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Starting a Successful Coaching Business – The “Ps” Preparation Guide

Amie Laura Parnaby
January 25, 2022
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A successful coaching career

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” It is valid for every business. The first time I had to devise a coaching plan, I was so woefully underprepared it was farcical. I will never forget the lessons I learned from that experience – a successful coaching business demands thorough preparation and intentions.

However, before we go on, what inspires you to coach? Most people arrive at coaching, training and teaching as a vocational career path, with more than a little innate talent. It takes a particular type of person to dedicate themselves to the development of others rather than themselves.

What motivates you to coach others to better themselves? Unless you plan on being the next Tony Robbins, it’s probably not the fame or money but the genuine desire to make people’s lives better. But it doesn’t really matter if you want to help or enhance the world with your efforts. A full appointment schedule will be crucial to ensuring you have the funds and resources to keep going.

Whether you wish to be a life coach extraordinaire or raise athletes to the pinnacle of their expertise, coaching will still be a business. And a successful coaching business will demand you have the entrepreneurial skills to carry it forwards.

While proper planning is a start in your coaching career, developing a successful coaching business needs a little more than preparation. It requires processes, promotion and people – and a few more Ps in the mix.

Where are you in your coaching career?

It’s fair to assume that if you want to develop a successful coaching business, you aren’t brand new to the coaching world – unless you are exceptionally bold. You’ve already begun, honed your skills and have the knowledge to impart.
I won’t even ask if you are good at coaching because you already know that. You wouldn’t be developing a business if you didn’t know, at least deep down, you have the ability.

So where are you?

Perhaps you’ve started and have a steady stream of clients, but not as many as you expected. Maybe you have been going for a while but haven’t reached the heights you projected.

In either case, you already have some information available to help you determine where you are going wrong and what you can do to improve the situation. Ask yourself a few questions, and answer them honestly.

  • Did you have a business plan and marketing strategy?
    • Did you keep up with them?
  • How well did you perform against your targets and predictions?
    • Did you manage to meet financial expectations?
  • What is your ratio of new to recurring clientele?
    • Which brings in more revenue?
  • Is there a particular service or course that attracts more clients
    • Which service attracts the fewest clients?
  • How did you price yourself? 
    • Have you increased prices, decreased them, or altered your provision model?

Were you honest? No one will know but you. However, lying to yourself won’t help you attain the heights of success you aspire to.
Once you have answered these questions, you will have a good idea of where your business stands, what needs to improve, and how to make it happen.

Alternatively, you might be researching the best way to start your coaching business before you dive in. Good for you, you super-prepared person.

The “Ps” Guide to Developing a Successful Coaching Career

Before I go into detail, I’ll summarise the essential requirements to starting and developing your successful coaching business. I say successful because the chances are that you already have a coaching career or business, but your success is stalling.

  • Product
  • Preparation & Planning
  • Processes
  • Place
  • People
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Proof

I’ll break each one of these down into practicable processes to help you adjust your methods and plan your path to success.

Let’s get started!

Product

What is your product? The product is your coaching skills; whether that’s as a trainer with a specialised skill, a life coach, personal development coach, the list could go on. But is your product relevant – or still relevant – to your target clients? Are your coaching methods up to date and your course materials appropriate in the current climate?

When determining the coaching skills you want to offer, you must solve problems and requirements. If your coaching product doesn’t meet those needs, you will struggle to attract clients.

Takeaway: Make your product relevant to people, locations, and socio-economic climates.

Processes

How do you onboard clients and welcome them into your space (or how do you enter their space)? Do you have a process for that?

Ensure your operations reflect what you want to bring to your coaching clients. Your business relies on the premise that you will improve people’s lives. If your processes are disorganised or ineffective, that will impact the provision of your coaching and how your clients relate to you. However, leave some room for flexibility and responsiveness to client demands.

Ultimately, feedback from your clients and colleagues is the only way to know if your delivery process has what it takes.

Takeaway: Create effective and efficient processes for every step, but leave some room for flexibility with clients. 

Place 

While place might sound specific, it can mean multiple things. It could be location-specific, such as a town, city or region. It could also be national. Alternatively, it could mean your placement in the market or your online presence.

