Lunch and Learn: How to start and grow an online coaching business
Posted: Tue 19th May 2020
Rachel Mallows, founder of The Mallows Company, has over 30 years' experience delivering training, coaching, mentoring and business support.
She joined today's Lunch and Learn to talk about starting and growing a coaching business, from pricing and platforms to the importance of goal setting.
1. What are the key things you need to think about when starting a coaching business?
Rachel provided a number of points to think about if you're just starting out:
Get a qualification or work with a professional body.
Think about developing a sector specialism.
Find a confidential space.
Manage expectations, so clients know exactly what you offer.
Join a professional group, as coaching can get quite lonely.
"You need a way that people can trust you," Rachel added. "You need to know what you're doing; it's not just a friendly chat. You need to measure the impact and evaluate."
2. What tech tools can be useful for coaching?
You need to have a great internet connection. Think through the kind of online platform you'll use and make sure you're familiar with it too, Rachel advised.
"We need to be in the room and really present to enable them to think about things and move forward. You need to be comfortable with yourself in this environment," she said.
You can prepare people for the technology failing by letting them know what you're going to do if the internet stops working or there's another issue.
Rachel is using Zoom and said it's not overly expensive. Make sure you have a decent camera.
A normal session might last an hour or an hour and a half. When coaching face-to-face it's natural to take breaks or go to the toilet. Special considerations need to be made when you're coaching online.
"Rapport is the fundamental thing. To find a way to make them feel at ease with you is important," she said.
3. How do you price your time?
Rachel advised people to research rates in their niche. Around £30 per hour is common for life coaching and £75 to £250 per hour for business advice. You can also have a range of rates, such as a lower tier for charities and not-for-profit organisations.
When you're setting your rate, consider the time you invest in both preparation and follow-up as well as business expenses.
"It's important to value your work," she warned. "When I started the business, I was under the impression that I needed to be cheaper than everyone else. It took three years to get up to the normal rate."
Knowing how you're going to measure the impact of your coaching sessions will help you talk about your value and worth.
Make sure customers understand the goals and value. One technique is to get them to explain the points back to you.
4. How do you start attracting clients?
Look for opportunities to share how you think and how you want to support people, said Rachel.
"It's a good idea to join webinars, especially things like Enterprise Nation's Heads Up meet-ups. That gives you the opportunity to talk to colleagues and they can find out what you do. You have to get out and do it," she said.
5. What's the difference between coaching and mentoring?
Rachel said her view on the definitions has changed significantly since she started. She used to put them in different boxes, but it can be very blurry.
Today, she says coaching should be about professional growth, when you see a real difference in two or three sessions. Mentoring, on the other hand, is a long-term relationship.
6. How do you promote your business without sounding too salesy?
The conversations you have with people have to be authentic. Talk about what will happen in a coaching session. One suggestion was to offer a free 10, 15 or 30-minute session to check the chemistry.
"I don't think we should offer everything for free. If this is a skill you have, if you want to run it as a business, you need to manage it quite carefully. If you have a warm-ish lead you could offer a short chemistry session."
7. How do we bring coaches to teams and young adults?
When dealing with schools, Rachel said that using the phone, rather than video calls, helps her with safeguarding.
She added that it helps to focus on solutions; hope and healing is probably better than focusing on the problem. Her approach is always to make the solution the root of the session.