Whether starting from scratch or building up more clients, how to grow your business is a common question for all coaches. Pinning down everything from the name and structure to creating a website and proper branding needs to be decided. Many of these decisions can affect your business down the road- positively or negatively. Even after you get your business started continuing to build it to it’s full potential is another struggle. Every coach faces hurdles and challenges along the way. Use these tips to help you navigate your way to success.
Choose a Name
The first part of getting your business started is choosing a name. This is absolutely critical and something you need to take great consideration in choosing. “Don’t involve your personal name or terms like best, top or pinnacle. Be original and inspirational,” advises D3 Multisport owner Mike Ricci. Remember that you will be using this on your website, business cards, hats and apparel, so make it easy to read in small print and keep it short.
Create Your Business Structure
Once you have a name the next step is setting up a business structure. Most coaches use an LLC or S-Corp for their structure. Both have pros and cons in terms of taxes and liabilities. It may cost you a consultation fee but working with a professional to set this up correctly from the start is worth the cost. Along those same lines, understand your liability risks and mitigate those where possible. “It’s important to make sure you have liability insurance and good release forms to send to your athletes. You can hire some legal guidance and create your own liability forms or use some of the ones that may be provided as a template from your governing organization,” says Jason Short, the owner of Threshold Endurance. At this point, hiring professionals to assist you is worth it.
Next comes planning. While this sounds obvious many coaches overlook this step. “Even if you just throw down a quick mission statement and some rough ideas as to how your coaching business is going to be profitable and maybe even expand, that is going to be better than nothing,” says Short. “Having an idea of how you are going to make a profit while providing a service that people will pay enough for is a key factor. Ricci goes into more detail and says coaches need to ask themsleves some hard questions, “Are you going to sell it? Bring on partners? How many hours will you work per week? How long will you do it for? If you are the only one working in your business, you have created a job for yourself and you’ll never have time off from it. You’ll be working constantly and life will be work, work work.” Just like your athletes need plans for their event, you need a plan for your business.
Now you have a name, a structure and a plan and are ready to add clients. How can you attract those clients and start bringing in revenue? Having a good website is a must. If you know what you’re doing you can build it yourself, but know that a basic website usually isn’t enough. “I built my first website on Go Daddy and it was really clunky and I couldn’t update it. My site became irrelevant in months,” recalls Scott Jones, the owner of IMJ Coaching. “The second time around we spent $3000 and the designer taught Teresa (an assistant coach) how to update the site and made her feel very comfortable working the back end of the site so she can constantly update the site with new content.” That’s not a cheap investment, but it will set you apart and be an asset rather than a hinderance to attracting new clients. Jones believes that good Adword and search engine optimization is not to be overlooked.
Branding your business is another way for coaches to get their name out to potential athletes. “Get some branded gear made up and wear it while you train and race,” suggest owner of No DNF coaching Keith Watson. “Give it to your athletes, make them wear it and write off the cost.” Jones recommends that triathlon coaches start with small items like swim caps before moving on to tech T’s. Watson also points out that having a car magnet with your logo and website can be a great way to get your brand more visibility. Other ways to get your name out to potential athletes is to hold clinics. “A couple of ways that coaches can successfully create a name for themselves and build a client base is by getting involved in their community and holding promotions for your coaching services,” says Short. “Many clubs would love for a coach to come give their members a free clinic, which also serves as a great opportunity to interact with potential customers one on one, showing them the value you can provide as a coach.” Watson echoes this idea saying coaches should host free clinics at their local club or rec center. Writing for blogs and other websites is another way to present yourself as the expert.
Organization is a general theme that all four coaches agree on. Aspects like your income and expenditures should be monitored. Establish a separate bank account and line of credit to keep revenues and expenses separate. Maintain up to date client files, and keep all your business, coaching, and marketing resources organized and easily accessible.
Every coach has their struggles when getting started. Some great ideas will fail while others will grow to be a larger success than you imagined. Start with a good business base, stay focused and don’t hesitate to look to others to do the things you are not good at so you can focus on what you do well- coaching.