Starting in small business coaching is appealing to a lot of people and can be very rewarding - but starting your own coaching business isn't for the faint of heart. It's stressful and pretty much demands your complete focus. Although business coaching was once earmarked for the most senior corporate executives, it’s fast becoming a critical tool among employees and entrepreneurs.
Coaching is a booming $2.356 billion global industry, according to the 2016 International Coach Federation (ICF) Global Coaching Study. But, becoming a professional credentialed coach, such as an Associate Certified Coach ( ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC) or Master Certified Coach (MCC ), is no easy feat in itself.
So, where do you start?
Here are 5 tips on how to make your small business coaching really come to life:
1. Let people know you have credentials
Consumers now have endless choices when it comes to whom they hire as a small business coach. When you commit to furthering your education, such as obtaining your coaching certification with an organization like the ICF, it shows potential clients your commitment to the coaching profession and builds your industry-wide credibility.
Having a certification absolutely makes your small business coaching stand out and can also bring you in more potential opportunities, specifically if you’re looking to coach within organizations. In fact, most corporations and organizations with the budget for coaching and/or leadership development require a credentialed coach.
With a certification, consumers can quickly determine if the coach they are looking to hire is legitimate. Professionals, for example, who adhere to the ICF’s credentials, can be identified by the letters that come after their name in their job title. Only individuals with the initials ACC (an Associate Certified Coach), PCC (a Professional Certified Coach), or MCC (a Master Certified Coach), are considered certified coaches. ACC’s, PCC’s and MCC’s are the only globally recognized professional coaching certifications.
The ACC is the first level of an ICF Credential. So, how do you become an associate certified coach? Well, you may or may not know that coaching is not regulated by any country or state. However, if you are serious about how to become an ACC, your first step needs to be obtaining coach-specific training. Getting training from a coaching institute to become an ACC will give you credibility in the industry and help you build your professional network. With the ICF Credential – ACC, coaches demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and commitment to high ethical and professional standards.
More than 20,000 coaches hold an ICF Credential from the International Coaching Federation. These practitioners represent the best in the coaching industry.
2. What’s the difference between a coach, a performance manager, and a mentor?
In order for you to effectively ‘pitch’ your small business coaching and define how you can help a prospective client, you need to truly recognize and understand the differences between coaching, mentoring and performance managing. I asked a true pioneer in the industry, two-time special guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, ‘The Mother of Coaching’, and XTRAcredits Faculty member, Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott PH.D. MCC, to help explain the differences. According to Dr. Carter-Scott:
A Mentor is a professional who is senior to you, has experience in the same field, knowledge of how the ‘system’ works, and can guide and direct you on your career path in light of the goals that have been established. The Mentor knows the industry, the shortcuts, the pitfalls and his/her job is to help you navigate successfully through the corporate labyrinth…usually by giving advice.
A Performance Manager is one who helps you set goals, meets with you when you complete ‘Engagements’ to provide feedback on specific performance and focus on future development priorities; they also meet with you at mid-year for progress review, and at year-end regarding performance in relation to goals that have been previously set.
The Coach is a neutral, often external professional who is selected to support individuals in either accelerating performance or in overcoming obstacles. The Coach is a ‘Safe’ and unbiased person who asks discovery questions to open up possibilities that haven’t yet been considered. The Coach helps unlock secrets that block productivity and motivation.”
The Coaching process has three phases:
1) To clarify what you want;
2) To map out an action plan to get what you want;
3) To be supported in the realization of your objectives. These phases happen in each coaching session and in every coaching project.
In the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees, executive coach Ed Batista also concurs with Dr. Carter-Scott. He defines coaching as a style of management characterized by asking questions. With those questions you can move away from command-and-control leadership to a dynamic in which your direct report grows through self-reflection.
“Everyone who has ever achieved anything in life has had at least one person whose support was unrelenting. In the highly mobile world in which we live, it is difficult to surround yourself with people who have that unconditional commitment to your success. In large companies it can be “unsafe” to communicate your aspirations rejections, concerns, worries, fears, or even goals. Very often people are eager to use the information for their own professional positioning and personal gain. Your Coach, however, will be one of your greatest encouragers and will commit to your success no matter what.”
—Cherie Carter-Scott, Ph.D., MCC
Understanding these differences better positions you to determine your small business coaching services or crossover of types of services you intend to provide in the scope of your business.
3. Start small to think big - but, act fast!
Many people don’t think big when they first start their coaching business. They might dream big, don’t think big. I’m referring in the sense of plotting strategically what might happen as their coaching business develops. They’re so jazzed about starting their coaching business that they don’t plan for success or think rationally about their business’s trajectory. Having a dream is one thing, actually executing it is another.
Don't be afraid to think big, but start small. The key is to be constantly taking action. Your growth will explode with consistent, focused action. Remember, you don’t always have to do it right but you do have to do it!
Don't be afraid to nurture your relationships. Relationships, like money, must be managed. With attention and practice, you can learn to handle relationships in a way that allows everyone to win.
Dr. Tony Alessandra, argues that the "Golden Rule" is not always the best way to approach people. Rather, he proposes the Platinum Rule: "Do unto others as "they'd" like done unto them". In other words, find out what makes your potential coaching clients tick and go from there - one relationship at a time.
Celebrate the small things! You're always striving toward the next big "win" for your business but don't think only about that one big win. Remember, 10 small wins could equate to one big win!
