I started my business in March 2019. Then took a break from business and social media between August to February 2021. I officially returned to social media in March 2020, and have been running my business since then. Since March 2019, I’ve learned a lot about how to make my own business work.
Here’s what I would do if I was starting my online coaching business from scratch in 2021.
There’s been a lot of ups and a lot of downs in my business.
If I had to be honest, the ups were not consistent until December 2020 because it wasn’t until then when I started hitting 10k USD months in my business.
I have since then been consistently making a minimum of 7k USD per month in my business, even as a side hustler.
I’ve worked with many clients since March 2019. Because of this, I’ve also learned a lot about how to help clients get results, what’s important to focus on when we work together to help them sign high ticket clients and grow their business to a point where they start making a full time income on part time hours.
Besides the strategy and action items, I’ve also been paying attention to the characteristics and mindset of clients who get the most results from working together.
I’ll be going through five key areas to focus on if you’re just starting out in your coaching business. These are exactly what I’d do myself if I was literally starting today.
These five areas follow my signature five-part framework, which I created around late 2020.
Fast forward six months later, I’ve seen tremendous growth in my business, helped many clients sign their first high ticket clients and hit new income goals such as 5k months.
This is the framework that I would personally follow if I was starting out today.
Here’s the five-part framework:
1. Thought leadership and brand positioning
2. Content strategy that builds authority and demand for your offers
3. Selling your high-ticket program
4. Amplifying your visibility
5. Mindset, self-belief and your identity as an entrepreneur
More specifically, how I structured this framework is that first, we need to make sure you’ve mastered #1, #2 and #3 and you’re signing on high-ticket clients consistently, before we start to scale and amplify everything with #4.
The reason is because it’s really important to master the basics first, before trying to add the fancy bells and whistles that you technically don’t really need, but there is a time and place for that later on in your business journey.
Most importantly, throughout this entire process, it’s so important to strengthen your mindset and develop your identity, self belief, and confidence as an entrepreneur on a daily basis.
Before I dive into each of these parts, I need to emphasize very clearly that there’s no one size fits all road map for building a coaching business.
There are no best practices that will guarantee you a 5k month in your first month of business.
There are no strategies you have to implement to make 10k in 90 days.
That’s the scary but also beautiful thing about building a business and being an entrepreneur.
Building a business is unlike your roles in a traditional job or in school, where you have a set of instructions and rules to abide by or a checklist of things you should strive towards in order to move up the ladder in your specific niche, industry, or role.
I need you to keep in mind that for every suggestion I make here, there’s a lot of room for flexibility. Meaning you don’t have to follow this post strictly in order to see success.
Remember: This is simply what I would personally do in my own business if I was starting from scratch today.
However, there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to build a successful business.
Someone could achieve the same results but they operate their business completely differently from me, right?
#1: Thought leadership and brand positioning
First and foremost, one thing I would 100% drill down on is my own thought leadership.
Don’t let this intimidate you.
When I say thought leadership, what I really mean is: What are my thoughts? What are my opinions and perspectives? What are my own experiences and examples? What are all those things inside my brain that I can share?
The reason I will do a lot of self reflection work in the beginning is because one of the biggest mistakes I see new coaches make is that they look at what other successful coaches are doing, and they literally try to mimic that.
If they see another coach talk about a particular topic, they’ll also talk about that topic.
What usually ends up happening is that new coaches consume so much content from other coaches that their own voice and ideas get washed out.
This happens because when you start doubting your own take on certain topics instead of speaking your honest truth and sharing your own original ideas.
When you do this, it’s likely that you’ll look like “just another basic coach on Instagram” because there’s nothing original about what you’re saying.
However, when you’re able to first figure out what your own genuine ideas are. When you get clear on what are the thoughts inside your brain, it becomes easier to create content that’s different from everyone else in your niche.
Once you’ve gotten clear on your own thought leadership, it also becomes easier to position yourself within your niche and stand out right from the get go.
