If you are a wizard in the weight room or someone who rose through the corporate world and retired at 50, you already have the basic ingredients necessary to become a successful coach. Now all you need to know is how to start a coaching business.
Having a successful coaching business will provide personal freedom, financial independence and a deep sense of satisfaction that you are helping others improve their lives. In this article, we will take a close at the various aspects of building an online coaching business, including:
- The importance of budgeting
- Which online platform is best for coaching
- Some basic rules to guide you on your journey
- Common mistakes to avoid
- The basics of starting your own online coaching programme
By the time you finish reading you should have a clear idea of what is involved and how to achieve your goal of creating a lively and profitable online coaching business.
Let’s get to it.
The Benefits of Having an Online Coaching Business
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of building an online coaching business let’s take a closer look at some of those benefits we mentioned above:
- Personal freedom – With an online coaching business there is no need to drag yourself to an office every day. It is truly a business without boundaries; one that enables you to take your expertise to clients from wherever you happen to be.
- Financial independence – With the cost of petrol going through the roof it does not take an economist to know that online coaching is far more cost-effective than face-to-face coaching. Working remotely will enable you to keep more of what you earn.
- Personal satisfaction – Almost 4 out of every 10 people in the UK feel their work is meaningless. That is rarely the case with coaching. Helping your clients achieve physical, financial or spiritual growth will provide an intense level of personal satisfaction.
Now that we have a better idea of the benefits of online coaching, let’s dive into the process of setting up an online coaching business, beginning with a few simple rules.
5 Simple Rules for Online Coaches to Live By
Rule 1: Focus on your strengths
Trying to be all things to all people is not a strategy with a future. If you have years of experience trading stocks, coach people on the stock market and resist the urge to branch out into crypto. If you do a bang-up job as a bodybuilding coach expanding into aerobics is likely to backfire. Being a jack of all trades usually means being a master of none, if only because the effort in any particular direction becomes diluted. So, don’t veer off track in an effort to broaden your appeal. Find your niche and work it to perfection.
Rule 2: Keep it simple
Once you are well-established and people everywhere are breathlessly awaiting your newest personal training programme to drop, you can branch out into related areas like sports nutrition. To begin with, however, you should start with a simple concept that appeals to a specific audience and that requires little additional effort on the part of your client base to work with you. For example, if you are offering online personal training your services should not require your clients to buy special equipment to get started.
Rule 3: Determine your target audience
Some coaches do a great job of helping older people enjoy the benefits of strength training. Others have great success in helping overweight individuals shed pounds and build good habits that help them keep the weight off. While some people are best suited to helping the athletically inclined reach new heights of performance. Which one are you? Before you can market yourself effectively you need to determine where your strengths and interests lie. Once you have your answer, target your marketing efforts toward the appropriate group.
Rule 4: Spread out the joy
Starting a coaching business is hard and missteps are going to happen. A common one is to try and impress clients by frontloading the programme. Doing so, however, can leave coaches with precious few pearls of wisdom to impart later on. If you want to keep your clients engaged from Day 1 right to the end of the last session, dole out your knowledge in bite-sized bits.
With this in mind take the time to develop a step by step programme. One in which each step will yield tangible results, but which includes enough stages to make it worthwhile for you financially. Think of each bit of information or expertise you have to convey as a product, because it is. And then offer 1 or 2 products per coaching session.
Below we will get into more specifics about how to develop an effective and profitable coaching programme.
Rule 5: Consider becoming certified
Now granted, if you are not currently certified as an expert in your particular field, getting certified might require that you delay the launch of your online coaching business. In the long run, however, certification could pay handsome dividends, helping you get your business off the ground quicker, enabling you to charge more and attracting a larger number of potential clients. Accreditations and certifications help build trust and social proof in your business.
Professional certifications are available these days for virtually every type of service, craft, or area of expertise. During the process of certification, you are also likely to learn something about your chosen field you did not previously know that will help you be a more effective coach. While certification is not required for someone to offer coaching services online you should seriously consider becoming certified for all the reasons we just discussed.
How to Create a Coaching Programme
Above we touched on the importance of developing a coaching programme that can help guide your coaching-related activities while at the same time informing and helping you shape your financial plan.
Now let’s look at how to go about doing that.
Step 1: Define your target audience
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Exactly what topic/activity will I focus on?
- Who would be struggling with this particular topic/activity?
- Why are they struggling with it?
- How will my clients benefit if they sign up for my coaching services?
If you are an expert in your particular field you may already know the answers to these questions. However, if you are just starting out and your experience is limited you may well have to conduct some research to find the answers you’re looking for. As with everything else it is best if you keep things as simple as possible.
