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As an entrepreneur, overcoming obstacles becomes a sort of superpower. No doubt your multitasking knows no bounds. But, even our most successful creatives have told us time and time again that the biggest challenge they face is time.
The time to sort through administrative work, write and film content, promote their brands, build up a customer base — the list goes on.
Yet, as someone who has been consulting (and previously coaching) for over 8 years, I learned a thing or two about the common mistakes people make.
How to start a coaching business
First, you need to do some prep work.
What type of coaching are you going to do?
Life and business coaching are extremely popular, but you should not base your choice on popularity. Think about your WHY, your mission, and the type of clients you are looking to help. Your unique selling point is a combination of your expertise, your level of knowledge and your WHY, your mission.
Depending on your field, consider looking into certification to become a better coach and boost credibility. This can provide you with helpful tools, and earn you certification, which can increase your credibility and marketability.
It goes without saying that you should have knowledge and skills in the area you want to coach in. This can come from personal experience, but you might want additional training.
Brainstorm services and pricing
Goes without saying that getting clear on your pricing will be key – as well as learning negotiation techniques that can benefit you in the long run. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to pricing, take into account your time, your resources needed and any costs associated with your coaching. Below are three common pricing methods:
- By project: if you already have expertise in a specific type of assignment, charging by the project is probably the best. This way, you can finish it up quickly, but still earn well. Charging per hour would place you at a disadvantage as most likely it only requires a couple of hours to complete.
- By the hour: this could be your best bet when the project requires multiple hours to complete. However, most clients are cautious about paying hourly, so we recommend setting a number of hours per project. We use this method to calculate our rates.
- Building blocks: if you individually price each element of your project (eg individual posts, videos, stories, content development) you can do a simple sum of all of the blocks you are bringing into a project and let partners pick and choose what to leave out, pricing out every single item.
Set clear boundaries
Your time is precious, and you should set boundaries from the get-go when talking to people and liaising with potential clients, especially when you start a coaching business. A simple way to do this is to set boundaries around your time by having a calendar available for your clients to book into.
This means you can keep empty times that you want for yourself to do content creation, forward planning, or go to the gym. With a calendar that people can book into you don’t have to explain why you are not available — just that you are not!
Another top tip would be to make sure you create clear boundaries when it comes to your emails and email time, as it will do wonders when it comes to your overall wellbeing. Writing long emails or responding to 100,000 WhatsApp messages is not how I roll. I actually barely look at my phone between 8 am and 6 pm.
Top tip: set up email or Slack working hours to deal with client inquiries.
Create a great client experience
From referrals to testimonials, feedback and recommendations are truly what makes a coaching business thrive.
According to a working paper out of Harvard Business School on feedback in the workplace, if you ask for feedback, you’re more likely to get fuzzy, nonspecific observations than concrete tips.
“It’s just not the ideal way to solicit input,” says co-author Jaewon Yoon, who studies organisational behaviour at Harvard. “If you want to feel good about what you did, ask for feedback. People are more likely to give you an overall assessment, [like] ‘You did a good job.’”
Making it as easy as possible for clients to leave feedback is key. Think about surveys and short forms to add testimonials, get feedback on the coaching experience and even suggest potential recommendations, if relevant.
Keep surveys under 2/3 minutes so that clients will be incentivised to answer.
Top tip: you can create slightly different surveys for slightly different clients based on how you think your work together went, encouraging 5-star clients for video testimonials and recommendations.
Automate your onboarding process
If you are looking to start a coaching business, finding solutions that can help you automating your coaching practice from the get-go, and you’ll be WAY ahead of the curve. Find a solution that can make the user journey as effortless as possible. For our members we personally recommend Teachable.
The latest Teachable Coaching platform, for example, has the option to add assignments, calendars, or meeting times as specific milestones for your clients.
With Coaching, you can:
- Start a coaching business right away. You can sell a coaching service on its own before building a course.
- Offer free demo calls with individuals as a part of your sales funnel.
- Create customised milestones to track and measure coaching progress, keeping notes and messages between coach and client in one space.
- Add coaching as an automated up-sell once students finish a specific lecture within your course.
You can upload worksheets for them to fill out beforehand, add in a calendar link for them to schedule their session, or immediately add in a video conference link for them to access.
Instead of combing through emails or setting up individual client documents, you can send messages to your clients within each milestone to keep track of their progress. Your client will receive an email notification every time you create a new milestone or leave a message. Each coaching space is unique to the client and all messages are private.
We use coaching ourselves to help us better manage our online programs and courses – go and check coaching for yourself.
The best way to get ahead is to get started
Starting any business from home can feel stressful. It is key that you set up the right boundaries and systems from day one to better scale your business, and enjoy the process at the same time.
Are you looking to learn more about attracting the right clients? Check out our podcast episode with Debbie Doodah.