Coaching is one of the few businesses that you can start in an hour. All you need is a paypal button and your time. Then you’re in business.
But, smart coaches learn pretty quickly that a coaching business can become just like a job, but instead of one boss, you can feel like you have 20 or more of them.
So, in this blog post, we’ll show you how to keep your sanity while building a business you love, and one that you can scale to reach your financial goals.
1. Figure out how many hours you can reasonably work in a day.
One of the biggest mistakes that coaches make is that they over estimate how many hours they can work in a day.
No coach can work with clients 8 hours a day unless they plan to work from sunup to sundown every day, so be realistic about how many hours you can reasonably work each day.
Remember, there are many tasks outside of your coaching time that need to be done, too, like answering emails, creating products, and promoting your business so you can get new clients.
2. Identify the solutions needed for each client.
If you identify tools and solutions needed for each client, such as phone calls, self-study guides, checklists, etc you will be better able to help your client while saving yourself time because you won’t be scrambling to find the right solution at the last moment.
Some coaching clients will want to connect on Skype whereas others might just want daily email access to you. Having a variety of solutions will allow you to help your clients better.
3. Estimate each client’s cost periodically.
Even with an established client ensure that you are always cognizant of the costs of each client.
Remember, costs include tools and time used by yourself or others. Don’t leave anything out.
As the cost of your tools goes up, so does the cost of the client. If your expenses increased by 10% this year, you will need to adjust your prices accordingly.
Plus, take into account the investment that you’re making into your own education. If you’re learning new strategies that are helping your clients, then your prices should reflect that.
4. Produce an achievable schedule that will maintain a quality end result.
Start at the end, and work your way back to today, scheduling each aspect of any coaching plan for your clients, giving yourself and your client plenty of time to do what is required to meet the deadlines.
By working your way backward from the due date, you can reasonably see how you can both work together to achieve your objectives. Be sure to take into account the client’s skill level and home life when setting achievable goals. Certain coaching clients crave being challenged while others shut down if they are pushed too hard and too fast.
5. Avoid Project Creep.
Oftentimes, an established client will want to work on things that are outside of her original goals. While this might seem a good idea, in the end, your client may end up frustrated and dissatisfied when no progress is made.
It’s usually better to stay focused on one or two goals. Agree to move on to others once the desired outcome is reached.
6. Use a project management system.
There are fabulous project management systems out there so use them. Systems such as Basecamp, Central Desktop, Manymoon and others are there for you to use and some can be used free.
By keeping all documents and notes in one central location, you and your client will be better able to stay focused on the task at hand. Plus, it’s much more productive to refer to previous discussions and plans when it’s all in one place.
7. Use Google Calendar to send you reminders, to your email, to your mobile device.
A really fun and easy way to manage your clients is to set up a Google Calendar.
Within the calendar, you can invite others to share the calendar, set up email reminders, include project information and more. It’s an excellent way to manage your coaching time.
One of our favorite tools for handling appointments is www.TimeTrade.com and the best part is that it integrates with Google calendar.
8. Communicate with your client in a set and regular way.
Avoid interruptions in your workday by setting up regular forms of communication with your clients.
Whether it is checking in once a week on Skype or by telephone having a prescheduled time to chat about goals and expectations, an established system will go far in helping you communicate in a clear way with each client.
Streamlining this can be a huge time saver for you. Just picture the following two scenarios.
Client 1. No set weekly plan.
Client 1: What time are we meeting this week?
You: What time are you available? I have morning on Wednesday free.
Client 1: I can do 10 am Wednesday, my time.
You: ok. Got it.
Client 1: Where are we talking? On the phone or Skype or your conference room?
Client 1: ok. I’ll see you there.
Compare that to Client 2.
10 am Wednesday, you both show up in Skype.
Whenever possible, make it so no one has to think or communicate to arrange repetitive tasks such as weekly calls. Again, Google calendar along with TimeTrade.com is great for this.
9. Develop a standard operating procedures (SOP) manual.
Every task you do has a specific way of setting it up and accomplishing it.
For instance if you coach authors, no matter who the client is, the basics are the same. Set up a SOP that goes through each step of the process so you never miss anything.
Hint! If you buy our “Done-for-You” content at CoachGlue.com – many of them come with checklists and step-by-step workbooks so that you don’t have to come up with these manuals on your own.
Or you can use Melissa’s marketing kits to do this – they include step-by-step marketing plans, templates, calendars, and more!
10. Automate as much as you can.
What more can be said about this? Automation is your friend.
Automate your email folders, automate your billing, automate any task that can be automated and still perform at your standards.
