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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 December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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