#051: Future-Proofing Your Coaching Business
In the last couple of years, we have seen a difficult business environment. The Covid pandemic, low-interest rates, high inflation, and now war in Europe, compounding all of these.
We have seen many businesses disappear, some had been around for decades and yet they were not stable enough to withstand the knocks.
This episode helps you see your coaching business with different eyes. Anyone can create a coaching practice in booming times.
But what about when times are hard? will your business withstand that? or can you even start a business in hard times?
The answer is yes, I co-founded my brick-and-mortar advertising agency in the recession of 2008. And that taught me a lot about the basics that make a strong business, not because I got it right, but precisely because I made all the mistakes and corrected course to do better.
The coaching business has been growing exponentially. A lot of new people are jumping on the bandwagon. Partly because of the freedom it promises, partly because the demand is also increasing. It is a strong industry that is expanding.
The sad thing, however, is that only about 3% of coaches actually earn enough to leave their day job.
And even fewer make 6 figures plus.
Listen to this episode if you want to understand how to create a business that not only survives the hard times but thrives.
In this episode we talked about:
> Getting your basics right.
> Build a strong brand
> Building a stream of new daily visitors to your website a.k.a traffic
> The role of your email list
> How to listen to what people want and evolve your business in that direction
Did you Enjoy this Episode?
(00:23): Quitting jobs and starting to coach
Hey, this is Stephanie. I wanted to jump in before we start today’s great episode and let you know that I have just opened up my calendar after the holidays and I’m currently onboarding new clients who would work with me till the end of the year to create an amazing, successful 2023. But listen to this episode first. If it raises questions, just go to stephaniefiteni.com/call and book yourself a free consult. And now let’s dive straight into today’s episode. In today’s episode, we’re gonna talk about future-proofing your coaching business. The coaching business has been growing at a very fast rate. A lot of coaches coming onto the market, it’s gotten really fast during the pandemic, and even after it, people are still quitting their jobs or getting coaching as a side hustle because a lot of people have realized that they want to give their life more meaning, and helping others is a great way of doing it.
(01:21): Online Coaching is a booming business
On the flip side, we can also see that a lot of people are understanding the value of coaching, more so alongside the growth of the coaching industry. We also have the growth of coaching consumption. So that’s a great thing, but the sad thing is that only about 3% of coaches actually make it to a full-time income. And even if you make it to the coveted six-figure mark or six figures and more, which is, you know, a hundred thousand or more, these statistics are quite astounding to me. I, I must admit, because it’s really not so hard to take your business to six figures if you make the right decisions and take the right marketing steps. But unfortunately, there is a cacophony, a big noise of options out there. And this results in coaches either working with the wrong strategies or doing too much trying to do absolutely everything, all these things are being told, or maybe throwing spaghetti at the wall and, you know, not many sticks because everything seems to be moderately successful or not successful at all.
(02:30): Can your coaching practice survive in the long term?
So what it does is it puts people in a difficult position and it becomes way more difficult and more confusing to find a way of stabilizing your business and making sure that it’s gonna last in the long term. This is why I have created today’s episode because I believe that there are some very sure steps that you need to take so that your business can be future proofed. And the first one of those is to get your basics right. Now, if you’re still in the beginning of your business, it’s fantastic because you can just make sure that you’re making the first right steps. So getting your basics right is gonna include picking an ideal client that has cash flow. It’s going to involve charging the right prices and having a plan to uplift your prices regularly. Now, the right price, of course, is a big conversation that we have had in another episode.
(03:25): Pricing your coaching packages
So do go and search the podcasts and you will find a couple of episodes actually where I talk a lot about pricing. But of course, getting your pricing right or getting your pricing at a level where you can survive on it in the future is very important. Be clear about what every marketing action in your business is going to achieve. A lot of people really struggle with this. They start seeing a lot of other people doing different things. They start doing all this marketing stuff, but they’re not quite sure how to measure the outcome. And, you know, they measure things like likes, follows, views, but what you need to follow, what you need to measure is simply the money. Is it making you money? If it’s not making you money, don’t do it. And of course, when you’re just starting out, there’s always gonna be an amount of time where things don’t work yet because they’re gonna work in the future.
