Pivoting Your Coaching Business During a Pandemic

Coaching business
August 23, 2021
Table of Contents

A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision” – Eric Reis 

This pandemic came like a storm and changed the way so many businesses function – most industries that have been long-thriving were suddenly faced with unexpected challenges. And the coaching business is no different.

But no matter what business or industry one was in, the one thing almost everyone had to (willingly or reluctantly) learn to do was to pivot. To find a way to be relevant in people’s lives when almost everything was in disarray and under the blanket of uncertainty.

As a coach with your own independent coaching business, you may have faced something similar. With companies having to massively scale back & get on damage control mode, the business of coaching has definitely also been affected. So, as a coach, what specific things would you need to do to be able to pivot your story and still be able to serve your audience? We’ve combined the information from the International Coaching Federation and an insightful conversation between Dave Stachowiak & Steve Blank to bring you a structure that you could use as a framework to make the best out of the situation. We’re calling it the ‘Reset & Respond’ Method to help you start a coaching business plan that stands the test of Covid-19.

Phase I – Reset

Before you go on changing the way your coaching business functions in its entirety, the ICF recommends first pausing to reflect think about coaching in this ‘business as un-usual’ time and see what needs resetting. As coaches it is your role to embrace what you do know and attempt to shift the negative mindset by establishing a safe and supportive environment. There’s a collective requirement to rethink, renew, and reconnect. Let’s look closer at each: 

a. Rethink

Ellen Kocher, ACC has an interesting term for the mindful behaviour that almost everyone is displaying since the onset of the pandemic – it’s called the STOP mode – stop, take a breath, observe and proceed. She thinks this is the ideal mindset for approaching the unknown. This can translate in the following ways:

  • Be grateful for things going well right now and focus on the present 
  • Acknowledge the fears, anxiety and worry that you may be experiencing 
  • Ask yourself what precautions you can take to manage the uneasiness and make things feel less overwhelming 
  • Anticipate what aspects of your coaching business may be affected by the Covid ripple effect (ex: cancellations, shutdowns, negativity) 
  • Think about what clients may be experiencing and how to best serve them 
  • Understand what is happening in a particular industry and perhaps rethink your offers 
  • Determine how your niche coaching can add value during as well as after crisis 
  • Take time to seek new opportunities that may not have existed before 
  • Evaluate alternate methods of working: software, hardware, training, and tools 

b. Renew

After rethinking you can be inspired to renew by: 

  • Continuing to be purposeful, realigning your values with your work 
  • Enjoying your free time and balancing your lives 
  • Seizing the opportunity to acquire and train in new software or other resources in order to maintain productivity, renew and grow 
  • Leveraging email, instant messaging and social media platforms toward better and more consistent use 
  • Ensuring adequate separation of work and personal life, carving out a designated workspace if remote work is a new solution 
  • Using the extra time gained from cancellations or shutdowns to renew websites, marketing strategies, newsletters or blog posts 

c. Reconnect

Stay connected with your clients and others, making adjustments as needed by the coaching process and changes in the situation. This unusual situation gives us a wonderful opportunity to:

  • Maintain meaningful connections to keep relationships alive and attitudes positive 
  • Connect with clients by phone or email to communicate clearly about our renewals and agility needed during the unusual situation
  • Invite clients to share thoughts on how they anticipate their current or future needs 
  • Use social media to inform about specific, more positive aspects of the current situation that might help reassure clients 
  • Create private groups to encourage clients to ask questions or share concerns  

Phase II – Respond

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it” – Lou Holtz

After taking time to reset in your business as well as your personal life, the next thing you would need to do as a coach is to set up a system of response that would serve both you and your clients for the duration of as well as beyond the pandemic.

a. Create an MVP/MVS

Based on the situation, it may become hard to convince your existing as well as potential clients to take up your services in its current model. While clients may be facing economic difficulties, the role of a coach at a time like this does indeed become even more vital. So, see if you can condense your offerings to suit the professional + personal requirements and at the same time be cost-effective enough for them to even consider it. So, let’s say if you usually offered your coaching practices in a total of 12 sessions, see if you can offer the major essential aspects in 2 sessions to address the immediate needs of your clients.

b. Use the GROW model for one-off coaching sessions

The GROW model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring your coaching sessions. GROW stands for –

  • Goal 
  • Current Reality 
  • Options (or Obstacles) 
  • Will (or Way Forward) 

A good way of thinking about the GROW Model is to think about how you’d plan a journey. First, you decide where you are going (the goal), then establish where you currently are (your current reality). After that you then explore various routes (the options) to your destination and prepare for the possible obstacles you could face on the way. In the final step, by establishing the will (or way forward), you ensure that you’re committed to making the journey. 

Considering the situation of your client at the present moment you can modify the model to suit them best.

c. Create a Questionnaire

To be able to understand exactly what problems and issues your clients are facing both in business as well as on the personal front it is best to never assume and always hear it from the horse’s mouth. A questionnaire carefully crafted is a great way to acquire those insights – which will thus help you understand how to be able to create a new coaching business plan and give them the solution that they could actually use instead of guessing what they need.

Reach out to previous clients with the intention of wishing to help them or even post it to your website or LinkedIn profile to have your ideal client answer and tell you what they need so that you can create an offer they would be actually interested in at this time.

d. Think What You Can Do Differently

All this time you may have been successful at serving a particular client base and on a particular social medium without the need for changing things around. But you may now notice a lot of things that used to function without hassle pre-pandemic now may not work quite the same way anymore. 

This doesn’t have to be a bad thing and rather can be looked at as an opportunity to try something new. So, if you’ve been serving individuals primarily at leadership roles until now, you can perhaps see if you can provide value to newer coaches. If the majority of your work was getting promoted at LinkedIn all this while, see if perhaps trying a different medium such as Facebook groups or Instagram may yield a positive result.

At a time of such uncertainty, it is important to remember that you’re not in this alone. By drawing strength from each other, recognizing our emotions & limitations, and then accepting the situation for what it is, you can truly find your way through this successfully. 

We don’t know how long this period will last and what the future will bring, but by showing resilience and having patience, you never know what fresh innovations this might bring to the coaching industry and even to all of us as individuals. 

About Simply.Coach

Simply.Coach is an enterprise-grade coaching software designed to be used by individual coaches and coaching businesses. Trusted by ICF-accredited and EMCC-credentialed coaches worldwide, Simply.Coach is on a mission to elevate the experience and process of coaching with technology-led tools and solutions.  

About the author
Content Marketing Manager @Simply.Coach

Ipsita Nayak is a full-time writer-editor-content strategist and a part-time NLP coach & yoga teacher. She believes conventions are overrated, has a disproportionate need for solo time over social time, and loves a good mix of sci-fi and trashy TV in her free time!

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