An online coaching or consulting business is an exciting option for professionals who want to leverage their time and expertise, significantly increase their revenue and profit, and work fewer hours per week while also being free to work from varying locations.
In this post, I'll share what's possible for you and give you an overview of how it works.
For 10 years I consulted patients within a traditional consulting model ... time-for-money.
I had a calendar full of appointments and people used a 'pay as you go' approach. If they showed up for their appointment, I got paid. If they didn't show up, I didn't get paid.
This was an OK life. I earned a professional income. It was fulfilling. But ... there were some drawbacks, and over 10 years those drawbacks became deal-breakers, and I had to change things.
If you're reading this, then you might relate to that feeling ... of wanting change?
For starters, after years of being trapped by a never ending calendar of appointments, I became increasingly frustrated, on-edge and, honestly ... I became sad.
I dreaded the alarm clock. I dreaded the early morning journey into my office ... knowing that my day was going to be predictably segmented into 20 minute appointment slots.
Then there was the location problem.
Even though I had two practice locations and lectured at University one day a week, I felt trapped.
I told myself I had variety ... but day after day and week after week my place of work was dictated by that appointment book.
And it was important that my appointment book was full.
If it wasn't, then we had a problem. I had staff to pay and bank loans on both locations. I had to fill that appointment book and then I had to live by that appointment book.
And then there was the income cap.
I could only see so many patients per week before I fell over from exhaustion and ceased to have a life or family.
And once I maxed out my available appointments, the only ways I could increase my income were to raise prices. reduce the time I spent with each patient in order to fit more in, or employ staff.
And I did all three ... and it worked.
I started seeing 3 patients per hour instead of 2. We started a rehab facility and ran group programs.
But now I had shorter appointments, and more appointments to fill. And I had staff to manage.
And yet, I was still trapped by my calendar and my location.
And even though I was very restless, I held on to that lifestyle for a decade. After all, I'd taken years to get my qualifications, invested $$$ setting up my businesses, and had a family to support.
There was no 'out' for me ... or was there?
Online Consulting and Coaching
At the end of 2009 ... a decade after I set up my first practice ... I made the leap. I sold both practices, quit my University job and went full time online.
(Well, that's not entirely accurate ... I was also finishing up my PhD.)
It was a dramatic career shift and I really had no idea what I was doing. And back then, there just weren't a lot of people doing it ... certainly no-one in my social or professional circles.
They thought I'd lost my mind.
They understood what I wanted, but they thought it was a mistake and that it wouldn't work.
But here's the punchline.
Before I knew it, I was making more money than both my practices and University salary combined.
My expenses were a fraction of what they used to be, because I had no staff and no location to maintain. All I needed was my laptop, my phone, an internet connection, some software and a headset.
I was working less hours per week ... in fact it felt very much like part time work.
And I could choose my location on a day to day basis.
I can still remember when hot-spots came out and I could run my internet connection from my iPhone ... no dongle required.
My reach also expanded.
My clients didn't need to see me in person, and so this opened up national and international opportunities. I had clients in the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia.
This was life changing for me, I loved it ... and I have never tired of it. I no longer have that 'trapped' feeling.
And it's given me massive flexibility.
- Time to take kids to school and pick them up.
- Time to attend all of their events.
- Time to train at the gym with my wife.
- Time to read.
- Time for coffee.
- Time to try different restaurants for lunch.
- Time to catch up with friends.
- Time to write.
- Time to learn new things.
- Time to start new projects.
And for me this has been key.
When I was in traditional consulting, I had lots of ideas, but very little time to take action on them.
I had things I wanted to achieve, but couldn't while I was working inside that business model.
I loved helping people, but I had more that I wanted to accomplish. I had more that I could do. I had other talents and interests I wanted to pursue.
When I was in traditional consulting, I felt trapped and stuck in those 4 walls.
There was an entire world out there and I wasn't limited by desire, enthusiasm, motivation or skill. I was only limited by the business model I had chosen.
So, I chose a different business model and it has given me extraordinary freedom. And it's an option for you too ... if you want it.
How Does It Work?
Looking at it from a broad perspective, it works like this.
People > Platform > Service
This just means that you need to attract 'people' to your 'platform' so you can deliver your 'service'.
People can come from Google, or Facebook, or LinkedIn ... from emails or podcasts or webinars ... and most importantly in consulting and coaching, they can come from referrals.
But whichever way they come ... they must come. You have to be able to control the flow of people so you can control your business.
Your platform is typically your website, but it can also be your Facebook page, your LInkedIn profile or your Youtube channel.
Your platform is where you interact with your potential clients and present them with your offer ... which is simply the opportunity for them to say 'yes' or 'no'.
If they say 'yes', then you take them on as a client. If they say 'no', then you don't.
The way you deliver your service is up to you. You might deliver over the phone. Or on Skype, or Zoom.
You might use a Facebook group, or a Slack group or your website.
