10 Steps to a Viable Coaching Business

By Jowanna Daley

How to turn your calling and mission into a successful company.

Life coaching is a calling, and it’s so easy to look past the fact that you are starting a business and get caught up in giving people a solution that worked for you. So, you excitedly set up a website and social media only to hear the deafening sounds of crickets!

Building a business requires more work than a social media page and an “open for business” sign. Life coaches must add heart, skill, and strategy to develop a sound organization.

Here are the 10 steps to help you turn your mission into a viable business. Though you may initially go through these steps in the sequence set forth in this article, they do not always happen sequentially. This business model applies to any coaching business, whether you are well-established or not.

1. Connect with your heart. Yes, it is essential to know your why. It helps you through the startup journey and is the foundation for a sound and authentic business model. Connecting with your heart also involves clarifying your values. As you build your business, you want to identify those values you share with ideal clients and create a connection through those shared values. It also helps you identify gaps between your values and your business values (yes, your business is its own entity).

Phase one also involves identifying a set of ideal clients and selecting the one you will focus on first. Get to know this ideal client by walking in their shoes.Do not assume you know your ideal client’s thoughts, feelings, and words. Even if you’ve been through something similar to your target population, don’t judge things from your experience. Gather as much information as you can from their perspective. Use the skills you learned in your professional life coach certification course.

As a solo startup, you may not have a big business budget, but there are creative ways to get information. Talk with people you know would make ideal clients. You can gain insights from someone’s journey through a similar situation (on YouTube). You can also find a movie where the main character is an ideal client. Document what they say, do and feel.

Open your eyes to the possibilities and avoid assumptions. Avoid talking to other “experts” at this point. They are not your clients. Gather data without trying to make conclusions about them (that comes later).

2. Identify the challenge. Now that you’ve gathered data about your ideal client use phase two to organize the data to uncover their challenge. What is this person’s problem (from their perspective)? I recommend building a buyer’s journey map for your ideal client. If you do not know how to create one, you can hire someone to develop one for you.

The beauty of following an empathy-based model is that, at this point, you’ve solved many of your marketing woes. You also have the information to identify your client satisfaction measurements (what?!). Now, don’t you feel like a savvy business owner?

3. Configure your package. Luckily Transformation Academy has done-for-you packages that you can use to assemble to your clients’ needs. I have over 30 years of business experience, yet I started with Transformation Academy’s blueprint. I eventually had a signature package by configuring it to my clients’ needs. As you create your solution and design your clients’ experiences, identify other possible requirements. Your clients will also help you to expand your service or adjust your package through feedback.

Simplicity is key. Some people mistake creativity for complexity. Back in the late 90s, I was a programmer/analyst. My fellow counterparts would laugh at my solutions, but the customers loved them. My colleagues would use the latest technology and build these complex systems that showed off their skills. The problem—it did not solve the clients’ problems. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid silly) baby!

4. Critical analysis. During the critical analysis phase, you look at trends, competitors, and the environment around you. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses. Use the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, and Threats (SWOT) tool to start laying out your strategy as a company. There are technical steps to a SWOT analysis that takes the difficulty out of doing a thorough assessment.

5. Communicate your message. In this phase, you craft your marketing message. You’ve already done the challenging part of knowing whom you are talking to and understanding your target audience’s needs and language. If you contract an outside marketing agency, you can confidently present whom you are targeting, their pain points, and the benefits of using your service. Translate these messages to your website, Facebook Page, or whatever mechanism you are using to let people know you are in business.

6. Capitalize. At a minimum, you create a revenue forecast. Consider your income desires, the competition, and what you are offering. Your revenue statement also considers your expenses, direct costs, and taxes. Again, you can follow steps to take the fear out of creating a forecast (called pro forma if you’re fancy) statement.

7. Commit. The commit phase is another phase where you’ve gathered all the information you need to create a strategic plan of action. You review your company’s brand, mission, goals, and values and ensure your plans match align with it.

8. Campaign. Part of the commit phase includes laying out your goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. Your campaign plan aligns with one of the tactics, making it easy to plan and execute your campaign. Your campaign includes metrics, content plan, and feedback processes.

9. Control. Your clients, your company, and the external environment are constantly evolving. All the previous phases allow you to implement changes based on performance, client feedback, and environmental changes. By building what I call “empathy” into your model, you evolve with your clients’ needs.

10. Cultivate your leadership skills. I purposely saved this for last. First of all, self-development happens throughout your journey and, as a life coach, that should not come as a surprise. Assess where you can grow as a leader. Do you value others? Can they tell? Why would a customer buy from your company? Why will employees work for you? Everyone needs ongoing leadership development. Identify the emotional, functional, and technical skills required to run your business effectively.

The Bottom Line

Starting a business is easy, but building a successful business takes work. Have fun with your journey and enjoy the feeling of empowerment as you see your plan unfold to reality.

Give up the notion that you have to be a fully evolved human being to start your business. Use your tools.

Building a business takes action. Yes, use your tools. Those same tools that you use on your clients work for you as well. However, remember you continue to evolve.

Starting a business takes strategic action and does not require you to be perfect (whatever that means). Know that your journey is not as straightforward as these steps. There is work in each step, but I promise it pays. There are chaos coordinators (like me) that enjoy helping people who help people (like you) succeed one step at a time. Persevere, fellow coaches. The world needs you.

Jowanna is a business and personal coach, consultant, freelance blogger, and personal brand photographer. Jowanna uses her 20-plus years of business, information technology, business analysis, and project management experience to serve solopreneurs, microbusinesses, and professionals through consulting, coaching, training, and workshops. She is also a freelance blogger who serves corporate and non-corporate clients. Visit her website at https://www.jowannadaley.com/about/.

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