7 Secrets to Growing Your Independent Wellness Coaching Business

  1. Form a Clear Vision – Many very gifted independent wellness coaches fall short of their goals for client growth and business development primarily because they do not create a clear vision. This can encompass a number of areas, but must include audience and credibility.
    • Laser Focus and Persistence – A hodgepodge approach to marketing never provides the opportunity for your business to take hold. Instead, become very clear about your target audience. This doesn’t mean you can’t expand beyond this initial group over time. However, begin with a specific audience in the forefront and put systems in place (see #2) to pursue this group consistently and with focus. Then, once you’ve identified that audience, remain persistent in your outreach.
      1. Target Audience – if you decide to pursue individual clients rather than organizations, what will be the focus area for these individuals? Are they seeking to manage their weight? Prepare for their first triathlon? Create enhanced life balance? Improve their overall health status? Your answer will guide where you spend your time and resources.
      2. Repeat and then do it again – regardless of your intended audience, realize that “no” (or no response) actually means “not today” rather than “not ever.” If you stay the course, the decision by either an individual or an organization to utilize your services may take months or even years to come to fruition. Just as improving our own health and wellness takes time, so too does building a business.
    • Match your credibility to that target – It’s common for many wellness coaches to begin working with those within their direct sphere of influence (ie, friends and family) and then stumble to grow beyond this initial group. The reason is generally very straight-forward: credibility does not match the audience. Friends and family members know you, they trust you, and they like you. Employers or other clients outside of this initial sphere only know what they see. In today’s world of wellness, the following represent the most valuable ways in which to establish credibility:
      1. Your credentials – your certification as a Certified Wellness Coach or your degree in Nutrition or another wellness-related field will carry a great deal of weight initially. Anyone “can” hold themselves out as a wellness coach. Do you have an outside, accredited agency saying you know what you’re talking about?
      2. Your email address – you read that correctly. Something as simple as your email address can be the difference between earning a client and (accidentally) announcing to the world that you’re only doing this as a hobby. If you’re still using an @gmail.com, @yahoo.com or similar type of email address, it’s time for a change.
      3. Your web portal (including your Health Risk Assessment) – this should go without saying, but it’s something we see over and over. Struggling coaches think they’re saving money by sending clients to generic, outside websites and skipping the Health Risk Assessment (HRA) process. Unfortunately, all they’re really doing is trapping themselves into the low end of the wellness universe, with essentially no chance of growing beyond the start-up phase. If done correctly, a coach can access both a professional portal and HRA for just a few dollars/month/client, while increasing the perceived value on the part of the client immensely. Beyond the HRA, some other valuable components to seek out in your web portal might include goal setting tools, library of resources, individual and team contests/challenges, BMI, fitness and nutrition trackers.
  2. Systematize – As a small business owner, you’ll be pulled in many different directions on a daily (hourly) basis. It’s easy to turn around and realize that you’ve forgotten to update your database of contacts, send out your newsletter or follow-up with interested individuals in a timely manner for several days or even weeks. By systematizing every possible process, you’ll not only simultaneously simplify your life and enhance your business outcomes, but you’ll also be prepared to delegate that specific aspect to a future employee as your business grows.
    • Where should you start? Here are a couple of ideas out of the gate…
      1. Daily Organizational Approach – Your options are virtually endless to stay on top of your daily calendar and items of emphasis. Some prefer electronic versions and others like the option of writing things down. The tool isn’t the solution – you are. Pick a resource and stick with it consistently. Dropped balls can mean a quick end to a small business. Commit to your system as a TOP priority
      2. Discussion Tracker – The ACT! Database (see www.ACT.com) is a popular tool and the one we use internally, but again is one of many options that will allow you to track your discussions and interactions with clients and potential clients. However, it’s not an option to skip this area.
      3. Financials – regular review of accounts payable/ accounts receivable/ expense trending isn’t an “extra.” More small businesses close down due to cash flow issues than revenue issues. Stay on top of this from the beginning. A good place to start might be www.quickbooks.com, which offers a relatively simple software solution.
      4. Sales Strategy – rather than “shooting from the hip” with a different sales or marketing strategy on a weekly or monthly basis, instead identify a strategy and make it (and the tracking of its results) part of your weekly pursuits.
  3. Fill the existing gaps – When looking to grow your business, one of the best places to start is to look for gaps – opportunities that are not currently being met successfully by the wellness industry. Here are a few we’ve identified for our independent wellness coaching partners that may make sense for you:
    • Small Companies – organizations with less than 50 employees provide an excellent opportunity, as they are typically underserved by the larger providers, need employee wellness benefits as much as anyone, and will have an appreciation for your personalized approach
    • Home Parties – many a venture, from jewelry to nutritional supplements and everything in between (Amway does about $10 billion in annual sales), has been launched through home parties. You offer something so much more valuable. You might consider gathering up friends and neighbors, providing a valuable free presentation on an area of expertise, spreading the word, incorporating some group accountability that would accompany your personalized coaching and grow from there.
    • Physician (and other) Partnerships – Physicians are busy. Crazy busy. However, they realize that they are often the gate-keeper to helping their patients make better health choices. If you have a strong relationship with a Physician, there may be a way for you to provide a low-cost follow-up service that would enhance overall long-term outcomes and enhance loyalty for that Physician. But no reason to stop there. Rather, look to offer your services through a variety of organizations ranging from Fitness Centers to Yoga Studios to Physical Therapy clinics. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see opportunities all around you.
  4. Know Your Why – Are you able to clearly communicate why your wellness program strategy offers more value than your competition? Whether you are looking to work with individuals or employer groups, this is a critical component. Are you succinct, confident and able to back it up with case studies and industry data? How are you differentiating yourself from all of the other alternatives available to both employers and individuals? Why are you the best value available? If you cannot clearly communicate it, your potential clients won’t get it either.
  5. Network – As an independent wellness coach, you have a unique opportunity in that your business really is YOU. As such, one of the single best ways for you to grow is to get out there (everything from parties to local 5Ks to literal business networking events) and provide the opportunity for people to get to know you. Yes – it can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be if you keep a few basics in mind…
    • Master Your Elevator Speech – the “elevator speech” became famous in reference to the 30 second pitch you could make to your boss if you ended up in the elevator together at work. It’s brief and contains just enough to get the potential client to say “I’d like to hear more.” Here’s an example that may or may not apply to you when asked “so what do you do?” at a networking event:
      1. “I’m the Founder of a company that focuses on two specific things. First, we help individuals make lasting changes in their lives in areas ranging from stress reduction to weight management. And when doing this within organizations – typically anywhere from 2-50 employees, our work helps reduce the costs of health care, sick time, turnover, and obviously improves productivity at the same time.”
    • Be Inquisitive – people love to talk about themselves. Get them beyond just their own elevator pitch and find out about what makes them tick. You may say very little, but your interest, eye contact, and leading questions will often form a connection. Then, as you share business cards, ask something like “It seems like we had a pretty good match here – do you mind if I call your office next week to discuss some ideas to work together?”
    • Keep it short – once you strike up a conversation, it’s tempting to spend much of the remaining time with that same individual. However, when it comes to networking, that’s not fair to you or to her/him. 10 minutes. That’s it. Then politely dismiss yourself and continue expanding your (and the other person’s) net.
    • Speak and write – You have a message that needs to be shared. There are a multitude of organizations that are looking for speakers for their events and writers for their publications. This is where you come in, offering valuable information in an entertaining manner for their members. You’re not there to sell, but you will have the chance to mention your company and include examples of what you do as part of your presentation. For speaking engagements, provide a 1 page outline for notes that includes your contact information at the bottom (articles you write will include the same as part of your bio at the end). Uncomfortable as a speaker? Invest a little time and money in a local Toastmasters group and you’ll be on your way.
    • Get Linked – social media is obviously garnering well-deserved attention, but did you realize the opportunity applies to you as well? Facebook isn’t a bad starting point, but consider investing time on LinkedIn as well. This site provides the option to join a number of groups that may help you clarify your vision and potentially open up some other doors in the process.
  6. Leverage Your Time – your single most valuable resource is your time. As a wellness coach, it’s critical to set up your processes in a way that will make the most of every moment. If you’re just getting started, then you may not realize the impact of something that takes an extra 10 minutes out of your day. However, an experienced coach will tell you those seemingly little things are repeated over and over throughout the day and week, costing you literally hours every week once you build your caseload.
    Create exceptional processes out of the gate, and your long-term success will have the chance to reach far greater heights. Here are a couple of ideas of things to look for when setting up your initial systems:

