Dr. Shannon Reece’s biggest obstacle to playing great in all areas of her life was fear of failure, which infiltrated all her experiences as a competitive athlete. But through a love of sport and psychology, mixed with a fascination and longing to understand peak experiences led her to pursue a Masters and Ph.D. at the best-applied sports psychology program in the country.
Read on to see how this Sports Psychologist makes money helping golfers maximize their mental game.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
It may sound cliché, but I have always had a desire to help people. The biggest initial step on my professional path was deciphering the who and the how of that purpose. I can’t say that my path to where I am today was straight. But every twist and turn has shaped me, prepared me, and continues to teach me how to help others with excellence in mind.
I was a competitive figure skater in my youth, am a middle child situated between two high-achieving siblings, and have two Type A parents. That created a challenging but beneficial environment in which to grow up. As an athlete, I experienced a struggle with fear of failure intermixed with the benefits of determination, patience, and hard work. As a quiet middle child, I learned how to find my voice and my path while the spotlight was focused on others. And though I may have started life as a Type B personality, I have grafted the best aspects of Type A tendencies, which have enabled me to take a “no-option to fail” approach to growing my business and helping my clients realize their potential.
The difficulties I was unable to overcome as an elite athlete drew me to the field of psychology in college as I sought answers to help me understand the path to success. I discovered the field of sports psychology after college, which further stoked the fiery desire to maximize the use of my inherent gifts to guide others to peak performance. Geography and wishing to escape Chicago winters provided the opportunity I currently enjoy – working with golfers of all levels, other athletes, and business owners to leverage their mental assets into championship form.
Do you have any special training?
In my quest to be the best, I earned my masters and doctoral degrees in sports psychology from the University of Virginia. At the time, they had the finest applied program in the country that was led by sports psychology guru, Dr. Bob Rotella. Since my graduate school days, I have continued to hone my coaching skills through my client work, as well as garner a great entrepreneurial education through the failures and successes of building a business from scratch.
How has your coaching business evolved over the years?
I began working with athletes in 1994 but did not form my LLC until 2010. As with any journey, there have been many ups and downs. Taking the leap of faith to forgo any other source of income and build a business from the ground up was the biggest step. In my effort to establish a sustainable and duplicable business model, I research, test, and evaluate business growth strategies to determine which are worth keeping versus discarding.
Golf is currently my biggest revenue stream, but is seasonal in nature. Therefore, growth can be challenging. The busiest time of my year is January through April when golfers escape the cold weather up north to play as much golf as they can in a short window of time. To develop a more consistent income throughout the year, I am continually working on ways to reach a broader segment of the market across the country. Where my early years were spent “trading hours for dollars” and selling “one hit wonders,” my current model better leverages my time by working with groups and offering long-term retainers to clients.
What types of marketing strategies have worked best for your coaching business?
Live speaking events have by far been the best source of clients and visibility for me over the years. The one year I decided not to aggressively book events resulted in a 50% decline in revenue. Yes! 50%. Most experts say that the best business lessons are those that cost you – I wholeheartedly agree!
Speaking to groups is great because it provides me with the opportunity to stay top of mind with my target clients, and reach those who’ve never considered the benefits that mental game training could offer them. Since every golfer is hungry for lower scores and more enjoyable rounds, my speaking events are designed to help them see how they can achieve their goals with simple shifts in their thinking. The biggest reward for me is when golfers apply my proven strategies and are amazed at how simple it is to improve their scores.
I have big plans for 2018, during which I will continue to move my core training onto an online platform, establish myself further as a thought leader through more diverse off and online speaking opportunities, and take my proven mental strategies into the business market.
How did you land one of your first clients?
The easy way, through a direct referral. Referrals are wonderful and provide a significant number of clients for me each year. But no business owner can sit around waiting for the phone to ring, so I spend a lot of time working on avenues to become more visible to prospects.
How are you monetizing your coaching business?
I have four primary sources of revenue:
- Private coaching
- Group coaching
- Speaking events
In order to position my company for growth, it is essential that I leverage my time better by working with groups and providing more options for clients to participate in self-study programs.
What has been the key to your success and longevity?
Patience, positivity, and determination. Building a business is not for the faint at heart, or for those who are seeking overnight success. Consistent effort and a smart game plan is required. As I tell my clients, excellence in whatever endeavor you pursue is a marathon, not a sprint. The biggest skill my business coach, Kenneth Manesse Sr. taught me, and one I continue to work on is the importance of investing time to work on your business (macro planning and evaluation) and not spend every moment working in (micro) your business. It’s the difference between getting constantly caught up in the urgent and losing sight of the important.
What advice would you give to others who want to get involved in sports psychology?
1. Find an accredited program that is designed to prepare you to do the kind of work you wish to do, whether teaching at a university and doing research or working for a team or individual clients in a more applied approach.
2. Go all the way and get a Ph.D. A Master’s degree is good, but you can go really in depth into a field by working toward a doctoral degree.
3. Center your research around an area of importance for you but also an area that could help solve a pain point for your future target client. Your research could easily then be repurposed into a book or your first training program that you can use to market yourself once you’ve completed your education. I wish someone had recommended this approach to me so many years ago.
How do you manage all of your business and personal activities? Do you outsource any parts of your business?
I am still a one-woman show, and proud of it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t delegate projects outside my area of expertise to those who can do them better and faster. Time is money, and it’s important to make sure you are always spending the majority of your time on revenue-generating activities. Examples of projects I’ve outsourced include website design and development, big graphics projects, event videography, and bookkeeping/payroll/tax planning/preparation. The day-to-day operations I can still handle because of the systems I use to streamline those activities.
Thanks, Dr. Shannon Reece for sharing your story!
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Originally published July 25, 2011. Content updated October 30, 2017.