You can even design intake and progress questionnaires for your clients.
11. Establish a workflow.
It’s better to establish a workflow meaning how you will perform each task than to attack things willy-nilly throughout the day.
For everyone, it’s different, but in truth it’s better to concentrate on one client at a time rather than multitask. Often times multi tasking is just a way to waste time.
12. Establish the project’s scope, problems, needs and deliverables.
Know the plan, what resources you and your client will need, how much it costs, and what the desired outcome is.
This will help your coaching clients to succeed – which is, of course, your primary goal.
13. Under promise and over deliver.
Never promise more than you can reasonably do, and don’t blow smoke up your client’s butt.
But do deliver just a bit more than you said you would because this will make your clients’ sing your praises. The best marketing is word-of- mouth, after all.
14. Create a dedicated workspace.
It’s a nice thought that you can take your coaching business on the road, to a coffee shop, and work on the move. It’s true that you can, but in reality it is better to establish a dedicated workspace for times you’re not on the move.
Even if it’s a rolling file cabinet and a laptop on the kitchen table or couch, have some place dedicated to your business so that you can thrive in organization and not drown in disorganization.
15. Backup, back up, back up!
There are many ways you can back up your files and save your business in case of tragedy (fire), bad weather (floods, tornadoes) and other problems that are beyond your control.
Imagine to yourself if everything you had was destroyed, how would you work? Act accordingly.
16. Limit interruptions.
Ask friends and family to respect your work schedule. Turn off your phone, turn off your email, turn off your Twitter notifications and dedicate yourself to each task at hand. Your clients will appreciate your dedication and your friends and family will learn that your business is a real business and not just a hobby.
17. Eliminate distractions.
Make a list of people, places and things that can cause distractions for your workday. Be it the phone, your mind, children, the TV, or even the weather.
Find a way to overcome each distraction that helps you reach your daily work goals.
18. Take frequent breaks.
Any person who works long hours sitting at a desk carries a risk of developing health issues such as obesity or the deadly deep vein thrombosis. Taking breaks every hour or two to move can be very beneficial.
Being healthy will increase your productivity thus, helping you manage your clients successfully.
19. Use accurate billing software and time tracking tools.
If you’re doing hourly consulting, avoid issues with time tracking and use appropriate software for the task.
Freshbooks, Central Desktop and Basecamp all have time tracking features. Learn to use them.
20. Keep a time log for personal tasks.
Even if you are doing tasks for yourself, keep a time log of how long it takes you. Do you do your own bookkeeping? Track the time. Knowing the time these tasks take can go far in helping you determine if you need to outsource.
21. Set goals for the day.
Based on your calendar, set goals for each day.
Don’t just include work goals but include personal goals too, such as taking a short 10-minute break every two hours to exercise, or having lunch with your spouse for an hour. Include all the things you’d like to accomplish for the day and the times you will do them. You’ll be more productive with a plan.
22. Pick your best times to work.
Some of us work best at 9pm and some of us work best at 8am. This is your business, so you can do the work when you want to as long as you finish each task completely, effectively, and expertly, on time.
23. Dealing with email.
Set up automation, labels, and folders for your email.
Have one email for your clients, one for personal business and one for newsletters, subscriptions, and extras. This way you can funnel your email to the right place so that you don’t become distracted by email from your best friend. Let your clients know when you check business mail. Checking it three times a day at specific times is usually more than enough to respond in a timely manner.
24. Dealing with phone calls.
Being a sole proprietor working from home can be difficult enough without having phone calls constantly interrupting you. Turn off your phones and let calls go straight to voice mail.
You can also set up special ring tones so that emergency calls get through and everything else goes to voice mail.
You can get a business number via Skype so that you never miss important business-related calls. But, even with business calls it’s okay to call people back and not answer immediately.
25. Set boundaries.
Coaching clients, just like family, need to have boundaries set for them by you.
If you inform your clients that phone calls will require an appointment they will respect that.
If you don’t allow friends and family to use you as a “sick child care center” they will stop asking.
This is your business and you must set boundaries that you can be happy with. Remember that working from home is flexible, but it’s still a business.
26. Have office hours.
If you want to answer the phone sometimes because you get calls from potential clients then set certain office hours where it is okay to call or Skype you. Also set specific office hours for your own work schedule. Even if your office hours are 9pm to 3am that is perfectly fine.
Having regular hours will establish in your own mind that you are running a business, which will increase your chances for success exponentially.
27. Avoid time suckers.
If you want to stick to the goals and schedule you’ve established for your business then it is important to avoid time suckers.
