How I Built a $1.5 Million Coaching Business in Under 2 Years

Jan 29, 2022

In this video, I talk through how to start an online business and specifically how I built a $1.5 million coaching business in under 2 years. If you want to start a business in 2022, create an online business, or pick up some online coaching business tips then this video is for you. I hope by sharing these tips and strategies I learned while building my business, Eric Partaker & Company, you can start your own entrepreneurial journey. I'll be sharing ways to find clients online, how to plan a productive week, online coaching business tips and how to become a successful online coach. If you want to make 2022 the best year yet, check out the video and start living your best life.

KEY POINTS

Invest in a Certification - The first step that you need to do is invest in yourself. If you're not willing to invest in yourself, you won't have the skills that you need to develop the business that you're seeking, so invest in a certification.

Get Your First Paying Client - If you don't take advantage of what you've just learned and actually apply it, you won't build up that momentum that you need to get the business started. When you have a paid client versus coaching a family member or friend for free, it's just a totally different ballgame. If somebody's actually paying you money, then you need to make sure that you show up at your best.

Create a Lead Generation System - Think of a lead as just somebody who's potentially interested in your product or service. As I experienced, you're going to exhaust your network quite quickly. You have to find a way of reaching out to people who you don't even know to find those who would benefit from your new coaching and services that you're providing.

Develop a Sales Script - In the first session you do with a potential client you're hunting for gaps between where they are versus where they'd like to be. It's super important in that call that you're explaining to them exactly how you're going to help them close those gaps. Having a Sales Script will help you make those points, especially when you're first starting out.

Set the Goal of Trying to get 1000 No's - You can have just about anything that you want in life provided that you're willing to go through 1000 no's, provided that you're willing to face all of that hard work, challenge, potential rejection, knowing that yes lives in the land of no. 

Be Flexible - If you want to become a great coach, the number one thing you need to do is coach as many people as possible. The act of doing the skill is what improves it, and it's what will help improve your business. But you need to be flexible in the beginning because you got to take clients in any way that they can come.

Always be Learning You always just need to keep learning. Read books, take on new certifications, constantly develop your skills so that you can continue to elevate your business.
 

Optimize your Week for Productivity - Over time, you'll develop a quite large client base, and unless you really optimize your week, you'll start to feel that your week becomes very, very inefficient.

Don't be Comfortable - Your growth doesn't happen in your comfort zone. You don't go to a gym and lift super comfortable weights to become stronger. You actually have to stress yourself to become strong, and it's the same with your business. You need to step in the direction of discomfort. You need to embrace the things that you find challenging, maybe even a little bit scary because that's where your growth lies.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

In this video, I want to take you through exactly how I built my online coaching business in less than two years to over seven figures in revenue, and if you're new here, my name is Eric Partaker. I've been recognized as a CEO of the year, and I'm also the author of two bestselling books, including The 3 Alarms. If you were to ask me three years ago what my life would be like today, I'd probably say that I would be living a busy London lifestyle, working relentless to grow my business while still providing for my family. My reality today is completely different from anything that I would have expected and has gone beyond my wildest aspiration. My income's higher. I'm now doing a career that I truly love and all of this has enabled me to create an entirely new life living in Portugal, my new home, and pretty much everything changed the moment I found my true calling and started my own online coaching company. Let's get into it.

Number one, the first thing that you need to do is you need to invest in some type of coaching certification. You have to pick something that's going to give you a set of frameworks or tools, or just a confidence to get started coaching people and taking them from point A to point B, wherever it is that they want to go, and I would advise that you pick something that really interests you. For example, for me, I've always been obsessed with high performance, peak performance, this whole idea of realizing your full potential. And so, I ended up gravitating towards a program by Brendon Burchard called a Certified High-Performance Coaching program. Truth is, I don't really use a lot of this content still to this day, but I'm talking about what I did at the very outset to get started. And at that point in time, I just didn't have anything. I didn't have any tools at all that I could use to sit down with somebody and feel confident in coaching them, and again, taking them from wherever they were, point A to point B.

