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 Episode 22

Building a Foundation for Success with Schelli Whitehouse

by | May 15, 2020 | Guest | 0 comments

Schelli Whitehouse is a business coach for Equine Inspired Practitioners. She specializes in helping her clients follow their hearts in their businesses, so they can build a practice that feeds their souls as well as their horses. 

Hosts & Guests

April Hardeman

Laura Langfitt

Schelli Whitehouse




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Building a Foundation for Success with Schelli Whitehouse

Schelli Whitehouse is a business coach for Equine Inspired Practitioners. She specializes in helping her clients follow their hearts in their businesses, so they can build a practice that feeds their souls as well as their horses.

Schelli started the Equine Inspired Life during a defining moment. She was coaching practitioners and teaching them how to be facilitators. She loved it, but she was frustrated with what happened after they received their certifications.

These people went through intense training, they came out the other end with new superpowers, yet they weren’t building thriving businesses. They couldn’t get clients on a regular basis. Schelli was frustrated because she didn’t have enough bandwidth to help them launch their businesses.

Exactly three years ago, Schelli was co-hosting an event with Linda Kohanov. They had 20 practitioners in attendance. They were all wonderful, incredible, powerful women. At the end of three days together, they sat in a circle and shared their biggest takeaways from the event.

Schelli wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy like her fellow practitioners. As she sat there, she realized she was pissed off. As her turn came closer and closer, she got nervous because she didn’t know what to say. What was getting to her was the fact that out of 20 wonderful, powerful, capable people, only two were making a living at this work.

It was just wrong, these people were dedicating themselves to this, and they deserved to be compensated because their work of personal development with horses changes lives. When Schelli’s turn came, she blurted out, “Every person here should be making a living doing this work, and it’s depressing to me that it’s not happening, and i’m going to do something about it. So right there, in that circle, she started a business.

That was May of 2017. By November of 2017, she had written her book, the Business of Coaching with Horses, and it went to Amazon Kindle. Exactly a year later, it went to print. That’s how she launched her business.

The Importance of an Online Presence for Your Horse Business

Having an online presence, no matter how you serve your clients, is critical. However, convincing people who work with horses in-person of this is a hard sell. It’s made harder when people don’t have the proper program design in place to build a thriving in-person practice first.

Once you have a really clear idea of your offer, it’s easy to understand the importance of having an online presence, and how you can create content that educates and inspires your potential clients.

Your online presence is so much more than a Facebook page where you bombard people with the dates for your next program. It’s a space where you’re actually in conversation with people and offering something of value.

That online presence is super important. It allows you to show your audience that you understand their problem and how you can help them move forward. You can make it even more powerful by having something to offer that’s accessible online and solves one small problem for your audience members. Then when they’re ready to dig deeper, they’re much more likely to invest with you.

The Building Blocks of Your Business

If you are ready to build your online presence, you have to start with the foundational pieces of your business. Many people think they need a website, or business card, or brochures, but that’s marketing. You have to have something to market first.

If you have been marketing, and working hard at generating clients, but you don’t have a signature offer or service, that’s okay! You don’t know what you don’t know. Step one in developing your signature offer is committing to a well-defined audience. You need to know who your ideal client is, and you have to love them. That’s paramount because you’re going to spend a lot of time with them.

Your ideal client has to have a problem that they want to be solved, and they have to be willing to invest in solving it. How do you know who this is? Ask people. Create a survey or a poll. Spend some time researching what other people are offering.

Write down a list of symptoms and angst points that you know your ideal client is experiencing. Then think about what they would type into a search bar to try and solve their problem. Then go to Google Analytics and see how many times people are looking for that.

Once you have a well-defined audience, the second most important thing is your mission. Why would the results that you provide for your ideal client be important to them? Why is what you do important to you, and what difference will it make? What difference does that make for you personally, professionally, within your community, and even the world?

The answers to these questions are the juice that keeps your business going. It’s what helps you do all the things that are hard when you’re trying stuff, and not all of it is working out. Be kind to yourself at the beginning. You have to commit to this for the long haul. There are very few people that get rich quick without significant investment.

If you’re bootstrapping your business, put your foundation in place before you start marketing or building an online presence. Invest in that first before you invest in a website or any kind of marketing. Once your foundational work is complete, then you have something to market.

The Horsey Update – Meet Cruiser

Cruiser is Schelli’s partner in all of this. They’ve been together 13 years. Their journey together has and continues to be a wonderful one. Cruiser has recently developed a breathing issue. Schelli could hear a purr in his chest when he breathed. It started barely noticeable and got increasingly worse.

