As a coach, your business plan is a great jumping off point for finding clarity, focus, and direction with your brand.
There are tons of awesome business plan templates out there for freelancers and creative entrepreneurs, but what I’ve found with my own business and with my clients who are also coaches is that it can be hard to find a template that fully fits our business model and needs.
A business plan has two main goals:
- Clarify your business idea and all the nitty gritty details
- Get you moving forward with your business goals and plans
As a coach, whether you work within the life, health, fitness, creative, business, or relationship industries, the way our business works behind the scenes differs slightly from other freelancers such as designers, photographers, and writers. I’ve found with almost all of my clients that without a solid business plan in place it’s hard to move forward in a way that is purposeful, strategic, and productive for their brand. And for my clients who are coaches, what I’ve seen them struggle with the most is to find a style of business plan that hones in on what it is they’re really trying to build.
That’s where today’s post comes in.
I’ve pilled together some of the core tasks that I have my clients work through when they’re getting stuck into figuring out their brand, their business plan, and how to bring it all together in a way that is purposeful and profitable at exactly the same time. For coaches specifically, I’ve outlined this into a ten step business plan to help you clarify your vision, your ideas, and how to translate that into a profitable business with a community, raving fans, and a schedule booked up with clients along the way.
Let's jump in...
1. Your mission:
Figuring out your mission is how you hone in on the core values and intentions of your brand. Your mission is your why, and you can then take your mission and use it as a jumping off point to share it with the right people in a way that resonates and connects.
- What’s your vision for your brand? What’s your Who, What, Where, and How?
- If you had to describe your brand in 3-5 words of phrases, what would they be?
- How has your own story and experience shaped the work you want to be doing and your approach as a coach? What’s the why behind your coaching practice?
- What’s your elevator speech? How would you define, in two sentences or less, who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it?
2. Your methodology:
Your methodology as a coach is the weight behind the work you do. It’s what you bring to the table every time you work with a client, and it’s why clients will choose to work with you instead of others in your industry - because they connect with your methodology and trust that it’s the one that will be able to serve them best. Your methodology is also your jumping off point to creating content that resonates and connects with the right people for you.
- What are 5-10 core ideas and beliefs that shape your methodology as a coach?
- What has shaped and inspired your methodology as a coach?
- How does your methodology align with industry norms? How does it differ?
- What theories, strategies, and core values do you bring to the table through your coaching practice? What is your specific approach to the work that you do?
3. Your ideal clients:
As a coach, the more you can hone in on who your ideal clients are and really start to understand their struggles, frustrations, and pain points so you can tailor your services to be able to serve them best, that’s when you can have a clearer sense of direction of how to position yourself online. The more clarity you can have around your ideal clients, the more you can establish yourself as a creative expert in your field, do work that is fulfilling for you and effective for your clients, and get stronger client results too.
- Explore who your dream clients are (I have an exercise to help you here)
- What are the core features of your ideal clients? Demographics, interests, style, taste, mindset, vision, goals, and beliefs?
- What are the core struggles that your ideal clients are facing? How will you be able to be of service to them as a coach?
- What will your ideal clients be looking for when they invest in you as their coach? What is motivating them in their journey?
- What are 3 books your dream clients will have sitting on their bedside table? (This one’s a great way to hone in on the type of mindset you’d like to attract)
4. Your position in the market:
One of the biggest fears all creatives face is the question of: how can I stand out in a saturated market? As a coach, you’ll find yourself and your brand alongside others within your industry who your ideal clients may have to choose between when figuring out the best fit for them. Honing in on how you want to position your brand in the market, and how you want to attract the right people for you, is a great jumping off point for building a memorable brand that cultivates community around who you are and what you do.
- Within your coaching industry (creative, business, health, relationship, life), how do you want to position yourself within that market? Think in terms of pricing, values, results, methodology, etc.
- Think of three people online (doesn’t matter which industry) whose brand you enjoy and whose marketing style and positioning you connect with. Outline them below. What is it about their brand and positioning that you resonate with?
- Think of three people online (doesn’t matter which industry) whose brand you enjoy but whose marketing style and positioning you don’t connect with. Outline them below. What is it about their brand and positioning that doesn’t resonate with you?
- Looking at your own personal brand and story, how do you want that to play a part in how you position yourself in the market?
5. Your offerings:
What you offer in terms of services and products plays a huge part in defining your brand and how you present yourself to your community and target market. When building your business plan, outlining your core offerings that you want your brand to be known for is a great way to stay focused and intentional along the way.
