I don’t very often write about or talk on the podcast specifically to coaches. Personal development is my game, BUT, I know there is a decent amount of you that listen to the podcast as well as those of you who are interested in pursuing this profession.
First, the world needs more great coaches. This pandemic has whispered in all of our ears how precious and fragile life is, that no one gets out of here alive, and the time to live our lives is NOW.
Second, many newer coaches might be worried their business isn’t viable right now. You may believe that life coaching is a luxury afforded to few. But, just like there are many ways to coach, there are many ways to offer value and help your clients and audience.
And before I jump in, we do offer consulting here (both with me and my team), click here if you’re interested.
Here are ten things I highly recommend doing if you are in the beginning stages of your coaching business, and many of those hold true even if you’re a seasoned coach.
- Get training. Since the coaching industry is currently unregulated, anyone can call themselves a coach, hang a shingle outside and be open for business. And I know some good coaches who have no training, only years of experience. However, coaching requires specific skills that matter for your clients. Plus, clients tend to bring emotional and heavy topics to sessions, and an untrained coach can end up causing more harm than good. So, please, get trained.
- Get support. Building a coaching business is like building any business, you can’t do it with zero dollars and zero support. I’ve talked to people who’ve got their training, and think it’s like moving from one job to another. You just quit your other job and start life coaching, right? No. Coaching is not a business, it’s a skill. You still need to build your practice. You are going to have overhead and need time to build, so have savings, a business loan, or a partner with income that can help (and is clear on the fact that they are supporting your business).
- Make goals but be flexible. Like anything, make goals. You don’t necessarily need a traditional “business plan”, but you need something in terms of goals and not just fly by the seat of your pants. How many clients do you want or need? Do you want to build your audience to offer group coaching? Speaking? Write it down like you would any other goals. And if you find out you don’t like or aren't good at one aspect, pivot and try other things. Once you make goals and plans you don’t have to marry them.
- Have a mastermind ALWAYS. This is a group of people who are doing things similar to you (not necessarily coaches, but it’s good to put together that group). I’ve been in a mastermind continuously for the last decade. The people in the group have changed over time (the last one I’ve been in has been together for about 3 or 4 years), but the support I’ve received in these groups has been invaluable. You can’t build a business and maintain your mental and emotional health alone.
- In the beginning, have a niche. And always be clear on your messaging. Like any business, in order for people to buy from you, they need to know what problem it is that you solve. Have you ever purchased anything when unclear about what problem you’re having solved by your purchase? Have sore muscles? Buy a massage. Bald tires that are unsafe? Buy new tires. Have marriage problems? Buy time with a therapist. No one pays for a life coach unless they are clear on the problem they are having in their life that they want someone to help them solve. (I go into more depth on the podcast episode on this one as to why my niche now is much more broad than it used to be.)
- Tell everyone what you do. Life coaching is still a new-ish service, so if you want people to know not only that you do it, but what it is, tell everyone. Tell your hairstylist, your dog groomer, people you start chatting with in line at Starbucks, everyone.
- Hold the vision. Your vision may waver. It may get really hard and you’ll want to quit. Your parents or other family members might tell you you’re crazy for leaving your steady paycheck. Also, I hate to break it to you, unless you LOVE building businesses, your coach training will have been the fun part, and now the real work begins. But, one of my favorite questions to ask myself is to fill in the blank, “Wouldn't it be awesome if…” Wouldn’t it be awesome if I had a full practice and had a waiting list? Wouldn’t it be awesome if I had a best-selling book? Wouldn’t it be awesome if I got paid 5-figures to speak on stages?” In other words, keep dreaming and hold on to those dreams.
- Have a model but be flexible. Like any business, you’ll have a business model. Mine has continued to change continuously over the last decade. You might have a funnel, you might not. You might do lots of free sessions to get clients, you might not. You might offer group coaching, you might not. There is no perfect model (and people who tell you that are just trying to get you to buy their model). The only perfect model is one that works for you that you’ve experimented with and honed over time.
- Do your personal growth work. You can have all the business acumen in the world, an MBA and have been taught by the most successful business people on the planet. And that will take you far. But, if you aren’t working on yourself, none of that really matters. Owning your own business will bring up self-worth stuff, inner-critic, comparison, exhaustion, overwhelm, life balance issues, family role issues, you name it. If you don’t work on those, they’ll just stick around and keep you stuck. Also, you can’t take your clients further than you’re willing to go in your own life. Sure, you can coach them through anything, but if you’re stuck on a topic they bring because it’s the exact same thing you’re stuck on, it’s extremely hard to self manage. Do you own work for you, and because you want to be a role model for your clients. In other words, walk your talk.
- Be consistent, persistent, and persevere. Slow and steady wins the race. If you’re in it for the long game– which you probably are– don’t be fooled by stories that you hear of a brand new coach who made 1 million in revenue in their first year (which if they did, I’d bet all my money they spent $800,000 in ads, business coaches, and other help to get there). This business is just like other businesses, it takes time and consistency to build and nurture.
If you’re a coach and you feel like you need support– we offer consulting, as well as coaching packages. We can help you with nailing down your messaging, figuring out what’s the best way for you to market yourself, and even if you want to write a book or start a podcast, we can help with that too. Click here to read more and apply.
Plus, if you’re like, “Wow, I should probably work on my fear of visibility or my nasty inner-critic so I can really get my coaching business off the ground”, we're epic at helping people do that too. (Andrea facilitates specific deep, transformational work here, or you can look at a shorter package here.)