The reason why I talk about thought leadership so often is because how often do you see a new coaches’ Instagram account and you take a look, but their content looks really similar to all the other coaches in their niche.
Maybe the colors and fonts look a bit different, sure. However, the substance and quality of their content simply doesn’t stand out, and it also sounds very generic and lacks originality.
That’s why it’s so important to develop your own thought leadership and leverage that to position your business and brand.
Here’s an example from one of my clients, Crystal, who created her first 5k month in her coaching business just 4-5 weeks after joining my one-on-one program.
When she first joined my program, we spent the first few weeks discussing her thought leadership and brand positioning.
We took the time to challenge Crystal to think of what she truly wants to be known for.
As soon as we tweaked her messaging and started crafting a content strategy that reflects her unique thought leadership, she started booking several discovery calls and soon created a 5k month.
Super, super cool.
From a coach’s perspective, what Crystal did really well was owning her voice and ideas.
She started sharing her honest ideas with her audience, and she told me that some of those ideas were not what other coaches in her niche were necessarily talking about.
But she was excited to share her message because she believes in them so much and she truly believes these are what her ideal clients need to hear.
And guess what?
That’s exactly what happened.
What’s one thing you can start doing to hone in on your thought leadership and brand positioning?
To get started, I recommend listening to Episode 34: Thought Leadership as Coaches & Entrepreneurs on The Side Hustle Club Podcast. I discussed a lot more about thought leadership for coaches and entrepreneurs
One more thing you can do to get started is to take a look at your colleagues from your niche, and use your analytical thinking muscle to list at least ten things that are unique about you.
Even if you are looking at other coaches and thinking, “I don’t know what makes me different, I still need you to write down ten things?!”.
I need you to start using your brain to think, instead of relying on other people or trying to model after others.
If you truly want to step into the role of a thought leader in your niche, the first step is literally to use your own brain. So, this is your first homework from me.
#2: Content strategy that builds authority and demand for your offers
One thing I’m glad I did back in March 2019 was committing to doing Instagram stories every single day.
Even though I didn’t do video Instagram stories daily, I committed to posting something on my Instagram stories. Even if it was re-sharing someone’s post and adding a quick sentence about what I liked most about the post, or a random boomerang showing something from my personal life.
This helped strengthen my consistency muscle and showed me that I’m someone who can commit to my goals, even if it’s a brand new thing I’ve never done before.
I would definitely jump into doing videos on Instagram stories right away.
I would still choose to build my business primarily on Instagram because it’s the platform I feel most comfortable on, so staying consistent would be a lot easier.
That said, if I was just starting out, I would 100% not add a second platform just yet.
Until I have mastered my consistency and honed my thought leadership and brand positioning and built demand for my coaching program on Instagram, I would not start on a new platform.
That was one of the mistakes I made back in the day, which was doing multiple platforms at once.
During the first few months of my business, I was on Instagram, had a Facebook group, started a podcast, posted on LinkedIn, and was sending out emails and trying to build an email list.
It was a hot mess because I haven’t mastered the basics, yet I was doing so much and it was stretching me way too thin.
I burnt out and was constantly stressed out.
Business was not fun when I was struggling to master so many things at once.
What I would do today, if I was starting over, is to pick one social media platform and do it really, really well.
This means taking the time necessary to develop a content strategy that works and will help attract my first few paying clients, before starting another platform such as a podcast, YouTube, email list, LinkedIn, etc.
I would focus on having a mix of different content types. Specifically, I would definitely follow my own content strategy, the 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy.
Let me give a quick overview of this strategy. You can also listen to Episode 3: The 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy to learn more about the strategy and how to implement it.
The 3×3 part of the 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy is made up of the 3 content types that make up your brand, multiplied by 3 content pillars.
The three content types that make up your brand are:
Content pillars are the topics or themes that you’ll create content.
I recommend sticking to 3 (no more than 5) content pillars that are related to your brand and business in order to create a consistent and coherent brand message.
This is because if you talk about twenty different topics, your audience won’t see you as a go-to figure on a small set-number of topics.
