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Start a Successful Online Coaching Business
The Definitive Guide [2021-22]
This is the ultimate guide to starting an online coaching business from anywhere that covers everything you need to do it successfully and make it thrive.
So if you want to:
- Get a steady stream coaching clients online
- Have clients pay you well for your coaching services
- Be your own boss while having a positive and far-reaching impact on the world
- And do all of this while having the freedom to do it from anywhere in the world
- Do what you love doing profitably and sustainably
Then you’ll love this new guide.
Let’s get started.
Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?
Build Fundamentals to Get Started
In this Golden Age of digital marketing, launching an online coaching business looks very simple and easy but the process to make it successful can be challenging and daunting.
Throughout this, I’m going to take you on a journey of what it means to be not just a coach, but also an entrepreneur.
We start coaching because we are passionate. But the reason coaches last is they treat it as a business.
I’m going to show you the business principles along with the stories of people who made it and the horror stories of the ones who didn’t so you can have a well rounded perspective of what it takes to build a successful online coaching business in 2021.
So let’s start with the fundamentals.
What is an online coaching business?
An online coaching business is a coaching business conducted entirely over the internet. There is a minimal in-person aspect to it.
This means getting coaching clients who buy online as well as are delivered their coaching via the internet.
The Rise of Online Coaching
Gone are the days, when coaching was only about doing one on one sessions. You cannot perform in-person coaching with so many people at the same time.
In-person coaching has been steadily losing popularity because of the time and effort required for in-person coaching sessions. This has been compounded by the perceived risks due to the pandemic.
This has propelled online coaching to gain a lot of popularity and becoming the new normal.
As per ICF’s Global Coaching Study 2020, usage of audio-video platforms by coaches to coach their clients has gone up by 74% whereas in-person coaching reduced drastically by 80%.
The data shows that to reach more people, you as a coach needs to go digital.
Now of course, this trend has been magnified because of a lack of options due to strict lockdowns across the world. But it’s highly unlikely that it will go back to the way it was before.
The pandemic has fundamentally shifted the mindset of people across the world.
Mynoo is a business coach. She used to constantly fly around the world for in-person coaching with her clients. She used to travel alone leaving their family behind, spending the time and facing the exhaustion that comes with flying, switching time zones, living in hotels, commuting to the location where she would do her coaching and other logistics involved with in-person coaching.
She was constantly exhausted, had no time for herself, and couldn’t prioritise her health and well-being. Her health was suffering.
And then the shift happened.
She now coaches via the internet from her home around her loved ones or from wherever else she wants. She is earning the same amount from her coaching while saving her the time, efforts and money related to travelling and logistics of in-person sessions.
That’s a game changer!
I’ve encountered so many business owners and coaches, who were forced to transition their business online. They did not think it would be possible. But once they did, and saw that it is, they’re sold!
You now can spend all the time, money and efforts spent on previously unavoidable things; on things that are actually important and valuable for you personally and your coaching business.
In an online coaching business, you can connect with clients across the globe through video and audio conferencing and other digital tools.
It is a great opportunity to coach people from different parts of the world.
By going online, your coaching business has huge growth potential, arguably beyond levels possible by staying offline.
What an online coaching business is not?
It is easy to start an online coaching business, but a lot of coaches still struggle in achieving success.
This is because they do not know what an online coaching business is not.
Running an online coaching business doesn’t mean having a complex website. It is important to have an effective website rather than a complex website. An effective website with few pages can be a great fit for you to go digital.
Anila Bashllari had a complex website that did not work and she struggled to get clients online. She then changed her website to a simple but effective one.
She is now one of the biggest coaches in eastern Europe. Anila is a perfect example of how a simple and effective website has helped her go digital and be successful in her coaching business.
Having an online coaching business does not mean it is simple and requires less work. It is not about sitting at home and giving webinars.
It is more than that and requires you to build virtual relationships with your clients.
As a coach, you must understand your clients’ requirements and add value through your coaching and using tools and techniques that will support your clients to grow professionally and personally.
Benefits of an online coaching business
An online coaching business has multiple benefits over a traditional offline coaching business. Here are some of them.
According to the data, 59% of the world’s population is online. That’s 4.54 billion people!
This is an enormous number. Going online opens up a large target market opportunity for your online coaching business rather than being restricted by being offline and geographically limited.
A perfect example of this is Ann Moir-Bussy who coaches women over 50.
She was struggling to find clients offline, but going online opened her up to clients from across the globe.
And when the pandemic happened, she was perfectly poised to take advantage of it and speed up the growth of her business.
An online coaching business has a greater reach allowing you to service clients from across the globe. You can expand your business to different continents and time zones.
With an online coaching business, you can take sessions at your own time and convenience. The challenges of taking face to face sessions are also solved. These challenges can be requirements of a feasible location to conduct the coaching session, travelling to the coaching place and insecurity of meeting people in person during a pandemic.
As a coach, you can take sessions from any part of the world with less overhead costs. The best part is you can leverage the internet to make the whole world your audience.