Where will you do your coaching? Is it a physical location, such as an office or auditorium? Will you travel to clients’ homes or workplaces? Perhaps you can reach people better and more efficiently online through video conferencing. Wherever you choose to operate, don’t restrict yourself to one option. You can potentially double or even triple your clientele if you offer alternative options.

Takeaway: Stake your territory and announce your presence. Ensure Your location and contact spaces fit your clients

People

No, I’m not just talking about your clients. Even if you are working as a sole coach in your business, the chances are that you will need other people to help your business along. Or perhaps you have a team of coaches working in complementary parallel.

Are you getting good results?

Combine the people with the place and ask, where are the people you want to work with and clients you want to attract? This is just as important online too. If your clients love Instagram and Facebook, are you using those channels to reach them? Your colleagues and connections might prefer Telegram or Skype.
People can also be collaborators. Do you have good symbiotic relationships with these people?

Takeaway: We all need people; clients, colleagues, associates and even rivals. Use your connections to go further and learn from them too.

Price 

Before you start comparing prices, how do you value your coaching provision? If you value your service, clients are more likely to appreciate it. By undervaluing yourself, you lead others to do the same.
It’s always tempting to price yourself lower than the competition and steal their clientele, but that won’t work long term. If you lower the average rates, every other major player in your market will do the same, and the race to the bottom will commence.

The winner will be the one with enough capital and resources to maintain a profit-free existence, potentially for years. And they will simply hike their prices once they have outlived their rivals. That’s no good for anyone.

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t check out the competitive pricing. Pitch yourself in a roughly similar ballpark in line with the coaching you provide, the quality of your service and the cost of your overheads.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to raise your prices to the market average. Undervaluing yourself will cause your clients to do the same. Be careful not to overprice.

Promotion

Sure, promotion sounds like an easy win – advertise as much and as loudly as possible, and you’ll reach your clients in abundance.

No!

No one has enough money available to advertise indiscriminately, everywhere and anywhere – the marketing budget would exceed the business income probably 100 times over.
Look at your people again, research the most valuable income streams and channels, and invest more into them. Spread your reach on one platform instead of narrowing it to multiple ones.

Takeaway: Don’t shy away from promoting your business. You know your target clients, find and engage them.

Proof

Examine your business, your brand and your performance from the outside. Who are you? Are you a client, an investor, or maybe a potential buyer?

Do you like what you see? Would you hire someone whose business resembled yours? Would you consider buying a business with your profile? If your answer (honestly) is “yes, it’s awesome”, no worries. If “no” – change immediately because the Devil is always in the details.

While these are abstract exercises, there is one way to demonstrate the excellence of your product, and that’s social proof. More importantly, social proof is far easier to acquire than you might think.

Combine collecting proof with your processes and promotion to ensure you always collect feedback. Make your methods include an automated review or testimonial request. Use your positive input in your promotional material and reward shared successes from your clients on social media. A well-placed link or unique #hashtag can work wonders.

Takeaway: Your feedback and your client’s success is also your success. Shout about it.

Preparation & Planning

You might find it strange that I would put “preparation and planning” at then of this guide, but there is a good reason. Each of the preceding Ps will be part of your business plan and marketing strategy preparation.

From the concept of your coaching product to the dissemination of proof of excellence, you will include it all in your business and marketing plans. Understanding them will help you to create a functional business plan to guide you along the path to a successful coaching business.

Takeaway: Don’t push forwards without a comprehensive plan.

The Path to a Successful Coaching Business.

Each of the Ps interconnects with other sections of the preparation guide. Moreover, when you combine them, they create the basis of a comprehensive business strategy. When you look at the interconnected web, it can seem very confusing. Still, by breaking the plan down into individual sections and solving the challenges each part brings, you can complete each section and discover more options and connections.

You can see that promotion requires the understanding of people as well as securing proof and making it part of your processes.

Without a complete and encompassing strategy, you won’t build a successful coaching business. You relegate your business to mediocrity and eventual failure without structure and plans.

Yet, with the completion of a plan, the world of coaching is one big opportunity after another.

Better yet, you are now aware of all the elements. All that’s left is for you to put together your best coaching program and enhance your clients’ lives.

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