Episode 13: Tools to Build and Grow Your Coaching Business

These first 13 episodes of the podcast have been all about the fundamentals of building your coaching practice and, with this episode, we’re officially wrapping up what I’ve been affectionately calling the Getting Started Series.In this final installment of the series, I thought it might be helpful if I walked you through some of my very favorite tools that I use in my own coaching practice to keep everything running smoothly and the tools that I recommend for my clients as well.
Coach with Clarity Podcast Lee Chaix McDonough

13: Tools to Build and Grow Your Coaching Business

These first 13 episodes of the podcast have been all about the fundamentals of building your coaching practice and, with this episode, we're officially wrapping up what I've been affectionately calling the Getting Started Series.

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Show Notes

These first 13 episodes of the podcast have been all about the fundamentals of building your coaching practice and, with this episode, we’re officially wrapping up what I’ve been affectionately calling the Getting Started Series.

In this final installment of the series, I thought it might be helpful if I walked you through some of my very favorite tools that I use in my own coaching practice to keep everything running smoothly and the tools that I recommend for my clients as well.

Topics covered

  • The tool I recommend to help you keep all your client information organized
  • The non-negotiable investment you need to make regarding contracts and the tool I recommend for them
  • The tools I recommend for gathering client signatures on your contracts that currently offer free starter plans
  • The two credit card processing and payment tools I use and recommend
  • The two invoicing tools I recommend connecting to your payment tools
  • The program I recommend eventually upgrading to that covers all the functions previously mentioned and more
  • The multi-functional tool that allows you to share your stored documents and other content with your audience
  • The paid tools I recommend eventually upgrading to for file management and sharing
  • The email service provider I recommend for building your email list and staying in compliance with the current laws
  • The two platform options I recommend for building your website

Resources mentioned

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Now it’s time for you to show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity! Screenshot this episode and tag me on Instagram @coachwithclarity and let me know what you’re more excited to explore in future podcast episodes!

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Well hello, my friend. Welcome back to the Coach with Clarity podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough and I am so honored to have you join me today. We are wrapping up what I affectionately call the Getting Started series. 

So the last dozen or so episodes have been all about the fundamentals of building your coaching practice. We have talked about how to become a coach, we've talked about how to decide who you want to serve, what your offer will be and how to price it, and how to get the word out about your fantastic coaching offer and how to connect with your dream clients. 

So to wrap things up today, I thought it might be helpful if I walked you through some of my very favorite tools that I use in my coaching practice to keep everything running smoothly, and the tools that I recommend for my clients as well.

And the best part is that I am going to provide you with options. So there are some tools that I think are particularly helpful when you are first starting out, and they don't require a huge financial investment upfront. But then as you grow, you may want to upgrade some of those services, and so I will also share with you other tools or programs or services that I think could benefit a growing and scaling coaching business. So by the end of the episode today, you are going to know which tools you should be considering for client management contracts and payments, content management, your email system and your website. So are you ready? Let's do this. 

One of the most common questions I get asked about running a coaching business is how I keep all of my client information organized, and I'm so glad that people are asking this question because client management is a huge part of your back end services. You do want to make sure that you have an organized system so that you can easily pull on information and disseminate information with your potential and with your existing clients. So I am always happy when people are asking me about a client management system. 

So when you are first starting out, I think one of the most flexible and most affordable systems is G Suite. So G Suite is through Google, and you can sign up for literally five or six bucks a month, and with that comes access to so many helpful tools. I have my website domain connected with my G Suite, which means that my email address is accessed through Gmail. So When you send me an email to info@coachwithclarity.com, I am able to read it through Gmail and through G Suite. 

Also, as part of G Suite, I get access to Google Drive, which is storage, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, everything you need to create and share documents with your clients. I'm able to create a Google Sheet that tracks my potential clients and the connections that I'm making, and I also have a separate Google Sheet that tracks my coaching hours. So for those of you who are pursuing credentialing through ICF, you know, you've got to keep track of those coaching hours. Well, when you've got G Suite, all you have to do is create a simple Google Sheet and keep track of those hours. 

So not only is G Suite really helpful for managing some of the administrative duties that you have in your business, but you can also use G Suite to connect with your clients. For example, I create a folder for each one of my clients within my Google Drive, and I'm then able to share that folder with that client. So when we have session notes or session recordings, or if my client is working on written material that they want me to review, we can share all of those things via that shared folder. 

