to the audience, which evolved while I ran my pilot program as part of Passion to Profit.

I think you know from my last session in P2P that my program was not how I thought it was going to be. It was definitely a journey of me learning who I wanted to work with and really getting to identify what their pain point was and what their issue was, that I would be able to support them with. 

So my strategy was to build the group, run a free challenge that was important to a lot of people at the time, and then I built a waitlist during that time for my program. 

That is, I started talking about my program while I was doing the challenge. I said, “I have an exciting program coming soon and it would be a natural step on from taking the alcohol free challenge.” 

People joined the waitlist and I sold all my waitlist spots in two days - amazing! - and then I opened it up to people that were not on the waitlist. Then I think was about a week before closing that I sold all of the spots that I wanted to sell.

(Note: Sarah’s first offer was three groups programs with six spots in each (18 clients), plus four individual programs.)

MW: I'm hearing that you started with a free thing that people could join - your challenge - and you were very present and engaged. 

SR: I had a lot to say every day not just doing a static post using a posting service. When you run a Facebook group, you are actually in the group interacting with them and spending a lot of time. That’s important to know.

MW: It sounds like it was worth the investment because then you also had this the enticement of a call to action, which was your waitlist for something coming soon, which created some intrigue and that got them interested and excited about being part of that next thing to continue past the 21 days. 

SR: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, and that just seemed to just work really well.

Lessons Learned
MW: Sarah, did anything come up in the challenge that you think would be generally relevant for other niches? Like what were some of the issues that might have been raised in the group?

SR: Well, the one thing I learned is that I gave far too much away for free, and I gave far too much. I think there's a fine line between how much information you're prepared to share and it's not even about it being free, but it's about you know, as I said 40 minutes a day for 21 days. That's an awful lot of information that I was giving away. And if I was doing it again, perhaps I wouldn't do it quite that way because not only is it exhausting but there's too much information. I could have kept some back a little bit. 

But overall, the most amazing thing is that we're seeing the connections that the people in the challenge had with each other and were creating that real sense of community. 

So many of them have continued to stay off alcohol since then and most of them tell me that that group on Facebook is their favourite group ever and that they absolutely love it because they're all forming connections with each other. It's not just about me and so I'm creating an actual community which is great. 

MW: Yes! I mean you have lived experience and are very credible you're showing up and creating those connections. The timing of you is perfect. And also, at the bigger picture level there is a bit of a movement toward being sober curious, right? It's the start of a new thing. And so, there's you've got lots of ways of getting traction. Plus. It seems you're very good at networking too and you have extended networks around the place.

SR: Yeah, so I had the foresight before I even ran the challenge. I knew that I would use the Facebook Community to create a group because I knew that in this sobriety world that that really works well, and it gives people a lot of support so I had to set that up about four months before. I didn't realize how useful that was going to end up being because not only to the ladies in the group but to me as well because and they knew me already, but even to get them to do the challenge they had come across to me and they knew me, and I dumped some live videos and I shared my story. 

SR: So I think and because I decided that was going to be my way of marketing. I've done that ahead of time which definitely accelerated how quickly I was able to get success one side qualified and was ready to launch. 

Becoming Visible, Engaging and Attractive
MW: I was going to ask you about three or four things that you did to become very visible and engaging and attractive? 

SR: One of them would be starting that group earlier on and getting it all set up and starting to build those slow burn connections over time as we discussed in Passion to Profit - when you're creating a Facebook group or don't sell for the first six months just build the community and just build and get them to know you and each other, and that's what I did 
I've been very blessed that I've had the group has grown very quickly. There's 1700 women in it now (note: at publication date this is over 3000) all around the world. 

I have had no issues. There has not been a single problem. You know, women can sometimes pull other women down and I had just haven't had that at all. They have been the most supportive and amazing group of women. 

I do still monitor it and I do still have to get approval from me before posts will go live in the group. I don't feel quite ready to let it go free for all yet. But it 's definitely been a massive help for me having that group. 

MW: What are some other things that you've done to become visible?

SR: I sent an email to every radio station in Perth and told them what I was doing and so far. I've been on ABC Perth, I've been on 6PR, I'm going to be on 98.5 tomorrow and I also looked for all the health and sobriety podcasts out there and I just sent an email to all of them with my story and what I'm doing and starting to get some bookings.

