On Starting A Coaching Program For Mental Health And Wellness

Published: April 20th, 2020
Eliza Kingsford
Founder, Eliza Kingsford
Eliza Kingsford
from Boulder, Colorado, USA
started September 2019
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I help men and women struggling with weight and body issues learn how to heal their relationship with food permanently. I am a Licensed Psychotherapist and behavior change specialist. Over the last 13 years, I have moved from more traditional psychology interventions to a mind-body focus using various energy psychology and energy healing techniques. I specialize in weight issues, food addiction, body image, and disordered eating.

After spending 12 years in the corporate world running two different companies and training hundreds of clinicians in this work, I founded Kingsford Coaching in an effort to teach as many people as possible how to end their food fight, and move to a place of peace, ease, and joy in their bodies. I have online courses, small group coaching programs and 1:1 coaching programs taking thousands of people through my proven process.

Going out on my own was scary, after years of making well over six figures in a salary-based job. However, with clear vision, purpose, and mission, in less than a year, I’m right on track to make the same amount or more in my current business.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

Right out of graduate school, I fell in love with the company I would spend the next 12 years working for. I was first a behavioral coach (therapist), then clinical director, then Executive Director of a weight management camp and clinical program for teens and young adults. At first, I loved strictly being a clinician and serving my clients. I loved helping them find healing and lasting change. As I changed roles and was given more responsibility, I realized I also loved the business side. I love training and supervising staff. I love pouring over numbers, data and solving the financial problems in the business. I loved collaborating with a team, (hopefully) being a good leader and creating a company culture that people were proud to be a part of. That part really inspired me.

When I took over at the helm of the company, we were a sinking ship. We had had a string of difficult challenges in the company and there was a lot of unrest among the employees. One of the things I took pride in, at that time, was creating a new company culture that valued integrity, clinical effectiveness and doing right by our customers.

As Executive Director, I was charged with turning the financials around in the organization, and I was proud to say that we accomplished that as a team. Even so, the parent company that owned us decided that we didn’t fit into their financial model anymore. I went to headquarters for a business trip and learned they were actively deciding whether to keep our doors open. Ultimately, they decided to shut our division down.

I was devastated. I had so many layers of emotions, I didn’t know how to process them all. I felt responsible for all my employees who were about to lose their jobs. I felt sadness for the children and their families who were not going to get the support and clinical treatment they so desperately needed. I felt like I had let everyone down. After 12 years of this company operating (albeit steadily declining year after year), why couldn’t I make it work? Did I do something wrong? And finally, last on that list – I was also losing my job.

What was so profound about this moment in my life was that I was 35 years old and had never once taken a break. I went straight from undergraduate school to graduate school to a post-master's internship to a full-time job and had worked for that company ( the company) for 12 years. I gave everything in me to that company that I loved. I climbed the corporate ladder and never once took a moment to breathe, slow down or even ask myself if this was what I wanted to do. I just kept driving forward at full speed. Who knows how long I would have done this, had the universe not had other plans for me. When it all came crashing down, I remember my husband and I going on a hike and he said: “I finally have you back”. There we were, not sure what was in store for us financially and he was happy. Relieved, in fact. I didn’t even realize how far I’d gotten away from myself until I was forced to find myself again.

We had some savings and we decided, intentionally, that I would take some time off. I would breathe for the first time in my post-high school life. I did not search for a job. I searched for myself. I dove into spiritual books, starting with The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein, which catapulted a huge shift in my life and my work. I devoured learning about myself, behavior change and about the role the universe/spirituality/god or whatever you want to call it plays in our lives. I did all the things I didn’t have time for when I was so immersed in my previous role.

I asked myself what I wanted to do. I got clear about what made me light up. I got clear about what I did and didn’t want to do. I got clear about what it means for me to feel alignment and joy in my work. I got clear about resistance and what forcing something feels like. Out of the blue (although I now know that nothing is out of the blue), an opportunity came to me that I took. It felt aligned and perfect for the timing. I said yes and spent the next two years pouring my heart and soul into something similar to what I was doing before, except now it was mine. I reignited my love for clinical work. I designed a clinical curriculum and upgraded all of my clinical services. I met the most incredible people, hired the most incredible staff and served over 100 families in my new venture. However, the universe still had other plans for me.

