How to create reliable coaching client cash-flow – the business model that work best for life coaches
Before attracting a steady stream of your ideal clients and generating reliable, abundant cash flow, you need to have 3 other things in place.
This makes up what we call the InnerLifeSkills 4 pillars of master coaching success, where you transform from being a natural coach to professional, becoming your client’s go-to coach, and creating an abundant business.
- The 4 Pillars of life coach business building success
- Why coaching skills and certification are not enough
- Find inner wisdom to guide your business building
- The 3 Biggest challenges new certified coaches face
- Stop selling hours – sell silver services instead
- Switch from needing 20 clients per month to 20 per year
- Fixing an empty client diary business strategy
- Fixing the holiday no income business problem
The 4 Pillars of Successful Life Coach Business Building
You first need to have pillar number 1, which is confident clarity, knowing that a coaching career path is truly aligned with your natural purpose, and understanding what life coaching is and what it isn’t so that you can confidently commit.
Then to pillar number 2, which is to obtain credible certification. I’ve written a complete guide on life coach certification here to give you comprehensive step-by-step guidance when choosing the right life coach certification.
Pillar number 3, which is critical but often overlooked, is ensuring that you can offer custom-built long-term coaching solutions to increase your client success rate. To do that, you will need a multi-niche comprehensive toolbox and flexible master coaching skills. Read more about that here.
With those three pillars in place, attracting clients will not be a problem.
The wonderful challenge you now face is getting serious about building your coaching business. Most aspiring coaches who get certification are shocked to discover that they also need entrepreneurial skills to succeed.
Why your coaching skills and certification are not enough.
Your coaching skills aren’t enough to succeed unless you plan to be employed as an in-house coach. Charting your course to freedom where you build a successful, abundant business means rolling up your sleeves and learning how to build a coaching business.
But perhaps, like me, you’ve looked around for advice about how to market yourself, how to build websites, how to find clients, and feel uncomfortable (if not nauseous) because many of the techniques and methods taught there are cheesy, if not sleazy.
Is it possible to build a successful coaching business with reliable, abundant cash flow without resorting to get-rich-quick schemes and cringe marketing methods?
The good news is the answer is yes.
First, let me tell you about the surprising way I learned to build a 30+ year successful coaching and training business.
Every time I finished an expensive, lengthy marketing or business building course, I felt uncomfortable; even when the teachers were well-meaning, I didn’t want to be ‘that person,’ that person who would resort to anything to make a sale.
Two things have taught me how to adapt to savvy business, building and marketing knowledge in a way that feels good, authentic, wisdom-based and natural.
- Inner wisdom.
- Nature (aka my veggie garden).
We all have wisdom waiting within us, to guide our business building.
I built InnerLifeSkills master coaching to equip people who had a vision of making a difference in the world to be successful.
The InnerLifeSkills brand is embodied in our metaphor of building wisdom wells, which is one of the most powerful ways I know to make a difference.
InnerLifeSkills trained master coaches are equipped to help clients to help themselves by building inner wells, overcoming obstacles, the rocks that prevent them from finding their inner wealth, the aha moments, strength, insights, and life-changing clarity waiting inside of them.
We all have wisdom within us, but we don’t all know how to find it.
Fortunately, my life has pushed me sometimes through very difficult times to dig my wisdom well. Wisdom has taught me how to see business building with clarity.
Every concept of coach business building has been cleansed and clarified through the waters of wisdom, helping me to feel as good about building websites and marketing systems as I do when I paint a painting or grow a garden.
You can also access your inner wisdom to transform any inner obstacles and liberate your inner wealth so that your conscious abundant coaching business is an expression of integrity and purpose.
What can nature teach us about building a coaching business? A lot.
The second teacher is nature.
How we grow food organically can teach us how to grow sustainable, ethical coaching businesses.
I think a lot of coaches build their businesses in an unnatural way, perhaps because they don’t know there is another way.
Everything in nature grows to give and gives to grow.
When we build businesses with a “get to grow” mentality, we step out of alignment with nature and the intelligence that guides nature. When we grow to give and give to grow, we align with nature’s wisdom and its laws of balance.
When farmers deplete their soil because of ignorance or greed and don’t work in harmony with nature, they lose precious topsoil and harvest weak produce. It’s unsustainable. Businesses built on the same grab-it-while-you-can attitude are also unsustainable and leave a trail of damage in their wake.