    • Scheduling of clients – trading 6 emails back and forth with a client to identify a time that works well for the two of you isn’t significant when you have 3 clients. But when you have ten, twenty, fifty, or even more clients, it can become quite significant. A much better alternative is to utilize an on-line scheduling system that will allow your clients to simply log onto your calendar, pull up your schedule of availability, and select the time that works best.
    • Follow-up notes – every coach will supplement their client discussions with the occasional check-in email note to see how things are progressing. Traditionally, this is done by pulling up the most recent note, reviewing what was discussed, and then sending out a personal email to the client. Unfortunately, that seemingly simple process may take 10 or even 15 minutes each time due to logging into your HIPAA-compliant notes system, reviewing the most recent discussion, pulling the client’s email address and then typing up the email. However, if your coaching portal allows you to write up the note immediately after your interaction with the client and then set a date for automatic delivery, you save an immense amount of time and also don’t have to add this process to your schedule as it’s already done.
  7. Read – Trade a few minutes of TV or Facebook time each day for a book and you’ll learn a variety of ways to enhance and grow your business. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
    • Selling the Invisible (Harry Beckwith)
    • The Professional Service Firm50 (Tom Peters)
    • We Are All Weird (Seth Godin)
    • Little Red Book of Sales Answers (Jeffrey Gitomer)
    • Get Clients Now (CJ Hayden)

Would you like some assistance in either getting started or taking your wellness coaching business to greater heights? For more information about earning your CWC certification as a Certified Wellness Coach or to learn about the tools and resources available for you and your clients through our Professional Coach Portal, please contact us at Results@CatalystCoachingInstitute.com or visit www.CatalystCoachingInstitute.com