What do you want your coaching practice to achieve?
There are two ways to think about this – business success and overall impact with clients.
Let’s start with business success.
One mistake that many coaches make is checking the annual surveys of how much income other coaches earn. I have never filled out one of those surveys, nor have many of my successful colleagues. Why? Because we are too busy coaching clients, and because we are successful enough that we don’t need to compare ourselves to other coaches. This fact, along with the fact that many lower-earning life coaches tend to reply to these surveys, tends to bias them to the very low end of the coaching profession. Please don’t let these surveys limit your thinking.
A better way is to choose your own goal. Then figure out how many clients you need to achieve it, and get those clients! The more successful coaches have confidence in their abilities, and know that we control our destiny. My experience is that a solo coach can make up to $250,000 to $500,000 working with clients before having to think about adding other coaches or developing products. A coaching colleague of mine often repeats his belief, “Any coach should be able to make a quarter million dollars a year if they want to.” Then, once the coach breaks through this “time for dollars” barrier, the sky is the limit.
The sky really is the limit for coaches. I know a few coaching firms that make multi-millions of dollars a year with coaching programs for small businesses in specific industries. These companies attract hundreds of small business clients in their target industry, all of whom pay high five figures for support to grow their businesses. I know coaches that make seven figures based on charging high rates, because each coach has established him or herself as an expert in his field and charges top dollar. I know many others that offer a hybrid solution that includes coaching, consulting, training, and facilitation in order to hit the seven figure mark. There are many ways to reach the top of the mountain. It depends on your aspirations and persistence.
For other coaches, it is not so much about money. It is about having impact. Of course, with a clear mission and vision, it is easier to grow into a firm that has more impact than a single coach alone can have. However, many solo coaches address the most pressing challenges that leaders face, whether about finding career success or achieving great things with their organizations and in the world. They have huge impact, and this gives them great fulfillment.
For instance, I work with a coach who does a one-day workshop with his executive teams to find just one thing to make their companies better, and then they spend all day committing to new levels of excellence based on that one thing. He has a great track record of making a difference, while traveling the world and working with some incredible leaders. Meanwhile, he writes books and speaks on the subject of creating amazement in life, all while demonstrating the same ideas in his own life through some remarkable athletic feats. He is living the dream that being a coach makes possible. There are thousands of examples of coaches who make a difference in their chosen niche, in their own way, based on their unique talents and interests – whether in the non-profit, for-profit, education, or government sectors.
I think a lot of coaches have a scarcity mindset and just don’t consider the full range of possibilities they can create for themselves and for others – whether in terms of income or in terms of the difference they can make. This is too bad. First, if you can’t think big, how do you expect your clients to think big? Second, in other professional services, like consulting, numerous boutique and large firms have found their niche and are doing good things. Some have shaken up entire industries and changed the way people think. Coaching is still young, with lots of room for growth. What we need are more coaches with the substance and vision to think big and make their visions a reality – for themselves and for their clients.