By Staff Writer
It’s not too late to recession-proof your coaching business.
Even in the best of times it can be challenging to build and grow a coaching business.
And 2020 has not exactly been the best of times.
We don’t want to suggest that challenges never happen, in fact, they do. ALL THE TIME!
But many coaches have seen more challenges this year than in an average year.
It’s not too late to take some key steps that will help you refocus and recession-proof business for years to come.
Review your Financials
Wait! No, don’t go yet. I know, you probably didn’t get into the coaching business because you love numbers.
Stay with us though because this is a really important step.
Skipping this could be the difference between a recession-proof business and one that can’t withstand the storm.
You didn’t start a coaching business to spend all your time looking at financials and figuring out the best ways to manage your business money.
In fact, the coaches we work with often find this one of their least favorite tasks (and that’s why we have bookkeepers as part of the Virtual A Team).
But more often than not, we see clients who are avoiding this dreadful task, and as a result, their business is hemorrhaging money.
Find the small bleeds
Odds are, you signed up for an array of business or office management type tools along the way. And odds are even better that you are no longer using at least one of them.
Business management programs or subscriptions are a very common area to a financial bleed.
Maybe your fax machine broke 6 years ago and you didn’t realize you’re still paying extra for a fax line in your home office.
Or maybe you’re paying for networking membership but you’re not able to attend the meetings.
Small bleeds. Ones that are easily overlooked but add up to a fairly large hemorrhage of financial resources.
Here are some of the most common monthly or annual fees we are paying for in our businesses:
- Software as a service (SaaS) tools - these are things like social media scheduling apps, calendar booking tools, project management tools, website maintenance, etc…
- Learning programs - these might include memberships to online learning tools like Lynda.com or specific membership programs with coaches.
- Phone lines - are you paying for an unnecessary landline or too much data?
- Ads - if you have Facebook or other ads running that aren’t serving you the results you need, maybe now is the time to reevaluate those expenses.
For more information about which home office expenses can be tax-deductible, check out this article from NerdWallet.
Take some time to review all of your monthly and annual expenses.
- Which ones are you no longer using? Unsubscribe from them as soon as possible.
- Are there some that could be doing double duty or just happen to be too much for what you need? Consolidate where feasible.
- Do any of them just not fit your big goals, even if they are still being used? Decide if they are truly worth the expense.
Review Programs and Services
After reviewing what money is going out, take a look at all the ways you bring money in; your programs and services.
Most coaches will start out with somewhat of a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” kind of plan to get stuff out there.
If this was you, it’s ok. You’re not alone.
But if you want to recession-proof your business it’s time to review what you’re offering and determine if each program or service still aligns with your bigger goals and vision.
If you’ve never worked through a clear strategy for your business and products, it might be the time to do that.
- What does your funnel look like?
- What does the client's experience look and feel like at each touchpoint?
- How are you moving prospects along their journey with you and leading them to your higher ticket services?
Having a strategy will ensure that you’re offering products and services that tie together.
When you are intentional about the cohesiveness of all your offerings it positions you as the go-to source for whatever it is that you do.
Refine Your Brand
We recently worked with a client who put out a new “group coaching” program every 2 or 3 months depending on what the current events dictated.
Unfortunately, it left her with no identifiable niche.
Her programs ranged from stress management to relationship coaching.
And while she had great information on each focus area, because she didn’t pick a lane so-to-speak, people weren’t entirely clear on what it is that she has to offer.
You want to be top-of-mind for your clients when someone is asking them for a referral or is in need of what you have to offer.
If You Sell Seashells...
For example, you want your audience to be able to say, “Oh, Susie? Yeah, she sells seashells by the seashore!”
With a focused niche and a well defined personal brand for your coaching business, your clients will immediately think of you when someone they know is asking for the best place to buy seashells. “Why at the seashore with Susie of course!”
One of our expert strategists sat down with her and worked out a plan to use 3 of her existing programs to build towards her signature coaching program.
A recession-proof business is one that can easily sway when the wind blows.
And the current events have been a bit breezy, right?
So we helped her build a marketing plan that would be effective while honoring her desire to respect current events. And set her up to weather future storms.
We discovered that her programs didn’t need to change all that much, we simply needed to adjust her marketing to convey a different tone or emphasis.
