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How I run my mental performance coaching business

How I run my mental performance coaching business

In this post, we're covering how to become a mental performance coach. We speak to Camille Charbonneau on how she transitioned from being a personal trainer, how she works with teams and individuals, and how her rates have changed over time.

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How did you become a mental performance coach?

While I was in my physical education degree, I knew that I didn’t want to teach.

Sport psychology had always interested me, but I didn’t want to do my PhD... cause it’s a PhD, so I ended up in a Sports Management program, hoping to get a job in the Olympic committee.

During that semester, I was in class with a professor talking about sports psychology and all of his work with these Olympic athletes — how he helped them with their mindset.

I was blown away because I had been in sport since I was five and no one had ever spoken to me about the mental aspect.

I was like, “Wow, where could I be right now if I had actually paid attention to it?” I probably could’ve gone to another level.

After finishing my Masters in Applied Sports Psychology, and playing varsity rugby through it, I knew I wanted to do something that helped other athletes get better and also help them continue to have fun with sport.

In Canada, there is no real job opportunity for working specifically within mental performance — so I had to hustle.

Once I finished university, I became a personal trainer. And I did that for nine years.

It was only the summer of 2021 that I finally stepped out of personal training and dove into full-time mental performance consulting and coaching.

How did you manage to carve out this niche, that didn’t have a typical blueprint or path?

It was scary. There’s no stability in any of the things that I do because there isn’t a blueprint.

At that time, I had stable clients at the gym, but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills. And in a lot of my personal training sessions, I ended up as a psychologist in the session anyway.

So it was like, I know I’m worth more than what I’m bringing in from personal training. I have more fun when I’m on the field with teams and doing one-on-ones, and I have more of an impact when I do the mental performance work.

Plus, there are enough personal trainers around.

I did have help along the way. I had a business coach and a leadership coach and the process was really life changing for me — I broke, I cried, I grew.... and I’m still growing.

What does your client base look like? How many? Who are they? What are the arrangements?

I have a range of clients, but they primarily fall into two buckets: Teams and individuals.

Teams

I work with different collegiate and semi-pro sport teams on a seasonal rotation. The engagements are usually a series of 30-60 minute workshops that I’ll host, plus a bank of hours that athletes from those teams can use for 1:1 sessions. Currently, I work with 3 teams.

Individuals

This is a big range. I’ve worked with everyone from Olympic hopefuls to professional musicians to 8 year old athletes. My individual sessions are usually an hour long, unless they are under 12 years old, then they are 30 minutes. I usually have between 10-15 individual clients at once.

The common theme amongst all my clients is about giving them the right tools when they prepare, so they can show up and be their best.

Often time, it’s around performance anxiety, and whether that’s in sport, on stage, or at work — the skills that you need to learn are the same.

What does your process look like when bringing on a new client?

With my teams, I have a conversation with the coach about what are the team’s needs.

I’ll usually propose a set of topics depending on what context the athletes are in. As an example, if exams are around the corner, it’ll be a topic on managing stress, or if there’s a big game next month, it might be how to develop your focus skills.

A lot of people don't know what they want, so it's up to me as the specialist to propose how I can help — whether it’s self awareness, focus or meditation skills.

The workshops are between 30-60 minutes, with small break out sessions of 3-4 people, so that it’s more interactive and less of a lecture. I found it really powerful when we’re able to share our own challenges so people understand that they’re not alone in the things they’re struggling with.

And at the end of each workshop, I’ll provide some homework that we’ll reflect on in the next workshop.

For my individual clients, I currently have a 12-week program.

I spent the last 4 years writing an e-book that I had just finished in January and it’s a 12-week mental prep program where you learn the basic mental skills.

I meet with them once every other week for one hour as they’re going through the program, and in between sessions, they can message me on Practice and I tell them that I’ll answer within 24 hours.

Some people use Practice, and some don’t but a lot of people love the accountability that it provides and the idea that they have my support throughout the whole program.

How much do you charge for coaching? How has that changed over time?

When I first started out, I met with someone who had graduated the same program years ago and asked him what he charged. That gave me a ballpark.

My individual sessions started at $90/hour and my workshops started at $150/workshop.

After a few years, I realized, I never give myself a raise — so I brought it up to $95/hour. And mostly recently, I’ve raised it to $110/hour for individuals, which puts my 12-week program at  ~$300/month, for 3 months.

And workshops are now $500/hour at a minimum.

This was a long journey, with a lot of internal self talk of “am I worth it?”.

Since I went full-time in the fall, and with the help of my business coach, I’ve felt more confident in value of my work and have been more comfortable increasing my rates.

What are the exact tools that you use? And for what?

It isn’t exactly a typical tool, but my e-book has been really helpful for my individual clients.

Often with mental skills, there are stories and theory... but then you’re left with, now what?

By providing my clients with something tangible, it provides structure with different exercises.

My software tools include:

  • Linktree for Instagram
  • Practice for scheduling, client management and payments
  • Google drive  for my spreadsheets
  • Excel and Microsoft Word
  • Canva for designing my marketing stuff and instagram posts

How are you growing your coaching business? Where do new clients come from?

I like to use Instagram to educate through content and show what I can do, plus word of mouth.

I’ve found that if I’m able to show what I’m able to do via content, when coaches or athletes were ready for help, they would reach out through DMs or text.

I know a lot of coaches, physios and rehab professionals because that’s the world that I came from as an athlete and from my education. All of my friends happen to be in the same health and wellness industry.

What did you try while building your business that didn’t work at all? Or that you don’t do anymore?

From a new client perspective, I was told to make cold calls and emails. After I graduated, I would send cold emails to different sports clubs and I didn’t get anything. That was really hard.

From an offering perspective, I don’t do any one-off workshops anymore. I did it for the first 5 years of my career, when I was just trying to get as much of this type of work as possible but I’ve now learned that it isn’t actually very beneficial for the teams.

It’s more helpful with a longer engagement, more follow ups and support.

What’s the next step for your coaching business?

Moving forward, I'd love to have a physical space with other teammate members, where we work as a team to help individuals, because I love working with other professionals.

In the short term, my focus is to be more intentional about marketing and finding ways to create passive income — so whether that’s creating videos to go alongside my 12-week program or creating an athlete planner, we’ll see!

What advice would you to give to upcoming mental performance coaches?

It's interesting because I have so many students reach out to me and they just want to chat because they're wondering how I got where I am.

My main advice is to try things out and network — go plant seeds about what you want to do, and what you’re trying to do. And then be patient, I was doing this for three, four years, and then finally it came to life, but it took time.

Also that you can only hustle for so long because I'm pretty sure I burnt out in the fall. The best thing you can do is take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others and don't be shy to try things out.

You don't have to know what you want to do, this is the time to try things and figure out like where you want to go. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Look for resources it's out there.

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