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The Transparent Truth about Building a Coaching Business

August 27, 2021 by Coach Training EDU

Life coaching is a very attractive profession: you can feel good about helping others while potentially making a great wage. All you need to do is sell yourself – right? As with most things, that’s easier said than done. And while it is possible for you to obtain the coaching business of your dreams, it’s important to have the skills, tools, and downright willpower it will take to get there. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind about the grit, determination, and wisdom it takes to build a successful coaching business and communicate your value to potential clients.

Niche. And then niche again. It is possible to be a successful life coach without a niche. People do it, and they do succeed. But it can be the tougher route. Why? Because even though life coaching is gaining popularity around the world, most people still don’t really know what it is. It seems like a nice idea, and a lot of people will probably hear about your aspirations and express a lot of interest at first, but many seasoned life coaches will tell you that the amount of enthusiasm you receive from your circle before you begin doesn’t necessarily translate into clients – or dollars. 

However, when you clearly communicate a very specific problem that you uniquely have the tools, training, and persona to help solve, that’s when people start listening. Read any marketing book that’s been released in the last ten years, and the vast majority will tell you the same thing: your message needs to be clear, and it needs to be focused on the client’s felt needs.

Be in it for the long game. If you’re a coach (or thinking about becoming one), you probably already know that it’s about the journey. If you’re planning to build your own business rather than work for an organization, it’s not as simple as putting in an application. However, it is an extraordinarily profitable and rewarding career if you build it properly. 

For example, most life coaches won’t quit their previous jobs before they get started, and doing so can be risky (though, again, every coach’s story is different!) Many coaches will tell you it took a few years until they figured out how to attract and retain their clients. It also takes time to find a structure and flow that works best for your lifestyle. Developing a successful coaching business is a process that often takes years. Create a plan that allows you the time you need to develop it properly. 

Never stop learning. It’s highly recommended to become certified by an ICF-accredited organization as soon as possible in your life coaching endeavors. There are a great many ways to achieve this certification, and it doesn’t have to take years to accomplish. But you shouldn’t stop there. You will only be more valuable (and more attractive) to your potential clients by furthering your education and adding certifications. You don’t have to achieve all of this before you “open your doors,” but it is a wise thing to work toward in your early years.

Keep your clients. Signing on a new client is only half the battle: you also have to make good on your promises and demonstrate that you’re providing the value they’re looking for. The first step is remembering one of the golden rules of coaching: practice quality, active listening. It’s always a temptation to hear someone’s initial problem and quickly move toward a solution, but that solution may not stick if it’s not relevant to the client’s actual problem.

Another way to keep your coaching relevant to your client’s life is by consistently reviewing their progress (especially if you can link the coaching directly to an additional income stream). Remember that it’s not only about the certifiably gratifying process of to-do list box-checking, but it’s also about their personal growth throughout the coaching journey. 

Finally, remind them frequently of the value you provide by being a wealth of pertinent resources and information in between coaching sessions – the more personalized and on-target, the better.

Build it one brick at a time. When most people start their first business, they’re surprised by how many hours they have to put in with no immediate financial return. It can be tempting to cut corners, especially when you’re already working full-time at another job, are short on time, and are desperate to get some paying clients. However, a realistic timeline is so important in building a solid foundation (and keeping your sanity in the process). Knowing that you are going somewhere and that you’re doing it well should be a comfort when things don’t happen as quickly as you hoped.

It costs money to make money. Most new businesses require a significant financial investment on some level. Be wise and seek counsel about what these expenses are, especially if you’re working in a particular niche. Consider tallying what it will cost to obtain the legal assistance, website servicing, marketing/social media, training, and administrative tools you’ll need.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who prey on the vulnerability of new business owners, offering shiny ‘overnight’ solutions for high ticket prices. Lean on your coaching network to ensure your financial investments are sound. This business is almost impossible to build alone – investing in the right services will help you achieve your goals safely. 

Remembering that starting a new business is more like a marathon than a sprint will help you avoid burnout in the early stages of your business development. Remain realistic! Many life coaching businesses turn into fulfilling and lucrative careers with the help of network wisdom, patience, a whole lot of determination, and a little finesse.

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