Congratulations! You’ve made a career decision and are starting a coaching practice!
This incredibly rewarding field will change your world in ways you never even thought possible. And the best part is you get paid to make a difference in people’s lives!
But before you’re gracing stages, filling groups and writing books you have to learn the essential keys of starting a coaching practice.
Often times people tend to focus on the wrong things like logos and social media. While these things are important, please note that you can figure them out as you go along.
You do not need the perfect website design to start your practice, change people’s lives and get paid.
You also don’t need thousands of Twitter followers before you can call yourself a successful coach.
The other mistake people make is getting stuck in the planning stages of starting a business.
In fact, you may know a person or two who has been saying they are “starting a business” for years and have nothing to show for it.
In reality starting a coaching practice is a lot like driving a car. You’re not going to learn how to do it until you get behind the wheel.
In other words, there’s only so much reading, studying and planning you can do. At some point you have to jump the gun and start taking some action.
This doesn’t mean you won’t need to keep learning new things. Running a coaching practice will require constant education and learning new skills.
However, as a coach you already know there’s a difference between learning new skills (such as the ones you’ll find on this site) and actually implementing them.
Do yourself a favor and don’t be one of those people who uses more education as an excuse not to get started.
If you find yourself reading yet another book or taking a class you know you don’t really need, consider your motives.
Are you scared to take action?
Are you avoiding taking the next step in your business?
What about the next step in your business scares you?
Once we shed light on the fear we can begin to change it.
(By the way, this is a process you’ll probably have to do more than once as your business grows so keep it handy.)
If you’ve moved past that and you’re ready to take action consider the following steps when beginning your coaching practice.
Keep in mind that even though you are just starting a coaching practice that it is already a business.
Realizing this truth from the beginning will help ensure long term success.
#1 Figure out who you are meant to work with
As a coach you must realize that although you really want to help a lot of people you definitely are not meant to work with everyone.
This is a sure fire way to burn yourself out and not reach your greatest capacity. Furthermore, if you try to help everyone you essentially end up helping no one.
It is imperative that as a coach you figure out who it is you are meant to help.
When people are starting a coaching practice it’s easy for them to stress out about their “niche market”.
A niche market is a subset of a market in which a specific service or product is focused.
It’s a strategic way of doing marketing because you are offering the perfect service for the right group of people.
Below you’ll find some ways to start figuring out who it is you are meant to work with.
First, consider your own story.
Why did you go into coaching? Often times coaches find this field because they needed to use it themselves.
So what did it for you? What were you going through that you considered coaching? Why do you want to help people so badly?
We often times make the best teachers in areas where we also happen to be students. In other words, we can best teach people the things we had to learn for ourselves.
There are several wealth coaches who started out in debt and had to climb their way out of it.
There are just as many relationship coaches who had difficulty in this area of their lives and had to learn how to fix it.
And how about all of those health coaches who had their own health struggles and have now dedicated their lives to helping people?
The list goes on.
The second thing to consider is to do some market research. Set up coffee dates, Skype calls and meetings with people who you believe may fit your ideal market.
Please note that you are not doing this to land them as clients (though it could happen). At this point you are surveying your market to get a feel for them.
You may realize that you may not want to work with this market after all. Or, you may pick up on certain patterns that they all have in common.
The latter not only helps you figure out who you are meant to work with, it also helps you with the next step.
#2 Figure out what it is that you are offering
No one is going to hire you as a coach if you don’t know what you are offering.
The good news is the burden isn’t entirely on you to figure it out. In fact, you must approach this from the perspective of your market.
What are they struggling with?
What would help them overcome it?
In the previous step we mentioned talking to your market about this. We encourage you to take diligent notes while using their own words as often as possible.
Having these kinds of conversations with your market often will help you come up with your offerings while you are starting a coaching practice.
In fact, your people will tell you what they want and need. Your job is to create the space for them to express it, listen and then deliver.
The second part of this step is to find out the benefits of what it’s like to hire you as a coach.
Often times when people start talking about their coaching practice they go into logistics. They start talking about how many sessions, how long they are and how to do the coaching process.
