In this series of articles we look at how to start and build an Executive Coaching business. Although focused on Executive Coaching the series of articles would also apply to most other types of coaching, such as life coaching and business coaching.
This article looks at the first step that you need to take which entails researching the coaching market and determining your offer.
Determining Your Niche
There are lots of people out there who say they offer Executive Coaching. However Executive Coaching includes a huge spectrum of topics such as leadership, change, strategy, creativity and team development, as well as many others. So the first thing to do is to decide on your niche in the executive Coaching market. This needs to be based on three things – your coaching skills, your previous experience and what you enjoy doing. So for instance there is no point in a focus on strategy if you have no background in the area. Executive Coaching clients tend to look less for coaching qualifications and more for your previous experience and credibility in a subject area.
Get an Executive Coaching Qualification
Coaching clients tend to be less interested in qualifications and this is mainly because there are so many it is confusing. However the people responsible for purchasing the coaching service (the sponsors) do want to know about your qualifications – and rightly so. From your own perspective it is also important for you to know that you are able to coach properly particularly when you are being paid for the service.
You can take anything from a two day course to a two year masters Degree in Coaching. I would suggest you pick a programme that gives you the skills of coaching and is accredited by one of the professional coaching associations.
Research the Coaching Market
In order to create your offer you need a very good understanding of the coaching market. So the next thing to do is to go out and meet others who offer Executive Coaching. You will be surprised most will be happy to help you. If you have trouble in your locality meet some providers a little further away. Certainly when I started Tony Goddard Consulting I met local Executive Coaching companies as well as a lot of Executive Coaches based in and around London. The types of things you need to find out in order to determine your offer are:
- The focus of their business
- Their learnings from starting up
- How they generate their business
- Do they offer services other than Executive Coaching (training or HR consultancy)
- How they structure their fees and coaching packages
- What they consider to be a typical fee. They may be less prepared to tell you this but it is essential you set your prices at the right level. At the start in an effort to be competitive I lost business because clients thought the fees were too low compared to competitors!
You also need to go out and speak to those that buy coaching services to get an understanding of how this is done. In some cases companies have their own panel of approved coaches who are used when coaching is required. In other cases coaching is purchased when required. Some companies like to have coaches that they use for specific topic areas e.g. creativity, transition coaching
Determine Your Offer
Based on your research meetings with suppliers and buyers of Executive Coaching you now have the information you need to create you brand and offer. A good test of whether you have a clear and differentiated offer is to write it down. This is a great discipline and the document, as explained in the next article, can be used to help you establish your initial business network. Your marketing document should be a maximum of two pages long. It should include:
- What it is that you do
- The benefits to clients
- How you structure your coaching
- Your approach to coaching
- Your approach to pricing (i.e. is it by the hour, the session, the coaching package?)
- Your experience and qualifications
So now you have an offer upon which to base your new business. In the next article Building a Coaching Business I explain how to start to develop your business and get your first clients.
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