With an estimated market size of almost $20 billion, coaching continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. With more and more individuals and organizations understanding the true contribution and impact of coaching (boost in self-confidence, revenues, and an elevated workforce morale), the average yearly growth of the coaching industry stands at a healthy 6.7% with thousands of professionals looking at coaching as a lucrative, long term career option. There are approximately 71,000 certified coaches worldwide at this time – and that, we believe, says a lot!
If you have already taken the plunge (or are preparing to take one) and have chosen the very rewarding career of coaching, the next organic step will be to look at scaling your venture. You may have gotten in the profession with the noble thought of helping people maximize their potentials and become successful, but it is also your work and a major (if not primary) source of income for you! Making every effort to expand your client volumes and boost your revenues is absolutely necessary if you want to make your practice a continued success.
So, venturing into developing your own coaching business can be a natural progression to your career. But just the idea of having your own coaching business is not enough. Once the brainstorming process is over, how do you move forward and put those ideas on paper and convert them into a viable coaching business plan? Read on to find out how you can create a simple but effective coaching business plan and the lasting impact that it can have on your career.
Why should you have a coaching business plan?
You have done the groundwork, put in those extra working hours, got a fair bit of experience working as a coach and are now ready to move on to the next level (or you may be just starting out as a coach and feeling ambitious & confident enough to take on the responsibility of running your own coaching business). Naturally then scaling your coaching services is what comes to mind. And for that you need a feasible coaching business plan. But why must you have one? Well, the answer covers multiple reasons – why having a solid, well-thought out, strategically sound plan can give you the best chance at making a success of your coaching business.
A good coaching business plan
- Provides focus and clarity not just to you but also your other stakeholders regarding the business, its scope, start-up expenses, target clientele, expected competition, potential obstacles, possible income generation, and more.
- Gives a fair idea of what to expect in the near future based on multiple outcomes that are discussed.
- Keeps you on track and alert to the realities so that you concentrate on doing the right things and avoid missteps that could prove disastrous in the future.
Things to know before you start putting down a coaching business plan
Now that you understand the importance of having a coaching business plan, there are some other factors to consider before you start charting out one:
- Make sure that your coaching business plan is as close to reality as possible. In their newfound excitement of staring their own business, many coaches often lose track of ground realities and overestimate their would-be success and underestimate their challenges.
- Ensure that your coaching business plan lets you define your coaching niche – coaching is a vast segment that covers life coaching, executive coaching, leadership coaching, health & wellness coaching, personal coaching, to name a few. Based on your aptitude, knowledge, and experience, choose a niche that will give you the best chance for success as a coach.
- Conduct thorough research about the market and emerging opportunities, the industries that have a high demand for coaching and target audience who can actually pay for your services.
- Be honest about your financial reality (start-up costs, compare your assets & liabilities, the potential expenses that will be incurred against the potential income that will flow in, gauge if you can start out with your own seed capital or if you need to find external investors, financial goals to be accomplished in the next year as well as 5 years) and then map out your business strategy.
- Be prepared to be flexible – a business plan that seems brilliant at the scripting stage may not look as promising once all the pieces of the coaching business plan are in place. If that happens, don’t lose heart and go back to the drawing board, tweak and tinker until you come up with a realistic plan that will stand the test of time and will result in a successful and long-lasting business. Being realistic does not mean that you curb your big ambitions – it just means that you go in with your eyes wide open to both opportunity and challenges.
Creating a coaching business plan
Creating a coaching business plan takes a lot of research, understanding of the business world, a clear analysis of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats, and the ability to turn ambitions into reality. It is the foundation on which the tower of your business will stand and flourish.
1. Start your business vision
Write up a mission statement in clear and precise words that provides a detailed understanding of why you are in the business, the type of your business, your business operations and scope, the potential clientele that you wish to engage, the services and products that you will offer and how they will prove to be value additions to those who sign up, and more. This transparency in conveying your intentions can go a long way in establishing your credibility among existing as well as potential clients.
2. Zero in on the most workable coaching model
Getting the coaching model right is important as this is the basis on which you will take all the other business decisions, which will in turn impact your earnings. You need to decide if you want to opt for a one-on-one/personalized coaching (personal can be limiting in terms of reaching just one client against the time and effort expended), group coaching (little less time consuming with expanded client size), corporate coaching (business/executive/leadership coaching – where the organization pays a lumpsum for coaching their group of employees), hybrid coaching (a mix of online & offline) or even partially automated coaching (online questionnaires, exercises, surveys, feedback forms).
3. Concentrate on your unique offerings
As the data has shown, coaching is a lucrative profession, so, naturally the field will be overcrowded with hundreds of coaches offering their services. It may take extra effort and some unique offerings for you to stand out against your closest competitors, build your coaching business and also make a success out of it. Saying you are good coach is not enough, you need to state your specialization for clients to notice you.
Put down what your strengths are (for instance, conflict resolution, mergers & acquisitions, delegation) and what is the expertise you can provide to your clients that will make a discernible difference to their progress (how you have helped top executives complete successful career transitions that made a healthy difference to their work-life balance, for example). You need to understand your own business in depth, only then you can convince the client about your offerings.