(04:16): SEO for Online Coaches
And this sort of consistent state of hope can really rig your success because you think that either you’re not doing it right or maybe just needs more time. So make sure that you find the right guidance with this. I would say don’t do anything for more than 90 days if it hasn’t shown you that it is going to be successful. And you know, certain strategies, like for instance, SEO take a bit longer to work than that. But you will start seeing signs of success in the first 90 days. You will know whether you’re working with a marketing person that’s gonna give you a good strategy, you will be able to see the signs that this is gonna be successful, and you will also start seeing your first clients. A lot of my clients in my group program, they start seeing results way, way faster than the six month mark, which is I think the basic in the sense of what people promise with seo.
(05:09): Coach Marketing Strategy
But to get back to what we were talking about, you need to pick a coach marketing strategy that is working right now. So it’s important that no matter what marketing’s doing strategy, you pick, you are working with someone who’s using a strategy that is being used. Now, unfortunately, I see a lot of online gurus out there and they are selling stuff that maybe they used to build their business 3, 4, 5 years ago. And the internet is a place that changes so fast that this becomes a real problem. You cannot promise someone that a strategy that used even a year ago was gonna work today because the algorithms are changing. Platforms change all the time. The pace of change has speeded up so much that you know, it becomes impossible and very often more difficult because some things are gonna work in a strategy, but some things are not quite gonna work the way they used to.
So always be careful who you work with and make sure that you pick a marketing strategy that is working right now. And that is basically how you get your basic stride. So we said I do the client prices clear on every marketing action, on all the return on investment of every action you take. And then make sure that you have a proven marketing strategy that is working for someone else right now. That’s how you get your basics right. The next step is gonna be to build a strong personal brand. Now this is intentionally not the first step because a lot of people get really tripped up trying to do this as the first thing. But in the beginning, when you’re setting up your basis, you really don’t have enough clarity and enough knowledge to go in deep with your brand. So that actually should not be your thing.
(06:48): Branding for coaches equals Personal Branding
And in fact, what you need to do is, you know, do get some branding out there in the beginning. You are gonna need to create a website. You are gonna need to have something on your social media platforms that distinguishes you from everybody else. You are gonna need some messaging, but it doesn’t matter in the beginning because in the first years of your business, you’re going to evolve a lot once you feel like you have stabilized. And this can happen after a year for some people it can happen after two, it can happen even after 3, 4, 5 years. And of course, it also depends on whether you’re doing this full-time or part-time because if you’re doing it part-time or as a side hustle after work, it’s gonna take you way longer. So do not give yourself cutoff point when it comes to time and don’t compare your time skills to other people’s.
Just move at your own pace as long as you know where you’re going and you know exactly the next step that you need to take. So make sure that you build this strong personal brand because you need to make sure that people can recognize you. This is an important part of having longevity on your business because you need to become recognizable. You need to sort of get your reputation out there. And also knowing your own core values will help you attract more of the right people to work with. Showing yourself more people, the more they get to know you, the more you have a strong personal brand, the more they’re going to be attracted to what you’re selling. It’s great because you really do attract the right kind of people to work with. It’s so heartwarming to see all these amazing people turn up in your life and working with you.
(08:19): Business stability
But one thing not a lot of people talk about is the right place, the right stage to build a strong personal brand, and the right time. Really to think about your own personal branding is when you get out of the feast and feminine cycle. So at the beginning of your business, you’re going to start selling things and there are gonna be months when you sell nothing. They’re gonna be months maybe when you start getting three or four clients. Wow. And that’s like a peak month. And then there’s gonna be other months when you get two clients or zero clients sometimes. And it’s gonna sort of keep going like that. Once you have a marketing system, especially if you use SEO, it stabilizes to a stage where you can really rely on this consistent flow of leads, then your business will stabilize where a business will become more stable because you have these consistent discovery calls and you are consistently closing those discovery calls.
