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.
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?
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.
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.
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