4. Organize your daily schedule
Effective time management is one of the pillars of your eventual success. Having an organized schedule will mean that you not only make time for actual coaching but also for the peripherals (social media engagements, communicating with clients, updating your course materials, etc.) that are important for your coaching business. Prioritize your goals and then assign time slots for those activities as per importance. Tasks that need more attention (any client activities take top preference) should have regular markings in your schedule whereas lesser important activities can be scheduled once a week or fortnightly. Using an automated planner is a good choice rather than getting into it manually.
5. Invest in a good coaching management software
Personally, handling clients as well as the demands of running a business is fine when your client size is small. But when you scale up your business and start expanding your clientele, it can get extremely difficult, not to mention exhausting, managing multiple demands manually.
Investing in a comprehensive, fully automated business coaching management software that offers all the features – such as client & business management, sales & marketing, pricing options, coaching tools, etc. – under a single platform will make running your coaching business easy & efficiently and help deliver quantifiable & visible results for your clients and eventually help grow your business.
6. Offer attractive coaching packages with multiple price points & duration
Not all clients are the same – their requirements and readiness to pay are different. In order to reach a wide audience, make sure that you offer attractive coaching packages with benefits, multiple pricing options as well as durations (you can list out the offerings and benefits of every coaching package, whether it’s 1-month, 3-month, 6-month or even yearly). Having a landing page where the client can reach you and take a look at all your various services & pricing choices will help your potential client make an informed choice about your coaching services and ascertain whether they are best suited to their requirements.
7. Stick to a single coaching model that will succeed in the long run
The intent behind starting a business and creating a coaching business plan is that you want to scale up to the next level, with the aim of acquiring more clients and thus, more revenue. For that to happen, you need to zero in on a coaching business model and then stick to it.
A coaching company model lets you be the owner of a business that employs multiple coaches who actually do the coaching alongside you and you get a percentage of the earnings as your profit. The upside is that you don’t need to spend all your time and energy coaching and can focus on business growth, but the downside is that if the client signed up for your name, they may feel short changed that they are not getting coached by you.
A personalized coaching model is the most personal form of coaching where you deliver your coaching services to a single client in a session. The model works better for the coachee than the coach. The coachee gets the best out of the coaching process but the coach is unable to scale up their business as their time and effort are tied to one client. But by automating this coaching model (personalized questionnaires, feedback forms, assessment reports, etc.) the coach can scale this coaching model for repeated use for other clients as well.
A productized coaching model focuses on creating a product that can be sold over and over again. Coaching courses, training modules, and other educational material that cover a host of relevant topics are examples of how coaching can be productized. These can be made available on your own website or published via learning platforms. This is one of the more popular coaching models as the products can be sold at a more affordable rate (as there’s no direct exchange of coach’s time for money) and can bought by as many clients as possible, thus widening your client base and ensuring a stable source of income.
8. Prepare a goal tracker to monitor short-term goals
Set small goals to achieve and create a short-term goal tracking sheet to monitor if those goals are being achieved. When you achieve smaller goals, you are automatically getting a step closer to attaining your final objective. The goal tracker helps you stay on the path, boosts your morale, and prevents feeling frustrated & getting pressurized by the larger goal. After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step forward!
9. Have a solid sales funnel in place
This is a coaching business plan that you are preparing, so naturally the intent is to bring in as many clients as possible and generate higher profits. As with any business, a solid sales & marketing strategy is the key to making it a success.
Having a top-notch sales funnel is important – identifying the target audience, understanding customer requirements, listing all the services & products that you offer the client, presenting a comparative analysis of how your services and products are better than your closest competitors, and actually onboarding clients.
In addition, utilizing other marketing tools such as webinars, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, vlogs, email & affiliate marketing, online forums & networks, etc., provide multiple platforms for your prospective clients to not only to become aware of your services but to also connect with you. How effective the sales funnel will be, depends on how much financial capacity you have for spending on advertising your business.
10. Create a strong brand for your coaching business
A strong brand that is identifiable with quality offering is one of the best long-term assets that any business can have. An easily recognizable brand is your gateway to growing your business. While creating your coaching business brand, keep in mind a few factors such as its objective, the values you hope to convey, the assurances you are giving clients in terms of services, professional ethics and transparent business dealings.
Creating a lasting brand is not only about glossy and colour-coordinated websites and logos, it is about conveying your best qualities that enhance your credibility and brand recall to further your business growth.
Setting up a business, running it smoothy, and making a success out of it is not an easy job, especially in this highly competitive industry. Benjamin Franklin summed it up aptly, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!’. Then why start a coaching business without a coaching business plan? Having a detailed coaching business plan is the foundation on which you can not only build but also scale up your venture. It gives you the required confidence, focus and clarity to shape a business that can provide for you monetarily and also help you leave a lasting impact as a sought-after coach.
What is a coaching business plan?
A coaching business plan is a framework that states your business purpose, objectives and the means to achieve those goals. It should include your unique service offering, target audience, coaching model, pricing strategy, sales & marketing approach, and proposals for business growth and expansion. It is important to have a solid coaching business plan in place before starting your business as it helps you understand the true current situation, make plans to move forward based on that reality, stay organized, avoid missteps and concentrate on the eventual business goals.
Do you need certification to write a coaching business plan?
It is not necessary to have certification to write a coaching business plan. If you have the necessary business background and experience, you can write one yourself or hire the services of an expert business coach to create one for you.
Also, many coaching institutes offer programs and training on how to prepare a coaching business plan. You can choose to enrol in such a program and get certified on proper guidelines as well as learn the importance of having a sound coaching business plan.