So G Suite is such a simple, elegant and affordable way to manage your clients and connect with them between sessions as well. I use Google Forms to create intake forms or surveys. I mean, truly the possibilities with G Suite are endless and it is one of the most affordable tools out there. So if you are just starting out with your coaching practice and you are mindful of your budget, I strongly encourage you to check out G Suite, 

I will be compiling a list of links for you that you can access in this episode's show notes. So I will make it super easy for you to check out each one of these options that I'm talking about today, and research whether it's right for your business. So G Suite is fantastic. I still use it every day in my business. And it's one of those tools that is so helpful regardless of where you are at in your coaching journey. 

Now again, if you are just starting out, one of your priorities is to figure out a system that allows you to get paid by your clients. After all, coaching is a business so we need to make sure that we have a streamlined way to establish an agreement with our clients and receive payment from them. 

Now I highly recommend that you have an attorney-prepared coaching contract that you use with your clients and one option might be a contract template from a shop such as The Contract Shop. So I have used multiple contract templates from The Contract Shop. It's run by an attorney named Christina Scalera, and I have been extraordinarily happy with the content and the quality of her templates. Now, I will say that this is an investment. This is one area where you will be spending several hundred dollars. But the peace of mind that comes from having a strong contract in place that sets out expectations for you and for your client moving forward –  that's pretty invaluable. So I view having a strong contract as a non-negotiable when you are first starting out. 

But once you have that contract, you need to have it signed. And because so much of the work that we're doing is online, you really do want to find a way to have an E signature. For your clients? Well, one option I would suggest is looking at the free introductory levels of software such as HelloSign or DocuSign

So when I was first starting out, I used HelloSign for my signatures because they provided a limited number of free signatures every month. I think when I was starting out, it was maybe three signatures a month. But when I was starting out, I was getting one, two, maybe three clients a month, and so being able to use Hello sign to have my contracts electronically signed for free, was super easy and affordable. So if you're just starting out, you may want to check out Hello sign or DocuSign because that could be a really great option for you. 

And then once the contract is signed, of course the client needs to pay, so you will want to look for both a credit card processing agency as well as an invoicing service. So in my business I use both Stripe and PayPal for my credit card processing, I have opted to have both available in my business because I know some of my clients have strong preferences for or against PayPal, and I figure I can meet my clients where they are by providing them options. So I have accounts with both PayPal and Stripe so that my clients can submit payment for coaching services using their credit card at a processor that they feel comfortable with. 

Then what you'll need to do is connect that credit card processor with an invoicing service. Now PayPal for Business has an invoicing service built in, so that may be one option for you. Another option may be to go with an accounting software like QuickBooks. QuickBooks does have invoicing capacity, so you can connect it with Stripe or with PayPal and invoice your clients and then literally with the click of a button, they are able to pay their invoice. 

So just to cover everything we've talked about, you'll want to have a strong coaching agreement in place, and this is one area where I do recommend investing some money upfront to ensure that you have a strong contract that protects both you and your client. Once you have that template and it's all filled out for your business, you'll want to find a way for your clients to sign it electronically. And when you're first starting out, HelloSign or DocuSign may be a great option for you especially at their free level. And then in terms of payment, you will want to set yourself up with a credit card processor such as PayPal and or Stripe and connect those with an invoicing service which you can do through PayPal for business or through QuickBooks. 

As your coaching business grows, and as you get additional revenue, you may want to consider upgrading into kind of a one stop shop for everything that I just described, so a one stop shop for your client management, your contracts, your payments and your invoicing. That's what I elected to do a few years ago in my business because it just made my life so much easier and much more streamlined to have all of the services I needed within one program. And for me, that program is Dubsado

Dubsado is a terrific client management service. It allows me to create files for each one of my clients, I believe in Dubsado they call them projects. It also allows me to track leads so that I can create forms in Dubsado and embed them on my website so that when someone fills out an interest form, all of their information gets housed in Dubsado and they're automatically converted into a lead, which eventually becomes a project. 

So once I have all of that set up, then within Dubsado I'm able to create contracts using my template, I can send it to my clients within Dubsado for their electronic signature, I can also invoice my clients with within Dubsado, so it is all connected under one roof. 

Dubsado also allows me to create forms and documents and things that I can email very easily to my clients. I also use Dubsado for this podcast. So whenever I bring someone on the show, I have them sign a podcast release form. Well, that's essentially a contract. So I can create a project for each one of my guests through Dubsado, send them my podcast release form with ease, and we are good to go. 

The other thing Dubsado offers is scheduling. So when you've got clients or podcast guests, you need a way to easily schedule your sessions with them. Well, Dubsado has that. You can connect Dubsado with your calendar, you can set the parameters for the days and the times that you want to schedule your clients, and it makes it so easy for you or for your clients to schedule future sessions. 