This is a long game. This is where we build something to last, and we do this by working in alignment with natural intelligence.
I can either walk around daily watering my vegetables with a watering can or put in a sprinkler system and maintain it. You can build a business with smart ecosystems.
You can educate yourself about cross-pollination and which plants grow better near others. You can do the same for your coaching business, learning to create natural, healthy, joint venture partnerships.
There are ways to build conscious, abundant coaching businesses.
I’m fortunate to see that the grow-to-give and give-to-grow natural method brings a harvest of sustainable abundance.
My most successful graduate master coaches are out there in the world doing the same, winning one to two-year contracts, top reviews and referrals, often without even needing marketing of any kind.
The 3 biggest business challenges facing newly certified coaches.
So here are the three biggest challenges that I see coaches facing when they’ve got their certification, have a nice big toolbox, and they’re starting to get some clients.
- They realize that selling hours is tough (if not impossible).
- They worry about their empty diaries in three to six months but can’t do anything about it because they’re up to their eyeballs in working for the clients that they have today.
- They realize they can’t go on holiday because no work = no income.
I want you to be free of these to serve more people and have the kind of business (like having a beautiful organic vegetable garden) that you can harvest from.
We harvest because we’ve put in the work, we harvest because we’ve fed and watered our gardens, and then it feeds us.
Your business is the same.
If you build it with wisdom and consciously work with natural principles, you can grow a sustainable business that has looked after you and your loved ones for decades.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy.
You’d need to roll up your sleeves and climb in to get it done, but my team and I always guide you. I mentor coaches on a program called ABB Business Builder (it stands for Apple Tree Business Builder) which is a clue.
The apple tree is my symbol of our true, purposeful selves.
When we build businesses as an expression of our apple trees, of our purpose, those businesses already carry great strength and magnetic power. So it’s not surprising that when somebody builds a coaching business aligned to their purpose, they begin getting clients.
How can you serve your clients at the highest but work smarter rather than harder?
The biggest way I know that helps within days is to switch from selling hours to selling silver (cryptic metaphor up next).
Stop selling hours; start selling silver coaching products.
Switch the selling hours mindset to a silver business model mindset.
Picture an apple tree. Yes, there’s our favourite apple tree symbol again, and picture that at the top of the apple tree are gold apples, in the middle is silver apples, and at the bottom, the low-hanging fruits are bronze apples.
Each of these represents a different type of client, a different kind of product, and, therefore, a different type of business model.
Many new coaches feel it is safer to build a bronze business model (grab the low-hanging fruit).
A bronze product and business model is when you sell once-off hours. A bronze client can only afford to buy 1 of your hours.
The problem is that once a new coach starts trying to fill their diary, they realize that they have to find another 20 or 30 brand new clients every month.
Stress in spades.
In addition, what kind of impact can you make when you’re selling individual hours?
Plus, 20-30 clients a month is a lot of admin (booking, invoicing, answering queries). Also, a ton of marketing is needed to sustain this business model.
To consistently fill a diary with 20 to 30 new clients per month, you need an active database of potential clients orbiting your world of at least 3000 people.
To get that size database, you would need a lot of online marketing, probably some kind of advertising campaign, a few viable lead magnets, sales funnels, etc. Just the technology involved is huge for what is supposed to be a simple business.
The truth is bronze businesses look simple, but they’re quite the opposite.
The bronze business model often buries new coach businesses.
The sweet spot I’ve discovered with over 30 years of guiding guides and mentoring coaches and seeing what works is the silver business model.
A silver business model attracts clients who can afford long-term coaching, where your coaching product is always a coaching journey.
This means that you’re packaging more than individual sessions. You are packaging 3, 6, 9, 12 or coaching sessions into bundles.
To offer lucrative coaching bundles, you need a comprehensive coaching toolbox, a multi-niche toolbox that can adapt easily to different needs so that you and your clients aren’t stuck in a rigid, one-dimensional framework.
You can’t keep repeating the same processes in every session.
You need to put your hand into a toolbox and draw on different coaching processes and frameworks to keep things interesting and serve your client at the highest level.
Switch from needing 20 clients a month to 20 a year.
So let’s assume you’ve done that.
Imagine only needing 10 to 20 new clients annually to sustain your business.
There is far less admin, far less marketing, and far smaller database requirements, and it’s much easier to find 10 to 20 clients every year than in a single month.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Now, before you ask, “But Col, isn’t it much harder to sell a silver coaching long-term, more expensive coaching product than an individual hour?”
