It might have happened while you were daydreaming during your 9-5 office job. It may have caught you while you were talking to friends about how much you love helping others develop their ideas, goals, and success—but somehow, you were bit by the coaching bug. We hate to tell you this, but there’s no easy cure.
Luckily, you probably aren’t looking for a cure. In fact, we feel like it’s a pretty safe to say that you love your job. After all, you get to help people help themselves! But what if we told you there was a way to improve, boost, and enhance your consulting business? That’s something you could jump on board with, right? We thought so.
Finding What Drives Your Business
It may not seem like the most obvious first step, but one of the most helpful things you can do is to continue directing your business ‘north’ (aka toward your end goals). A great way to build this awareness and to take into account who you are as a business, and business owner, is to take stock of your business on a regular basis. Making this a regular routine will not only help to keep you from getting into harmful ruts, it will also allow you to refocus your business before it’s too late to make changes.
TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, saw the need to refocus, and it required him to physically remove himself from TOMS by moving to Texas. While seeking inspiration for his company’s realignment, he sought out other entrepreneurs, business and nonprofit leaders and traveled to conferences around the country.
All this to refocus his company, his brand and himself.
You may not have the space, time, or resources to take such a large leap, but you can take time to seek out others who you admire, or who have more industry knowledge. There is so much value in partnering with other consultants. In fact, reaching out to other entrepreneurs at events and communities, both online and in person, can be essential to your success.
Not sure where to start? Try these resources:
- Find other consultants through social networking sites such as LinkedIn or PartnerUp , which not only allows you to search for people, companies, and pages that coincide with your brand, but allows for you to partner with potential partners, advisers, and business resources.
- Try online discussion forums, such as Startup Nation or Perfect Business where you can talk through discussion topics with other entrepreneurs that are relevant to your company. These sites also allow you to listen to podcasts and access online tutorials with topics on everything from admin to cash flow.
- Don’t be afraid to use your current social media networks, either! Talk to people you know, search for Facebook groups that support entrepreneurs, and search for groups that meet in your area by going to websites like Meetup.
Solidify Your Vision
Activity time! Take a moment, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and in 2-3 sentences write down how you want people to perceive you and your business. This should match up with the vision of your business and, ultimately, your mission statement (which should be a clearly-defined reflection of what your business stands for).
These sentences will solidify your vision and allow you to determine your target market. Are you trying to reach millennial creatives who want to become serious in their self-promotion and start monetizing their artistic endeavors? Are you looking to market to entrepreneurs who are on their last straw of innovation and need the tools to keep their business from floundering? Regardless of who you’re trying to reach, you’ll need a game plan to get there!
Determine How To Price Your Service
One of the most important aspects of knowing how to run a coaching business, before you even reach out to your potential customers, is to know what you’re offering (which you should have established from the section above) and what price you’re going to be offering it at. Bill Mooney, founder of William Mooney Associates provides a formula for learning how to properly price your service, looking at it from the perspective of a daily rate:
Step 1: Start from the bottom of your income statement and build up to get to your desired rate
Step 2: Use the equation: Profit + Labor Costs + Overhead = Daily Fee
Step 3: Do the math. Your time is valuable. If you plan to take home $100,000 annually and work 260 days per year (normal work weeks, with some Saturdays in the office and two weeks’ vacation), you will need to pay yourself just under $385 per working day.
Step 4: Overhead includes rent, phone, software, insurance, and equipment. For example, if all of that equals $2,000 per month, or $24,000 per year – divide your annual costs by the number of working days per year (which we determined above to be 260). This means that the total overhead per day is $92.
Step 5: If you pay your admin $30,000 annually, that’s about $115 per work day.
Step 6: Plug those numbers back into the fee formula, which is $385 + $92 + $115. You’ll see that your fee should be $592 per day—or you should be charging $60 per hour for a ten-hour day. Realistically, it needs to be closed to $90 per hour since it’s hard to consistently have 10-hour work days.
