… and who might they be?
If you are a professional coach working for yourself, then you are a solopreneur!
But do you think like one?
A solopreneur is a small business owner looking to grow a successful business. Great coaching skills do not necessarily equate to great business skills. Coaches often need a bit of help in this department.
Unsurprisingly most coaches are drawn to coaching because they have the desire to help others. Coaches want to coach. Some have such a desire to help that they almost fall on the side of altruism, that is helping others to the detriment of themselves. The fact is, the more successful you are as a coach, the more you will have to offer others.
Traditionally, a coach’s financial success equates to the amount of time they spend with clients and how much they charge for that time. That equation can be a hard one to balance. The less you charge, the more clients you need to see. The more clients you see, the less time you have to spend working ON your business, because you’re too busy working IN your business … result, your business suffocates.
The Bad News …
Most coaching businesses fail within a couple of years, often sooner.
The Good News …
You can take action to make sure yours is not one of them!
There are reasons why the majority of coaching businesses fail – and it has nothing to do with coaching ability or the size of the market. It has everything to do with understanding how to run a successful business.
Times have changed. If you’re struggling, perhaps it’s time you embraced the future!
COACHES NEED A STRATEGIC AND PROCESS-DRIVEN BUSINESS PLAN
A successful coaching business relies on process and procedure, systems and strategies. Once these are in place, life and business becomes much more productive and predictable – and for all you options-orientated coaches out there, I mean predictable in a good way!
How would you like to be sure of making what you need to thrive, not just survive?
There is nothing better than being able to be in control of your future, what you do, when you do it and how you do it. So how can you get there?
Let’s look at some of the reasons why coaching businesses often fail.
PROBLEM: Key Reasons why Coaching Businesses fail
Many coaching businesses do not think like a traditional business. They are missing …
- A Strategic Business Plan
- Marketing Skills
- Selling Skills
- A Unique Selling Point (U.S.P.)
- The Application of Technology
- Business Measurement
- Strategic Partnerships
How many of the above is your coaching business missing right now (be honest!)?
If you have come into coaching from a non-business background, you may well find your coaching business missing some or all of the above.
Well, that may be the bad news. Now for the good news!
SOLUTION: What you can do
You can do what successful businesses are doing …
1. Create a Strategic Business Plan
A – B = C
A Strategic Business Plan (S.B.P.) is an essential roadmap for your financial success, it is a plan of what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it. It will help you guestimate your sales income over a given period (A), and place that against the projected cost of acquiring those sales in that same period (B). This will leave you with your operating profit (C). Of course, there is a little more to it than that, but from a big picture sense, that’s what it is about.
A business plan is usually created at the start of a business, and should be revisited and updated frequently to help you stay on track and achieve your targets.
I have created a business plan template for ‘The Coaches Club’ members specifically designed with coaches in mind. More on this exciting new project in another newsletter on The Coaches Club to follow…
DEVELOP AND REVIST YOUR STRATEGIC BUSINESS PLAN!
2. Create Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Targets
A successful business plan is supported by regular planning and feedback. Having weekly, monthly and quarterly targets will let you know if you are on track to achieve your yearly targets. The benefit of this is that it will help you change your approach if what you are doing is not achieving your financial or business goals. It is essential to be aware of whether or not your business is on track.
I have a process that helps enormously with this. I call it ‘Create and Conclude’ and ‘Recap and Reset’. I Create a plan for the week ahead on a Sunday evening and then Conclude on the Friday afternoon to see if I have achieved that week’s goals. In addition, as a component part of this process, I also Recap what I have achieved at the end of each day and then Reset my plans for the following day – plan tomorrow today!
MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS!
3. Create A Consistent Marketing Strategy (including automation)
Coaches, consultants and other small-business entrepreneurs need to reach their target market and be visible in the marketplace. Internet-based marketing is vital in today’s information age. Marketeers talk of creating a lists of potential clients. If these potential clients are ‘fans’ of your message and what you do (preferably screaming fans!), then a list of a thousand such ‘engaged fans’ could guarantee your financial future.
How do you build a list of screaming fans? This can be achieved by offering free content of high-value to your target market, as well as offering high-value paid content. Like most things, there is a process to creating an interactive and engaged list.
