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7 Steps to Start an Online Business as a Coach or Consultant

7 Steps to Start an Online Business as a Coach or Consultant

Do you have an offline business, and you’d love to transition to a freedom-based business model? Or perhaps you’re not a business owner, but you have solid experience, expertise, and passion for your career, and you’d love to reach more people. Either way, there is a method to bring your knowledge online, and in doing so, skyrocket your reach, leverage your time, and take the ceiling off your income.

Gone are the days where starting a business means you need to write out a long, detailed business plan, meet with bankers, take out a large loan, and build a brick-and-mortar business, hoping that the people in your community will become your customers.

In today’s world, with a laptop and an internet connection, you have the ability to start an online business.

One of the great ways to maintain a personal touch in your business, yet greatly increase your impact, is by starting an online consulting or coaching business.

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How do you do this?

1. Choose your target market

You might know this right away, or you might narrow it down as you gain experience. Think about who you want to serve, and get specific. Do you want to help moms with newborns? Do you want to help single men? Do you want to help corporate leaders? Think about your ideal client.

If you don’t know specifics right now, that’s fine. Clarity comes from taking action. As you start offering your services, you’ll learn about who it is that you really love working with as clients, and you can get more and more specific about exactly who you serve.

2. Select a specific problem you want to help your target market solve

Are you unsure what problem you could help people solve? Think about your life. What do people ask you to help them with? Do you find that people frequently ask for your advice or assistance with a certain problem?

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As you choose which problem you want to help your ideal clients solve, the more specific you are, the better. This is for two reasons. First of all, when you’re specific, you can really become an expert at helping that group of people. You can learn a lot about your target market, and can niche your services to solve their specific problems. This leads to better coaching or consulting results. Also, when you are very specific about who you serve and what problem you help them solve, your marketing materials will “speak” to them. You want your ideal clients to hear about your services and know that you’re the coach who can help them solve their exact problems.

If you’re not exactly sure which problem you want to help people solve, check out this free workbook to help you choose your niche. Also, it’s important again to note that clarity comes from taking action. As you begin working with coaching or consulting clients, you will learn what you love helping them overcome, and what you don’t enjoy as much. You’ll discover where you’re getting amazing results, and what energizes you. Your business can evolve as you go.

3. Critique your idea

Just because you think you have a good idea doesn’t necessarily mean people will actually pay you for it. Think about the problem you want to help people solve. Does it enable you to use your strengths? Do you have knowledge in that area? Can you offer value to others and help them transform their lives? Are people currently paying money to have this problem solved for them? Will your coaching or consulting services help them solve a problem big enough in their life that they’re willing to hire you for help?

4. Put your idea to the test

You can put your idea to the test by offering free 15-minute consultations to people. In Born For This, author Chris Guillebeau suggests giving brief, free consultations to 100 people. Name your session something catchy that helps people understand what they’ll get out of the session. Then, hop on the phone with them, give them a ton of value, and follow up with them on a later date for feedback.

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While you’re doing your free sessions, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel excited and energized by helping people solve this problem? Or, do you feel drained and exhausted after these conversations? Do you enjoy working with these clients, or have you discovered you need to change your target market? Also, are you helping people get their desired results?

5. Find your ideal clients

Now that you’ve tested and tweaked your idea, and gained some experience, it’s time to find real clients. Think about your ideal clients. Where do they hang out online? Where do they hang out offline? What groups do they belong to? Which social media platform are they spending time on? You can have the world’s best coaching or consulting services, but unless you know how to get your offer in front of your ideal clients, you won’t have a solid business. Although it can be intimidating, you’ll need to get visible online in order for your ideal clients to discover you and your amazing services.

6. Become a legit business

When you’re ready to make your coaching or consulting business the real deal, it’s time to become a legit business. I recommend testing your idea first, before you spend tons of time and money investing in something that turns out to be nothing more than an “expensive hobby.”

At conferences for entrepreneurs, I have met many people who have paid thousands of dollars to have websites and business cards designed for them, but they have not yet built their informational products or actually offered their coaching or consulting services to anyone. In my opinion, it’s better to get out there, take action, and see if you have an idea that people would pay you for, before you spend a ton of money and time making it look like a “real business,” only to discover later that it’s not a viable idea.

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When creating your legit business as a coach or consultant, you can build a simple website that looks professional, and states who you are, who you serve, and how you can help your target market. It’s also a good idea to have a formal contract for your clients to sign when they purchase your services. This legal contract can discuss things such as your cancellation policy, refund policy, and expectations of your client. And, it’s wise to treat your business like an actual business. Have systems in place to keep track of the financial aspects of your business.

7. Grow your business

Now that you’re helping your ideal clients solve their problems, and they’re getting amazing results from your coaching or consulting services, you can scale your business. You can continue to offer 1:1 private coaching or consulting services, and exchange dollars for hours. Or, to leverage your time, increase your hourly income, and reach more people, you can offer services in a group format. You can also build online products such as e-books or courses. With those, the work is ‘front-loaded,’ meaning you do a lot of work up front, but can then collect income for a long period of time.

The time has never been better to start an online business as a coach or consultant. When you bring your expertise online, you can reach people around the world and influence many more people than you could in a traditional business.

Featured photo credit: Sean and Lauren / https://flickr.com via flickr.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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