- What are your core services/offerings as a coach? Outline them, including what they offer, who they’re for, how much they cost, and how the coaching service breaks down.
- How much availability do you have for new clients each month/quarter/year?
- Are there any additional core services you want to introduce in the future? Outline them too.
6. Your secondary income streams:
Alongside your core services or products, many coaches choose to have secondary income streams to support their income and help avoid the feast and famine cycle that many creative business owners can find themselves stuck in. Whether this is passive income, or smaller projects, or one-off services and products, knowing what secondary income streams you have or would like to have is a good way to keep in mind the bigger picture of your brand.
- What are your current secondary income streams? Outline them, including what they offer, who they’re for, how much they cost, and how the service or product breaks down.
- If you don’t have any secondary income streams, what ideas do you have for future products or services?
- What part do you want secondary income streams to play in your business model? A more affordable price point for customers and clients? Passive income for you? Products that will establish your expertise, ideas, and methodology? Speaking events? Retreats?
7. Your online presence:
Running an online coaching business means that your online presence will be an integral part to your brand. Knowing your online presence inside and out, how it is you want to show up online, and your various content streams is key for if you want to develop an online presence that is effective and purposeful along the way.
- What is the purpose of your online presence? To build community? Share your ideas? Establish your expertise? Market yourself and your services? Network and connect?
- How do you want your online presence to help position you and your brand? How do you want people to feel when they interact with you online; if they could walk away knowing one thing about your brand, what do you want that to be?
- What does your content eco-system look like? Outline all of your content platforms, from blog posts, to email, to social media, audio/video, and collaborations.
- How would you like your online presence to evolve and grow? What’s your bigger vision for the part your online presence will play in the growth of your business and brand?
8. Your marketing:
All the best methodology, services, ideas, and intentions can only take you so far in your business, and without a purposeful and solid marketing plan in place you will struggle to turn your ideas into profit and action. The thing about marketing is that you’re allowed to give yourself permission to do it completely on your own terms, and this step is here to help you do exactly that.
- Think of three times you’ve been sold to online in a way that resonated with you; what selling styles and techniques are you attracted to and what styles and techniques would you like to explore and implement in your own brand?
- Think of three times you’ve been sold to online in a way that didn’t resonate with you; what selling styles and techniques are you not attracted to and what styles and techniques do you not want to explore and implement in your own brand?
- How do you want to show up online and sell? What relationship do you want to cultivate with your clients and customers through the way you market yourself and your services to them?
- Outline your core marketing strategies below. For example, your approach to content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, etc.
9. Your client process:
As a coach, your client process is how you make sure you truly show up and deliver for each client every single time you work with them. Your process also helps you streamline things behind the scenes so you can avoid overwhelm with your schedule and routine. When you blend your methodology and coaching process with your client process, that’s truly how the magic can happen with your clients and how together you can cultivate the most effective and transformative results.
- What type of client relationship do you want to cultivate through your client process? A collaborative one? A productive one? A streamlined one? A humanised one?
- Outline your client process from start to finish. From enquiry, to on-boarding, to every step of working together.
- What tools can you use to enable and streamline these steps? (I have a post to help you with this here)
- How can you continue to improve your client process? What could help you be even more effective in your coaching practice?
10. Your brand & income goals:
Goals are here to keep us focused, intentional, and on track. Knowing where you want to be heading with your coaching business is how you can make the most effective and intentional decisions along the way. The most important thing is to give yourself permission to let your goals evolve and change with you as you grow and develop your brand.
- What are your core brand goals for the next 3 months? 6 months? Year? What are you working towards with your brand; is it building community? Increasing brand awareness? More speaking gigs? More client enquiries? More sales?
- How are you going to make this happen? What are you going to focus on each week so you are doing results-led work and working consistently towards your goals?
- What are your income goals for the next 3 months? 6 months? Year? Consider setting yourself core and stretch goals - core goals being your baseline target, and stretch goals being what you’d like to push yourself to achieve as and when you reach your baseline.
- What needs to happen for you to reach your income goals? Work backwards from the figure and break down exactly how you’re planning on reaching it (how many clients, how often, etc)
The thing about your business plan is that it’s exactly just that - a plan. It’s there for you to tweak, evolve, and change as and when you need it to. Building a sustainable business isn’t about just showing up, winging it, and hoping for the best. Being intentional, focused, and strategic along the way is how you turn a plan into action and an idea into a reality. Taking the time to find focus and clarity with your business plan is the fuel you will need to move forward with your brand so that you can make things happen on your own terms, in your own way, and with your own values, intentions, and ideas guiding you as you go.