Running a coaching business can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be incredibly overwhelming.
With so many different opinions out there on how to get started and where to focus your energy, it can be easy to fall into the trap of analysis paralysis.
Should you have a logo? Do you need to find your niche or ideal client? Do you need to have a certification? How much do you charge?
I've wasted a lot of time on things I thought were helping my business but weren't. These mistakes have cost me money, energy, and impact.
The good news is, you don't have to make the same mistakes that I did.
Here's what I wish I'd known when I was just getting started as a coach.
1. Don't force yourself to get A certification
Most new coaches assume you need to complete a coaching certification program in order to build a successful coaching business. They figure it's the starting point to becoming a powerful coach.
What a shame.
More often than not, the time and money that coaches spend on certification programs is counterproductive.
Here's the truth: if you want to build a profitable coaching business that really helps people, you don't need to go to coaching school.
Now, before I go any further, let me clarify something. I don't believe that all coach training programs are a waste of time or money. What I DO believe is that most people would be better off spending those resources elsewhere.
You absolutely need to learn the fundamentals of coaching and business. But you don't need to drop $15,000 and one year of your life on a coaching certification program.
2. Get Help from Someone Who Can Shorten Your Learning curve
If you don’t have a coach, you’re putting a serious cap on your own potential.
How do I know?
First, because I’ve seen the impact of coaching on my own life. I’ve invested more money in coaching than in any other area of my business. And it always comes back ten-fold (like when I hired my first coach, left my job, and doubled my income in the first month).
Second, because I’ve seen the impact of coaching on my clients. I’ve helped people find work they are passionate about, start businesses from scratch, and increase their income by working less.
And if you are a coach yourself, it is absolutely essential that you hire the best coach you can. Why? Because a coach who hasn't been coached is a walking contradiction, asking people to believe in a process that they themselves have not invested heavily in.
Further reading: Why You Should Hire A Business Coach (And How To Find A Good One)
3. Don't Obsess Over Your Niche in the beginning
When I got started with my blog and coaching practice, everyone told me I needed to pick a niche.
A niche is basically a specific problem that you help solve for a specific group of people.
The logic is that if you narrow your scope to only a very small demographic (like 40 year old white women from Atlanta with two cats and a boat), you'll be able to make your marketing more targeted.
So for six months, I obsessed over my niche. I tried to figure out who my ideal client was. And it freaked me out, because I didn’t want to choose wrong.
That fear was valid. I was just getting started so I knew absolutely nothing about my ideal client. Choosing a niche at that point would have been like trying to play pin the tail on the donkey.
Ironically, trying to pick the right niche was distracting me from doing the exact things that would have helped me get more clarity: namely, writing and coaching. I didn’t have enough data coming in, so I constantly felt stuck.
Here’s the truth: most successful business people and bloggers never picked their niche upfront (even if they say they did). That's because niches are uncovered over time.
Further reading: Why You Don’t Need A Niche (And 11 Simple Alternatives)
4. Those "Things" You're Doing Are Not Productive
When I decided to start my business, I spent the first three weeks trying to find the perfect URL. Three weeks.
I lost countless nights of sleep thinking about my niche, only to decide that my target market was millennials (it wasn't).
Then I almost paid a designer $862 for a logo. For a business that didn't even exist. It’s really embarrassing for me to admit that.
I was “playing” business instead of “doing” business. I was creatively avoiding out of fear. I was worrying about the facade instead of the foundation.
Let me be clear: None of the surface stuff really matters. And it’s all going to change.
Focus on getting paid clients and everything else will fall into place.
Further reading: Creative Avoidance (And 3 Creative Ways To Avoid It)
5. Know Where to Find Your Ideal Clients
There’s nothing more frustrating than having a gift to give and not enough people to give it to.
The truth is, just being a great coach isn’t enough anymore. You can't just get a few clients and then focus solely on coaching them. If you want to be able to support yourself financially, you’ll need to have a steady stream of clients coming in to replace the ones that leave.
What if I told you that you could get 3-5 conversations scheduled this week with people willing and able to invest in your coaching?
It's totally possible, but only if you follow the right steps.
There are four steps that allowed me to connect with potential clients and break six figures in my business.
The most important step by far is figuring out where your ideal clients are and going there.
Further reading: 21 Ways to Find Potential Clients
6. Don't Become the Coach with No Life
This is a common trap for full-time coaches to fall into. They make the leap because they want the freedom of running their own business...and instead, their business ends up running them.
Some coaches don’t realize this until it’s too late. They wake up one day tired, unfulfilled, and trapped in a constant state of anxiety. And they don't have the energy left to do anything about it.
I don't want this to happen to you.
As a coach, you're supposed to be helping people live a good life. And it's hard to do that if you don't have much of a life yourself.
Build your business around the life that you want from the very beginning.
Further reading: Don't Be The Life Coach With No Life
7. Use a Framework for Your Sessions, Especially in the Beginning
Most coaches just kind of show up and try to "work their magic" without a framework. And sometimes that works really well. But other times the conversation gets a bit out of focus or the person leaves without knowing what to do next.
What do I mean by a framework?
Well, there are really five steps that allow you to run powerful coaching sessions consistently. If you're missing one of these steps, you're probably not serving your clients as much as you could be.
I've created a one-page PDF that walks you through each step of the template so that you can reference it during your coaching conversations. Up until now, I've only shared this with my paid clients. But I've decided to give it to you for free so that you can better serve your clients and generate more word of mouth.
Further reading: The 5-Step Coaching Session Template