Advice for Newcomers To Coaching
Take your time
Don't rush into anything, especially if it's going to cost you money. And don't make the mistake of thinking the first things you need are letterhead, business cards and some jazzy brochures. There are much more important things to do first.
Here's a simple, step-by-step guide from Carmine Coyote to setting up your coaching business.
1. DISCOVER YOURSELF
Coaching is an extension of who you are. What you'll mostly be offering to clients is you: your energy, your insights and your listening abilities. Find out what approaches (and what kind of clients) will likely best match your values and interests.
The simplest way to get a truly detailed picture of who you are and
what may suit you best is to take Ipsative Coaching for yourself, before you commit to this as a career. That way, you'll also get a hands-on view of what it's about and be able to decide whether you'd like it. "Try before you buy" is an excellent maxim.
2. DEVELOP YOUR BRAND
Be clear who you are and what the style of your business will be before you spend a dime on brochures, business cards or anything else.
A brand is a consistent way of presenting yourself to your
marketplace, so they can recognize and remember you and not get you confused with all the other people they may be talking to.
If you've been through Ipsative Coaching for yourself, you're already a long way down this road. You'll know who you are and what will likely suit you best.
We suggest you get some help and mentoring on establishing your brand. You need someone to bounce ideas off; someone who'll help you develop a powerful focus that can stay with you for the foreseeable future. The most common mistake beginners make is constantly shifting their style and approach. Of course, some adapting is sensible, but never to the extent you confuse your potential customers.
Get all this straight in your mind before you go out into the marketplace, then stick to it unless the response you get is
truly horrible. People need time to size you up and decide whether you're the kind of person they want to discuss possibly intimate parts of their life with. If they aren't sure who you are, because the picture seems to change all the time, they'll shy away.
We've made a special, low-price deal on behalf of the Ipsative Coaching Community with Carmine Coyote, a branding and marketing business run by an experienced Ipsative Coach. They know coaching and can help you find a brand that truly expresses who you are and why people should choose you.
3. LAY OUT YOUR NETS
Marketing is like hunting. You need to find where your prey lurks and start laying out nets to catch their interest.
The best nets are the cheapest, especially at the start. You'll need to discover from experience what works best and be ready to discard anything that doesn't get the right results. If you've spent most of your start-up cash on some expensive and flashy marketing "tool," you'll be very unwilling to let it go, even if it bombs. Save the cash to spend later on what you've already proved works for you.
The cheapest and some of the best marketing methods for coaches are these:
- Write and publish articles. There are lots of places on the Internet eager for anything you write. You could also try your local free papers, or even the "local rag." Human interest stories with a local flavor are their bread and butter. Give them some more.
- Offer to speak to local groups. Again, the choice is very wide. Don't be too fussy, especially at the start. The aim is to get yourself known and build up a track record as an interesting speaker which will allow you to aim for more prestigious groups later.
- Get a web site. This is a must. It doesn't have to be flashy or expensive. Most people who search the web are more interested in the content of the site than whether it has little dancing bears or four varieties of on-line slide show. Flashy sites are expensive and tend to interest mostly web geeks, like those TV advertisements that a really fun, but you can never remember the product they advertise.
- Get your friends, family and anyone else you know to start putting the word about. You'll be amazed how far word-of-mouth can take you as a marketing tool. If you like computers and the Internet, you canstart your own blog. (If you don't know what a blog is, that's a sure sign you shouldn't start one!) Getting some help and advice is a good idea. Carmine Coyote can help with all of these.
- Offer to teach people about coaching. Maybe local schools, community groups or classes. Again, if you're computer savvy, think about offering free teleclasses. What you want is to get an interested audience, so you can start the word-of-mouth process working on your behalf.
4. WORK TO GET TESTIMONIALS
Make sure you give your clients wonderful service. Wow them with your approach, your thoughtfulness and your willingness to go out of your way to make sure they get what they need.
Then ask for a testimonial. Don't be shy. You won't get one by waiting to see if the client things of it. Most won't. But they'll be delighted to oblige you with a few words you can put on your web site or in your brochure, if you've decided you're ready for one at last. Lots of good testimonials make customers feel less uneasy about committing themselves.
At the start, testimonials are impossible. You have to live with that. You'll only be able to get some after you've won a few clients. Never be tempted to make them up. Aside from being dishonest. you can be sure those fakes will come back to haunt you later. Bide your time, be patient and just make sure you earn — and ask for — testimonials from every client after.
5. NEVER STOP MARKETING
This is the single, most common cause of failure in new coaches. You work hard, get one or two clients and go all out to make sure they have a great experience. And you stop marketing.
Heck, you're busy! You haven't time to waste on all that stuff. You're clients need you.
Trouble is, no coaching goes on for ever. Clients stop, either because they've got what they came for, they've found something else to grab their interest, or they've run out of money. A thousand reasons, often with nothing to do with what you did.
Now you have no business and none coming along to replace it. You stopped hunting to feast on the prey you caught. Only the food has been eaten and now you have to go look for some more. In the meantime, you get dreadfully hungry. Feast and famine is how many small businesses live. And the vast majority give up or go under during the first serious bout of famine.
Being a coach can be a satisfying, enduring and financially stable profession if you follow these simple suggestions to give yourself a sound start. It's an ideal home-based business.
Why not start by experiencing Ipsative Coaching for yourself, then taking a training course to become a certified Ipsative Coach?
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