In Starting a Coaching Business we looked at how you determine your coaching offer. This article looks at how to start to build your coaching business and get clients.
Test Marketing and Building Your Network
You have now created some sort of marketing document that says who you are and describes your Executive Coaching offer. The next step is to see what your potential customers think about your offer.
You should send out the document to everyone in your network and ask if they can spare the time to meet you to give you feedback on your coaching offer. The feedback will be invaluable, but in doing this you start to indirectly market your offer. After all if someone is going to give you feedback it means that first of all they have to read your marketing material.
At each meeting ask the person you are meeting for their feedback on your coaching offer. Ask them what if anything might need to be changed. After the first round of meetings, which may take up to three months, revise the document in line with the feedback given. Then send it out again thanking each person for their feedback. Tell them you will contact them again in three months to let them know how things are going. Each email should be sent individually not as a group email. Now you have the start of your network.
In reality in coaching most of your business will come via your network. The reason for this is that when hiring a coach people hire the person rather than the product. So people will hire someone with whom they have some sort of ongoing business relationship. When you meet your network again after three months of being in business you should ask each person you meet if they can suggest someone else you should meet. Ask them to send an introductory email saying they suggested you contact the person. In this way you never have to make a cold call. After this second round of meetings you will have the potential to double your network.
You need to establish an online presence as a means of marketing your business and establishing your credibility. In reality very little coaching work will come via a website. However you can save a significant amount of money in brochures by having a coaching website that explains your offer. This allows you to refer potential clients to your website to get further information.
In order to build your presence online and improve your website ranking you should also sign up to the key social networking sites and put links back to your website. So you should consider a LinkedIn profile as well as a Twitter account. You should also sign up to key directories. If you enter TonyGoddardConsulting.com into Google search you will see a whole range of sites and blogs that link back to this site. It’s easier to do this than give you 20 pages of possible website links.
Remember to create a standard coaching contract that you can use with new clients. It might sound obvious but you don’t want to scramble to write an ill thought out contract when you get your first client. This is a good template for a Coaching Contract and you can change it to suit your own specific terms and conditions.
When you start up you will find that finding all your own clients is immensely time consuming and it will restrict your ability to earn a living from coaching. I would suggest that you consider as part of your business model becoming an Associate Coach with several other larger organisations. This means that the larger organisation can call on your services when they have the need. The benefit to you of this arrangement is that the larger organisation will find clients for you. The downside is that typically the fee is less than you would charge one of your own clients. But remember you have not had the expense of getting the business so it is reasonable to expect a lower fee.
A Flexible Coaching Offer
When you start out consider your business offer. It needs to be one that will be attractive through all parts of the economic cycle. So if for example you only offer leadership coaching you may well find in a recession that business is hard to come by. On the other hand career coaching (helping people made redundant find new roles) tends to do well during a recession.
I wish you luck in setting up a successful coaching business. It is hard work but a very worthwhile challenge. If you would like more information on setting up a coaching business I would recommend ‘Developing a Coaching Business’ by Jenny Rogers. When I started out this book gave me lots of useful advice and suggestions.
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