August 13, 2021 by Coach Training EDU
Creating a business plan is a crucial element of a successful coaching practice. Business plans are proven to increase your chance of success in your chosen career, and life coaching is no different. The thing about writing a business plan is that it should be fun, a chance to put your hopes and dreams for your future business in one place.
It’s easy to have grand dreams and then set them aside when things get difficult; people do it every day. Making sure that those big dreams are aligned with who you are and the skillset you bring to the table is one of the first steps toward chasing those dreams and turning them into reality. People attempt to get into life coaching for many reasons: Helping and connecting with others, flexible work scheduling, autonomy, etc. But, like being a doctor or therapist, seeing clients is only one aspect of the work. Finding clients, building and maintaining relationships, developing schedules, and managing day-to-day business decisions are also part of this work.
Life coaching is an extremely exciting and rewarding career, but it’s the passion and dedication to the work of coaching (including all of the things that aren’t as glamorous) that ensures success. Before you get started, take a full internal inventory to make sure your heart is in it. Consult your own life coach to make sure it’s the right decision for you.
Now that you’ve decided this is the path you want to follow, how are you going to stay accountable to this pursuit? Who’s going to help you along the way? What tools are you going to use to stay on track? What’s your best method of staying organized? How are you going to keep pursuing your goals? Do you need a life coach? This is where you get out that notebook and start scribbling. Gather your community, pool your contacts, and choose the tools that will help you focus and stay true to your goals.
Is it possible to be a life coach without a certification? Absolutely, but it’s not the recommended route. According to a study by ICF, over 90% of life coaches worldwide are accredited by a recognized institution. An overwhelming majority of clients and businesses – around 85% – are only willing to hire a certified coach. The education you’ll receive is invaluable, and your clients will see that you’ve done the work to take your business seriously. Certification leads to credibility and client confidence, which leads to the best kind of marketing: word of mouth. That’s something you simply can’t buy.
Are you a motivational speaker or a coffee connector? Do you thrive online, or would you prefer to be in person? Do you see yourself teaching general strategies or maintaining strong one-on-one relationships? Make sure your business plan aligns with who you are. Taking inspiration from other life coaches is an excellent strategy, but there are so many different (and equally effective) ways to approach this profession. Make sure you choose a route that capitalizes on your unique strengths.
A huge part of aligning your business with your strengths is prioritizing the right niche so that the right clients can find you. Coaching can focus on a variety of topics, such as careers, goal-setting, relationships, academia, executives, or health goals. If a coach sees a need, it can become a niche. The more specific your niche, the better your chance of finding the right community of mentors, colleagues, and clients. Maybe you specialize in helping women gain confidence after divorce. Maybe you like to help entrepreneurs clarify their goals and level up their businesses. Whatever it is you do, make sure you have a strong definition to help create a unique brand.
Branding is important. One of the most famous quotes about life coaching from Fast Company is about just that: “Executive coaching isn’t therapy. It’s product development, with you as the product.” When your clients see any of your marketing materials, they should immediately know what problem you’re trying to help them solve. Take the time to make your branding beautiful, but more importantly, take the time to make it clear. Branding is all about the story. Your potential client needs and wants to be the hero in their own story. Donald Miller, the great brand strategist, wrote, “If we don’t speak in terms that help our customers survive and thrive, our brains just aren’t wired to pay attention.” Tell the right story, invite your clients into a tale of their own thriving, and you have yourself the start of an effective brand.
After you’ve figured out your niche and branding strategy, start producing content. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to keep up on every social media platform that exists; that will only make you hyperventilate. Figure out what you think you could do most effectively. Videos, podcasts, blogging, online courses, and social media posts are all great ways to give away free content. Giving away free, insightful content is one of the best gifts you can give to your business. It’s an invitation that shows potential clients what you’re capable of and inspires them to take the step into hiring you for deeper accountability and wisdom in their lives.
A critical part of your business plan is identifying your ideal clients. This comes after you look at your strengths and develop your niche. Once you have a vision of these clients, figure out who they are in real life. Where do they hang out? When you do meet a potential client, recognize that selling yourself isn’t as effective as a demonstration of your skills. Listening intently to others’ concerns about their lives or business and asking powerful questions is a way to open up a valuable conversation. Once you have shown that you have value to give, offer a free consultation or an introductory call.
Doing free introductory calls and offering free life coaching to people in your circle is an excellent way to gain practice in your craft. If you’re doing an introductory call, make sure you focus on demonstrating value rather than selling your services. You want your clients to realize how much they need you because you’ve already helped them. Pulling out their story of thriving is an effective way to help them see your values.
If you get the legal stuff out of the way early, you’ll breathe easier later on. Figure out what kind of business you want to start (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.) and work to build the legal structure. After you decide what kind of legal entity you want to set up, figure out your liability language, and start drafting a contract that covers all of your legal bases, including proper client boundaries and privacy standards. Use your network. When it comes to legal matters, it’s better to tap others for wisdom than learn the hard way!
Life coaching can be an incredibly rewarding, enjoyable, and fulfilling career that takes hard work and diligent preparation. Your business plan is just the steps to your dream on paper. As a life coach, you’re in the business of turning dreams into goals and goals into reality, so make sure the first client you expect results from is yourself! With a little forethought and some intelligent planning, you can build a successful, unique life coaching business quickly and efficiently!
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