In summary, the first step that you need to do is invest in yourself. If you're not willing to invest in yourself, you won't have the skills that you need to develop the business that you're seeking, so invest in a certification. Once again, pick something that you like that really resonates with what you're passionate about, and at the same time represents something that you want to help others in doing. For me, that was high performance, peak performance, realizing your full potential, that whole realm. Okay, so you got your coaching certification. What do you need to do next? You need to get your first client. This is super critical because if you don't take advantage of what you've just learned and actually apply it, you won't build up that momentum that you need to get the business started, and there was something really interesting that happened at the end of Brendon's certification.

Right at the end of the program, he issued a challenge to everyone in the audience. He said, "I challenge you all to get your first client within seven days of having been certified." I thought, well let me just give that a try, even though that wasn't even my original intent. When you have a paid client versus coaching a family member or friend for free, it's just a totally different ballgame. If somebody's actually paying you money, then you need to make sure that you show up at your best, and also for them, if they're paying money, they're going to show up much better in the sessions as well. Why? Because they naturally will want to get a return on their investment. So, I left the certification with this idea that I'm going to give this a shot. I'm going to try to get my first paid client, but the truth is I was a little bit terrified. How do I actually go out and market to people, market to my network, that I'm now doing this coaching.

It felt a little bit cheesy as well, and what are people going to think? I had all those thoughts going on in my head, and I remember at one point I started to write an email to send out to my network . I was like, oh no, no, this is too difficult to write. Then the simplest thing that I did was I thought, you know what? I'm just going to send a couple of WhatsApp voice messages to a couple of friends of mine who are also entrepreneurs. I sent a message, something along the lines of, "Hey, I've just completed this Certified High-Performance Coaching program. It basically allows me to train up people in the habits of the world's most successful people, so that I can help you elevate your game and business and life. Boom. I created the message, sent it, and I just said at the end of the message, "If this is something that interests you, let me know, and I'm happy to follow up with you a bit more."

I immediately got very positive from both of my friends that I sent this to. They both said, "I would love to learn more. It sounds very, very cool." At that point, I replied, "It's basically a three month program. We work through 12 sessions in those three months. We go through these various evidence based habits that will help you up your game." And I asked them to name a price that they'd be comfortable with, although I also gave them a range about what I would expect somebody to pay for this service. Now, here's another cool thing. Although I had pitched both of them about just doing a three month initial coaching program, they both went way longer than that. My one friend, we ended up coaching together for about 23 months, and the other one for 15 months. Now, looking at those early days, I realize once again, how important it was to get that certification, to have the confidence, the tools, that you can actually use to do some coaching and then to create momentum ASAP by getting your first paid client.

Next up, you need to create a lead generation system. Now, what's a lead? Think of a lead as just somebody who's potentially interested in your product or service, and in this case, we're talking about coaching. It's pretty important because I found out very, very quickly that I had exhausted my entire network. I had eventually done the emails to my whole network, made everyone aware of what I was offering and doing. But I soon ran out of people to speak to. I had to find a way of generating what's called cold traffic, and you could think of cold traffic as people who are just completely unaware of your product and service, but that would potentially be interested in doing business with you, and my first cold traffic generator was starting to speak on stage.

I started to sign up and take advantage of opportunities to speak at various events and stages, and then during those talks, I would always let people know that, "Hey, by the way, if you would like some support on anything that I've just covered in this presentation, I'd be happy to offer you a free high performance insights or a peak performance insights coaching session as my contribution to this event. And then I would provide my email and a way for them to get in touch, and that was a pretty good lead generator for me in the very beginning after I had exhausted my network. I started to make those points when I was speaking from stage that I was offering this as a service and I started to get more and more clients from that.

However, it ended up not being super reliable because once again, I pretty much exhausted all the different events and networking opportunities that I could be going to and speaking at, so I was back to where I started again. I didn't have a steady supply of people that I could be engaging for potential coaching, and it was at this point that I discovered the power of direct messaging on LinkedIn. At this point in time, I also had a coach and mentor and he told me that he was finding his coaching clients by going onto LinkedIn, looking for the types of people that would fit the profile of an ideal client for him, and then sending them direct messages, basically inviting them to have a chat to see if coaching could be a good fit for them and their business. I thought, heck, that sounds pretty good. Why don't I just give that a try?

