What You Need to Start Your Coaching Business

Feb 16, 2022

There are a lot of people out there with opinions about what you need to do to get clients, and it can get overwhelming quickly. The truth is that there are only three things you need to start your coaching program: clarity on your ideal client, offer, and an avenue  to connect with those ideal clients.

In this episode I talk about what you don't need to start a coaching business—a website, business cards, yard signs—and what you do need to start a coaching business.

In today's episode, we are going to be talking about what exactly it is that you need to start your coaching business. It may seem like a really simple topic, but it's actually a really important one, and it's one that I want to talk about with a little bit of depth today, because there's a lot of misinformation floating around. There are a lot of people saying, “This is what you need to start your coaching business, also this, and this,” and everyone is saying these different things, and honestly, what it boils down to, more than anything, is that the people who specialize in email marketing, are saying, “Okay, you need this lead magnet and this email sequence, and that's going to get you started. That's what you need.” Graphic designers are saying, “You need a logo or this comprehensive branding package.” Website designers are saying, “You need a website, and so on and so on.” 

Everyone is saying, “Here's what you need to have to start your business,” but they're basing that off of their own area of expertise, which is probably not client attraction. It's whatever it is they're really focused on. Now, let me be clear, these people are not trying to scam you or convince you that you need something that they know you don't need. They're just speaking from this specific frame of reference that is not centered around client attraction. What happens is that you end up pouring time, money, and energy into these things that you think are going to help you get new clients but actually aren't going to help you get new clients. 

Before diving into the three things that you actually need to start your coaching business, let's talk about the things that you don't need. You don't need a complicated funnel, you don't need Facebook ads, you don't even need a website, and unless you are going to a lot of in-person networking events, you don't even need business cards. I'll admit, yeah, I have a stack of business cards sitting in my closet, and I don't remember the last time that I gave one of them out. When I ordered them, I knew that would be the case, but honestly, I kind of ordered them more for myself, rather than to give out at networking events, because my graphic designer came up with this beautiful business card design, and I just wanted to have them because they looked really cool. 

But to back up a second, yeah, you heard me right when I said that you don't even need a website to really start your coaching business. Sure, creating a website is something that should be in your plans within the first several months of starting your business, but what I see a lot of times is coaches who are really fixated on getting their website up and running and perfected and beautiful, and they're letting that get in the way of actually bringing on new clients. There's this committee mindset that “If I'm going to take on clients, I need to have my website up and running first. If I'm even going to talk to prospective clients, I need to have a website first. Otherwise, they're not going to view me as legitimate,” and I am here to tell you that that is entirely not true. 

I know hundreds of coaches, some of them even my own clients, who are making $10,000 to $15,000 a month off of their coaching business, and they don't even have a website. If they do have a website, it is a fairly simple website, and they don't actually depend on it to attract clients in the first place. To give you an example from my own journey, several years ago, I transitioned my business from a digital marketing done-for-you, agency-style business to coaching. And in that transition, I was kind of trying the coaching thing out at first, just trying to get a feel for it and not really committed to transitioning my whole brand over to that coaching piece. What I did was take the agency website down entirely. It was ashevillemarketer.com, and I just took it down. I took off links to it that were on my social profile and everything. 

That website kind of disappeared overnight, but I was okay with it because I knew that I didn't want to take on any more done-for-you digital marketing service clients. I knew that I wanted to switch to coaching, so I figured that “Okay, I'm going to try it out, and if I get traction, if things start to work, well, then I worry about a website.” I focused entirely on getting clients through Facebook and through LinkedIn. I didn't have a website that I could link people to or drive traffic to; I was really focused on just driving traffic to my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Well, I ended up making over $20,000 from this new coaching “experiment” before I even realized that, “Oh, wait, I don't have a website,” and that's when I went back and created one, but I clearly didn't need a website to make those sales because I didn't have one. At that point, like I said, I was just depending on Facebook and LinkedIn to get started. 

Now that you know what you don't necessarily need in order to start your coaching business, well, what are the three things that you do need? They're actually really, really simple. The first thing you need to have is a clearer understanding of who you are serving, that's your ideal client. The second is to have a clear understanding of how you are serving your ideal client, so that is your offer. The third piece that you need is an avenue to connect with those ideal clients, so that you can start having conversations with them about your offer. Now, I've talked a lot about your offer and ideal client on this show, so I want to take a second to talk specifically about what that avenue is, because that avenue is really the piece that connects you and your coaching to the people that you want to serve. 

For example, if you consider a website, well, a website isn't really that avenue, because just creating a website doesn't actually bridge that gap, it doesn't actually mean that the right people are going to see it or visit that website. On the other hand, an effective avenue could be using Facebook to get in front of and start connecting with your ideal clients. Maybe you take a look at some Facebook groups that your ideal clients are in and start conversations with them there. That is a very clear and effective avenue, because it connects you directly with the people that you're trying to serve. You're not necessarily relying on putting something out into the world and hoping that people are going to see or come visit.

Whenever someone is telling you that you need something in particular in order to start your coaching business or in order to get new clients, the question you should ask yourself at that point is is this an avenue? Is this something that is going to bridge that gap from me to my ideal client rather than something that I'm just going to create, but that isn't necessarily going to connect me with those people that I'm trying to serve? That's a really, really important distinction. You can build a website, you can print business cards, you can even create a lead magnet, but if it's not actually getting in front of your ideal clients, and if it's not starting conversations, then at the end of the day, it's not an avenue. It's just something you've done for your marketing that may or may not actually result in clients. 

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