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This episode is part of my Start Smart Series. A listener asked me to talk about the simplest and least expensive way to get a coaching business off the ground. Great question!
I love it when listeners tell me what they want to hear on the show. If you have a specific request, go to my contact page on —ProsperousCoachBlog.com — and get in touch.
High Profit, Low Tech and High Touch
The answer to the easiest coaching business model is ultra simple! It’s 1:1.
If you’re charging enough and enroll your clients into a longer term package, you won’t need many clients each year to make a good income. I only work with 20 – 30 clients each year.
Your marketing could be minimal if you have ready access to your chosen target audience. And because expenses are incredibly low for this business model, 1:1 is the most profitable option.
Think about it … You don’t have to have a website (although you may want to.) You won’t need a team or even a Virtual Assistant to help you with all the tasks because admin is minimal. You don’t need big coordinated marketing campaigns, a strong presence on social media or a bunch of apps with monthly fees.
Literally all you need is a phone and a private place in your home to take client calls. And maybe an inexpensive business card for networking.
You know what I’m describing, don’t you?
It’s the way every service entrepreneur did business before the internet. Don’t roll your eyes. It’s still the way a lot of service entrepreneurs operate.
Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t easier than all the online stuff everyone, including me, does now. But an online business model does allow you to have an international audience, and I love that.
For that analog way of business, you have to be an active networker, go where your clients are, be a good conversationalist and a non-salesy enroller.
When I started, I only offered private coaching. I found all of my clients through networking and speaking.
It was only in my second year that I added in face to face group coaching. Then started doing VIP days – that’s 3 to 8 hours of working with one person in one day.
It was only in year 6 that I shifted to online. I created a Membership Program. Honestly, a huge amount of work for poor returns. Then, I added a high ticket online Mastermind with two yearly retreats. And I sold two self-study online training programs. For one of them, I took a group of 20 – 50 through it quarterly as well with a closed Facebook group.
It was fun doing all of that stuff and I made good money. But it was soooo much work keeping it all rolling. And so much of my income was going to expenses!
That’s often overlooked when coaches choose a business model. The more complicated or technical you go, the harder you work, and sometimes the less money you keep.
There really is no passive revenue except royalties. I was lucky to have the opportunity to co-write Coach Training curriculum for a royalty and that curriculum is still being used.
Market Less, Serve Clients Longer
But you know what I like the most? Getting to know my clients well and doing deeper work. The 30 hour work week with a 4 day weekend isn’t bad either! That’s my lifestyle choice.
So in my 20th year in business, I’m back to working privately with client in a 5 month comprehensive coaching business building program. I also offer a 90-minute strategy session.
So how do you find and enroll 1:1 clients? That’s a question for another episode. But I remember hearing what I thought was an urban legend, when I was in coach training …
Sandy Vilas, the then CEO of Coach Inc, supposedly worked with 80 clients each week, all of whom he enrolled simply by calling colleagues and inviting them to become his client. (To me 80 clients each week is 8x too many.)
That takes confidence plus a large and eager network. And my guess is that Sandy was an extrovert. LOL!
Every Coach Gets to Build Their Own Marketplace
The reality in today’s distracted world is that all coaches will need to find and develop their own tribe or target market. That’s why the wisdom is to fish in the smallest, most specialized pond, that you can.
The more you narrow your audience and then offer specific solutions to that group’s biggest problems, the faster you’ll build a network of fans who don’t really need to be sold on working with you. That’s the best!
And there’s a lot of joy in building a community.
What It Takes to Succeed with Online Programs
When people hire me to help them choose their coaching niche and build a business foundation I always ask them what they want to offer. Many say they want to quickly move into online programs.
I understand the attraction. You help more people transform in less time, which is especially great if you don’t have much time to give to your business right now.
But to succeed with online programs you need several things set up first, which takes time.
You need a fairly robust list — 5,000 people minimum in your target audience and probably more like 10,000 people who already know, like and trust you.
Develop joint venture marketing relationships with other people targeting your audience but who have a significantly different offer. That will help push your enrollment numbers up. (Another reason to narrow your audience and niche.)
If you’ve been listening to my previous episodes, you might have caught the idea that there are developmental stages in a business.
Start Up is the time to walk not run. That’s why 1:1 is the best way to start out as a coach.
Nothing will teach you faster about yourself and your audience than working with clients privately. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll figure out your secret sauce — a talent you have that’s unique and leverageable.
And, once you’ve worked with a few dozen clients privately who are all in the same unique target audience, it’s easy to create online programs that more of them will buy.
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The next episode is: 4 Mistakes I Made in Coaching Business Startup (and I lived to tell the tale!)