So Dubsado is just a comprehensive, one-stop shop when it comes to client management, as well as the payment side of things as well. Now, Dubsado is a paid tool. I believe right now, it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 a month (though I will provide a link in the show notes that should get you a little bit of savings off of that). And it's one of those expenses that you may not need it right when you're starting out. 

But as you are building and growing your business and as your time becomes more valuable, it will be worth considering making the investment in a tool like Dubsado because it will just streamline everything, it will save you time and time as money, right. So as you get to that point in your business, you may want to look at Dubsado as your hub for all things client related. 

Okay, we have talked about client management software, we've talked about contracts, we've talked about invoicing and payments. Now, I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the tools that I use to build my visibility, and to connect with potential clients. So that really comes down to the free content that I'm creating, the ways that I'm sharing that content with my people, and the way that I am nurturing the relationship by staying in contact with them. So we're moving away from how we can manage current clients, and now I want to talk about tools that can help you grow your audience and your visibility so that you can grow your coaching practice. 

So from a content management perspective, I am thinking about all of the things that you are creating and sharing with your people in order to build your email list and build your credibility and expertise with them. So this might look like a PDF download, or a free guide or a quiz, any of that, when you are first starting out. You may want to look at G Suite as a way to do that. 

So I mentioned within G Suite, you get access to Google Drive, which is a cloud storage option. When you create documents or upload documents to Google Drive, you can share them, you can create a link and grant access to that document to anyone who has that link. So let's say you've created a free PDF that you want to share with your ideal clients. You can upload it to your Google Drive, you can create a link, you can make sure the settings are set to view only. And then you can share that link with your people so that they can download it and they can access it. So G Suite is a great basic starter way to house some of the content that you want to share with your people. 

Now, as your content becomes more sophisticated, let's say you're using videos or audio, or maybe you're creating free mini-courses, you may find that G Suite isn't quite robust enough for that. and so you may want to look at a more traditional content management system. And the system that I use in my business is called MemberVault

Now I could spend an entire podcast talking about how much I love MemberVault. The owners, Mike and Erin Kelly, are just phenomenal people. They really care about their users. They have created an incredible community – all you have to do is head over to Facebook and search for MemberVault Collaborative, and you will find their free Facebook group. And Mike and Erin and their Chief Happiness Officer Katrina, they are in that group all the time serving their members. So it is a company that I feel really good about supporting because I am aligned with the mission and the values of the owners and the employees. 

Moreover, MemberVault is just a really easy system to use. I have all of my free downloadable PDFs, I have all of my courses, I have my membership all in MemberVault, and it allows me to create a portal for each person I come into contact with. So whether they are accessing my free content or whether they are a paying member, they get a portal and they are able to access whatever products they're eligible to receive. MemberVault makes it beautiful. It's streamlined, it's easy. I can't speak highly enough about MemberVault. 

So if you are at the point in your business where you are looking for a content management platform, I would strongly suggest you check out MemberVault and I'll have a link to them in the show notes. 

I pair MemberVault with a video storage platform called Vimeo. I really like Vimeo, I am on a plan that allows me to host and house all of the videos I use for the Coach with Clarity, membership, as well as some of my free courses and guides. And what I really appreciate about Vimeo is that I am able to control access to my videos. I can upload my videos to Vimeo and I can set the privacy settings really tight so that they can only be embedded on specific websites or they can only be viewed by certain people who have a certain link. 

Vimeo allows me to really protect my video content in a way that other platforms like YouTube don't necessarily allow, so especially for my membership, where my content is paid and I want it to be gated so that it's limited to the people who are in the membership, Vimeo is a great option for that. And with Member Vault, it is so easy to embed Vimeo videos there, literally you're just taking part of the URL from Vimeo and you are popping it in a box and magically the video appears in MemberVault, it could not be easier. So if you are looking for a solid content management platform, definitely check MemberVault out. 

As you're building your business, you are going to need a way to stay in touch with all of your potential and existing clients, which means you are going to need an email management platform. It’s one thing to use your own private inbox to correspond with the occasional person or two. But when you are building an email list and you are connecting with people, as a group, you really do need a solid email provider to support you, and who has systems in place to ensure that you are in compliance with the laws around sending emails to people. Whether it's the CAN-SPAM Act here in the States, or whether it's GDPR in Europe, there are laws in place that govern how we can use people's email addresses and their personal information and how we can disseminate information to them. 

So I highly recommend choosing an email platform from the very beginning and using that as your way of connecting with your audience. And the email platform that I use is called ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign has a variety of different levels, from light into really heavy duty enterprise levels. I'm able to run my entire business at the light level, and the best part is that they factor in the number of active subscribers in determining your rate. 