You might even meet your client in person if you want to ... on the odd occasion.
You might only choose to work one-on-one with clients, or you might branch out into group coaching and significantly leverage your time that way.
Each of these three steps has multiple sub-steps. Like any new venture, there are things to learn, investments to be made, and mistakes to avoid.
But if you're a consultant or a coach, then you can either learn to do these things by yourself, or outsource them to someone else ... and get coaching or guidance for yourself along the way.
Let me give you one example of how I've made this work ... and how you can make it work as well.
Fortunately, of all the complicated online businesses you can set up, consulting and coaching is one of the easiest.
Specific Consulting Example
Let's take my wife as an example. Rhoda is a dietitian and, amongst other things, specialises in body transformation for women.
So, I helped her develop an online coaching program to sell for $3,000.
It was a 12 week program and included pre-recorded videos hosted on her website, downloadable resources, and a weekly call with Rhoda over Skype.
Clients also had access to Rhoda by text at any time during the week and she'd always respond within 24 hours ... and often within minutes.
So, in that one paragraph I've covered the platform (her website) and her delivery (website and Skype).
So, what about people (traffic)?
We put together a Book ... a downloadable PDF that educated women about body transformation and introduced them to Rhoda and her back-story.
This is where this strategy might differ from traditional consulting.
We didn't just focus on the outcome that women wanted, we also focussed on the story of the person helping them get that outcome.
We differentiated Rhoda from other consultants based on her story, and this was key to her success.
Then, I ran ads on Facebook inviting women to download her Book by entering their name and email.
Then, at the end of the Book, there was an invitation for them to schedule a free call with Rhoda to talk about their situation and how Rhoda could help.
There was a link they'd click on in the PDF that took them to the website, and we used inexpensive scheduling software so they could make an appointment right then and there.
Once Rhoda had a call with them, she'd determine if she could help them and if she could, she'd offer to help them and outline the details.
They'd say "yes" or "no" ... and that was it.
If they said yes, she'd give them the payment details and they'd make payment ... either a direct deposit or with credit card (we provided Paypal and credit card by Stripe).
Now, you might be wondering about the money and how much it cost to advertise?
Well, for us ... this is how it worked.
At that time, we paid about $1.50 per person who entered their email address and downloaded the Book.
So, for every $1,000 spent on advertising, we got about 660 people on the email list.
From this, Rhoda would get about 6 calls, so that makes it about $160 to get an appointment.
Then, out of those 6 calls, 1 or 2 people would purchase.
So, in terms of the cost to make a $3,000 sale ... it was costing between $500 and $1,000 ... and this means the profit on the $3,000 was at least $2,000.
And so you can do the math. How much would Rhoda make if she took on 60 clients a year at $2,000 profit?
Even though this is just one example, it's fairly standard in my circle. And even now that ad costs are higher, you can see how this works.
Let's say it cost $2,000 to make a $5,000 sale ... you're still $3,000 in profit.
Let's say it cost $3,000 to make a $5,000 sale ... you're still $2,000 in profit ... which is the same as a 66% return on your $3,000 investment.
60 clients at a $2,000 profit it still $120,000 a year.
But it's more than that and I'll leave you with one final .. but crucial .. piece of information.
And let's keep using a worst case scenario from above where it costs you $3,000 to make a $5,000 sale.
To get 60 clients in a year you'd need to spend $180,000 (60 x $3,000).
And if you spent $180,000 on advertising and got people to sign up to your email list for, say $5 per person, you'd have 36,000 people on your email list.
Thirty Six Thousand.
Do you think, that out of 36,000 people ... you might start making additional sales over time if you kept in contact with them and if continued to educate and help them?
In the example above, I included only immediate buyers. Clients who read the Book and scheduled a call and became a client.
But in reality, it snowballs. Someone might join your email list in month 1 and then schedule a call with you in month 3. And you've already 'paid' for them to be on your list, so you don't have to 'pay' for them again.
Some people will join your list and become a client 6 months or a year later.
I've used this post to raise your awareness about the potential of online consulting and coaching, and I've given you an insight into the lifestyle and fulfilment it can provide.
I've also given you a real example with some different cost scenarios to get you playing with the numbers.
And so now it's over to you.
You can get your calculator out and do some more playing. What if you got 100 clients. What if it only cost $250 to acquire a client? What if your program was $8,000?
The only warning I'd give is that playing with numbers in a spreadsheet can make it seem very achievable ... and lucrative ... and easy.
But it's not easy ... at least not when you start.
As I wrote above ... there are things to learn and investments to be made.
You need to be able to get traffic. You need to convert that traffic into leads. You need to get those leads to take the next step and convert them into clients.
And that all sounds easy, but it's not. It's hard. It is complicated. But it's worth it.
Some consultants and coaches go on to scale their business to 7 figures a year. Many are very happy with 6 figures a year.
Whichever it is, they're happy with their new lifestyle.
So, over to you. What do you think? What questions do you have?