At a certain point, you can't keep growing your coaching business just by adding more clients - there isn't time.
One approach is to look for ways to maximize the ratio between the revenue you earn and the time required to earn it. There are a number of approaches to this, with group coaching having especially great scaling potential. Felicia Broccolo of The Life Coach School explains that “if your schedule is full of 1:1 sessions, you can move to a group coaching model where people pay a monthly membership fee for group coaching sessions.”
Another solution is to bring on more coaches. There are three broad ways to do this. You can hire other coaches and provide broader service offerings to clients; in this case, you will want to hire seasoned coaches with complimentary but not identical skills to your own. Alternatively, you can hire other coaches to do some parts of your work that don’t require someone with your level of expertise; this leverage allows you to serve more clients. Finally, you can build a coaching practice full of experienced coaches like yourself providing similar services; this can allow you to serve larger clients and benefit from economies of scale.
We will examine each of these in turn.
Also, keep close as we will be announcing soon team plans and hence the ability to add your staff, as you scale up, here on awarenow - your coaching business control panel & tech stack.
Scaling a Coaching Business Plan #1:
Hire to Offer New/Broader Services
Growing any business implies change. One option is to lean into this change and not only alter your internal structure and operations but also how you approach the market. John Crossman, CEO of Crossman & Co., explains how scaling provided his company with an opportunity to provide a more diverse and broad set of capabilities:
We have scaled by having team members who focus on different topics. We have one coach that focuses on feelings and how to have hard conversations, another that focuses on race and reconciliation, one focuses on internal corporate structure issues, etc.
This approach can allow you to take on broader or more interdisciplinary engagements. Of course, all of the usual caveats apply about vetting potential hires and making sure that they would be a good fit on your team. With this approach, such due diligence is even more important, as hiring someone to fill a gap in your current capabilities makes that person the de facto expert and leader in that area. As such, it’s crucial that your values, approach, and goals are compatible. Stephanie D. McKenzie of The Relationship Firm takes this a step further, explaining: “I scaled my practice by aligning with coaches who I trained or who had been certified elsewhere.”
Scaling a Coaching Business Plan #2:
Hire to Get Leverage
Another way to scale is to find parts of your coaching process that can be handled by someone without your level of expertise. The specific duties will vary depending on how your business is structured but could include tasks such as walking the client through your intake form or answering quick client questions or preparing answers for your review. If you can reduce the amount of time you need to spend with each client then you can serve more clients.
As a first step toward this approach, Maresa Friedman of The Executive Cat Herder recommends that coaches “document their processes (video, audio or otherwise) because there are so many things in the business that they do without thinking.” Once you thoroughly document your processes, it will be much easier to identify areas where a more junior coach could give you leverage as well to train her or him in your approach.
This relates to our next point, which is that this approach requires effective training and onboarding to be successful. This is particularly the case if and when you plan to have another coach represent you and your brand in a client-facing role. Mike Decker of The Advisor Suite recommends planning this ahead of time to make your training more effective and scalable: “Have a written process that is repeatable before you bring someone on. Without it, they are lost in guessing games and ambiguity.”
Another benefit to this approach is that, with effective hiring, job-structuring, and training, your junior hires will see their capabilities grow. This makes it necessary to think about what kind of career path you are offering them. Depending on your own goals, this might include them forming their own coaching practice (perhaps with a franchise model or referring to your “school” of coaching), joining you as a partner, or obtaining an even better opportunity based on the experience of working with you. Indeed, Stephanie McKenzie attributes some of her success in working with coaches she’s hired to “being aware of their individual goals, and continue to coach them and assist them in achieving those outcomes.”
Scaling a Coaching Business Plan #3:
Build a Practice
An alternative to hiring complementary or junior coaches is to partner with others who share your niche, and build a coaching practice around it. Doing so may allow your combined company to serve larger clients and, secondarily, to benefit from economies of scale.
As you’ll be teaming up with peers instead of junior staff under your authority, it is very important to define in detail how you will be working together. These issues are both tactical, for example, around roles and responsibilities or compensation, and strategic, such as branding or coaching philosophy.
Maintain your business brand and values as you scale, and keep your mission consistent. There are methods to scaling your business whether through a new staff, new partnerships, or new ways to use your own time. Proper hiring and onboarding processes allow you to increase the efficacy of bringing on new staff.