Find Your Tribe
Your image enables you to connect with people around you. And building a successful community that draws people into it is something that can set you worlds apart from your competition.
One of the best ways for you to build this following, and the community that you want to inspire, is for you to find a niche. Before even offering your business to potential clients, you can create an image that will, essentially, market your business for you. People are attracted to others like them, so tailor your image to make the most of your strengths and persona!
A great example of this is the Bravo TV show, Millionaire Matchmaker. Patti Stanger, who started the illustrious and exclusive Millionaire’s Club, is a consultant to some of the wealthiest clients in the world. She identifies their need for love, looks at their patterns of how to achieve it, and then builds a plan for how they can ultimately conquer their pitfalls to come out victorious.
But what she does isn’t nearly as important as who she is.
Patti is known for her bluntness, and her willingness to call out the financial elite, when most people would simply smile and nod. Patti has created a persona for herself and has clients all over the world begging for her services. Why? Because she’s ‘the best’ and she’s willing to tell people that. She’s taken her commanding personality, capitalized on it and is now making millions while making millionaires happy all over the world.
Now, not all of us can be matchmakers and not all of us should be. But you can take what makes you unique, and capitalize on it.
Try building your own tribe by surrounding yourself with people who enhance your persona, or who reflect the same values you seek to reflect. Join groups that are targeted toward the group of people you want to reach out to and take the time to actively participate in those groups. There’s so much value in having the right connections and building a network where you can learn as much as possible about your target demographic. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and really get to know the people you are trying to reach.
Once you’ve created your own persona, it’s time to market yourself (as well as your brand, of course)! As a consultant, it’s important for you to establish a brand that reflects who you are, and what you’re going to be offering to your clients. Determine how much time you have, and which platforms your target market will be using, in order to focus on specific ones.
While you’re in the beginning stages of your business, it’s important to have quality over quantity for your reach. When you’re figuring out how to run a coaching business, it’s important to remember that quality, not necessarily quantity, is key. Choosing one or two social media platforms, for instance, rather than trying to maintain five or six, will allow you to offer more to your customers and will give you a stronger presence, in the end.
One of the most important aspects of your marketing is for you to have, and regularly maintain, a blog. Blogging brings your customers into your world. It allows you to showcase what you offer, what you believe in and how you’re different from your competition.
Returning to our matchmaking consultant Patti Stranger, her company offers tips, tricks and dating advice specifically targeted to her audience: Millionaires. All of these things create a culture and feeling of exclusivity for those who visit her blog, and for those who may be thinking about her service.
Blogging is also free marketing, and a space to direct potential clients and customers. In order to optimize the traffic to your blog, it’s important to optimize your SEO search keywords.
What is SEO?
Glad you asked! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is the process of making your website more accessible, or seen more frequently in an unpaid search engine’s (think Google) results. Let’s look at it this way: “Google has developed automatic algorithms that rank your site. They send out what are called “spiders” to “crawl” your site and check for over 100 indicators that determine whether your site is valuable or useless. These indicators include things like backlinks, domain age, traffic, fresh content, etc. SEO is the art of making sure those spiders are happy with that they find.”
Here are some great ways to improve this “score.”
1. Buy your own domain for your website: Google wants to promote only the most valuable resources and having a free domain can look as though you are less serious about your business. So skip the free WordPress option, and pay for your own domain to increase your rating, and to promote your business.
2.Create content that solves problems: Whether it’s videos, photos, podcasts or other tools and plugins, making this content available to your clients is a great way to improve your credibility and the value of your site.
3.Build backlinks to other websites: Backlinks, or links that connect to other websites, is a great way to build your network. If it’s an old domain, with a great rating, this can also boost your website’s SEO standing.
4.Make sure your blog’s theme is SEO optimized: Optimizing your theme can help your business go above and beyond by letting Google know that you are a trustworthy site. This optimization can also help Google find your content. Make sure your site runs quickly and that it’s well put together.
