How to start a coaching practice
If you’re asking yourself how to start a coaching practice? because you want to leave your day job, read this before you write that resignation letter.
(if you’ve already quit you probably need to read this even more!)
A lot of coaches start their business the wrong way round. This stops them from making the kind of money they dreamed of. And takes them further away from the flexible lifestyle they desired instead of bringing them closer.
Here are 7 steps that will help you start your coaching practice right, from the onset:
Pick a business model that suits your coaching practice
You’ve just qualified as a coach (or are about to) and have come to the realization that this is real and you need to turn your skills into a business that earns money.
The first thing you need to think about is your business model.
Many coaches fail because they start hiring coaches and training and jumping headfirst into marketing before they even know what they want their business to look like.
Others just copy their favorite coach – again another road to disaster.
In order to find the business model that is best for you and most likely to bring you success, you need to choose wisely.
First and foremost you have to look at your current situation.
Are you married?
Is your partner supporting you or getting in the way?
Do you have kids?
How many hours can you realistically work without distraction?
Will you see people face to face at a clinic?
Do you prefer working from home – online?
What can you see yourself doing?
1:1 coaching sessions?
Live events or retreats?
Live Courses or group coaching?
How long do you like to work with people?
Your business model can be identified easily by answering these questions. If you want to go deeper check out the step-by-step process to build your own coaching business model.
- Get your admin systems right
Once you have an outline of what you want your business to look like, you need to think about your systems.
For example: If you picked 1:1 coaching as your main offering, think of how you will service your clients, once they decide to work with you.
Here’s a list of systems you will need:
- Payment system: a system to invoice at the right time and get paid as fast as possible. This can simply be PayPal or Stripe at first.
- Onboarding system: How do you get the data you need from your 1:1 clients and prepare them to start their coaching experience?
You can start off with an onboarding that collects all the data they need to provide you with, contact details, timezone, struggles, their reasons/goals for buying the coaching etc…
- Contract signing: use a simple contract signing tool. Only use this for people who do not pay in full. I’m a big believer that a contract will not save you if your client doesn’t want to work with you, the only reasn I use it is to make sure people pay their dues when they’ve booked my time. Getting a contract signed only by people who didn’t pay in full will keep your admin to a minimum. I use DocuSign for this but there are many similar tools.
- Bulk email: You want to make sure you have a system to send emails to your clients in bulk. When you need to let everyone know you’re taking a holiday or similar announcement, it will save you a lot of time if you use an email marketing tool for this. You can also use it to chase for payment. Just add the name of the person to email and the amount due in your mailing list database and automatically email everyone in just a few minutes.
- Marketing System: You’ll also need to create weekly marketing systems and quarterly or mid-yearly reviews. More on this late in the marketing section below.
- Financial System: Work with your accountant to create a flow that works for both of you. It’s important that your data is well organized and ready for submission to make tax deadlines etc. (Don’t skimp on this or it could cost you – get an accounting system that allows you to track your profits and expenses easily as soon as possible)
Decide How much you want to earn
This is a very important step a lot of people skip. If you don’t know how much you want to earn, you will end up basing your prices on someone else’s or what you imagine is ‘affordable’ both can spell disaster in the long run.
First of all, find out how many hours you intend to work.
Multiply the number of daily hours available x the number of days you intend to work per month.
Example: 5 hours daily x 20 days per month = that’s 100 hours per month.
Then reduce the holidays you’ll take – say on average 3 days per month – that’s 15 hours
So your total is now 85 hours a month.
Now decide how much you want to earn. Let’s say $6,000/ month
So now reduce your marketing and admin hours from your total hours (let’s say you spend half your time marketing and administering your business) so 85 divided by 2 = 42.5
That leaves you 42.5 hours for coaching.
If you want to earn $6000 you’ll need to charge
6,000 divided by 42.5 = that’s $141/hour
The next step is to think of your value – how can you create an 8-week package that is valued at $1,130?
Create some packages that make the rate look worthwhile by focusing on the struggles you resolve and finding the ones that hurt the most.
Lay down some boundaries
Once you’ve put down some packages, make sure that you put down some boundaries to protect your time. Remember the workings above showed that you need to charge a specific rate – doing more work will either steal from your rate or from your personal time.
So for example, if your clients get 1:1 messaging support, add some boundaries to keep this to 1 or 2 hours per day by giving them messaging timeslots during which you will reply.
If you want to give more value without giving more time, you can create some PDFs or even mini-courses that you share with their clients so they can progress on their own as well.
Create clear expectations with regards to support and contact hours. And if flexibility is your style – make sure you add extra time and charge what it’s worth.
Create a clear vision
Once you’ve visited all the arenas above, your vision would be taking shape.
Write down what your vision is for the next 24 months of your business. You may be able to start now at $100 an hour for example, but can create a plan to up this to $150 so you can work fewer hours once you have figured out your marketing and have more frequent discovery calls.
The magic number is not 10
You also want to make sure you go in and streamline your packages and offers. Be clear about what you offer and do not give 10 different options – the only thing you get from that is ‘decision paralysis’.
When confronted with too many options, most human brains shut down or run away. So do your prospects and yourself a favor and keep it down to 2 or 3 packages – one would be even better but it can take time to know what you really want to focus on so in that case you can start with 3.
If you’re not sure how to create your packages listen to this podcast episode to get clear on your offerings…
Commit to marketing yourself
Once you’re clear about all the steps above, the only thing left is your marketing.
As a coach, marketing only has 1 goal – get people on that discovery call. Even if you’re selling group programs, when you start off, the discovery call is the key to everything in your business.
Discovery calls ill help you speak directly to your target audience and understand how they perceive what you do, what they want from you, what needs they have and how they view the world and their problems.
This is the information you need to build your business upon. It will guide you. Once you’re getting enough discovery calls, and clients as a natural by-product, your vision will become easy to put together.
They will tell you what they want from you, and if you’re willing to offer it, it will sell.
So how can you get people on those discovery calls?
As a new coach with little network, you can start with people you know and simply ask.
But while you do this, you need to prepare for the next stage which is when your network will run dry.
The tried and tested way to leave enough time for you to make a very good living from coaching is to use blogging and SEO. By ranking blogs in Google and sharing them to social media through automation, you can get your discovery calls booked automatically from your site.
I have built my business using this lead gen system alone for my 1:1 programs and my schedule is always as full as I want it to be.
If you need help with your marketing, I can help you create a system to generate discovery calls and coaching clients consistently every month?
Book your Free Discovery Call here and let’s talk about how you could do that.
———————— About the Author: Stephanie Fiteni
Hi, I’m Stephanie, a Content marketing strategist and traffic growth coach, creator of the Profitable Content Marketing Method for Coaches. I help coaches generate more traffic, clients and discovery calls through their content and websites. And automate their social media posting.
My clients get fully booked with just 2 – 3 hours of marketing per week.
I have over 15 years of experience creating websites, writing blogs that convert, and ranking content on the first page of Google.
I can teach you how to create content that will convert your visitors into discovery call bookings. Let’s Talk