• Darren Tebbenham

Can I exchange my time for money? And is One-on-One still OK?



Some recent industry trends.

One) We seem to have been hit in recent years by a message that personal training offers a rubbish career path and will only leave you tired and unhappy, which is why you must lever your time and train people online, create a passive income and stop trading time for money.

Two) We have been hit with there's no money in one-on-one so make sure you only deliver group format options for clients.

Whilst a business can enable you to earn money without you doing anything and whilst a passive income might sound nice, I have major issues with one and two above.

So, let's deal with trading time for money first.


Nothing wrong with trading time for money. It's how the world mostly works. It's how lawyers and solicitors and dentists and physiotherapists and how massage therapists and psychologists and dietitians and many professionals work.


Consider this. If someone offered me £200 per hour for coaching work with a range of clients who desperately needed my help and 20 hours of guaranteed work every week - a clear exchange of my time for money, would this be OK?


Hell, yes. This is £4000 per week and if managed into a 7am to 11am slot every week day I would have loads of time spare to do everything else I wanted too.


So, yes trading time for money can be cool. The question is really how much time for what money? But if people really need my help and I am not greedy, this doesn't have to be that business-like.

So, what about £100 for 20 hours. Well that's £2000 per week. Sounds good.


OK, £50 per hour for 20 hours. This is £1000 per week i.e. £4500 per month and with holidays £50,000 a year NEVER working past 11am, so plenty of time to build more services and products with my time.

By all means say no, not enough and so make it 30 hours at £50 and therefore £1500 per week or £70k year. My point is this seems OK doesn't it?

Now, here's the thing. If what you are doing with your time does it for you - which is why I say less of a business thing here and more of a what are you doing to help that fills you up with that feeling you love what you are doing (assuming marketing constantly isn't it) then over a bit of time you will become quite the expert won't you.

Imagine 3 to 5 years of this work. 7am to 11am or whatever works for you for an amount of money that fairly rewards your time and you have up to 5000 hours of experience.

You also have time on your hand. You love what you do right. So are not looking to hardly work and spend the rest of your time doing, well what?

Surly work is the answer, writing just because, creating, just because - you love to do so.....then you'll be in a great space to create something more automated.


Maybe with 5000 hours of experience working one-on-one with people with serious motivation issues who now exercise and eat healthily most of the time you would have quite an insight into what people most need. Now develop a product for those that can't afford your £50 or £100 or £200 per hour service and so won't be getting the same things for their money, but will nevertheless receive a great product (maybe a £99 app), for example, that is a whole lot better than another self-help book but not as good as one-on-one coaching with you. But exchange time for money first, it's OK.


PS don't confuse selling time for money as NOT selling a solution. Example, I chat with someone about their business. During the conversation it becomes apparent they keep swapping ideas and don't really see things through very well. They chase marketing ideas as a consequence and have become lost in the business of automation and leverage and making money instead of figuring out what will most make them happy. They heatedly express enough is enough and that they really want to make things the way they want them. I say I can help. They say they want my help. I say I think you need 10 sessions and my time per 45 minute session is £100. Can you see this is selling a solution - helping this person discover their why, implement a plan to convert it into a viable business plan and execute it yet is selling my time to help?

Let's move to this group thing. Just because I can do this - hey same dude, I have a group coaching program meeting in a mentoring group once per fortnight with up to 9 other dudes for 12 weeks to build your business around the business blueprint I used to build mine, doesn't make this a great business. Sure, instead of 10 sessions at £100 i.e. £1000 it is £197, that magical figure. And I now earn 10 x £197 i.e. £2000 for 6 hours work i.e. 2 x month for 3 months and therefore £330 per hour. But it doesn't mean this is better for me - i.e. make me happy.

Same for you. Groups can be great for the exercise side of things - the easier bit. But not so easy to do the coaching work, right? So, again my point - don't do groups because someone tells you it's how to lever your time to make more money. Use groups to add a social or community component to your work, to help make what you do more affordable and reach out to more people.