5.Create a Google Sitemap: Google Sitemap creates a map of all your posts, pages, and archives and allows Google to easily index your site. If you’re looking for how to build one, check out Google’s helpful step-by-step guide!
6.Promote and build on social media: This may seem like a no-brainer, but promote and interact with other users on social media. It brings in traffic, strengthens your brand’s overall presence and remember: Sharing other people’s content helps increase the likelihood of them sharing your posts, essentially giving you free marketing.
7.Use SEO plugins: There are multiple plugins out there to help you with your SEO. Try using one of WordPress’s plugins as a starting point. We’d recommend one of our favorites, Yoast,for optimization and content analysis.
Run Your Business Your Way
One of the most rewarding aspect of becoming your own boss is being able to manage and run your consulting business the way that works best for you. Learning how to run a coaching business is a process and, as with any relationship, finding the right tools, and learning how to manage your business efficiently, is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn early on.
Throughout your work process, it’s important to create a project process and workflow that not only works, but benefits you and your clients, mutually. A great resource for keeping you on track is 17hats, which allows you to not only manage multiple projects but keep track of client contacts, invoicing and workflow as a whole.
Asana is another great resource if you’re looking for organization within your business. Asana’s features include project tracking, message boards, the ability to organize files and docs and the ability to set up reminders for deadlines and check off milestones.
Once you’ve pulled together all of these, you may be thinking it’s time to take your business to the next level! Hold tight for one moment longer, though, because there are a few other things you’ll need to take into consideration. Nancy Mann Jackson suggests these six steps, to successfully launch your business:
1. Go beyond the business plan: Try to push beyond the traditional business plan and really take time to plot and research your business. It will not only help you run your business, but will teach you to think about your business in a systematic way.
2.Test your idea: Too many entrepreneurs rush into business without doing enough research, which may be why many fail within the first few years. Take advantage of your resources and conduct as much research as possible about your target client, and the market that you’re entering into.
3.Know the market: Get to know your market by asking questions. This includes knowing about suppliers, competitors, distributors, and, of course, your customers.
4.Understand your future customer: In the end, it will be the customers who determine your success or failure, make sure to pay attention to a description of potential customers and how they make purchasing decisions.
5.Establish cash resources: If there’s one financial concept you’ll want to master while running your business, it’s the importance of managing cash flow! Make sure you have a good cash forecasting tool and be prepared to plan for how you’ll be using incoming cash.
6.Choose the right business structure: From the start, it will be important for you to choose the right corporate structure for your business, for both legal and tax purposes. To start off, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Liability limitations: For S Corps (S is for small) and LLCs, the owners’ personal liability is generally limited to the amounts invested and loaned. There is unlimited liability for general partners involved in partnerships.
- Startup losses: If your company is an S Corp or an LLC, you can usually write off startup costs as losses on your personal tax return. In a regular corporation , startup costs produce tax losses that can only be utilized at the business level and offer no future benefit if the new company has no future profits.
- Double taxation: Corporations are notorious for double taxation. The company gets taxed on the profits while you also get taxed on the money you receive from the company. You won’t have this issue with S Corps or LLCs.
- Capital-raising plans: If you plan to take your business public or fundraise through private equity, you’ll want to organize as a regular corporation (as opposed to S Corporation or LLC) since investors prefer to fund corporations.
Whether this is your first time consulting, or you’re a trained pro, it’s important to take time to make sure you’ve given all of these aspects proper consideration. While it may seem like a lot of work in the beginning, in the end, it will allow your business to run more smoothly and will allow your company to flourish.
When trying to grow your consulting practice, the key iso stay focused on the growth and overall success of your company.
Taking the leap to start running your own business can be a scary transition, but rather than being scared, be prepared. Do the research, know your business and your customer. Once you follow those steps, the rest will fall into place. Oh, and good luck!