Coach training gives you an awesome skill set – helping people achieve transformation!
But do you feel adequately prepared to launch and run a life coaching practice?
Don’t worry – many coaches come out of training in love with the profession, eager to be of service, and completely baffled as to where to start. Most jump right into a website, tagline, and business cards and logos so they feel official.
The thing is, a website and all that other stuff needs to speak to your audience. It’s critical to get to know your audience before you start churning out marketing materials.
Could you ever imagine Nike coming out with the “Swish” and “Just Do It” without knowing the market they intend to reach?
Here’s my take on the FIRST 5 things to do once you become a life coach.
1. Get Your Legal Handled
Each country, state, county, and town have different legal requirements to operate as a business. A good place to start is your local Small Business Association website. Learn exactly what you need to know to form a business entity. This step protects you and your assets.
I was really overwhelmed by this step, so I hired a company to do it for me! It was called Corporate Creations… but there are scores of companies who will do the set up and maintenance of a legal business entity for you.
Nothing feels better than ACTUALLY being in business. Having a legal biz entity is more official than any website or business cards. It’s the real deal!
Besides, you’ll need to do this step so you can start CHARGING MOOLA.
2. Set Up a Business Bank Account
Once you have a legal business entity, you’re able to set up a business bank account. And once you have a business bank account, you can set up a payment processor like PayPal.
Being able to accept money signals the Universe that not only are you READY to get paid… you’re setting out a beautiful place setting and inviting money to the party!
This step is as energetically important as it is legally important. Yes, business cards feel great… but knowing you’re legally set up to take money feels… official.
I’ll never forget walking into Chase bank and walking out with papers that proved I could accept money as a business owner. It was triumphant!
3. Learn About the People You Hope to Serve
Before you take another step, you’ll want to learn about the people you’d like to serve. Every good business – from vacuums to car manufacturing to wooden shims to coaching – takes a moment to learn what people want.
As soon as we get out of coach school – or any trade, really – we are armed with a new vocabulary that we adore. For coaches, we’ve learned the language of transformation.
However, the world doesn’t speak that language. So if you run around telling people you’re a “health coach” and you “empower people to shift their mindset around food” – it’s like running into the south of Spain and asking where the bathroom is and could you get a beer… in Hungarian. You might find 1 person, but it’s a serious crapshoot. (Side note: This happened to me in Morocco. Ask me about it sometime).
It’s really critical to spend a couple weeks surveying, interviewing, running focus groups, getting people together and on the phone and on coffee dates and answering surveys and listening. Ask them questions about what they want. Pay careful attention to their language. Record it all, Write it all down. Notice trends. Notice phrases that zing you between the eyes and save them for later.
Market Research doesn’t have to be complicated at all. It doesn’t even have to be that extensive, because you’re going to be doing market research for as long as you’re a business owner. But get at least 8-10 people who are willing to give you GOOD answers about the work you’re interested in doing!
If you want help setting up your market research so you can get massive clarity AND attract clients easily, email me for a discovery session!
Q: But JJ, then shouldn’t Step 3 be: Declare your niche?
A: Yes/No. More on that in a later blog post! But in short, market research can help you figure that out. Just get going.
Once you have more information about the day-to-day blocks, struggles, thoughts, beliefs, and dreams of people you’d be interested in working with, you can go on to step 4.
4. Put Yourself Out There
Pick ONE. Pick ONE way that you want to get out there and rock the hell out of it. Choose FB Biz page, LinkedIn, or whatever platform you want to (and one that you think your folks might be on).
Start using all that great market research to post, record video, create graphics, make helpful things and give them away… start creating a foundation of content on ONE site.
Even if you don’t want an “online business,” I highly recommend you use social media as an advertising tool. It is a FREE 21st Century marketing opportunity and over 1billion people are using social media every day. Even if you are planning to go to networking events, guess what? People are going to look you up on social media to see what you’re about.
I always say, you don’t HAVE to do anything but grow old and die (and even that’s in question these days!) But leaving FREE advertising and the opportunity to show your stuff on the table isn’t the best business sense. Consider getting your business a dedicated social media platform and work it!
This piece is ESPECIALLY important because it will help you nail step 5.
5. Invite People into the World of Your Business
Networking is great. Give out your business cards, have great conversations, and commit yourself to having to reach out over + over again to keep yourself top of mind? Exhausting.
Social media is awesome. You do a FB live, people are crazy about it, they’re like “Thank you, thank you!” and then… they never come back to your page again because FB doesn’t put it in front of them.
Putting yourself out there in person and on social media is like creating a beautiful window display that attracts people. But ultimate, you need them to STEP INSIDE THE STORE.
This is where you’ll want to use a service to create a MAILING LIST. Creating a mailing list means that you now have control over how often you are able to let people know what you’re up to.
Creating a mailing list also means that you’ll have the opportunity to be of service and send out helpful tips and mindset shifts whenever you want to.
Having a mailing list means that instead of being a victim to the algorithms of social media, or having to wait until the next networking event and hope the right people show up…
You get to put your offers and coaching in front of people whenever you want to.
Think of ALL the businesses you care about, from Target to Anthropologie to the local cheese shop. Think about really successful coaches you follow in any industry.
THEY ALL HAVE A MAILING LIST.
Get yourself a mailing list going from day one. There are plenty of free- and low cost List Management Services that are incredibly easy to use. You Tube can help you learn any skill you need to know. Don’t be intimidated by this – I’ve walked plenty of coaches through this step and every single one of them figured it out! I have never had anyone walk away from doing a mailing list because it was too hard.
Q: But JJ, I don’t want to have to send a weekly thing and I don’t like writing and I don’t know how I’ll do that.
A: Don’t worry. You don’t have to send a weekly thing. As you get more fluent, you’ll want to use your mailing list to stay top of mind. You’ll create an Editorial Calendar (which I teach in Put Yourself Out There) to make it easy on yourself. And you’ll plan 30- days ahead… and then 60- … and then 90 days ahead, so you don’t have to worry about figuring out what you’re sending.
Even if you don’t like to write, a newsletter means you can send audio files to your folks! What if you’re a runner, and get great inspiration to send to your subscribers while you’re running? Create a voice memo and send it out to them. You can even have it transcribed for cheap.
What if you love to speak, or feel great about using video? WOOT! Send them a video.
What if you meditate and during meditation, you get little 5- and 6- sentence downloads?
SEND THEM TO YOUR LIST!
Visual artist? Send coaching art!
You can make a mailing list YOURS, to express yourself however you want. The folks who are into it will stay and be your loyal fans. The folks who aren’t are free to leave using the Unsubscribe button, and bless them for seeking full alignment!
The bottom line is, use a mailing list to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY as a business owner. Leaving your success up to the latest networking meeting or up to social media’s algorithms is not a reliable idea. Use public speaking, social media, and networking to build a list of people who will buy for you when they’re ready.
Here’s what’s NOT in this list:
Notice I didn’t talk about:
Once you have really generated some interest, learned the language of your people, and discovered what’s important to them..
And used social media to see what kinds of topics people engage in and what they don’t…
And gotten a mailing list up and running to see what kind of people sign up…
THEN you can start branding, creating an outcome-driven tagline, and generating website copy. All of those activities should be driven by what the MARKET says, not by what you pull out of your head.
So PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE coach! At best, you’ll start generating interest and clients. At worst, you’ll be PLAYFULLY experimenting to see what really resonates with YOU and with the POTENTIAL MARKET, and making tweaks as you go along. There’s no fail here!