The terms ‘Self-liquidating offers’, ‘lead magnets’, and ‘sales funnels’ (see below) may be new terms to you, yet they could hold the key to your success. Do not neglect putting in place a Consistent Congruent Marketing Strategy (C.C.M.S.)
BE VISIBLE, BE CONSISTENT, ADD VALUE!
4. Learn How to Sell and Negotiate
We are all involved in a negotiation of some sort, everyday of our lives. As an soloprenuer, you are going to want to leverage what you have by getting great deals on things such as venues, loans, virtual assistants, technology and so much more. Learning how not to pay ‘top-dollar’ for what you consume is a very important quality of a solopreneur.
As a business, you are either selling a product or service. Selling is a necessary part of business and it is a skill. Like all skills, it can be developed. A key part of selling involves what is known as ‘closing’. Closing is asking for the order and getting your ‘prospect’ to buy.
LEARN HOW TO SELL AND LEARN HOW TO CLOSE!
… and ALWAYS with integrity! Do not try to sell things to people who will not benefit from what you are offering!!
5. Define your U.S.P. and niche
Competition is everywhere. Being a niche specialist rather than a generalist has multiple advantages. As a niche specialist you can place yourself as an expert in what you do (and genuinely become one) very easily, because that is where your primary focus is.
A niche, by definition, is a specialised area and there are, therefore, less ‘players’ in the market, so competition is less. Wellbeing may be a sector for example, Nutrition is more niche within that sector, but specialising in high-fat diets is much more niche. You would seek a cardiac surgeon for a heart operation, not a GP.
Another advantage of operating in a niche market is that it makes it much easier for you to target your advertising to your particular market group. You can use language very specific to appeal more strongly to your target market, rather than trying to appeal to everyone and therefore not moving anyone enough to be excited to buy from you.
DEFINE YOUR NICHE AND USE NICHE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE IN YOUR MARKETING!
6. Look for Strategic Partnerships
A key part of my business strategy is to work in partnerships with organisations in different regions that do not offer what I offer. This not only enables me to access a client list outside of my own, it also means that I get another income stream while somebody else has the responsibility for the marketing. That saves me a huge amount of time and effort.
LOOK FOR STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS!
7. The Effort & Reward’ equation
How much reward do you get for the amount of time and effort you put in?
As a solopreneur your time is very valuable, so don’t waste it. Administration is important, it has to be done, but do you have to do it? Answering phone calls is important, but do you have to do it? Accounts are important, but do you have to do them?
There are some things that you will have to do, depending on the nature of your busines this may include coaching delivery, strategic planning to grow your business, aquiring partners, networking and so on. For many other things there are two main options:
a) Automation: Automate tasks using technology
b) Outsource: Get someone else to do tasks
The Pareto Principle : The 80/20 ‘rule’ looks at typical distribution of effort versus reward. Most things have an unequal distribution. The majority of the results come from a minority of the input. This is useful to explore in terms of 80% of your income is likely to come from 20% of your clients (don’t get hung up on the precise numbers). That also means that 80% of your clients are bringing you only 20% of your income, so who should you focus on? Imagine if you were to model the 20% of your clients that bring in 80% of your income and then look to replicate the structure of that 20%.
When I worked in sales, the higher commission earning deals were strangely most often the ones that took less of my time and effort. Consequently 80% of my income came from just 20% of my effort. The biggest negative impact on my ability to prosper were the 80% of my time spent earning just 20% of my income.
Is what you are spending a cost or an investment? Are you creating assets or liabilities?
MAKE YOUR EFFORT & REWARD EQUATION WORK FOR YOU!
8. Have an Interactive Shop Window (website)
OK, let’s talk about websites (do I hear a collective groan reverberating?).
Websites are often seen as a big headache for new coaches. From “I need a website”, to “I am just waiting to get my website copy right”, to “My website designer is not answering my calls” and so on. I hear so many reasons why websites are viewed as a problem, rather than a massive asset and direct selling tool.
Here’s the thing … there are so many options to easily self-build perfectly functioning sites, whether you have previous website building experience or you are a complete novice. So why not build your own.
Now some may say, “hang one, you just said outsource. Isn’t this a contradiction?”.
Yes and no. Yes, it will require some of your time to build (remarkably little actually), and No, when you need to change things in the future to incorporate campaigns, special promotions, new products etc., you will be able to do this in minutes or hours, rather than be going back and forward for weeks on end and relying on goodwill or input of others.