Again: You have 3 content goals x 3 content pillars = The 3×3 part of your content strategy.
Now, the (+1) type of content is key for your business.
If you want to have a profitable and meaningful business that serves clients, you’ll need to make sales.
So, this +1 type of content is content that sells your offer and invites your audience to take the next step.
In sum: 1 content goal x 1 offer = The (+1) part of your content strategy.
The reason why I would follow the 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy at the start of my business is because I often see new coaches lean too much towards one or two of these content types over the rest.
For example, a very common thing I see is coaches relying heavily on creating educational content and how-to tips to supposedly build their authority. However, they focus so much on this that they rarely create the other three types of content.
But, I would argue that when you’re just starting out, you need to have a more balanced mix of content types so that people can get a more well rounded view of what you’re all about.
If you’re only doing educational tips or authority building content, for example, how will your audience get to learn more about you, your story and your personality?
How will you develop that sense of relatability and connection with them if all you do is throw around tips and information?
Sure, maybe they’ll be able to see that you know your stuff.
But, that’s only one part of the puzzle.
If people don’t feel like they like you or if they cannot imagine working with you in a coaching container, then why would they even apply or join your coaching program?
This is the reason why I would first focus on having a more balanced and well rounded content strategy.
This is important for building demand for your coaching program.
What are the main deciding factors that people use when deciding whether to work with a coach?
For me, if I had to boil it down, it comes down to:
1) Whether the coach can get me results
2) Whether I feel like I know, like, and trust them.
Going back to the 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy.
The authority and relationship building content types will help you with the latter – i.e. to help your audience see that you know your stuff and build trust, and to help your audience feel connected to you and build that sense of know and like.
On the other hand, your selling content helps showcase the value of working with you.
To top it off, your attracting content helps attract more of the right eyeballs to your page so your authority building content, relationship building content, and selling content can continue working together to build demand.
I would personally build my own content strategy around this 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy.
#3: Selling your high-ticket program
One thing I would do from day one is talk about what I do.
Even if I was still working with beta clients for free, or even if I haven’t yet thought about my paid signature program, I would still talk about what I do and how I can help.
A lot of new coaches hold off selling their programs and extending an invitation to their audience to check out their offer because they feel like they’re still lacking.
The three most common things I’ve heard are, “I feel like I’m lacking experience” , “I need more posts on my Instagram feed first to warm up my audience.”, and “I need to learn this strategy before I’m ready.”.
The reason why I would still start talking about how I can help my audience in my content, even from day one, is because I’m going to only talk about the ways I know I can already help people.
Even if I’m still working behind-the-scenes to gain additional skills and work with more people to get more experience.
It’s so important to operate in integrity, meaning I’m only going to start sharing about the ways I currently already know how to help people. Instead of trying to stretch it and say that I can help with steps 1 through 10, when realistically, I can only help you with steps 1 to 5.
While I currently promote how I can help people with steps 1 through 5, I will be working with real people on not just steps 1-5, but also steps 6 to 10.
That said, when I’m talking about how I can help, I wouldn’t necessarily touch on steps 6 to 10 yet.
Because I’m still developing my skills on that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work with clients, free or paid, on additional items i.e. steps 6 to 10.
It’s so important to start telling people how you can help them from day one.
The more you delay that, the more you’re delaying your own business growth, both in terms of income and impact.
If you’ve already listened to Episode 36. Client Spotlight: How Alyssa Signed 9 Clients in 3 Months of the Side Hustle Club Podcast, you’d already know a bit about my past client, Alyssa’s, business journey and how she signed nine clients in three months.
One thing Alyssa shared was that she actually avoided sharing about her coaching program for months, even though she had the experience and already knew how she could help her clients.
After we coached her through the thoughts that were really holding her back from sharing her offer for three or four weeks, she finally started sharing on social media how she can help her ideal clients.
Fast forward a month later, she was surprised by her first four figures in business.
Fast forward three months later, she has now signed on nine clients and counting and recently left her 9-5 job to go full time into business.
WOW. I’m mind blown.
