Part I: Reinventing a Coaching Firm

By Todd Uterstaedt

Do you love coaching, yet find yourself spending countless hours networking in and around your city? Are you energized by the thrill of a client breakthrough, yet are frequently interviewing for new coaching assignments? Does fleeting hope for new business replace quantifiable returns on these networking and interviewing efforts? If your answers are yes, then you are right where we were in the fall of 2011. We came to the conclusion that there had to be a better way to grow our executive coaching business. We needed to reinvent ourselves.

So, we conducted a global survey to learn about the business models and revenue streams that other coaches use. With a large sample size, the results were clear. The coaches that were really successful focused on a niche. You might be thinking, this is not necessarily a new insight. Right? I would have to agree.

Further investigation revealed something that was new. These successful coaches left their geographic-based practices, which served a wide range of clients, for a tightly focused audience that could be found anywhere in the world. Coaching was just one stream of revenue that they provided to their global, niche audience. They escaped the growth limitations of their city or region, for a "tribe” (as Seth Godin wrote in his book Tribes) that they could bring together from around the world using the power of "search engine optimized” websites, “ownership” of keywords on Google, and the growing variety of social media platforms.

Many of these enterprising coaches realized that the distribution capabilities of the Internet had significantly changed coaching business development. Why call the local generic executive coach who works in many industries, when you can reach out to the executive coach who is the worldwide expert on the very specific niche in which your executive struggles? Chief Information Officers who become CEOs. Executive Asian women struggling in Western firms. Chief Operating Officers who have ADD. Even leaders with a lisp. Clients are increasingly asking this question, “ Who is the expert on _______." Search engines, Skype, high definition cameras, and curated content make it possible for a coach to quickly build a global presence, and a very lucrative business, on very narrow coaching niches.

This new insight hit me like ton of bricks. So we made a decision. We were going to find a global niche for our company. Later, I saw a facebook thread that read, "Listen to Lisa Cherney as she teaches you how to 'Ditch the Niche.'" It had to be wrong, I thought. After all, I just finished all this research that underscored the need for a niche. Her viewpoint was more subtle. She made the case for zeroing in on a more nuanced version of a niche, your ideal client - an under-served worldwide group of people you want to passionately serve. We signed up for her "Cash Through Clarity" program and found our OWN "ideal client." It worked. We decided to serve daughters throughout the world who are working in their family’s business. We launched “Daughters in Charge” (www.daughtersincharge.com ) in November 2013. The reinvention of Baker & Daboll began.

The marketplace has changed, and developing a global niche, with an online platform, can help transform your coaching business, too. How do you locate your global ideal client? That will be the next subject of my next blog.

Todd Uterstaedt is President & CEO of Baker & Daboll, LLC, the leading Executive Coaching firm in Cincinnati, OH. He is also co-founder of “Daughters in Charge”, an online community for daughters working in their family’s business.
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