It was literally just literally just writing emails to all the places that I could think of that might be interested to talk to me, right? 

MW: So obviously one of your marketing strategies is public speaking and that's whether it be in a Facebook group or on a guest podcast or a radio or a webinar. That's your jam. It's playing to your strengths and you enjoy that.

SR: Exactly yeah. 

MW: What about writing Sarah, is that something you enjoy?

SR: Absolutely, and I would love - my dream one day - is to write a book, but it's just finding the time. I've started a weekly Newsletter now for the ladies - some are in my group and some are not so the other people that have found out about it being through Instagram. So I have a page on there and then eventually I might start writing a Blog because I have lots of ideas but finding the time.

MW: And I guess you get to become known initially by getting on the radio and guest podcasting and being visible on Facebook – these things have been a foundation for you and Instagram as well. And then it may be that in future, you'll be doing less of that publicity stuff as you get better known and settle into some writing and blogging.

SR: Exactly exactly. 

Managing Time and Energy
MW: How are you managing your time and your energy and your clients with this big explosion in popularity?

SR: I am using a planner and I plan the night before I tried. This trick was just planning what I'm doing the next day because it's very easy to get distracted. If you even so much as look at Facebook, that's a half an hour gone so I'm very strict with when I let myself do that now so that I can get focused on what I need to do. I'm very strict with turning my phone off at night and being with the family.

I had to set boundaries because my kids are still young and they see me on my phone all the time because I'm always on Facebook and Instagram doing posts and responding and I've had to realize that I can't be like that in front of them. 

I've got a learning curve and I've got to create my bond with my daughter who said to me the other day, “mum why are you on your phone all the time?” 

That was a bit of a wake-up call because what I tried to explain to her I am actually working. It's the same mum who used to be in the office doing her work. My husband and I had a chat about it so now I do phone stuff in the office so that the kids don't get confused. It's just finding my boundaries and what works for our family and still keeping the momentum going to the business.

MW: Credit to you that you've got that awareness right at the beginning. 

SR: It's the context so taking your phone into the office and treating it formally like work really does make it work and probably makes it easier for you to not waste time on Facebook and not go down the rabbit hole. 

MW: Exactly. So you're a coach who's leading by example setting boundaries managing your environment.

SR: Yeah, being aware of the family. And I'm trying to just recognize when I'm getting full up and what I'm getting overwhelmed and when I need to take a break because that's everything. I talked to my ladies about that, and I've got to make sure that I'm doing that as well. 

It is recognizing when I need to go for a walk, when I need to go and take 10 minutes to read a book or have a bath or whatever it is. I'm making sure that I live by that example. 

MW: Fantastic Sarah. Have you got any last words of advice (which is very non coaching)? But any recommendations are opinions or even just advice for people who are scared of starting their coaching business and want to create the success that you've created so far.

SR: For me, it was a couple of things. It was developing my niche and knowing getting really clear on who that person was. So really, you know, we talked about the Avatar of who was that person and it was me five years ago and so in some ways it was easy for me because I spoke to me so loudly I was so grateful to you for encouraging me to run the pilot group. 

That was amazing, absolute gold because everything I've done with this program is based on doing the pilot group as part of, and in doing, Passion to Profit. 

I wouldn't have been able to go into selling this program confidently if I hadn't done that before so I would say to anybody out there if you're thinking about doing a good coaching pilot group is absolutely brilliant. 

Also, you have to go with what feels right to you because it does become all-consuming and it's exciting and so you have to be really passionate about where you want to help people.

For me, that's why I knew there were a couple of ideas that I was having but I was thinking “how does that make me feel if I'm working with people in that area all day, every day?” 

It was asking myself those questions around what lights me up and what makes me feel invigorated and where I want to spend my time that really helped me home in on that niche. 

I think that's so important because you are the business and then if you want to be doing this in 10 years time or even if you want to sell it even if you want to run a great business you have to love it. 

MW: I always think of Mick Jagger. After all these years he's still singing the same songs. He has to love those songs otherwise, he couldn't get out of bed and be a superstar every day. Imagine if he'd had enough of singing Satisfaction! 



About the Author - Melanie White

Melanie is a wellness coach with PT and associated qualifications. With over 15 years of experience in business management and leadership, Melanie brings a wealth of experience to the table. She loves helping people germinate new business ideas and grow them into successful, profitable ventures. 

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