The reason why I share this particular client example is to show you the importance of not delaying talking about how you can help others.
One more thing I would also strongly recommend is to really master your skills as a one-on-one coach and make sure you can deliver an incredible experience for your one-on-one clients and help clients get amazing results instead of rushing to start a group program or launch a course.
It wasn’t until March 2021 when I launched my first group program because I had to get honest with myself about my clients’ results.
Even today, I’m still doing one-on-one coaching because I want to continue honing my skills as a one-on-one coach before shifting focus towards groups.
Because I know there will come a time when one-on-one coaching isn’t my main offer anymore, as I believe that demand will only continue to grow.
However, I am not in any rush at all to pivot my business model.
I see so many new coaches try to do this because they want to make money in their sleep and start thinking about scaling.
But they haven’t even yet been able to get consistent results for their clients!
This lack of patience is only going to backfire at some point.
Even if you’re able to market your new group program or digital course really well, if your clients don’t get results or don’t enjoy their experience because you haven’t yet mastered how to serve clients at the one-on-one level, it’s just not a good look for your business.
I would also question whether that’s how you want to operate your business.
Make a conscious effort to talk about your offer or how you can help people at least several times a week.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to talk about your offer.
#4: Amplifying your visibility
I usually don’t work with my own clients on amplifying their visibility until #1, #2, #3, and #5 are locked in and they’re able to sign clients simply from doing the basics first.
That’s why I’m only going to gloss over this area for the purpose of this post.
Personally, this is what I would do to amplify my visibility if I was just starting out in my business: focus on making friends in the online space. Literally.
Right now is not the time for the typical lead generation strategies you hear most business coaches talk about, such as building sales funnels and creating freebies or lead magnets.
Instead, I would personally focus on having genuine conversations that are not forced and ideally not business related with people on my platform of choice, which is Instagram for me.
I would try to make new friends without talking about my business because I genuinely want to make new connections.
I want to clarify this with the previous section about making an offer and talking about what you do.
For #3, I’m referring to sharing about your offer and how you can help people in your own content, rather than in your conversations with people unless they are clearly messaging you about how they can work with you.
However, if the context of your conversation with someone is not intended to be about your coaching program, then I personally would not even try to bring up my offer.
Instead, I would try to have a conversation and make a friend. That’s it.
The reason this is something I would do if I were starting out today is because, first of all, wouldn’t it be awesome to make friends along the way as you’re building your business?
Second, you truly never know what kind of connections you’ll make.
Whether it’s a new business BFF or a collaborator or someone who invites you onto their podcast, someone who’s your biggest fan and always shares your content.
Or, hey, who knows, maybe even someone who becomes a client.
You truly never know who you’ll meet along your journey.
Literally go and talk to people and have genuine conversations. That’s it.
#5: Mindset, self-belief and your identity as an entrepreneur
Here’s the thing about mindset.
If you’re constantly stressed and anxious about where your next client will come from, that’s going to affect the energy in which you operate from.
For example, it affects how you show up on Instagram stories, because your mind is so focused on getting clients rather than genuinely wanting to provide value via your content.
There’s a lot of non verbal communication cues that suggest to the audience that your intentions aren’t quite right.
Another example is that it also affects the number of things you do in your business.
One thing I’ve noticed among a lot of new coaches and entrepreneurs who are stressed about getting their first playing clients is because they are so caught up in trying to get their first few clients, they get really desperate and impatient and feel like they need to do more in order to sign clients.
They don’t believe that they can simply focus on mastering the basics to sign those first few paying clients.
They get impatient and desperate, so they start adding on a free webinar or masterclass to their to-do list.
Or start creating different freebies and build an email list.
Or spend weeks on creating a website.
The truth is, when your thoughts are spinning out of control, it reflects on how you show up and the actions you take.
Your audience can typically pick up on these cues.
Also, why would you want to even continue building this business if you’re constantly upset, frustrated, stressed, and anxious?
Is that even worth it to your mental wellbeing?