So, I started to go onto LinkedIn. I actually bought this LinkedIn add-on called Sales Navigator. It's an extra tool that you add to LinkedIn. What's cool about Sales Navigator is you can target the people that would best fit you as a potential client and you can also save these lists of people. For me, what I was doing was trying to target people who were founders, CEOs of their business, because that's my background. I've been a founder and a CEO. And so, I wanted to help those people scale their businesses, their leadership, and themselves integrating some of the high performance work that I'd worked on, plus my own business building experience. So, I started this whole direct messaging game on a weekly basis.

I would go into LinkedIn. I'd go into the Sales Navigator feature, and I would start targeting founders and CEOs within my area, in the industries that I most liked or enjoyed working with or knew the most about. I started to just send them messages, and I tested tons of different things. I tested, for example, when you connect to someone, you can actually have a connection message or not. I tested various types of follow up messages after that, and what I discovered for me was that what worked best was having no connection message. You just send the request and you don't have any little spiel there or anything. Then after they accepted a connection request, I only send two more messages.

Now, what's super important here is that you have to try your own thing. I don't know if LinkedIn is going to be the best way for you to generate leads for your business. Maybe it's going to be on Instagram or Facebook, but you need to take advantage of these social media tools out there so that you can find potential clients because once again, as I experienced, you're going to exhaust your network quite quickly. You have to find a way of reaching out to people who you don't even know to find those who would benefit from your new coaching and services that you're providing.

Next up, you need to develop a sales script. The way I like to think about that first session that you do with a potential client is that you're essentially hunting for gaps. You're hunting for gaps between where they are versus where they'd like to be and it's super important in that call that you're explaining to them exactly how you're going to help them close those gaps. So, you're hunting for the gaps and then showing them how you can close those gaps. Now, after you've done about 50 or so of these calls, you'll be able to do them on autopilot, but in the beginning, I found it quite important to have a bit of a script, a bit of a sales script. When I first started doing these calls, I used to take 90 minutes to do them. These days I can do them in 60 minute, sometimes even just 30 minutes. I'll just break down very quickly, how my script or call flow goes.

I start out, of course, at the beginning of the call, just introducing myself, explaining at a high level how my approach works. I ask them what, if any, of that resonated with them? Also, I ask them what prompted their interest in a call after I had sent my initial direct message to them on LinkedIn, and then I ask them to share a little bit about themselves and their business. It's at this point that I ask them qualifying questions to make sure that we're making good use of their time and mind. These are questions around the size of the business. Questions about the sales, the profit, how many people are in the business, the basic numbers. This is super important because if the business is not at a scale that can actually afford the coaching, then it's going to be a waste of their time and mine, to continue doing the call.

Assuming that we continue talking after that point, I then take them through this whole hunting for the gaps thing. I ask them, "Where would you like to be in three years time? What are the things that could be getting in the way from that happening?" I ask them to self-rate in different areas. I ask them to self-rate, for example, on the health front from a one to 10 basis, 10 being you're absolutely perfect. How are you in terms of your nutrition, your exercise, your sleep? Questions like that so that they can arrive at a basic number and rate themselves.

I also do that on the business front, and I also do that on the home front. I put together their scores, ask them if they're happy with that as a total number. I ask if they'd like some support in closing the gap between where they are and where they'd like to be, and towards the end of the call, I start asking for permission quite a lot. I'll say for example, "Would you like me to summarize how I think I could help you?" I'm wanting them to invite me to continue talking more. Then I will also ask, "Would you like me to tell you how it would look logistically and structurally if we were to work together?" And last but not least, I state what would be required of them, which includes the investment, which is a topic that we're going to talk about next.

All right. Now, you're at the end of the call and it's time to present your price. I wanted to break this section out separate from the previous one, because it's so important because you need to charge for impact, not hours. Don't ever think about the services that you're providing in terms of, what's my hourly rate? How much should I be charging for an hour? Because nobody on the planet pays for hours. Everyone on the planet only pays for results, and that's the same thing that you're selling at the end of the day. You're not selling your hours. You're not selling your time.