Why a website?
A website is a shop window. In the modern era potential customers browse websites rather than shopping malls. A website that ranks highly on internet search engines such as Google, is likely to attract more ‘passing trade’ than one that features low on searches. Learn how to make your website feature high on these searches.
Is the old traditional information website a thing of the past?
The philosophy on websites has changed amongst solo/entre-preneurs recently, with solopreneurs websites being crafted more as sales portals rather than the information portals of a few years ago. Nowadays a website can be built around sales funnels to interact with potential clients and lead them towards automated sales.
A website can also offer ‘members’ content areas that facilitate subscription packages or online courses. This produces the possiblity for passive income streams products – an essential key in successful solopreneurship.
A website that grows your income ‘should’ also be part of a sales funnel strategy.
GET YOUR SHOP WINDOW UP AND MAKE IT GENERATE INCOME!
9. Build Sales Funnels
A funnel has a wide area at the top and a narrow area at the bottom. A sales funnel has many potential customers that enter the funnel at the top and a smaller number of paying customers that come out at the bottom. You will always have more potential customers than actual customers.
Typically a sales funnel takes potential customers through a series of steps, often referred to as gates, and at each gate some potential customers drop out. Don’t worry about these. These are not your target customers. Back to the Pareto principle, the more time you spend on potential customers who are not ‘real’ customers, the more your business will suffer.
Typically a potential customer moves from ‘cold’ (where they are not very interested in buying) through ‘warm’ (where they are becoming mnore interested) to ‘hot’ (where they are ready to buy). Each customer that continues through a gate is closer to becoming an actual customer and is getting ‘warmer’. The idea of a sales funnel is to guide the customer through the gates so they move from ‘cold’ to ‘warm’ to ‘hot’ and then they buy and become an actual customer.
a) You place an ad on Facebook (FB) inviting people (potential customers) to a free webinar on coaching. Potential customers browse FB and see the ad (cold)
b) The potential customer clicks to ‘Learn More’ (warm)
c) The potential customer lands on a page where they then register for the webinar (warmer)
d) You deliver a great webinar and invite potential customers to click on a link to book a free ‘no-obligation discovery call’ with you. They do this (warm-hot)
e) You have the call and listen to what the potential customer wants to achieve. You explain how you can help them, which through your great listening and sales skills, resonates with the potential customer (hot)
f) You give them a great ‘value offer’ and they sign up (Customer)
This is an example of a sales funnel.
Watch out for more on sales funnels in future articles.
CREATE MULTIPLE SALES FUNNELS!
10. Sell One-To-Many, not One-To-One: Learn to speak like a Professional – (and then position yourself as an expert through webinars and seminars!)
It takes time to sell to one potential customer. It is a much better business model to sell One-To-Many. One of the most effectivbe ways to do this is to gather a laerge group of people together and to convince them that what you offer is a solution to thier problem. That way, you are maximising your time and potential customer base.
The most obvious ways to sell One-To-Many is to host a seminar or webinar. Once you have people together in one place, either physically or virtually, you can then use the art of storytelling to give them a transformational experience where they then see your product or service as the solution that they want.
Learn to speak in public learn to tell your story and learn how to give your audience a transformational experience that where they get what you already know – that you have the solution to their problem!
LEARN HOW TO BE BRILLIANT AT PUBLIC SPEAKING!
11. The Golden Chalice! – Passive Income (P.I.) and Products
One of the most desirable goals for most solopreneurs is to create passive income streams, that is to say, a constant source of income that requires little or no effort, once it has been created that is. This is a key financial success-factor and there are a number off ways to achieve this.
CREATE PRODUCTS AND PASSIVE INCOME STREAMS!
More on this to follow …
The above 11-steps are neither a definitive nor exhaustive list. They will, however, help you turn your coaching business from a ‘haphazard’ affair into a consistently successful business.
I will be releasing more articles as part of our ‘The Business of Coaching’ series, with practical tips that can help transform the way you do what you do, so look out for them and information on our super-exciting new project, ‘The Coaches Club’.
Here’s to helping you ‘Build Your Business Success!’
C.E.O. of the Academy of Coaching and Training (A.C.T.)