Hone Your Marketing
- What programs do you have now? Write them all down and see how they work together. If they aren’t working together to grow your business, they are working against each other.
- Which ones do you need to toss? Are there any that can be tweaked for a better fit? What new ones do you need to create to fill in the gaps?
Clean Up Systems
We have a client whose primary business is helping other business owners become more profitable.
She recently added more hours to her package with us for the express purpose of focusing on a strategy to recession-proof business. She knew that she needed better, more efficient systems.
Now, we know you might be thinking, “I don’t have any systems in my business.” We hear that often.
People often equate systems with large corporations but systems come in many shapes and sizes. For example, if you:
- Use Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Active Campaign or another email marketing platform ~ you have a system.
- If you have a certain way of responding to requests via email ~ you have a system.
- The way in which you prioritize how you spend your day ~ that's a system.
- That certain way you manage your social media ~its a system.
- And even the fact that you only schedule certain types of appointments on certain days ~ yup, it’s a system.
Focus on Function
Systems can be physical, using paper and pencil, digital, or automated.
For example, if you move emails around in your email folders as needed. You have a manual system.
If you have set up rules so that emails from a particular sender land in a designated folder, you’ve automated that system.
Just from the example above you can see how the click-and-drag method might not be the best way to go about doing things especially when you have a lot of emails coming in.
Better systems can help you increase your own personal productivity. And when you, the revenue generator, are more productive you’re able to focus on more revenue.
If you are working with a team, better systems can help your team function more optimally and save you money in the long run.
Increasing revenue and saving money is a powerhouse way to effectively recession-proof your business.
When your business isn’t running at 120 miles an hour, you have an opportunity to review your current systems and find out where you want to make improvements.
Connect, Relate, and Align
When everything is smooth sailing we can easily get caught up in our normal program engagement with our clients.
It’s easy to forget to get to know them as people, not just clients.
But in our current shifting environment people will most likely be looking for more.
- Interactions are at a distance now which means people will be naturally craving deeper connections.
- And with our uncertain economy, they will be more selective about where, and with whom, they spend their hard-earned dollars.
They want like-minded relationships with businesses that make them feel special.
Know How to Attract Your Tribe
Set aside a few extra minutes with your clients. Be intentional about being ‘in the moment’ with people you come in contact with in daily life.
The offshoot of really getting to know your existing clients is the ability to create better programs.
You will get more insight into the personality and identity of your ideal client; what attracts them and what could turn them away.
For example, terms like Boss Base or Fempreneur may be offensive to some individuals but may speak loudly and proudly to others.
You’ll also be better able to create a strong identity for your business.
Now is a great time to recession-proof your business by building relationships.
Consider Payment Options
If your business can afford to, figure out some creative payment options for your clients that also may be struggling financially.
Here are some creative ideas some of our clients have been using to recession-proof business.
Pay What You Can
Add a “Pay What You Can” option to group programs and trainings.
Don’t be afraid of having people pay less than you normally charge for a program.
You may find you get more people to register with a flexible payment option than would have without any sort of discount.
This concept also allows you to avoid the “discount” mentality since your focus is on continuing to provide valuable services to as many as possible.
Skip a Payment
Take a cue from some of the big insurance companies.
If a client comes to you and needs to skip a payment, and that doesn’t cost you a lot of money to do so, consider allowing this to happen.
One missed payment is better than losing the whole client.
Add Alternative Payment Options
Perhaps you’ve never included credit card payments before.
Now is a great time to add this service so you can make it easier for clients to continue with your services.
You may also want to consider bartering for things you're needing.
When you can work with clients and be willing to be flexible in light of the times, you are more likely to build raving fans that will be with you long after the recession ends.
Don’t go into debt to keep a client but consider what you can do to help them out.
We never want to think about having to tighten our belts and refocus our businesses because that takes us away from our primary focus, helping people. However, it’s a lot like the analogy goes,
"In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others."
The best ways to refocus your coaching business and build a recession- proof business are to:
- Review your financials
- Review your programs and services
- Clean up systems
- Get connected
- Consider payment options.
When you can invest some time in taking these steps, you’ll build a stronger, more stable business for years to come.
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