I don’t know about you, but I’m an idea guy.
I don’t need to do a bunch of research before I get started with something. If I have a new idea, I’m ready to jump right in and hit the ground running. It was no surprise to find that I rank extremely high in the Quick Start category on the Kolbe A Index (if you’ve taken it, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
And after years of working with coaches, I’ve learned I’m not alone.
So many coaches are the exact same way.
We experiment, explore, and try new things out all the time. We take chances, welcome new challenges, and embrace uncertainty. In other words, we go for it!
It’s so innate in us that we sometimes forget a really important fact: this characteristic doesn’t come naturally to everyone else. And thank God for that! While we’re great at pointing the ship in the right direction, we need help from the people who excel at implementation, and that’s where project managers come in.
Why Coaches Need Project Managers
Without project managers, we try to do too much on our own and when that happens, things become way harder than they actually need to be.
Even when we have the best of intentions, opportunities can slip right through our fingers. We might be great starters, but often that means we’re not the best finishers.
We see the outcomes we want to create but when we do it all ourselves, it’s tough to get any traction. Even when we’re bursting with energy, it’s like we’re just spinning our wheels. Without traction, we can’t build momentum, and without momentum, we can’t complete our projects.
One of the biggest downsides of failing to complete projects is the toll it takes on our confidence. Strong self-esteem comes from taking on something that’s a bit challenging and actually getting it done. When we fail to finish project after project, our self-esteem plummets.
On the other hand…
Project managers can be a total game changer. They can help us take those great ideas and actually turn them into reality. Instead of getting bogged down with the details, we can actually move quickly while maintaining a sense of altitude and perspective in our business.
When we utilize project managers, we can actually get momentum, ship projects regularly, and get our confidence back.
As I mentioned, I’m a quick starter — not a strong finisher. After years of beating myself up over it (and trying to willpower myself through it), I realized that it’s exactly the role I should be playing. I just needed a finisher who could pick up what I laid down and run with it.
Remember that productivity is measured by output, not input. It’s not about how busy you are or how hard you work at something — it’s about what you actually produce. Project managers are the people that help us make this happen.
How a Project Manager Fits in Your Coaching Business
As quick starters, there’s something we have to accept about ourselves: we’re sprinters, not marathon runners. We have a ton of energy at the start, but after a while, we tend to lose that energy.
This is nothing beat yourself up over. There are starters and there are finishers, and both are absolutely necessary. The key, then, is to shift our metaphor for what a project looks like. A project isn’t a marathon, but it’s also not a single sprint.
Instead, we need to think of a project as a 4×100 meter relay race.
In a 4×100 relay, there are four sprinters each responsible for running a 100-meter stage. The first sprinter starts the race and as they approach the second runner, they pass the baton and they’re done. The second sprinter runs their 100 meters and passes the baton to a third sprinter, who then runs their stage and hands off to a fourth sprinter who finishes the race.
Quick question: Would you prefer to design a new system or follow an existing system forever?
So far, almost every coach I’ve talked to would rather invent the process than carry it out on a recurring basis. That’s why we need three other sprinters.
We’ll use this framework for our projects:
1. The Coach
The first sprinter is you, the coach. Since you’re the idea person, your job is to make it up. Figure out what you want the project to be, what it’ll look like, how it benefits your business, and the cost if you get it wrong.
This is our forte, right? We need to tap into our natural strengths and use our vision and ideas to set the direction.
2. The Project Manager
The next sprinter is the project manager. Their job is to is to take what you’ve made up and make it real. Once you come up with the idea, the project manager documents it and systematizes it.
The project manager is probably someone a little like you. They’re more of an implementer than you, but they don’t love doing the boring repetitive tasks any more than you do. They vibe on taking your idea, making it real, then handing it off to someone else to carry out.
3. The Process Manager
The third sprinter is the process manager. Their job is to take the system the project manager created from your initial idea and make it recur.
4. The Team
The fourth sprinter is optional, but it’s incredibly valuable. This sprinter is actually the entire team, and it’s the team’s job to make it better. Once every several months, the team meets, reviews what’s working and not working and finds a way to improve the system.
The Relay in Action
Here’s a quick example of how the 4×100 relay can look in your business.
A while back, I decided I wanted to a faster way to create content for webinars. So, I created a fill-in-the-blank worksheet for creating webinar content on my iPad. I had a project manager design the full slide template and systematize it. Then, we used a virtual assistant as our process manager to assemble the slide decks and worksheets from my initial notes.
I was able to scribble notes on my iPad, send it off and in no time at all, I’d receive the slide deck and worksheets ready to go.
After we ran the process several times, we made some tweaks as a team to improve it and now we have a webinar-creation machine.
How to Get Started with a Project Manager
If you’re doing everything on your own in your coaching business, you may be thinking, “That’s great, Taki, but I can’t afford to hire two new people right now for every project.”
That’s totally fine. The project manager and process manager don’t have to be full-time employees. You can easily find virtual assistants to fill each role, or even use one virtual assistant for both roles in the beginning. As your business grows and you have more projects, you’ll probably need to expand, but it’s best to start simple.
Keep in mind that different people — both VA’s and full-time employees — are better suited for different roles depending on personality type. In general, project managers love it when you have new ideas because they also have a passion for creating new things. Process managers usually aren’t crazy about generating new ideas and they prefer to stick to a process.
Since both personalities and roles are essential, let the team members play to their strengths and your projects will run smoother than ever.
- Think of your projects as 4×100 meter relay — not a marathon or a single sprint.
- You’re the starter.
- Once you come up with the idea, the project manager makes it real, giving it traction.
- Once they create the system, the process manager makes it recur, giving it momentum.
- Finally, the team makes improvements, taking the project to completion.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your coaching business:
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