Now at that stage, you will have an income you can rely on. You will not have to focus on this constant stress of getting clients and you can start moving onto other things. And this is the right stage to focus on your personal brand. The next thing you can do to make sure that your business is futureproof is build traffic to your website. This is extremely important. In the beginning, you may not think of it as so important because you think, Oh, I’m getting a few people from social media already and I’m sharing my blogs on social media and I’m sharing content and you know, people are coming, I’m getting a few clients. But what you want to make sure is that you have your own marketing assets, that you don’t depend on other people’s platforms. So having your own website traffic that comes directly from Google is going to be a very important way of stabilizing your business.
This will give you the stability of really making sure that you own your leads and you know how to get them and you can be sure that there will be leads in the future. Of course, your leads are gonna fluctuate a lot if you only depend on how many people are going to jump on your list or how many people you can afford to spend ads to grow your list. Or one thing that I absolutely hate personally, a lot of people tell me that the amount of people they talk to is going to fluctuate a lot based on how much time they have to do social media you know, wiggling their butts on Instagram reels and TikTok. And it does become a place where it is not future proof because if you’re spending a lot of time during social media and you start depending on your first couple of leads a month from there to only become very difficult to scale.
(10:58): Becoming Future Proof
So it’s not future proof because if you’re already doing 10 hours, 15 hours a week and you’re getting two clients, so maybe you can push your prices up a bit and you can start to make, I dunno, 5K seven K, you can start growing your income. But the thing is, as you wanna grow higher and you wanna push your prices up higher, it’s going to become more difficult because you’re gonna need more leads. But how can you start from 15 hours a week, say doing 30 hours a week, you will burn out. You will burn out for sure. And if you try to outsource this, it’s also going to be super expensive. So it’s really not very stable when you think about future-proofing your business. This is why an important step of future proofing your business is to bring and build traffic to your own website.
You can do it with content that can then also feed your social media, but building that long term traffic is gonna take you out of that face and f feminine cycle, and it’s going to give you scalability in the future. And the great thing is that you can have a system where you’re creating content and putting it on your website and you know, the first month you might rank a post. The second month you rank two posts. The third month you done three or four posts. And as you go along a year down the line, you’re gonna have a number of blog posts that are bringing you leads in every single week. So it’s gonna help your business stabilize. It’s a super important part, future proofing your business. If you don’t wanna do the right yourself, you can outsource it, but it’s super important. It’s a super important step for your future.
(12:30): List Building for coaches
Another important thing is building your email list. You’ve probably heard people refer to their email list as their ATM or their kids’ college fund before, and it certainly works, but in truth, it doesn’t really give you anything back until you can actually give it the time and focus that it deserves. So, you know, a lot of people spend a lot of money building their list and have come across people like this. You know, in my own client list, they have a lot of people on their list, but they have no clue how to monetize it. Yes, and what this shows is they’re putting the cart before the horse. So my tip would be that until you decide how much time you can dedicate to keeping your audience warm and you know exactly what programs you’re going to create in order to monetize this audience, it may not be worth your expenditure.
It may not be worth spending time or money on this. It’s an important part of scaling. I will give you that for sure, and you do need to keep it in mind, but in the beginning, you may not need to focus on it so much because it’s kind of something that is gonna future proof your business and that is why it’s on this list. But you need to do it at the right time as well, because it’s not enough to put people on your list. You also need to keep them warm, and you need to keep them warm in a way that is consistent with what you’re going to sell to them. So you need to have this clarity and you need to do it at the right time as well. One thing that a lot of people don’t mention as well is that building your email list actually costs money because you have to put your free program, your free downloadable freebie, your lead magnet, whatever it is, you have to reach a lot of people in order for 30, 40% of that audience to actually jump on your email list.