In the summer of 2019, we shut that venture down as well. The program was incredible, the experience so valuable, but we just didn’t have the runway to get our beautiful program off the ground in an industry where we were the new kids on a very established block. However, this time, I knew what I had to do. I realized I had jumped back into something familiar, something I knew how to do, something….safe? That feels almost laughable now. But when it ended, I knew it was time to finally do what I am meant to do; and I launched my private brand and my coaching business.

I now create transformational experiences for those struggling with their weight in a 1:1 coaching setting, digital courses and retreats (coming soon). I have never felt more aligned, alive and more certain of what I am supposed to be doing and how I am supposed to show up and serve. All the lessons I had to learn led me to this point in my career. I now have an extensive set of skills that make me uniquely qualified to help people on their weight journey.

I trained with some of the top researchers in my field, I learned about what actually works for permanent behavior change by serving over 10,000 families during my time on the job. Nothing can replace what years of on the job experience can teach you. I learned about company culture, how to run a business and how to shut one down. But most importantly I learned about how to come home to myself, and what it feels like to not be aligned in what I am doing. I know how to recognize the signs of burnout when I am pushing too hard, and how to allow more flow in my life.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Right now, I am a solo-preneur. In the next 1-2 years, I will have a team helping me grow. I am used to running teams. I am used to running P&L’s and SEO spend and marketing budgets and operating costs. Running as a solo-preneur is new for me, but it also allows me to get clear on my purpose, my vision and how I show up for the clients I serve. One of the hardest parts about running a small business is the things that you don’t feel aligned with (or are not in your zone of genius) that are necessary in order to help the business grow.

One of the most important things I do (and it’s still a practice for me), is NOT compare myself to what everyone else is doing.

For instance. Writing website copy, ad copy, creating Facebook ads, lead magnets and marketing tools are not my zone of genius, but if I don’t put aside time for those things, people don’t even know I’m here to help. It’s my responsibility to get my message out if I am going to help the people I want to reach.

I was fortunate enough to have a colleague tell me I needed to write a book to get my message out. I secured a booking agent, wrote a book and sold it to a publisher. My book has helped me build a platform and attract clients. I am profitable in my first year of business.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

There is a saying, “If you build it, they will come”. I find that saying somewhat misleading for someone just starting out. It implies that if you create a great product, people will find it. I don’t believe it’s that simple. Yes, you MUST have a great product. There is a lot of junk out there. As a clinician, I believe it’s my responsibility to create effective, research-based programs that actually help people.

However, building a great product is only a small portion of what it takes to be successful online. You then need to create and engage an audience, find your target market, market to your target market effectively and more. I was naive, in the beginning, and thought that my experience and expertise in my industry were enough to carry me into the online space. That just wasn’t true. I needed to learn how to execute on all fronts and not just the clinical side of the business.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I use Kajabi for my online courses. I love Kajabi because it is user friendly, easy to understand and operate. It is not the cheapest digital course platform, but it works well for me.

I also use Canva regularly for marketing materials and design tools. It is an inexpensive resource that, I feel, packs a big punch for the cost of the platform. It is also very user friendly and easy to learn.

I use Zoom for all of my client's calls, group calls, and webinars. It has been my favorite multimedia resource.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

For podcasts I listen to;

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

One of the most important things I do (and it’s still a practice for me), is NOT comparing myself to what everyone else is doing. When first starting out (which I arguably still am), it’s easy to get overwhelmed in all of the things you COULD be doing each day. It’s especially hard for me to stay focused on what I want to be doing if I’m constantly looking at what everyone else is up to.

Also, it took me a while to learn that there will always be more that I “could” be doing. I could be writing more blog posts, more Instagram posts, marketing differently, doing more live events or webinars, or, or, or. Going smaller is actually allowing me to get bigger. Instead of doing 10 things pretty well, I am doing 3 things incredibly well. I will scale that and then grow if needed. I decided to make my focus smaller in order to get bigger.

Where can we go to learn more?