Step 2: Create a statement of purpose
Below is a rough template that will serve as your statement of purpose. Put what you have learned from answering the above questions to use filling in the spaces between the brackets <>:
My online coaching programme will help < target audience > solve < the problem >. At the start they will likely feel < confused/lost/frustrated/etc > but after working with me they will feel < informed/empowered/healthier/etc…>.
My online coaching programme will provide my clients with actionable information and/or materials related to < the topic > that will help them achieve the overall goal of < losing 20 lbs/increasing sales/becoming a better speaker/etc >.
This simple manifesto will serve as your business model. Everything you do related to starting your coaching business should be filtered through this lens.
Step 3: Lay out the steps to success
Think through everything the client will need to learn and/or do to achieve the desired result and then break everything down into a series of steps. As we said earlier, don’t sell yourself short by frontloading everything. Roll out your expertise in bite-sized pieces that are easy to digest and leave plenty to go over in later steps.
You can lay out your steps on a piece of paper, in a spreadsheet, on a whiteboard or by using post-it notes. Post-it notes are perhaps the best idea because you can easily switch things around until you have them in the right order. The end result will be an outline of your coaching programme staring back at you.
Now you have a skeleton to work to, it’s time to dive in section by section, fleshing out the rest. Draft, redraft, and you’re ready to go.
Step 4: Consider making a Coaching App
The digital economy boasts possibilities for growth that dwarf the brick and mortar economy. Therefore, if you hope to succeed as a coach today, it’s best to know how to create an online coaching business.
One mistake people make is spending all their money to create a state of the art website with all the bells and whistles. For coaches, having a branded mobile app may be a better way to go.
Here are four good reasons a branded mobile app is a better choice than a coaching website:
1: Push notifications – Push notifications enable you to keep your clients up to date on all the latest goings-on with your coaching business. Alert them automatically about new videos or tutorials. Notify your clients about upcoming live streams and use the data collected from user responses to analyse what is working and what is not so that you can refine your approach.
2: Enhanced monetization options – Some coaches choose to create an online presence in the form of a social media community, like Facebook. However, with Facebook, they tell you what you can and cannot monetize and they often wind up making more money off of your clients than you do. With your own app, you decide what to monetise and you are the only one who benefits from the money earned.
3: A more immersive experience – People these days want and expect an immersive experience which explains the exploding popularity of mobile apps. A mobile app lets you create that immersive experience with videos, articles, live-streaming events, a retail shop and a forum where users can share tips, experiences and more.
4: An app lets you focus on the customer experience – If your clients need to access your services via a website you stand the chance of losing them. The fact is every time someone goes online there’s a good chance they will fall prey to one of the internet’s countless distractions. With a dedicated app, you have the ability to focus their attention on your products and services to a degree that just isn’t possible with a website.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Of course, just as important as knowing what to do to get your coaching business off the ground is knowing what not to do. If you have a firm grasp on the “don’ts” you will save yourself a lot of potential time and aggravation. So here are some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to start a coaching business.
Expecting instant results
This is likely the most common mistake people make when starting any type of business and the reason why most new businesses fail. The person marshals their resources, collects the materials they’re going to need, secures a location and promotes their service with one Facebook post, expecting masses will immediately beat a path to their door. But unless you are a celebrity or some other type of established entity with a built-in audience it doesn’t work like that.
The rest of us have to work hard every day to make our dreams a reality. And that is as true for a life coach as it is for a fitness coach. So while it may help to keep an aspirational image in your head of filming exercise routines on the world’s exotic beaches, try to live in the here and now and focus your effort on getting the word out, creating a killer app for your coaching business and creating good buzz by helping the clients you have, no matter how few, reach their goals.
Failing to create a budget
During the dotcom crash of the early 2000s thousands of businesses went from insane market valuations to closing shop in less than a year. Why? It wasn’t because their stocks tanked, it was because they burned through their startup capital like it was going out of style. The only companies that survived the bust were ones like Amazon who had a solid financial plan from the get-go and stuck to it.
The lesson to be learned from the dotcom crash was that if you formulate a realistic budget from the outset, only spend on things that are essential to your business, and keep your ego in check, (let’s face it, wasting money is usually about ego-gratification), you have a good chance of making it through any stormy weather at the start and emerging triumphant.
Failing to put things in writing
You may feel like the best approach to building client trust is to simply discuss their goals with them and create an informal coaching regime sealed with a handshake. But if you don’t put things down in writing you are opening yourself up to potential problems in the future.
It’s not unheard of for clients to sue coaches/trainers for failing to deliver results. If you don’t write down what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and what the client can reasonably expect AND have the client sign off, then it’s your word against theirs if the lawyers get involved. Bottom line: successful coaches put things in writing.
And that is how you build an online coaching business!
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