The truth is most of your clients don’t care about that – at least not at first. Their main concern is what coaching with you can do for them.
What will clients get as a benefit of coaching with you?
What is the result for them?
For instance, a business coach may say that their clients will be able to “do sales with ease.”
A relationship coach may say that their clients will be able to “improve their current relationship with their partner.”
Find the benefits and make sure to let your prospects know about them.
#3 Figure out your rates – and stick to them!
The next step in starting a coaching practice is to determine how much you charge for your offerings.
Again, this doesn’t require much stress on your part. Below you’ll find some ways to help you determine your rates.
First, you may want to consider doing some market research.
What are other coaches in your area charging? This can help give you a solid foundation as you figure out your own rates.
However, please be mindful not to undervalue yourself just because you don’t think you are as experienced as the coaches you are researching. This is the number one mistake people make when starting to price their services and it can be detrimental.
Second, how much do you need to make to pay your bills?
This will give you a monthly income number to start with. Then take a step further and increase that number so that you actually make a profit (you need to make a profit or you won’t be coaching for very long).
The final step is to play with the numbers.
Divide that monthly income number by the price of your offerings. This will help you determine how many new clients you need to take on each month to meet your income goal.
You may need to do this exercise a few times.
Don’t be surprised if the price of your offering increases as you realize you may not be able to handle so many people in one month. This is normal since we tend to undervalue our services off the bat.
Continue this exercise until you find a happy medium between price and number of clients in order to hit your goal.
Why figure out the number according to your costs? Because most people try do it backwards. As a result they end up overworking themselves for little pay.
Perhaps the most important part about pricing is to make sure you stick to the number you decide on.
It’s far too often that beginners find themselves starting a coaching practice by slashing prices and giving discounts before their prospects have even had a chance to digest the initial fee.
This is a sure fire way to undervalue ourselves and it may actually hurt us in closing the sale.
Now, if the client wants to negotiate that’s a different story.
As such we would advise learning how to do so. Getting to Yes is a great book by William Ury and Roger Fisher is a great place to start in learning how to negotiate.
#4 Learn how to sell
There’s no way around this one.
If you don’t learn how to sell you won’t be in business very long. When it comes to learning how to sell there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that sales can be uncomfortable in the beginning.
Asking for money from people isn’t the easiest thing to do if you’re not used to it.
Furthermore, people tend to have a lot of negative beliefs about sales if they don’t know how to do it. Most people immediately think of the used car salesman stereotype just at the thought of sales.
The good news is that sales does become easier over time.
You also don’t have to act like a used car salesman to be successful. By learning how to sell properly you may find that it’s more about building relationships and helping people than it is about making money.
Sales coach Kendrick Shope has a library of great free content to help you start selling authentically and without feeling uncomfortable.
The key when it comes to learning how to sell is to actually put yourself out there and do it.
You may fumble. You may run into situations where you’re not sure what to do. You may make mistakes.
All of this is completely okay. The more you do it the more comfortable you will get.
#5 Figure out where to find leads
When it comes to starting a coaching practice beginners often times make the false assumption that clients will just come to them.
There’s a real Field of Dreams “Build it and they will come” mentality to starting a practice.
If only that were true! The reality is you’re going to need to be way more proactive. Especially in the beginning when you’re not as well known yet.
Now that you have figured out who you are working with you need to find out where to find these people.
There are two main ways to get leads: inbound and outbound.
Inbound leads are leads that come to you.
An example of this is if they find your blog content and sign up for your email list. This person found you and opted into learning more.
This method takes some time to build but it’s well worth putting in the effort to figure it out as you go along.
Outbound leads are those that require more work from you.
This means going to networking events and perhaps even making cold calls. The point is to find people who actually need your services.
For instance, if you’re a business coach you may want to consider going to different events for various businesses such as network marketing functions.
As a business coach you would be able to teach them how to sell and market themselves as consultants for a multi-level marketing company.
So what do you do when you find them? That brings us to our next point.
#6 Create a sales process
Once you find your leads you must have some sort of a process in place to qualify them and eventually close the sale.
