I’ve had the pleasure of working with coaches living in 16 different countries. It’s been a delightful and culturally expanding experience with each one.
Have you ever thought about serving international clients in your coaching business?
Most often, new coaches are not thinking about that possibility because, at the moment, they just want to attract any client they can get!
But once they land on their ideal target audience and niche, they start blue sky dreaming in ways not previously imagined. The idea of an international clientele becomes more appealing. And, there’s one big reason why that’s a strategic choice, which I’ll explain.
There are other reasons for opening your business to cross border clients and a few challenges as well. Only one is a deal breaker in my mind. The rest can be managed in partnership with your client.
Let’s explore whether having an international business is right for you.
Narrow Your Coaching Audience and Expand Beyond Boundaries
So, what the most strategic reason to develop an international business? It’s all about extending your reach to your narrow audience.
At first, when you think of niching, the idea seems counter intuitive. Why would you want to narrow the type of people you serve and exclude so many? The answer is well proven now …
If you try to market to everyone you may attract no one.
We live in a world where affinity attracts. People like to belong and feel a sense of understanding with others like them. When your messaging is vague and broad it gets less attention. People will skip right over it.
Narrowing your focus to a specific audience gives you an immediate advantage as a coach. You stand out in the crowd, not only with the hundreds of thousands of coaches already out there before you, but also other types of service providers.
It’s the old metaphor — it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a little fish in the vast ocean.
And if you also focus in with your niche addressing your audience’s big problems and desires, then design a Signature Program around that, you’ll have more credibility and visibility. You can also charge more.
You’ve heard me say all this before but let’s get to the downside of niching.
If you target a narrow audience, will you have access to enough potential clients over time? I rarely worry about that for the coaches I work with because, after all, how many clients can you effectively serve in a lifetime? But there’s an easy solution.
Instead of broadening the audience why not deepen that pond? Opening your business to cross border clients who fit your audience and niche increases your pool of potential clients.
So, that’s the #1 advantage to being an international coach — you have greater reach, which helps you earn more.
Language Might Be the Only Barrier
It’s no surprise that it’s easy to have an international business. Even in 2006, when I launched Prosperous Coach with an online membership program called The Coach’s Power Path, I attracted members from Canada, UK and even China. But then, my international clients were less than 5% of my clientele.
Now, 45% of my clients are across borders. I owe that shift to reaching listeners for Prosperous Coach Podcast in 128 countries. Content strategies like podcasts cast a wider net and build avid followers fast.
Because my podcast is in English, I’m naturally attracting English speakers no matter where they live. And, because I have a Discovery Call before enrolling clients into my 5-month VIP Coaching Business Breakthrough program I can make sure we’re a good fit, including our ability to communicate well with each other.
Dealing with Time Differences
In countries across the time line from where you are, someone will make a sacrifice of sleep.
I’ve had clients in Australia, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore and China and I’ve been amazed how willing they were to work with me even in the middle of their night or the wee hours of the morning.
But, build a business that’s sustainable for YOU. Only offer to work at times that are right for you and allow your clients to decide if that works for them.
You can certainly use Zoom for your international calls, but it is a significant annual expense you may not really need. I’ve set up a WhatsApp link I give to my clients for easy, high quality, free calling. And, I repeatedly hear from clients that they are relieved not to have to be on camera for sessions. Since the pandemic many people are weary of Zoom calls.
Learn from Your Coaching Clients
For most audiences and niches, there won’t be anything special you need to know to work with a client in another country.
When I enroll an international client, I research the country and region where they live to give me a sense of their environment.
As a business coach, I can’t possibly know the subtleties of business in other countries. If it seems necessary, I have a conversation with my client to let them know that I rely on their insider knowledge to guide us around any important regulatory or financial issues for their business.
So, what do you think? Would you like to work with international clients? What can you do to encourage that?
As I always say, connect with your ideal clients by posting content online that speaks to their most compelling problems that are in the way of something big they urgently want.
And, if you are working with someone from another country, remember that means they will come from a different lived experience than you. Be sensitive to that, use your curiosity to bridge the gap, and stay open to learning from your client whatever you need to know to serve them well.