And then it is your responsibility to keep them warm. So you are going to need that. I mean, SEO can help when you build a traffic to your website. Referring to what you said before, if you have people who come to your website, if you have a lot of traffic it’s going to feed your email list. So that is gonna be free leads, which is great. I do have a popup on my website that people see before they leave, and that allows them to follow my content and jump on my email list. And I do get people who register for that every week. Really. I do get a number of people every month, you know, maybe a hundred, maybe 200. It saves me having to spend. However, in the beginning, it’s not realistic to get as many so in the beginning of your business.
And if you don’t have a lot of traffic on your website yet, you are gonna have to spend to start building that list. So definitely consider when and how is gonna be the right way of doing it for you. And last but not least, if you want to survive in the long term as a coach and grow, be successful and make money, you have to learn to listen and evolve. It’s the obvious final piece of the puzzle because you need to listen to your clients. They are gonna give you that piece of the puzzle. It’s important to listen to people in your audience because obviously they are looking, especially those who are engaging with you and looking to work with you. But you also need to listen to those people who will work with you, who are already working with you. So for those people who are just in your audience, you may wanna create programs or free training that give you the opportunity to interact with your audience and actually allow them to ask you questions directly.
(15:48): How does your coach admin work?
Another important factor, especially for people who have already paid you and are gonna start working with you, are onboarding forms and mapping sessions where you need to spend time understanding where your clients are when they first start working with you. Because once they kind of too far in, they will start talking like you and they will kind of stop thinking how they were thinking before they started working with you. And you want to know how they feel when they first start working with you. You wanna know how they felt before they started working with you. It’s gonna help you become a better coach. It’s gonna help you customize your coaching. It’s gonna help you go into more detail as to exactly what they need from you, but also very importantly, it’s going to help you feed this information into your messaging, into your marketing, and it’s going to help you ultimately offer better programs and create better outcomes for your clients.
So it’s really, really a win-win situation. Highly recommended. Okay, so we talked about how to future proof your business and the five steps were getting your basics right, Building a strong personal brand. We also talked about building the traffic to your website, very important step, building your email consistently and at the right time, and also listening and evolving with what your clients tell you. So those are the five takeaways for today. Thank you very much for listening. But before you go, I want to ask you, do you have a burning, pressing question you’d like to ask me or something you’re struggling with in your coaching business? Then you might want to enter the chance to win a 45 minutes laser coaching session with me. There’s actually no other way of booking a one session with me because I don’t offer this anymore, but you can get your hands on a 45 minutes pick my brain session by leaving a review on this podcast.
(17:34): Get your free coaching session
I’ll be giving away one session per month to anyone who goes to Stephaniefiteni.com/reviews and follows the instructions to leave an easy review over there. You can also go to your favorite podcast app right now while you’re listening and leave a review there. And what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna pick a review every month and let you know who won the free session on the first episode of the month. When you hear your review and your name on the podcast, all you’ll need to do is drop me a line on info[at]stephaniefiteni.com to redeem your free strategy session.
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About the Show
In the Profitable Online Coaching podcast, Stephanie and her expert guests answer the most common online coaching and coach marketing questions to help you unravel the facts and take the right next step for your coaching business.
On solo episodes and with guests, she talks about popular topics such as marketing for coaches, blogging, digital marketing strategies, pricing, mindset, and how coaches build successful businesses.
Stephanie is an experienced SEO Content Marketing Strategist as well as a Marketing Coach for Coaches. She talks about online marketing strategies, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), marketing tools, books, and much more.
She learned programming as a fresh graduate and has worked as a trainer, programmer, and web consultant for over 15 years before becoming an online coach. For the last 6 years, she has offered 1:1 coaching and Online Programmes designed for coaches, therapists, and online service providers. She also offers Content strategy sessions and SEO Content Consultancy services to 6, 7 & 8 figure coaches. Contact her on email@example.com.