How To Grow A Thriving Coaching Business

Take Your Focus Off The Process And Move It To The Outcome

Coaching is a Superpower Really, it is.

If it was possible to get a prescription drug that not only helped to to figure out what you actually want in life, but also how to get it, there would be a rush on doctors’ surgeries all over the globe. Everyone would want that drug.

However, for the most part, the only people who understand what coaching actually is and what it can do, are coaches. That’s weird, isn’t it?

What Do I Mean By ‘A Coach’?

May I begin by saying that when I refer to a coach, I’m referring to a person who has a recognised coaching qualification. I mean one that requires 60+ hours of classroom time and dozens of hours of coaching practice in order to qualify and not some $7 weekend thing!

Part of the reason that coaching is misunderstood is that the word coach is used to mean many different things. From sports coach, to passenger vehicle, coach is a much-used word.

The kind of coaching I’m talking about is a professional service delivered by qualified coaches in order to take the client from where they are now, to where they want to be. Professional coaches of this kind do not give advice or guidance. Rather they support the client in finding their own answers to the questions posed based on the fact that if an idea is our own rather than imposed, we are more likely to ‘own’ it.

Why Are Coaches So Bad At Describing What They Do?

The reason that no one understands what coaching is is because coaches are notoriously inept at describing what they do in a way that is meaningful for those who are not coaches. The result of this ineptitude is that coaches struggle to find clients who want to pay a professional rate for coaching.

What I mean by this is that coaches are not very good at talking about the outcomes that can be experienced from being coached.

Let me explain what coaches are good at; talking about the process of coaching. The problem with this particular skill is that it’s not much use, because no one buys processes, they buy outcomes.

Coaches shy away from talking about outcomes because the answer to the question ‘what outcome can your client expect from working with you?’ has to be ‘it depends’, right?

Wrong. Let me explain why.

Balance In Skills

A financially viable coaching business has two distinct skill sets and they are necessary in equal measure. One skill set is your coaching skills, the other skill set are the skills that you need to create the opportunities to do that delivery. Those are business development skills, mostly marketing. This is a skill set that the majority of people don’t have and it’s a skill set that you really need to learn if you’re to become one of the 1 in 5 who does build a successful business.

When you’re on the delivery side of your business scales, then you’re in coach mode and the answer to the outcome question is absolutley that ‘it depends’. Your job on the delivery side of your business is to coach to the very best of your ability. The outcome depends upon the client, the client’s needs and motivation. It’s impossible to predict what the outcome of working with an individual will be, because it’s up to them.

However, on the marketing side of the scale, you are not in delivery mode, you’re in marketing mode. The only outcome you’re looking for from your marketing work is to end up in a ‘sales’ conversation with a potential client. (To put you at ease, a sales conversation for a coach is simply a strategy session run within set parameters.) The outcome you’re looking for in the sales conversation is to secure a client who is paying a professional fee for your services. Can you see that this side of your business is utterly separate from the delivery side and has an utterly different purpose?

To market effectively into a particular niche is about focusing on a problem that you know that people in that niche struggle with. It’s about drawing them into your world by demonstrating your clear understanding of the problem and the impact that problem has on them and their lives. It’s about joining the conversation that’s already happening in their head and making certain that they feel that you completely understand their situation. It’s also about articulating what their life could look like once this problem is resolved.

It’s Not About Who You Will Coach

Your marketing efforts do not dictate the only kind of client that you can ever work with. The marketing side is designed purely and simply to bring people into your world and your diary.

You are free to coach anyone you want to. However, for the best results possible in terms of number of appointments in your diary, the shortest path from A (where you are now) to B (where you want to be) is to niche.

We as coaches all know that all coaching is life coaching. What is called career coaching or business coaching or executive coaching all ends up being about the client and their lives. The problem that brings people to coaching is rarely the problem that coaching ends up focused on. The Fortune 500 CEO is just as likely to end up talking about their whole life with an executive coach as the person who engages a life coach in the first place. The reason that I’m telling you this is so that you can stop worrying that you will only ever be coaching people within a specific niche about one specific problem. That’s not the point of marketing. Marketing is — I repeat — about getting appointments in your diary.

If you’d like to become more adept at talking about outcomes, may I suggest that you join Coaching Republic? It’s our free community for coaches who are growing their businesses.



Sarah Short - The Coaching Revolution

Sarah Short is the founder of The Coaching Revolution. She spends her time turning qualified coaches into well-paid professionals.