A brand is not just a logo, it’s the overall experience you give to customers and audience.
Your brand expresses the value you provide. It’s you! - Amy Locurto
I chose the profession of coaching because I want to help others and am passionate about making a difference. I believe I bring experience, insights, and training to my work. I and my fellow coaches want to be the best for our clients and to do great work. Organizations and professionals who have worked with coaches can attest to the impact coaching has had on them. Coaching is a viable and growing professional services business that bears proven impact to executives and businesses.
Consumers of professional services easily pay for lawyers, accountants, and consultants, and yet I find the conversation of paying for coaching isn’t always the same negotiation. The price, or deemed value, can be wide-ranging. Is this fact a result of the coach or the client? Coaches can be uncomfortable determining their value and being definitive in what their financial value is. The market will tell us if there’s a business model so I attribute this challenge to the mindset of coaches.
The awkwardness of coaching fees
As a recently launched full-time coach, I am now focused on making my coaching services a business. For years I’ve done coaching for free and saw it as part of my personal brand. Now coaching is my profession and how I earn my living. I have comfortably negotiated a coaching engagement as a client, but now as the coach negotiating the fees, I spend time considering how to package and price the fees for the client. I cringe slightly as I send a proposed contract that includes a fee. Why does the fees part of the coaching contract continue to feel uncomfortable?
Defining coaching value
Early in my coaching career, I was introduced to a successful coach with similar professional experience as mine. We had a great introductory conversation and promised to stay in touch. She closed our conversation with, “When you start pricing your services, call me for a discussion.” And I did. She asked me what I saw my coaching value as and what that should be worth. She challenged me on that definition of value for one of my areas of specialization, business development coaching. Her words stick with me in every pricing conversation, and it still hasn’t begun to feel any easier. I’ve spent years setting and negotiating pricing for services, yet when I set pricing for myself, there’s a discomfort. Without the business advice of my fellow coach, I may likely have undervalued my services.
Adopting your business mindset
Coaches are watching the adoption of coaching and the profession’s growth with keen interest (check out: An Insider’s Guide to Coaching & Leadership Development). We are professional practitioners that have skills and experience that the market needs and wants. We are in the business of helping. We do add value and value comes with a cost. I believe our opportunity is to reconcile the helping part of our business and the business part of coaching services. Both the helping services and the business model must co-exist.
Chris Guillebeau’s book, The $100 Startup, outlines the concept of creating your business well. One of the elements he positions is the concept of finding and leveraging convergence. Convergence represents the intersection of your passion and what others care about. Your business is in the intersecting space of these two business fundamentals. Know what your convergence is, define it as your business and price your services accordingly.
As I grow my business and leverage my professional business development expertise, my business becomes more defined. Despite all my experience, business acumen and learnings, there’s that little voice in my head that continues to analyze whether I’ve got the fee for service right. As I work on my own coaching business development, ensuring a business mindset is a critical success factor. Below I’ve captured key things I believe need to exist to have a successful coaching business. At the heart of a coach’s success is the mindset of seeing the delivery of their coaching services as a viable and vibrant business.
The business mindset
Here’s my take on the core elements to be aware of and master for a successful business mindset and coaching business:
- Clearly define your products and services
- Establish trust and credibility to provide your services
- Maintain and invest in professional branding
- Define your business differentiators well
- Understand why clients buy your services
- Know your addressable market, i.e. geography and target client
- Develop a business plan
- Set financial goals, review them, and make them a priority
- Have a business advisor. This person may or may not be a coach, and should they be a coach, they must have a successful coaching business
- Know client needs, know your value, and know the fees the market will bear
- Stay attuned to client and market trends
- Most importantly, have confidence in all of the above
The coach I met many months ago who began to influence my own mindset on the business of coaching recommended the book, The Prosperous Coach. This book appeals to my business mindset and aligns with how I need to look at the business of coaching. My now go-to reference coaching business book continues to shape how I think about my coaching business and how I make it a business.
Being a growth mindset CEO
Many of us operate as ‘solopreneurs,’ and it’s our personal brand that bears a high correlation to our coaching success. As the CEO for a high growth business, what can and do you need to do to capture your and your business’ full potential? Invest time in your business and your business strategy. Take time to consider what the potential is for you in a profession that is entering into a growth mode, and set the action plan for building a highly successful coaching practice.
To connect with Lisa
Lisa W. Haydon is a Certified Executive Coach and the owner of Pivotal Coaching. Through Pivotal Coaching, she focuses on enabling companies and professionals to realize growth, transformation and strategic goals. Key areas of client services include leadership development and business development executive coaching. The Pivotal Coaching relationship incorporates programs, methodology and outcome measurements that guide targeted development for growth and results. Lisa brings to her work with clients nearly 30-years corporate experience in coaching, leadership, strategy, teaming, clients, change, revenue growth, and helping people succeed.