Maybe you've just qualified as a coach and are starting on the journey of building your own coaching practice. Or, maybe you're considering coaching as your next career, and are curious about how you would go about setting up a coaching practice that works for you.
We'd like to offer you ten tips for setting up a thriving coaching practice.
1. Design your coaching practice so that it works for you, and your clients
When designing your coaching practice, it's important for you to appreciate and calculate how many clients your practice can accommodate at any point in time. You want to ensure that your practice supports your own wellbeing, and gives you sufficient time to reflect on your coaching impact, reinvigorate and re-energise, never mind have time for marketing, ongoing learning and balancing your other responsibilities. It's essential to remember that you are not going to deliver impactful coaching if you are burned out and overwhelmed.
2. Choose your coaching niche
Many coaches are reticent to niche their services, because of the concern that they will miss out on too many clients if their focus is too narrow. The opposite is actually true – if you do not niche, you will be perceived as a generalist. We all want specialist attention when we're in flux or seeking out a new solution.
The classic niche's include executive coaching, business coaching, life coaching, career coaching, health coaching, etc, but even within these there are niches. Within health coaching, for example, there will be mindset coaching, weight loss coaching, nutrition, vegan diets, and even niches such as overcoming illness and restoring wellbeing. The tighter your niche, the more specific positioning you'll likely achieve and the more visible you can become to your ideal client.
3. Identify your ideal client- and don't be tempted to digress
Who is your ideal client? Do you know their gender, their career, their circumstances and the biggest pain point that you help your clients solve? Because clarity is so essential, we've developed a Persona Worksheet which you can download and complete. This will help you to intimately understand who your ideal client is, the language they use to describe their problems, and the solution you offer to solve them.
The horror stories that some coaches tell often speaks to a time when they took on clients that they knew weren't a good match, but did so because they needed money. Working with clients that are not a good fit for you has far reaching effects which range from you losing confidence as a coach to reputational damage.
Of course, experience is also the best teacher and you may want to balance this with giving yourself the benefit of experience with different clients until you are more clear about who you most want to work with,
4. Price your coaching services
Whilst many coaching interventions are on a per-hour basis, this isn't necessarily a real indication of the value and the results that clients can achieve through coaching delivery. There is a move away from hour-based coaching pricing towards pricing coaching packages. Rather than selling one off coaching sessions by the hour, coaches offer potential clients a longer-term package. This approach has multiple benefits for both coach and client.
In terms of the client benefit, packages signal to the client that coaching is a process that unfolds towards success. Also, it enables the client to appreciate that the value of your time is not your hourly rate – your value is everything that you bring into that hour to assist the client to move towards their desired state.
From a coach perspective, packages assist by providing the opportunity to build longer-term relationships with clients and enable stronger results to be achieved. The security of having longer-term coaching engagements also means that coaches need to focus less on revenue and can be present doing what they do best[AR3] . That being said, you may wish to provide different offering tiers, which range from your signature offering of the highest touch, highest frequency offering, through to a bi-monthly package or even a group coaching programme, which enables clients to experience your coaching for a lower investment.
5. Set up your practice for success
If you're setting up a practice from the beginning, the basic requirements include a laptop with Internet Access, and a fast Internet connection (10 mbps at minimum) to enable you to use online technologies such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex etc without challenge.
If you intend to coach face to face, then you will also need a place where you can meet clients for this purpose. This may includes a home office or an external location (even serviced offices that you rent). Do spend some time reflecting on what kind of space is best suited to supporting spacious thinking, insights, clarity, commitment etc.
6. Set up an online presence so that you can be found
Today, having an online presence is essential. Even if you are an expert in-person networker, people will often research you online before contacting you for the next steps. Ideally you will have a website, a LinkedIn profile optimised for your coaching niche, and perhaps a Facebook or Instagram presence (depending on who your target audience is). You need to be active on these platforms sharing content, commenting in groups and forums and positioning yourself as the expert in your niche.
7. Automate basic processes
Experienced coaches will share that there is a lot of administration that is required to market to, qualify and onboard a new client. As a result, a coaching practice must be set up to be as automated and leveraged as possible.
In terms of automation, ideally you could connect your calendar with an automated booking system. Once you've qualified someone as your ideal client, you can send them a link to book a chemistry session directly into your calendar. Once a client chooses to work with you, you can automate the process of payment, sending and signing your coaching agreement. These simple automations can deliver hours of time in return.
8. Get results; get referrals
Your coaching must help your clients to achieve the results they seek, in an accelerated manner. The more your coaching can accelerate results, the more prized your coaching services will become, the more referrals you will receive, and in time, the higher you can price your services. You certainly want to collect referrals from your delighted clients and publish these online as social proof.
9. Be congruent – do what you coach
Intuition is an amazing thing – for us as coaches, but also within our clients. Our clients somehow sense if we are not congruent with the things we are coaching. If we're recommending to our clients that they need to take better care of themselves, our clients can sense if we ourselves are not practising self-care. Coaching is not only a profession – it is lifestyle. In every sense, you become a coach. We must ensure that our lifestyle practices are congruent with our client practices.
10. Keep learning
Coaching today offers a tremendous body of knowledge to anyone seeking to learn. Life is equally a great teacher. And fantastically, we have the benefit of learning from our clients whilst we are in the practice of coaching. In order to be a great coach, we must constantly expand our knowledge, seeking out ways to improve ourselves so that we can improve our impact and results with our clients.
These 10 tips may seem like a lot! It's important to remember that setting up a coaching practice isn't necessarily an event – it is more likely a journey. And as we know as coaches, getting into action is often what is required.
So, if you haven't as yet begun with the exciting process of setting up your practice, start with #1 by designing your practice, and then choose and refine your coaching niche. Once complete, you can use our handy Persona Worksheet to define your ideal client. And, by the time you'll be well on your way to know what to offer and putting yourself out into the market to attract your ideal clients to you.
As a GIBS Alumni, if you're stuck with any of these 10 tips, reach out to us in our Facebook Group and we'll support you.