Back to my example. That dude. He decides to go with me not some £197 program with the masses. Now I have charged OK. I have my 20 paying clients paying £100 for 45 minute monthly sessions. With £2000 a week coming in for 15 hours work I might well add further value by also inviting them into a fortnightly group mentoring session for free!

OK, let's look at online. There is definitely an undercurrent in fitness that sounds like this. So you weren't that good at face-to-face PT, didn't like the hours, didn't charge right and burned yourself out. Go online, all will fix itself.

Well, not really. Same clients free at same time so same hours, no? Same lack of capability that was insufficient to make things work face-to-face, same things gonna stop making things work online. PS if you blame the industry, the gym, the hours or whatever outside your control, you give away control. If you attribute the failure to create the result you want to you and the way you have been thinking and acting, your need to improve your capability, business model or whatever, you take back control. Be careful on your rationale for going online.

And here's my frustration. Oh no, it will be different online. Between the lines....well online people won't really get to know you and so if you do group stuff and stop selling your time for money you can sell people shite, en-masse for £197 and stick them in one big group and for every 100 clients get 2-3 success stories by luck and use these on your website.

Not fair? Probably not. But, online offers a wonderful opportunity to help people. It DOES create the opportunity and space to COACH. But MOST trainers are not coaching online (even though they might be saying they are) they are preaching, training and educating online and this, my friend, isn't coaching.

But done well i.e. the right combination of training hours and coaching hours (please note NOT the same thing) whether face-to-face or online, people can buy pockets of your time to receive what they need to make transformational changes in their lives.


Don't think passive income. Think active income. What can you be DOING weekly that makes you feel alive? What can you do that will change people's lives and how can you engage with such people to share with them how you can do this.


Passive income, later - but is over rated. I mean can you imagine a physiotherapist saying I trained to be a physio and within 2 years took my practice online. I now do nothing really other that create funnels and sales systems to drive traffic to my landing pages, which sell an automated injury management program, so I can earn a passive income doing nothing other than what I hate which is building funnels and shit?

Just saying...


But, to continue and take this theme further...

Imagine the business I outlined where I charge £100 per 45 mins for a coaching service. And for 3 years been delivering 20 hours a week and developing myself as an awesome coach.

Now, I find an assistant. I add some basic business systems to make booking and administration easier. Bear in mind this is 20 hours week coaching for £100,000 per year income. Simply sums.

So, I have also developed over these 3 years a workshop / consultancy arm where I go into businesses and help and yes on a day-rate. But now I feel ready to expand further.

So, I keep my hours (because I love what I fundamentally do - kinda important here) maybe reduce them to 15 hours per week but now as I can afford to be a little more exclusive at £135 per session... PS same income ;) but now I take on 3 coaches.

I train them up. I support them. I commit to regular support and create a team feel to my growing business and add 3 further coaches. I unite them with a common goal we can get behind which becomes my mission (PS don't try and force things like mission statements etc. do first and the rest follows). Now I have six coaches aligned to my way of working under a brand with a good reputation built up over 3 years.

So, now I have 6 coaches delivering let's say 20 hours each and at £100 of which they take £75. They are happy. They have clients based on my reputation and increasingly because of the support and training I offer, their own. Plus, the money is good and they like being part of a team.

I take £25 per session plus my 15 hours. My income is now 6 x 20 x £25 + £100,000 = almost £250,000 - a business. A passive income - kind of. I still have to work for the other £150,000 by looking after my growing team but yes now I earn beyond my direct contact with clients - if I wanted to. Hey maybe don't - nothing wrong with being just me!

But my point. Slow down - and go back to or start with the basics.

What do you love doing? Who benefits from you doing it? How can you do it so that you genuinely solve people's underpinning problems - reasons why they can't solve them likely without you?

Be a GREAT coach.

All the best

Darren T

© 2019 BY DARREN TEBBENHAM 

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