Brian Peters coaches business owners around the world while living on a beautiful island in the Philippines! Now that’s something worth emulating.
Low Infrastructure Requirements
One of the important perks of an online coaching business is that you can start your business right away.
The capital cost is low in case of an online coaching business as you don’t need expensive and elaborate infrastructure to start. All you really need is a laptop and a good internet connection.
I am a testament to this being possible. This business started while I was stranded in Bali with nothing but an old laptop, a microphone and less than $400 to my name.
You can create a significant impact by starting an online coaching business. So go ahead and take that leap of faith.
Niche Yourself to Stand Out
Simply reaching out and getting in front of your target audience is not enough.
You need to be able to get them to resonate with your message so that you can convert them into clients.
And that’s where niching effectively counts and will make or break your coaching business.
Why Niching is Critical
One of the most common biggest mistakes I’ve seen coaches who struggle to get their coaching business off the ground is that they do not niche themselves.
Many coaches have a vague or abstract idea of a niche. They try to target a huge demographic in the quest of getting more clients.
Many coaches believe that their coaching can help everybody and they do not need to limit themselves to a part of everyone they can coach.
And that might be true. But there’s something very important you need to know.
Not niching dilutes your message
There is a lot of noise out there. You need to niche yourself to be able to strongly relate to your audience.
Niching will also result in you having less direct competition.
Here’s an example to drive home the answer to the question “why”.
Let’s say you have a strong fear of flying and you decide to get a coach to overcome this fear.
You find 2 options,
A) A mindset coach who coaches their clients on mindset
B) A phobia coach who helps people get over their irrational fears
Which of the 2 coaches above are you more likely to choose?
I’m betting it’s the phobia coach.
Here’s another example
You want to overcome a habit of smoking. You’ve been trying to do it for years and you have to choose between these 2 coaches:
- An NLP coach
- An NLP coach who specializes in helping people quit smoking
Again, I’m sure it’s the coach who specializes in solving your problem.
The same is the case with anyone looking for your services.
Niching effectively is the best way to stand out, relate powerfully, and get chosen by clients
How to identify a powerful niche?
A powerful niche includes two things:
Who – This is your target demographic or your market. It’s of utmost importance to figure out who you want to target. You have to understand the market and find your target group.
What – This is the solution you offer. Once you finalize your target group, you need to find out what you can do for them. What service or product will you offer to your target group.
Let’s take an example.
Suppose that you are a career coach. As a coach, you plan to target students in the age group of 20-25.
As a career coach, you need to find out what these students want.
Few of them may want to find internships, others may want to get full-time jobs.
Now, you decide to offer your coaching services to those who want to get full-time jobs.
WHO = Students between the age of 20-25
WHAT = Get full-time jobs
Now combine the WHO and the WHAT components and your coaching niche is ready!
Your Coaching Niche = Who + What i.e. Coaching for students between the age of 20-25 who want to get full-time jobs.
The graphic below is another example.
But, now you might be wondering how to decide the WHO and the WHAT components?
And that’s where the next step will help you.
Finding your niche
Coaching is about understanding the client’s problem and finding the right solutions to achieve their goals.
But before that, it’s about niching. Niching is about choosing the right target audience and the right problem to solve for them.
And that’s where ‘The Niche Diamond’ will help you to define your niche.
The Niche Diamond asks the 4 critical questions required to define a powerful niche.
Are you passionate about your niche?
The first thing you should ask yourself is – are you passionate about serving your clients?
In coaching, as with any other business, you will have your share of ups and downs. Your passion will be the building blocks to success as it will not let you give up, persevere and keep you motivated in hard times.
You need to be passionate about who you are serving, or else you will not know your clients well enough. When you are passionate about something, you go deep into it.
Only when you go deep into something, will you be able to get to the root of the problems and find solutions to them on a fundamental level.
Passion creates deep empathy for the clients and helps you know important things about them. Your passion will drive you to know about your clients’ needs, dreams, fears which are causing hindrance in achieving their goals. This will help you find out better coaching solutions for your clients.
Is your niche abundant and easy to reach?
As a coach, it is crucial to find a niche that can give you abundant clients and those clients congregate in a place which you are able to get access to easily.
This is where going online really shines through.
As I mentioned earlier, a large percentage of people are online. Different platforms boast of millions and even billions of users.
They form communities and follow people who align with their interests, desires, goals and pains.
That’s perfect for you to tap into as a coach and I’ll cover the most effective ways to do that in a bit.
At the same time, you must be careful about choosing a niche that has very few people or is not easily accessible.
You cannot get in front of 100% of the people in your niche. And even the ones you get in front of, not all of them will be apt for you to get as clients. This means, your already small numbers are further diminished.
That will become a big obstacle for you to sustainably continue running your coaching business.
It was the same for Kaley. She initially picked the niche of helping people overcome grief due to the passing away of their partner.
It was a decent niche but the problem was that she needed to get in front of people who had just lost their loved ones at the right time and that was really hard to achieve.
So, these people were not in a place where they would be easy to reach.