As a coach you already know that the relationship between coach and client is extremely important. If the relationship doesn’t work then the client will not get the most benefit out of the experience.
One way to make sure the relationship with your lead will work is to create what sales and marketing coach Michael Port calls a “velvet rope policy.”
This could be as simple as a free 15 minute coaching call where you and your lead can try it out. This does two things.
First, your lead begins to trust you because you’re helping them out for free.
Second, you can see whether or not this client will work for you as a coach.
The answer will not always be yes and that’s more than okay. Your job is to only coach the people you know you’ll work best with.
If at the end of the call you’ve decided that they are a good fit you can invite them to come on as a coaching client.
This is where it will be important to know how to have a conversation around pricing. It’s also the part where your sales skills will be put to the test.
You may get a yes on the phone in which case go ahead and send them the next steps.
If you get a no it’s still okay. You can always sell them on the follow up.
#7 Get comfortable with following up with people
There’s a saying in the business world that says, “The fortune is in the follow up.” This applies to your coaching practice as well.
Unfortunately when people are first starting a coaching practice they take a “no” as meaning the sale is lost.
Just because someone may say no during your first initial consultation does not mean it’s a no forever.
This is why it’s important to have an organized system where you remember to follow up with individuals who have gone through your velvet rope process.
A great free tool you can use to keep track of individuals is Capsule CRM. It’s free for the first 250 contacts and it allows you to set follow up reminders so you don’t forget to make some more contact with people.
At this point beginning coaches may feel uncomfortable with following up with prospects. Often times they feel like they are being a pest or a bother.
If you find yourself in this situation just remember why you started a coaching practice: to help people with their problems. Therefore it is your job to let them know that help is available to them.
Otherwise they will continue to walk on through life having the same issues. As a coach you can’t let that happen.
#8 Put yourself out there
This step is perhaps the most difficult one for individuals starting a coaching practice. In order to start filling your practice you must put yourself out there.
This means telling people what you do, showing up to events and inviting people to hop on the phone with you.
If you have any fears about sharing your practice with the world don’t worry about it.
Your ego is simply a little riled up because you’re trying something new. Rather than seeing it as fear flip the script and see it as an exciting new venture.
As Robert Heller once famously said, “Fear is excitement without the breath.”
As a coach you also know that life starts outside of your comfort zone for your clients. The same rules apply to you.
#9 Consider getting yourself a coach or mentor
If you don’t already have a coach or mentor to help you get your coaching practice off the ground consider getting one.
There’s no better way to learn something than from someone who’s already been there and can help you out.
In fact, those who do not receive coaching or mentoring have a much harder time becoming successful. This applies to anything, but especially business.
Since you are already a coach we don’t need to convince you about the value of coaching. Just note that this may be a good time to find yourself a coach if you don’t already have one.
#10 Create your brand online
Now we can talk about your online presence.
In this day and age if someone can’t Google you then you may have a hard time getting hired. That’s just the way it is in the age of information.
Start with a website.
Why? Because it’s like your own piece of internet real estate.
You can do whatever you want with it without having to worry about someone changing the rules on you.
Your website should have a landing page where people can input their emails, a “Work with Me” page, a “Contact Me” page, and “About” page and a blog.
The blog in particular is very important because this is how people are going to be able find you while they are searching for things online. Putting good content out there is also how people start to trust you.
If you’re worried about what kind of content to write go back to those notes you took while you were setting up meetings with your market. You’ll find a ton of issues your market wants addressed as you look through the notes.
Another important thing for your site is to have some sort of email list.
The reason it’s so important to collect emails is because email is like the new phone number. These are your direct lines to people who could be possible clients.
Also, your entire site may crash and Facebook may change visibility algorithms but you’ll still have all of those emails.
No one can take away the relationships you build with people, having an email list is the perfect way to start cultivating them.
Of course, you’ll also want to consider other social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
All of these can be very useful tools in building your brand. Social Media Examiner is a great website for helping you get started with all three networking sites.
Starting a coaching practice doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as people say. It’s also very plausible to start making money from the beginning with your craft.
By implementing these foundations you’ll be able to build your practice strategically for long term success.