You're selling the impact of the results that you can create in your client's life, and I make this point very clear to the founders and the CEO that I'm speaking to. I explain it this way: Let's say they have somebody on the team who's working 40, 50, even 60 hours a week, but that person actually isn't delivering results, isn't achieving what they have been tasked to do. If they're aware of that and they make this point to the person, then the person responds, "Yes, but I'm working 40 hours a week or 50 hours a week or 60 hours a week." It's kind of irrelevant. If the team member isn't delivering impact, isn't delivering results, then the number of hours that they're working is not relevant. And it's the same in this case for your coaching services. The number of hours that you're putting into it doesn't matter. What matters at the end of the day is the impact, the results that you're creating for your client, and that's what you need to be charging for.

Another point that I'll make to my perspective client is that they are making already a similar investment say, in somebody on the team and they're getting a return on that investment. I'll make the point that the ROI that they can expect to get on this investment in the coaching services will be even greater than the ROI of the investment that they're already making within their existing team. This is because that investment within the team is delivering results within a particular function or area within the business and company. I make the point that the investment here is going to deliver results across the entire company and their lives. They really get the sense of this being a much higher impact investment than they're already making. I'm reaffirming this basic principle that nobody at the end of the day is paying for hours. They only pay for impact or results.

Next up, 1000 no's. Now, what does that mean? Well, this is all about setting goals, but my approach to goal setting when I was building my coaching business was a little bit counterintuitive. So, I actually set myself the goal of trying to get 1000 no's.

I want to hear "I don't want to work with you, Eric," as quickly as possible. And I picked this up after coming across a quote from Byron Katie, where she said, "Basically, you can have just about anything that you want in life provided that you're willing to go through 1000 no's, provided that you're willing to face all of that hard work, challenge, potential rejection, knowing that yes lives in the land of no." I actually set myself then, the goal of trying to get to 1000 no's, and the way I thought about it was that if I could do five new prospective client conversations a week for four years... It's about roughly 250 a year, I would get to my thousand no's goal.

At the start of every single morning, I would rewrite that goal: 1000 no's by X, Y, Z date, and I would keep reminding myself that the goal was to just get out there, keep making proposals to new clients, to not be worried about being rejected, to not be worried about being told, "No." Remember, yes lives in the land of no. You need some goals for your coaching business and you might want to try the counterintuitive approach of just getting up to as many no's as possible, knowing that there'll be some yeses that will definitely flow out of it.

Next on the list, you need to be flexible. One of the important things that I was doing when I was starting out was that I was quite flexible. I did a lot of stretching in the morning. No, I don't mean that kind of flexibility. I was flexible in terms of how much do I charge for clients? What time of day was I willing to do coaching? I even was so flexible that I would even do coaching sometimes on the weekends for certain clients, because it was the only thing that worked for my schedule, for theirs, and I just did whatever it took to build up those repetitions. If you want to become a great coach, the number one thing you need to do is coach as many people as possible. The act of doing the skill is what improves it, and it's what will help improve your business. But you need to be flexible in the beginning because you got to take clients in any way that they can come.

Sometimes some can pay more than others. Sometimes some can only do coaching in the evening, some in the morning. As I mentioned before, I had a couple of clients where I coached them on Sundays, which wasn't ideal. It's not how I do things today. Now, the business is far more developed and it's at a much, much different level, but I'm talking about how I got started in the beginning. Keep that in mind, as you're building your business, you need to remain flexible in the beginning, so that you can accomplish your primary objective, which is to coach as many clients in as many situations as you can in as short of a space of time as possible.

Now, we're going to be talking about always be learning. At the start of this whole video, I told you that to get started, you really need to invest in a certification. But that's just the start of your learning journey. It's not where it ends. In fact, you have to always constantly be learning. Since I did my first certification, I ended up doing another coaching certification with Professor BJ Fog who runs Stanford University's Behavior Design Lab. This helped me to really understand things better from a behavioral science point of view -how to build habits, how to break bad habits. I also did a certification with the Optimized Program. I highly recommend taking a look at that. They got a really, really good program there. That infused a lot into the peak performance pillar that I do within my coaching. As I mentioned earlier, I work with founder and CEOs on three levels. I help them scale their business, scale their leadership, and also, scale themselves.

