The 6-Figure Life Coach: Debbie Cherry of Practitioner Freedom
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Turning clinicians into coaches so they can show up for their clients and earn six-figure incomes is what keeps Debbie Cherry motivated. She's the perfect person to do it, because it's a journey she's walked herself.
Like many clinicians, Cherry started off trading time for dollars with one-on-one counseling sessions, but the need to make a bigger impact and start to reclaim some family time led her to launch Relationship Remedies, a couples-counseling program. The process of creating and marketing that program helped Cherry identify some of the gaps that stop many clinicians from growing their businesses successfully.
"I saw clinicians falling through the cracks because they didn't get online sales and marketing, and they didn't understand the technology," she says. "They had something awesome to share with the world, but they needed help to do it."
Freedom for wellness practitioners
Cherry realized that she had the marketing and leadership skills to help those clinicians take the next step and launch coaching programs of their own. So in 2018, Cherry launched Practitioner Freedom, which works with therapists, counselors, clinicians, psychologists and other healers to help them transition from the one-on-one medical model to a one-to-many online delivery model that helps them serve more people while creating more personal freedom for themselves.
"We focus on simplifying the marketing process and reducing the noise of fancy funnels and email list-building to guide clients to the most powerful way to show up and get clients," Cherry explains.
And she has has picked a lucrative niche. According to PWC and the ICF, the number of coaches worldwide has increased by 33 percent between 2015 and 2019. Estimated revenue from the sector was $2.849 billion in 2019.
One of Cherry's key mantras is "show up." It's what she does herself, and she helps her clients to do the same, using the technology and platforms that are readily available, like social media, to connect on a deeper level. As she advises: "We can leverage social media and platforms in this online connection world for good. Look at that as a new opportunity to find people and connect with people, and just start showing up and sharing what you believe."
For her, that's been the game-changer that helped her build a six-figure business: "The more you put yourself out there, the more Facebook Lives you do, the more people you talk to, the more you show up and are seen and stand for something, the more clients you'll get, and the quicker you'll have a sustainable business."
Creating an impact with generosity and tenacity
In addition, she encourages that you have to be generous and tenacious. Generosity means being willing to be vulnerable in terms of taking risks and potentially failing. Meanwhile, tenacity is about constantly finding a way to get your message out there and create the big impact you want to make.
In this process, Cherry adds, it's also important to identify your niche. But she cautions her clients to focus more on psychographics than on demographics. "It doesn't have to be a focus on this person from this background doing this profession," she says. "It's more: What's their worldview? What matters most to them. If you can articulate what they're going through and where they want to be on a deep, specific level, then they feel heard and seen, and that's how you cut through the noise."
Clearly, this approach is working for Cherry, moving her from a six-figure to a seven-figure business in a very short time. But while showing up and building a strong business foundation gets you from nothing to six figures, the game-changer for a seven-figure business is having the right team around you.
"Don't hire people to fill holes or take pressure off," Cherry affirms. "When people are hired to plug gaps, often they're not as empowered to really be a part of it. Hire people who are all in on the vision you have. We believe strongly in innovation and not becoming cogs in somebody else's wheel. We believe in throwing out old paradigms and looking for new ways to streamline and accelerate and advance quickly. We also believe in the freedom to choose how you want to do things. And we believe in having fun."
Cherry models what she wants her coaches and her clients to duplicate. She describes her leadership style as collaborative rather than hierarchical, focused on freedom, autonomy, flexibility and leveraging team members' gifts. She's also keen to avoid what she sees as outdated paradigms.
"Every little decision is how do we maximize our energy and not get in a service model rut," she says, "where we are just running ourselves into the ground."
Shaping the future of wellness
While 49 percent of coach practitioners reported reduced income because of the pandemic, Cherry's own business is bucking the trend: "I think it's helped us to really claim our position in questioning the status quo and it's helped our clients as well in trying to enroll their clients in a transformation because more people are at home, and that's kind of opened up new possibilities."
One of Cherry's favorite success stories from the program is about a person who was on disability and was on the verge of giving up. "They invested in the program, followed the steps, really did the personal growth work to show up and serve their clients at a higher level and learn new skills," she recalls. "Within two months, they had 10 high-paying clients." And now that client also has a six-figure business.Related: This Business Owner Helps Fitness Trainers Go From Hourly Wages to 6-Figure Salaries
Cherry has a strong vision for the Practitioner Freedom program. "We're really working hard at how you leverage your gifts," she says. "How do you maximize your time and energy and resources? We want to lead by example and help form the future of wellness."
And the coaches she works with want to do the same. "All of our practitioners want to be leaders in the wellness area," Cherry says. "So they want to get out of diagnosis, labels and relieving symptoms and into defining wellness and the new paradigm. That's where we're going as a team."