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How to Start A Coaching Business From Scratch
~~ Terri Levine
Unless coaching is merely your 'hobby', then it is time to be "in business" and to make money.
Too often, people jump on the bandwagon of coaching without realizing they are really running a business. They learn excellent Coaching skills, but have no idea how to run a business, let alone how to promote it, market it, build their client base, or keep their records straight! They have no strategies in place.
You need to stop listening to coaches who say they can't make a living at it. I make a fabulous living from my coaching business as do my personal, annual Field Trip students - living proof that it is both possible and achievable to have a successful and profitable coaching "business". The coaches who are saying they can't make a living from it, are those who do not know how to run a business, in which case, they would be unsuccessful no matter what they were doing - coaching, running a bakery, selling computers, etc. And they would and will remain unsuccessful until they learn the skills needed to operate a business.
So the first thing you need to do is view your coaching practice not as a hobby, but as a real business.
Often, we hear that, as coaches, we should give away our services, reduce our prices, not sell our services, coach in K-Mart, coach everyone, and so on. We’re told we have to join this or that association or organization and get initials behind our name and pay them to "accredit" us and that without those initials we won’t make money or be credible. We're told that it is not a coach's role to "advise", and yet in the same breath we are also told to mention our experience or expertise as key words for web searches - and if clients ask us about something we know, instead of telling them, we say something like, “if YOU knew the answer what would it be”… when clearly they want OUR answer.
Now, before you defend against what I am saying, think about this… if you don’t sell yourself or advertise or market, how are you going to have a business? Would you tell someone you were coaching that they could have their own business and just use the laws of attraction? I for sure would not.
Would you hire someone who was an expert in something you wanted to know, like how to market yourself, and then not want the knowledge they had? I wouldn’t pay a dime to them if they wouldn't give me the answers.
Let’s be honest here… coaching is a form of consulting. We may call ourselves Coaches, but we are consultants. We need to market our expertise and ourselves and take our business seriously.
Note: Consultants get plenty of work without having fancy letters after their name or being accredited by any of the many "accrediting" organizations popping up everywhere or belonging to whichever association. (I know this as a fact because I have coached some of the top consultants in the world.) We need to blend our coach training skills with our expertise and provide information people want. They do not come to us to be told they have the answers, because if they really did have the answers, they wouldn't need us!
Think of people who are highly successful, such as Tony Robbins, Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar… they are coaches… they get paid a lot of money to coach and they coach/consult without formal “coaching” credentials, and they get paid huge bucks because they are experts and have information we want. Why do I make a phenomenal living as a coach and why have I, right out of the gate? Because I follow those successful people and don’t listen to the coaches who are not successful.
If you want to earn money and create a great business, concentrate on marketing your business and getting great coach training. These are the two areas you need to concentrate your time and money on... Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson (and Walt Disney for that matter!) did not need fancy initials after their name or have anybody "accredit" them in order to become who they became - millionaire business success stories. They concentrated on being and doing the best they could be and do and concentrated on marketing their businesses. They didn't hold back because they hadn't completed their education or weren't "accredited members" of the "World Entrepreneur Organization" - no such organization exists - I'm just using an example.
Think about what you can HELP clients with. Clients hire coaches because something isn’t quite right in their business or their lives. They don’t want to hear “you have the answers” or “if you did know, what would the answer be?” Let's get real.
If I was to hire a coach and show up for the first coaching session and the coach had no agenda, I’d fire that coach. I need a leader in the coaching dance and who better to lead than the coach who is the expert?
Imagine, you are hiring a coach; they have expertise but won’t share it (because they insist YOU have the answers!) and they have no planned curriculum – you just show up to the call. Would you pay good money every month for something this vague? My answer is no – no because most coaches who do this can’t make money… so, the public is saying “hey, we want more” and hiring people like me who give more. I don't tell my clients what to do, but I do give them valuable information that helps them choose the best course of action for their goals.
If you want clients to hire YOU, you must change your model.
With no agenda, no plan, no curriculum, why hire YOU? Because you ask powerful questions? I can't see people paying $600 or more a month just to be asked good questions, and I sure don’t see them staying with you for years for this kind of coaching. Again, why aren’t most coaches making the high six figure income I make? Because they are not directing the client sessions.
