In a recent Harvard Business Review article, authors Vincent Onyemah, Martha Rivera Pesquera, and Abdul Ali highlighted their research findings with regards to why entrepreneurs fail. Today many people are making career transitions and setting up their own coaching practice; which is also an entrepreneurial endeavor. So I thought it might be interesting to share these research findings relative to individuals establishing a coaching business. The key findings are:
1. Starting Late
Once you have decided to become a coach and are going through training, try it out as soon as possible. Put yourself out there and figure out what works best for you. Is it in person or over the phone? Is it weekly or biweekly? How long should sessions last? Some people want to wait until they have their certification and that is understandable. But what if you just put yourself out there, be honest with prospective clients and they might be still willing to give you a try. The key is to try things out early and accelerate the learning curve.
2. Failing to Listen
When you do get clients, solicit feedback in terms of what they like (or dislike) and what would make the process more meaningful for them. Listen to what they say and modify accordingly. Most successful coaches would say that they operate very differently today than when they started off. The bigger issue is how long it might have taken to come to that conclusion. Listen to your clients and this will also accelerate your process.
3. Offering Discounts
Even though new coaches are keen to get clients, resist the idea of offering discounts or, even worse still, doing it for free. It only serves to compromise your value and certainly raises a question mark over the client’s commitment. That said, pricing within the profession of coaching is a learning curve but perhaps offer more value such as unlimited e-mail or free calls (check in) outside of set sessions instead of lowering the cost. You can always reduce your price but it’s almost impossible to raise it.
4. Selling to Family
Notwithstanding the fact that coaching family is nearly impossible, having family members purchase from you can be tainted with motives other than the value of the service being offered. They may well be well be driven by wanting to see you succeed, make you feel good or on the other end of the spectrum, simply feeling sorry for you. None of these are helpful in getting your business off the ground. However don’t hesitate to use family to refer people your way.
5. Failing to Seek Strategic Buyers
This might be a little less pertinent relative to coaches starting out but the point here is still valid in terms of seeking out clients that can possibly advance your business rather than simply thinking one client at a time. Strategic buyers in this context might be organizations with multiple client potential, sources of referrals and testimonies or individuals that can offer positive advice and feedback in terms of advancing your business.