That’s why it’s so important to work on your mindset and be very critical with your self doubt, limiting beliefs and comparisons.
This is also why I strongly recommend working with a coach who knows how to coach.
It doesn’t necessarily matter what niche they’re in so long as they know how to coach entrepreneurs really, really well.
I say this because as someone who started to get coached by someone who really knows how to work with my brain and my personality, my business results skyrocketed.
Likewise, once I started developing my own approach to coaching my clients especially on their thoughts related to their business, that’s when my client results and client experiences shot up.
If you compare my client results today versus the ones from 2020 or 2019, there’s a clear difference.
That’s because I have now started honing in my craft and skills as a coach particularly when it comes to working with my clients on their thoughts and mindset.
This is why if I am starting from scratch today, I would do my due diligence and research, and find a coach who knows how to work with business owners , especially side hustlers since I’m a side hustler myself.
Whether it’s a business coach like myself, or a mindset coach who has plenty of experience working with entrepreneurs, it doesn’t matter.
But I truly wish I’d done this back in March 2019 because as I mentioned earlier, I ended up taking a break from my business for 6-7 months after just a few months of starting my business.
I explain this in way more detail on Episode 16. My Biggest Business Regret (Don’t Do This Mistake) of The Side Hustle Club Podcast.
Because my mindset was in such a poor state and I couldn’t manage my thoughts, I quit my business for 6-7 months.
Seeing how getting coached from the right coach has changed my life, I truly believe that if I had to start all over again, I would get my mindset, self belief and confidence as an entrepreneur down pat from the get go.
I’d like to share about my client Jennifer. Jennifer is one of my clients who literally only has the basics in place, and she has just signed her first paying client even before she started talking about her offer publicly on Instagram.
That’s because for her, #1, #2, and #5 were in place.
She started creating content on Instagram that showcased her thought leadership, and her content was strategically building up to her offer (although at the time she signed her first paying client, she hadn’t even mentioned her offer online yet).
Most importantly, her mindset was in place.
When her client first sent her a DM about how Jennifer could potentially help her, Jennifer told me that the reason why she thinks this client ultimately became her first paying client is because of her energy and mindset.
When I asked Jennifer what she thought were the reasons why she was able to create her first client, here’s the message she sent to me, “I think the right things I did were how I showed up in all my direct interactions with her. My energy and mindset put me in a truly curious and compassionate headspace.”.
WOW. This just exemplifies how when you are truly thinking about how you can help people, and stop caring about what the client can do for you aka are they going to pay me.
People can sense it.
Because Jennifer really wanted to learn more about the person and see whether she can help the client, she wasn’t spinning out in mind drama about getting a paying client.
This resulted in a way more enjoyable experience for herself and also resulted in her first paying client.
Jennifer didn’t even have all the basics in place!
She literally just started posting content consistently for three weeks and has already created a paying client. INCREDIBLE.
One thing you can do within your business starting today, is to develop a self coaching practice.
Self coaching is something I work on with my clients and it’s something I implement in my own mindset practices.
I’m not going to go into what this looks like or how to do it. But I would definitely encourage you to start challenging all of your limiting beliefs with a critical mind.
This does not simply mean listening to motivational videos and podcasts. That’s very surface level.
Instead, do something like brain dumping all of your limiting beliefs and thoughts that are clearly not serving you, then look at them and use your critical thinking muscle to tackle each of them, one by one.
Alternatively, I would also strongly recommend working with a coach who clearly knows how to work with entrepreneurs and coaches like yourself.
Of course if you’ve ever resonated with my approach and think I might be the right coach for you, I’d love for you to join me inside The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program.
I invite you to think about what we discussed in this post and please implement the action items I provided for each of the five areas, especially if you’re in the early stages of your business and would love to start seeing results.
Join Us in The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program.
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Besides signing clients, soft launching also helps you to:
✨ Increase visibility and be seen as a thought leader, even in a saturated niche
✨ Add more structure to your business
✨ Do your business on just 0-2 hours a day
This is how we scale our business to 6 figures while side hustling.
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