When I ask clients why they hire me, without a doubt it is for my “expertise”. They aren’t paying me $1,000 a month just to feel better or get to know their life mission. They want my expertise. That's what they pay me for.
The general public wants new skills, new information, and new resources, and pays for this information. They don’t pay a lot of money for “self-help” type coaching.
When they hire a coach, they want and expect guidance and information. The same applies to you - spend your time and money with successful coaches who you can learn from.
Now, you might understand what I am saying and be thinking that you want to create a coaching curriculum so you will be able to attract more clients and retain them (if you are, good job, you are on the road to success!!)
If you haven’t heard me on sales and marketing, let me speak this right to YOU! The movie the “Field of Dreams” is famous for the line, “if you build it, they will come”. Nothing is further from the truth when it comes to having a coaching business. If you aren’t out there marketing and selling, forget having your own business. Stop wasting your time and money.
Most coaches hide at home or at the rotary or leads group or chamber of commerce meetings… or spend their time at meetings for coaches, where they aren’t going to attract clients. If you want a coaching business, get out of the house, out of the small meetings, and spend time networking with people who are looking for coaches and who have the money to hire you. Instead of targeting the market that isn’t lucrative or having a coaching business that is more like network marketing of coaches coaching coaches, get real and open new markets that have the money and desire to hire you.
Now, we have to talk about money. I think that many people have been brainwashed to think they can make six figures as a coach and coach 40 hours a week, charging $350/month. What a lousy business model. Think about it.. coaching 20, 30, 40 people a month? How will you be focused on the clients? How are you creating a business that doesn’t depend on you and time?
If you want to take off or work fewer hours, there goes your income. How will you ever get ahead? I hope you never plan to retire or sell your coaching business, because it will not be a valuable asset. Who would create a business that isn’t a valuable asset?
Instead of thinking about how much you have to charge each client to make a living, you want to stop selling your time and understand your income is limited when you have people buy your time in exchange for coaching. In fact, with this model, you don’t make money while on vacation or if you need to take time off.
Boy, this is starting to sound like a J-O-B to me.
If you are still with me and a bit open-minded but unsure, let’s go on…
Here is the game plan:
1. Decide what your area of expertise is from your past work and life experience. (Sales, human resources, management, marketing, etc.)
2. Find the curriculum that supports your expertise and has been proven successful in attracting clients and keeping them.
3. Create your business so that it isn’t about selling your time… it is about selling product that you are expert in and then coaching on how to use the product.
4. Have sales and marketing plans and be prepared to sell… if you don’t know how or are afraid, hire someone to do it for you.
My goal is that more coaches will earn more and will understand the “real” world of this business. I can tell you, there is easily $100,000 a year or more, on the table if you follow my formula. I know this works because it not only works for me, but for the coaches I train personally every year at my Field Trips. The simple truth is if you want to make money in this business, you can and you will if you stop taking the actions that haven’t made you successful, and take new ones, proven ones and ones that I have shared with you in the teleclass.
YOU have to be ready to face that what you’ve been taught or told may not be right and may have not come from a successful coaching business owner. If you were after business advice, would you ask somebody like Virgin's Sir Richard Branson, or a pretender to the throne who is "this" much away from bankruptcy, despite having impressive looking initials after his surname?
Look for those who are walking their talk and doing so successfully. They are the ones whose brains you need to pick. They're obviously doing something right, and that 'something' is what you need to be doing too. You will never have a profitable and successful coaching "Business" if you only build on your coaching skills - you need to develop business 'savvy' as well.
Start thinking of yourself as a business owner, not merely a Coach. You have the opportunity to take a different next step and create EXTRAordinary success.
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Terri Levine, The Guru of Coaching SM, Ph.D., MCC, is the best selling author of several books including the international bestseller Work Yourself Happy, Coaching for an Extraordinary Life, Create Your Ideal Body, the international bestseller Stop Managing, Start Coaching! and her newly released book The Successful Coach co-authored with Larina Kase and Joe Vitale was just released by Wiley. She is the founder the international coach training program: The Coaching Institute, www.CoachInstitute.com. She can be contacted through the web at www.CoachInstitute.com/contactus.html or by phone 877-401-6165.