Besides that, you have to convert far fewer clients.
What a Silver Coaching Business Model solves.
In the silver business model, it turns out that the same effort is required whether you are selling 1 hour or 6 months’ worth of coaching.
So you might as well go for a silver business model, which is far more sustainable.
Back to my garden metaphor, do you want a garden full of quick crops that don’t feed you well but that you still have to water and look after?
Or do you want the kinds of foods that are going to serve you, like an apple tree versus a radish?
If you look after an apple tree, it can feed you copious amounts of fruit for years to come. If you grow a radish, it will only feed you a spoonful in one day, so open your mind to silver business model thinking.
Later you may even explore a gold business model layer, where you build and offer exclusive premium coached services that you might only need to sell 2 or 3 a year to be sustainable, which of course, means you can go on holiday.
When we are serving our clients at the highest, we welcome abundance because abundance means that we can grow more to give more.
For those who don’t want to neglect the bronze markets and who can’t afford silver and gold, we can fund this generous work on the back of a healthy silver and gold business.
That’s what I do.
Because my silver and gold business layers do well, I can invest time and money into giving generously.
30 years ago, when I tried to keep a bronze business alive, it nearly broke me, and I had nothing to be generous with.
Think about it.
Okay, so what about solving the empty diary problem?
What if your coaching diary is empty in 3 months?
If you are coaching clients now, but your diary is empty in three to six months, creating a silver business model, as we’ve just discussed, will go a long way to solving this problem, but so will putting systems in place.
Instead of watering my garden with a watering can, if I invest time and money in an irrigation system, I’ve now chosen to work smarter rather than harder and earn freedom.
Every aspect of your coaching business can be built into a system. Because I’m so pro-natural, organic ways of building businesses, you might even want to call them ecosystems (because no system should work alone.)
The business ecosystems we build should all work with wisdom and coherent balance with the rest of your business.
A simple system is like batching and dividing your week into intelligent segments so that you do all your admin in one go and see clients on particular days (perhaps back to back with small 15, 20-minute rests in between.)
Moving between a marketing mindset, an email writing mindset, a creative mindset, and a client-serving mindset takes a lot of effort. We are far more productive and focused when we batch similar tasks together. It’s a simple idea of a system.
Email marketing and production systems are among the other systems you could put in place to work smarter rather than harder.
If you’re wondering, Col, “How do I even start, and what should I be looking out for?”
Consider joining my ABB Business Builder program, where we offer checklists and templates, personalized mentoring, and natural organic business-building principles to guide you. You also get invaluable feedback from the group of like-minded coaches and myself every step of the way.
And finally, how do we solve the fact that as a coach you can’t go on holiday.
How do you go on holiday when no coaching work = no income?
Well, you can’t go on holiday if you haven’t built marketing ecosystems and if you’re selling individual hours.
But if you’ve got a silver business model, with wisdom-led ecosystems built into your coaching business, you can go on holiday.
If you want to take this to another level, build passive income streams and multipliers.
One of the best ways to do this is to diversify your offering from only coaching to including training and consulting.
Some of our most successful master coaches take their clients through three phases. These three phases are charged for and can potentially produce enough income to be considered a high Silver or Gold coaching offer.
- CONSULTING: First, they consult where they assess and advise on the gaps in a business.
- TRAINING: Second, they train skills and teaching and knowledge, and then
- COACHING: Third, they go onto a long-term coaching contract with their client to integrate the solutions.
Phases one and two sometimes repeat as new problems arise. Still, I have found it one of the most lucrative, sustainable, holistic ways to step into the silver-gold coaching business sustainability space.
We offer some of our top master coaches a training license and teach them how to become a consultant, trainer and coach, which means that opportunities for passive income and silver and gold business models become viable.
If you’re interested in becoming a licensed coach and trainer within InnerLifeSkills fill out this form, and let’s start the discussion.
I hope this guide has given you some insight into how you can build a sustainable cash flow for your coaching business. Read pillars one, two, and three, our COACHING GUIDES, for more information.
- How to Life Coach – CLARITY GUIDE
- Life Coach accreditation – CERTIFICATION GUIDE
- Client Success – CUSTOMIZATION GUIDE
Learn the 4 Pillars of Master Coach Success
We’re here to help, every step of the way. Join our email lessons, Master Coach Mondays, for valuable tips and tools each Monday.