Schelli had noticed the purr a few times before, usually during a weather change, but it always went away after a day or two. This spring, it just kept getting worse. It progressed to coughing when they rode.

The vet diagnosed Cruiser with asthma. Schelli realized that she has been having a hard time breathing this spring too. Maybe it’s the dry weather, perhaps the added disinfectant sprayed at the barn played a role. It’s crazy how the two mirror each other. He’s so closely linked to her she wonders if he picked up on her symptoms and externalized them.

The vet has Cruiser on a steroid Prednisone, for 30 days. His symptoms subsided after three doses, so Schelli is hopeful he is already better. Before the breathing issue cropped up, the pair had been working hard to get stronger. Their lessons were going great, and they are hopeful to be back in their routine ASAP. They get to ride again and try exercising anytime now, so wish them luck!

Back to Business… Connecting With Your Audience
Once you know who belongs in your audience, you have to figure out where these people are looking to solve their problems. You are just one of many resources that may help them reach their goal.

Schelli has a client who serves divorced women over 40. That’s a super defined niche. She created surveys and joined groups where other divorced women hang out. A divorce herself, she knew what these women were going through and what they need to do to get their lives back.

She found her people in places where they are already looking for help. As she’s built a name for herself, women have started sending their friends who are going through a divorce to her. She has been successful in this because of how specific her ideal client is.

Alex Mandossian (a well known digital marketing expert) says, “If you’re talking to everyone, no one is listening. Your niche should be an inch wide and a mile deep.” Once you find your people, you can do lots and lots and lots of things for them.

It’s Not About Your Horses

It’s important to understand that your horses are not the most important part of your work. They are the most essential part to you, but to your people, the most critical part of what you do is the problem you solve.

Do not start by telling people you are an equine-assisted coach or equine-assisted therapist. They haven’t learned your terminology yet. They have no idea what you’re talking about, and instead of asking what you mean, most people will reach for something that they can connect with. They’ll go back to their past, and they connect with the word horse.

“We Rode Horses and my Grandparents When We Were Kids!”

Many people want to use big words when they describe what they do because it showcases their expertise. You have to be careful in your wording, so you don’t overwhelm people.

Start with their dream come true. Make sure you know what they’re struggling with and what they want to happen in their life. Then show your expertise by sharing a story about how you’ve helped someone else overcome the same issue that they’re having. That person who you’ve helped might be yourself, that’s a perfectly acceptable example.

If you launch straight into your course or program and start talking about logistics and strategies, your person is going to get overwhelmed because they have no idea what that means or why it’ll help them.

Don’t firehose people with your process and your features (your horses are a feature). They don’t understand those things yet. They will appreciate it when they go through it, but they’re not there yet.

Schelli has a simple course called This is What I Do. Create The Perfect Elevator Speech. An elevator speech is when you share what you do in a way that makes perfect sense to your ideal client in the time it takes to go up one floor in an old school elevator (about 30 seconds). In that timeframe, you need to be able to identify:
Who you serve
What you do for them
Why it’s important
How you do what you do
The results you provide

It’s challenging to get those elements to show up in a tiny little space, but this course will help you get it done. It’s that super simple, foundational piece to help you define what you do, who you do it for, and why that’s important. Once you get that little teeny tiny piece in place, it will help you with everything else.

When you purchase the course (for only $27 so it’s a total steal), you’ll have a second opportunity to invest in an additional $17 class called, “Hello to Yes” which teaches you how to have an enrollment conversation that doesn’t feel like you’re selling something. When you think about it, you’ll realize you’re not selling during an enrollment conversation. You’re sharing information and asking questions to see if the two of you are a good fit to work together.

When you get to the actual running and marketing of your business, you’ll likely have some low hanging fruit. People in your sphere of influence are going to be interested in what you do, especially when you get targeted and specific.

However, after you land those first few clients, you’re going to need a broader sphere of influence, and that’s why that online presence and marketing yourself is so important. It’s just introducing you and helping you meet other people.

To successfully market, you have to have a strategy and the right language and know how to master the technology to get it out there. That’s why Schelli brought Laura and April into her business. To help her support her clients who are growing now.

The front end of the Equine Inspired Life is all about helping people establish their foundation, helping them create a real program or service. Now that her clients are moving through that process, she is exploring how to help them scale, how to help them reach a larger audience consistently. That’s the next level for Schelli’s service.

The way Schelli is expanding her services and continuing to find ways to serve her clients is the perfect example of her niche being an inch wide and a mile deep. Us coming back to that idea at the end of the podcast is called an anchor. When you take the elevator speech course, you’re going to learn how to create an anchor. It’s where you bring your reader back to the relevance of the whole piece to drive the final point home.

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