Did you know that there are 7 mistakes that new coaches make regularly, costing money and time – and potentially jeopardising the success of their coaching business. In this article, Tim Hodgson, author of ‘Jump Start Your Coaching Business’ explains how to avoid these traps – and become incredibly successful.
Mistake #1: Spending hours on your company name.
Your best brand is yourself. People will remember who you are, not the name of your company – so why not just use your own name? When you build your coaching organisation into an international company employing dozens of coaches, even then your name is a powerful brand. It’s worked for JP Morgan and Tony Robbins – so instead of agonising for weeks over your company name, just use your own. Feel free to add ‘Coaching’ or ‘Training’ at the end. I actually know lots of coaches who started out with clever business names and have gone back to their own name as a brand.
Mistake #2: spending peanuts on business cards.
When you are out networking your services, then it’s your business card that gets handed over. You need to make sure that it reflects quality – because then that’s what people will connect with you. This is what they have to remember you by. Avoid the free cards – and definitely don’t print your own! Make sure it’s got all the key information on it, and steer clear of clever pictures which always end up looking cute. Make it clear and easy to read, and why not use the back to say a little about the services you offer.
Mistake #3: the trifold brochure.
The advantage of these is that they are cheap. The disadvantage of these is that they are cheap. And they look it. If you want to put a brochure together, then make it a quality one. Invest in good photographs, good graphic design, great layout. Use quality printing. It doesn’t need to be a huge brochure – but if you use a reputable printer and good quality material, then you will have a great product that will sell you as being really professional.
Mistake #4: Pro bono clients.
Many new coaches do a lot of free coaching to start their business up. Often this is the way they get their coaching hours up to get their qualification. It’s a big mistake, and here’s why.
First of all, free clients don’t have the same investment in the coaching programme. In my experience they are the ones who skip calls or don’t do their assignments. Secondly, it sends the message to the client that you are inexperienced. In NLP we speak a lot about ‘acting as if’ – it’s time for you to behave as if you are an experienced coach, and then that’s the message the client will get. Thirdly, it undervalues who you are. You have a lifetime (your lifetime) of experience behind you, alongside your investment in training. If you’re uncomfortable asking for money, then what about trading services such as printing – or what about asking for qualified referrals?
Mistake #5: undercharging
Once they’ve got past coaching for free, it seems that a lot of coaches go through a phase of ‘who’d want to pay for little ol’ me?’ You need to really look at what you need to charge for your services. One way to do it is to work out what you could earn in a job and then work out what you need to charge per hour, based on a balance of coaching, admin and marketing (I suggest something between 10 and 20 billable hours per week).
Mistake #6: being all things to all men (and women!)
It’s tempting to want to market to as many people as possible, particularly when you’re starting up. It seems so important to get clients that you will sell to anyone. Here’s the problem: you end up being unable to explain why someone should hire you – because you have no niche. Two things happen when you have a clearly defined target market: firstly, you find it easier to sell your services – it’s easier to identify your prospects, and easier to explain what it can do for you. Secondly, you can charge higher fees – which means you don’t need as many clients anyway!
Mistake #7: thinking small.
It’s very easy to set up a coaching business. You can work from home, you don’t need any massive investment, and you don’t have to buy a costly franchise. The danger is that starting small can end up in you thinking small. Consider how you can extend what you do. Is there a bigger niche you can move into? Can you join forces with others? Can you extend your range of services into training or into product sales (books, ebooks, CDs, DVDs)? Thinking along these lines takes you outside of the ‘how many hours can I sell, how much can I charge’ thinking and sets you free to be incredibly successful.
I show you how to avoid all these mistakes – and more – in my book ‘Jump Start Your Coaching Business’ (www.jumpstartyourcoachingbusiness.co.uk). This A4 manual is full of practical advice on how to create your perfect coaching practice and how to be really successful in what you do.