I also read a super impactful book for me, which is called The Prosperous Coach. It's by a guy named Rich Litvin. I've done a coaching program with Rich as well and picked up some skills from that program. But really this book took me to a completely different level with my coaching. I felt like I was a lot more confident in that whole point that I made earlier about charging for impact, not hours. It made me more confident to charge what I thought I was worth in the end, and it also got me focused on that whole idea of just constantly making proposals and not worrying about the no's. Remember that I mentioned that line earlier, "Yes lives in the land of no." I think I actually learned that from Rich. The point being here is that you always just need to keep learning. Read books, take on new certifications, constantly develop your skills so that you can continue to elevate your business.

Now we're going to be talking about how you can optimize your week for productivity. Of course, when you're getting started, as I mentioned earlier, you just have to be flexible. You have to take whatever opportunity that comes your way, so that you can build those early skills, build your business. But over time, you'll develop a quite large client base, and unless you really optimize your week, you'll start to feel that your week becomes very, very inefficient. I'll explain to you what I've done over the years. This is what my week looks like now. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I do all of my one-to-one coaching sessions. I have capacity for eight clients on both days, four hours in the morning, four hours in the afternoon. Because I coach clients once every two weeks, those 16 slots on a per week basis actually translates to capacity for 32 one-to-one coaching clients. That is a significant cashflow generator for me and the business, but I'm doing it all just on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesday mornings are dedicated for new potential one-to-one client conversations.

Wednesday afternoons is dedicated for group coaching. As I've been working with these one-to-one clients, I've suddenly found that I'm able to then recommend, "Why don't we extend some of the coaching that we're doing with you down to your leadership team?" I'm now starting to coach those groups on Wednesdays. When I'm doing one-to-one client sessions, those are anywhere from 50 minutes to 60 minutes, and when I'm doing group work, those sessions are typically 90 minutes. Thursdays are my creative days. This is where I'm working on my blogs. This is when I'm thinking about video scripts and new videos that we're going to shoot as we are right here. It's when I'm writing my emails from my email list, which I've been growing over the years. It was the day that I used to write the book that I've written, The 3 Alarms. There's a free link to get a digital copy of that book in the description of this video. Fridays are free days as well with the exception of our weekly team meeting, which is from 1:00 to 3:00 PM on Fridays. We have a team of seven people right now, and we meet on a weekly basis, but we do that on Friday in anticipation of the week to come. That's my week and that has led to a seven figure business, but in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming for me. Now, the last bit that I haven't included here is my podcast. I have a podcast called The 2%, where I interview some of the world's top performers, everyone from athletes to the founder of Reebok, the founder of Netflix, to try to uncover tips, tools, strategies that people can use to elevate their game. I do those podcast interviews in the early evening. I typically do those from 6:00 to 7:00 PM. I only do one a week sometime between Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

To wrap things up, we're going to talk about how important it is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. The primary way I've been able to create such a successful online coaching business in such a short space of time is because I've been constantly looking to push myself out of my comfort zone. Your growth doesn't happen in your comfort zone. You don't go to a gym and lift super comfortable weights to become stronger. You actually have to stress yourself to become strong, and it's the same with your business. You need to step in the direction of discomfort. You need to embrace the things that you find challenging, maybe even a little bit scary because that's where your growth lies.

That's how I've been able to build this business. That's how I've been able to step into having so many of those client calls, focused on the no's, not being afraid of rejection, knowing that the yes's will eventually arrive. It's how I've pushed myself to do things like write a book, create a course and develop my speaking ability over the years. You have to focus on pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I hope you've enjoyed this video. I tried to take you A through Z, pretty much exactly how I've built a seven figure online coaching business in less than two years without, by the way, using a single ad. I hope you enjoyed that, and I look forward to seeing you for the next video.