You’ve had the idea of starting a coaching business on your mind for a while. It goes around and around in your head, but you’re not really sure where to start. I thought I’d help you by telling you three things you need to have in place and a few things that aren’t important (but you may think they are!).
Let’s start by being controversial. If you don’t have clients who pay a professional rate you don’t have a coaching business, you have a hobby. If that fact has made you wince, read on for some more facts about what matters and what really doesn’t in the early days of building a coaching business.
The most important thing for a new coaching business owner to do is to find clients. Without clients, you don’t have a coaching business – even if you have set up a limited company!
Unimportant Business-Related Stuff
Coaches can get very caught up in ‘busy work’ that makes us feel like we’re working hard when in fact, it’s a waste of time and money when your coaching business is brand new. Listed below are a couple of things you definitely do not need to start your coaching business.
You don’t need a website in place to start coaching. In fact, I’d strongly discourage you from having one built until you’re really clear on what it should say.
For clarity, here are a few of things it shouldn’t have on there:
- Your CV. It might seem harsh, but no one is really interested in your career to date. What they are interested in is what’s in it for them.
- Your coaching philosophy. Again, no one really cares. Again, they want to understand why they should buy from you and what you think about coaching isn’t going to cut the mustard in that regard.
- A description of the coaching process. No one buys processes, we buy outcomes. Your website should talk about the outcome that your clients can reasonably expect from working with you. (If this has you scratching your head and thinking ‘but it depends’, you’re low on marketing skills.)
Branding and Headshots
It stands to reason that if you don’t have a website, you can save on expensive branding and headshots. However, colour palettes and images are a great way to spend hours of time on busy work without actually finding a single client.
I can hear you thinking but if I don’t have my branding sorted, what will I put on my business card? May I suggest that you just don’t have business cards? Again, controversial, again a money-saving tip and excellent advice. A well optimised LinkedIn profile is all you need, and then you can use a QR code to share it with others – as simple as having it saved on your phone. After all, business cards are simply tomorrow’s recycling…
Branding, logos and headshots do have their place, but that place isn’t for quite some time yet.
What You DO Need To Start Your Coaching Business
In order to find clients, you have to market. Marketing is a skill – it’s not something innate. To market effectively you need one of two things, a great ‘little black book’ full of contacts with whom you are already credible and an authority or you need to learn how to market to people you don’t yet know.
You may have been told by your coach-training provider that all you need to do to find clients is:
- Share your story to build rapport
- Deliver fabulous (and free) strategy sessions to demonstrate the value of coaching
You have probably found that this doesn’t work half as well as you thought it was going to. That’s because marketing skills are a full 50% of the skills you need to build a viable coaching business and marketing is not simply a case of talking to people.
If you’re struggling to find clients, let me give you some pragmatic steps that will lead you to build your coaching business one client at a time. Better yet, these clients will be ones who pay a professional rate for your coaching!
Nail Your Niche
If you think that the kind of coach you are is your niche, let me clarify what a niche is – it’s a group of people. It can’t be ‘mindset coaching’ or ‘transformational coaching’ or indeed any other sort of coaching – it’s a group of people within which lie your future clients.
Those coaches who try to market to the whole world don’t get heard. Coaches who market to a specific niche get to find clients, build their authority within that niche and become the go-to coach for those people.
(By the way, if the whole niching thing has you scratching you head, could I invite you to subscribe to the waiting list for my next Nail Your Niche challenge? It’s a free, 4-day challenge that I run a few times a year and it’s just for qualified coaches (or those taking a qualification). If I have your details, you’ll definitely find out when the next challenge is.)
Create An Ideal Client
An ideal client is the focus for your marketing. When you know who they are, you know where they are and what they need to hear in order to want to buy your coaching.
A top tip for marketing is that no one ever buys ‘overcoming limiting beliefs’, or even ‘removing mental barriers’. If you’re currently trying to describe what coaching is and how it can help people, you’re nowhere near focused enough in your marketing message.
One Good Social Media Profile
The good news is you don’t need to be everywhere as a coach. You don’t have to spread yourself thinly across multiple social media platforms. You only need to be where the kind of clients you want to work with hang out.
Let me be really clear about what I mean here – your ‘one good social media profile’ isn’t about being on your preferred platform. You need to be on the social media platform where people from within your chosen niche are. If that’s, say Instagram, and you hate Instagram then you need to do one of two thing – either change your niche or learn to love Instagram.
In summary – you don’t need to have a website, fancy branding, logos and expensive headshots to build a coaching business, you need clients.
Marketing skills are 50% of the skills you need to build a coaching business. Your coaching skills are the other 50%. Coaching skills are the ‘delivery’ skills, marketing skills are the ‘creating the opportunities to do that delivery’ skills.
If you’re not up to scratch with your marketing skills, might I suggest that you come and join my free community for business-building coaches as a great place to start?