Schedule your use of social media, surfing the net and other potential pitfalls. Set a timer if you need to so that you can avoid getting sucked into the timeless vortex of the web.
28. Brief all clients thoroughly.
Properly interviewing each potential client about their needs will go far in enabling you to service your clients’ needs in a professional and expert manner.
Go in knowing exactly what is expected of both of you and you’ll be able to work together more efficiently.
29. Prepare agendas for meetings.
When you schedule coaching sessions with your clients prepare an agenda. The agenda will keep you on track so that you don’t go off your schedule and talk for four hours instead of 45 minutes.
30. Just say no.
Believe it or not it is okay to say no when you need to. Many coaches are afraid to say no and become frustrated with too many clients or projects.
Saying no to a low-ball offer will leave you open to say yes to a great offer. Being happy in your work will go far in helping you manage your clients better.
31. Understand who your ideal client is.
Don’t settle taking clients who are not a good fit for you.
Picture your dream client and understand that it’s ok (and in fact can be GREAT) to have an application process to work with you.
32. Outsource routine tasks.
Once you get several clients, you might find out that you have a lot of routine upkeep to do in your own business that you can start to outsource for less than it costs you to do.
Some things you can outsource include your calendar management, your help desk, marketing, and social media.
Multitasking is dangerous.
Many people, due to the advances in technology believe that multitasking is a good thing, but in truth multitasking is one of the things that prevent many people from working at their highest level. Take one task at a time, one client at a time because you will begin to experience “flow” in your work which means you’ll work faster, more efficiently, and with less stress.
34. Keep track of tasks and responses.
To avoid confusion it is best to keep track of all discussion and responses regarding any one project. That way if there are later misunderstandings going back to what was stated in the email, or other correspondence can be discussed. You can easily connect and record on Zoom.
35. Be your own best client.
You are also a client of yours. What would you advise yourself if you were your client?
Keep up with your own blogging, marketing, website, and product creation. Remember that you can also outsource many of these tasks so that you can concentrate on coaching, but if you’d advise a client to do it, then you should be doing it too.
36. Keep track of passwords and important items.
Upload documents into a secure environment so that either you or the client can update the document whenever they want. The very most secure way is for your client to share this document with YOU, instead of vice versa, because they can be in control of their own information.
You can use a system such as LasPass.com, Google Docs, Dropbox.com, Microsoft365.com, and others.
37. Invest in training for yourself and your team.
Proper training can save time, effort and embarrassment. Plus, it makes YOU a more valuable coach.
There are many ways to get the training you need, via internship, classes, or just getting out the tutorials for the program or thing that you want to learn. The important thing is to invest in the training be it time, or money.
38. Create a progress checklist for each client.
Every client has specific goals that need to be met, usually in a specific order. Together with your client, establish this checklist so you’ll both know exactly where you are in the coaching process.
39. Create a billing strategy that keeps the cash flowing.
By planning how you will bill your clients you can create a better cash flow system. Having a better cash flow can go far in making you able to live up to your promises.
Try weekly billing for coaching time instead of monthly.
40. Document, document, document.
If you document all communication with your clients, using systems such as Docusign.com, Zoom, project management systems and saving all emails you be able to double check what you and your client planned when you forget (and you will), and if there is a disagreement later, you can more easily overcome them.
41. No last minute calls.
It’s better to establish a rule of no last minute calls and give in, than have no established rules regarding this issue. People forget about different time zones and issues such as this when they have a crisis.
Make it a rule that there will be no last minute or unscheduled consultations and that you need at least a 48-hour window to schedule a call. Then you can relent on a case-by-case basis if you really do have the time.
42. You can’t please everyone all the time.
Remember that while you’re in a service business and it is your goal to please your clients, there are some people who are not able to be pleased.
Do not take it personally if someone is difficult to deal with. It’s better that you both move on than continue, which will enable them to find someone with whom they can work, freeing up your schedule for a more ideal client.
43. Understand that you can’t care for them.
One of the biggest frustrations as any kind of teacher or coach is that motivation has to come from the student. You can push and prod and beg and plead – but in the end, their success is up to them.
44. Get technical help.
When issues arise of a technical nature, or about a situation that you do not know how to deal with, you will save money in the long run if you outsource technical issues on a case-by-case basis. Better to pay someone, than spend hours trying to figure out something above your skill level.
45. Make time for yourself.
Ensuring that you have plenty of time for yourself and your family will make you a happier spouse, a more effective parent and generally bring you closer to your goals in your business and in your life. Never forget your why.
We hope you enjoy this list and it gave you some great ideas!
Nicole Dean & Melissa Ingold