4. Invest in those who “Know, Like, and Trust” you to grow an audience
Launching your coaching business is only the first step. Figuring out how to nab customers is the tricky part. So you need to start thinking about ways to generate referrals and you need to start with the people that know, like, and trust you first. It’s these people who are in your immediate network of colleagues, friends, and possibly even your family that you start with.
How? By asking them for their help with the right questions. Here are some example questions:
I am trying to get a meeting with (Client Name), do you know anyone at that client’s organization, and can you help me connect with them?
I’ve started a coaching business. I offer the following services, A, B, C. Do you know anyone who may be interested in my coaching services?
‘Ask for referrals, don't wait for them! Every time you make a sale, get referrals. Even when you don’t make a sale, ask for them.’
– Grant Cardone
Grant Cardone, a faculty member here at XTRAcredits and top sales trainer in the world, has some advice for coaches starting their small business coaching practice or looking for proven ways to grow their coaching business:
“Ask yourself, are your prospective clients involved in charities, community organizations, or the boards of other companies? While the general rule is to avoid politics in business, it can be a great way to get in front of the hard-to-reach decision maker. For years, I had been trying to get in front of a potential client I knew would be perfect for my products. Instead of directly presenting my product as I had been trying to do all that time, I focused on helping him get his favorite local candidate re-elected. When I called this client, I told his assistant I was calling for her boss because I was passionate about getting the candidate he supported re-elected. She immediately put the prospect on the phone and soon we were having lunch together. Without ever having to bring up my product, he asked me how I could help his company. While I was not successful at getting his candidate re-elected, I did get his business and helped his company reach new targets. Today he is not just my client, but a great friend.”
No matter how many people know you, even like you, it's the people who trust you or trust the introduction that is made, that will do business with you.
5. Become much better at public speaking
When you're starting out in your coaching business, the most effective and least expensive way to market yourself is by word of mouth...your mouth. Public speaking is a great way to ramp up your profile as a life coach, business coach or executive coach and grow your small business coaching practice.
“Public speaking is a powerful (and cost-effective!) tool that you can use to win clients and establish your credibility as a coach,” says Patricia Fripp.
Patricia, a faculty member at XTRAcredits is regarded as one of the most electrifying speakers in North America, and she has spent the majority of her career refining her public speaking skills.
Public speaking isn't limited to the stage. You can use it to grow your small business coaching in meetings, webinars, workshops, and more. However, like any skill, cultivating a great presentation delivery is a matter of practice, preparation and persistence.
Here are 10 tips from Patricia to get you started with your presentations and help you with your small business coaching:
1. Write your own introduction
Probably someone else is going to introduce you. Write the words yourself, making it brief, pertinent, and emphasizing your credentials.
2. Know your audience
Make sure you know exactly who is going to be in the audience, why they are there, and why they invited you to speak.
3. Check the setting
Go to the facility early to make sure you’re comfortable in the surroundings. Check the microphone, lighting, audio/visual equipment, and any other factors that may affect your performance. Meet the audience members as they arrive, this is a great way to build rapport and a captive audience.
4. Start with a bang
The first thirty seconds have the most impact. Don’t waste these precious seconds with “Ladies and Gentlemen” or a weather report. Come out punching with a startling statement, quote, or story.
5. Use humor with caution
Don’t start with a joke unless you are absolutely brilliant at it. If you bomb, you’re going to lose any credibility you have. And if your only humorous material is at the beginning, the audience will be disappointed when you become serious.
6. Limit your topics
If you’re giving a half-hour speech, don’t expect to tell the audience everything you know. Pick two or three important points. Embellish your points with story and examples.
7. Structure your information
You and your audience will remember your points better if you have a clear outline. For example, start by saying, “Here are the five questions I’m asked most.” One great structure is the three Alcoholics Anonymous statements: “This is where I was” — “This is where I am now” — “This is how I got here.” (You can reverse the first two, beginning with where you are today and then contrast it with where you started from.)
8. Use handouts
If your presentation involves statistics and analytical data, put them in a handout that the audience can refer to. Don’t bore them by reciting a plethora of numbers. Stories are what make a talk memorable and lively.
9. Don’t read your speech
Look your audience in the eye. Write down key points or statements so you can refer to them, but deliver the rest of it spontaneously making eye contact. Practice with a tape recorder or in front of friends and family. After every point, ask yourself, “Who cares?” If no one does, omit it.
10. End with a bang
Write a strong and memorable closing statement or vivid example. Then memorize it so, no matter what distractions may occur, you can always “bring it home.” When the time comes, deliver your closing line directly to the audience, then accept their applause.
And there you have it, 5 secrets from the top experts in coaching, sales, and public speaking. Starting in the field of small business coaching can seem overwhelming, but if you follow the advice of these experts, the advice they themselves follow on a day-to-day basis, you too can create a rewarding and incredibly successful small business coaching career.
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XTRAcredits is the yellow pages for everything and anything continuing education and professional development credit related. XTRAcredits.com offers a catalogue of approved on-demand professional development courses for continuing education credits anytime and anywhere.
More About the Author, Lisa Patrick:
Lisa is the founder of XTRAcredits Group Inc. As a Continuing Education Program catalyst, I reveal the power of your expertise from the workplace and the stage to the different professional audiences around the world. My no-nonsense approach as the go-to expert for continuing education delivers results.