So when you're first starting out and say maybe you have fewer than 100 people on your email list, you will be paying far less per month than someone who has thousands. So as your email list grows, and as your business grows, the investment for ActiveCampaign grows as well. But ideally, once you are growing that email list, you have more clients coming in, so you've got the revenue to support that increase in the investment. 

So ActiveCampaign from a financial perspective makes a lot of sense. It's also just really easy to use. I find their email templates to be very intuitive. They have automations that are incredibly easy to set up so that when, for example, someone signs up for one of your free guides, ActiveCampaign takes it from there. They take the information and you can create an automation that sends emails at times that you specify, in order to deliver that content and to stay connected with your audience. 

So ActiveCampaign is a fantastic option when it comes to emails. There are some other wonderful programs out there as well. I have colleagues that use ConvertKit, Infusionsoft, MailerLite, all of these are examples of really robust email platforms. But for my business, I have just been so satisfied with ActiveCampaign and I have zero hesitation in recommending it to my clients and now to you, my listeners. 

And the last recommendation I want to talk about today is your website. Now we've talked about websites on the Coach with Clarity podcast in the past, and I've talked about how I believe every coach needs a basic website. At the beginning, it does not have to be fancy. It doesn't need all the bells and whistles. You can build out your website as your business grows. But you do want to have some piece of virtual real estate so that when an ideal client learns about you, they can go to your website and verify you are who you say you are, and you do what you say you do. 

So there are a lot of options out there when it comes to websites, and I made the decision early on to use WordPress as the platform for my website. Now I will be honest with you – WordPress is highly robust and very flexible. You can create just about anything you want on WordPress. But that doesn't mean it's easy to do so and in fact, it took a lot of sweat equity on my part to learn how to build out a WordPress website. 

Now one resource I will share with you that saved me when I was starting out my website was Shannon Mattern’s free Five Day Website Challenge. I essentially, with the help of Shannon, taught myself how to build a website using her free program. Now she's got some upgrades that are certainly worth considering, but her free program alone is enough to get you started on building out your WordPress website. 

Once I got comfortable with that, I was then able to use other templates and platforms in order to build a website that I am just so happy with. If you go to https://www.coachwithclarity.com, you'll find that my website is on the WordPress platform. I use Divi as the theme, and I also want to give a shout out to Christine Cadalzo, who helped me design what I think is just the perfect website. Her design is beautiful, I love it, and because I took the time and learned how to create websites at the beginning, I'm able to go in and do the occasional tweak or add content to my page as necessary. 

So I am a proponent of learning a little bit about how to create your own website, so that even in the future if you outsource the design to someone, you still have a working knowledge so that if something happens and you need to get into your website to correct it, you know how to do that. So for me, I have found WordPress coupled with the Divi theme to be exactly what my business needs. 

I will say I have also heard wonderful things about Squarespace. It's very easy to use, very intuitive, drag and drop, so that's another thing to consider as well. I have heard mixed things about programs like Wix or Weebly when it comes to search engine optimization. So search engine optimization, or SEO, is a bit of a complicated topic and in the future, I will be bringing on an SEO expert to the Coach with Clarity Podcast to talk about what SEO is and why it matters for coaches. But in the meantime, I just want you to know that SEO allows your website to be found more easily on search engines like Google. So it is important that you have control over your website's SEO. 

With WordPress, and to an extent with Squarespace, you have more control over the SEO than through a platform such as Wix or weebly. So I'm not saying not to use them, but keep that in mind that as you grow, you may find that WordPress or Squarespace allows you to be more versatile, flexible, adaptable and visible moving forward. 

Now, I think it's time for this week's Clarity in Action moment. So this week's Clarity in Action moment is a pretty simple one for you. I want you to go to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/tools, and you will be able to download a one page guide with all of the links to the products that I've talked about in today's show. I want to make it really easy for you to get connected with the products and services that will help you build your business. These are the tools that I've used to grow my business. and they've allowed me to build an infrastructure behind the scenes of my business to support the work that I do from my private coaching clients from my Coach with Clarity members and for you, my podcast listeners. So head over to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/tools and you will be able to download your guide as well. 

I want to thank you for listening to today's episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast. I hope you have found this walkthrough of some of my favorite tools to be helpful. If you have any questions at all You are welcome to reach out to me. You can find me on Instagram @coachwithclarity, or send me an email info@coachwithclarity.com. 

I hope you all have a fantastic week. I will see you next week for another really dynamic coaching call so you will want to stick around for that one. In the meantime, this is Lee Chaix McDonough encouraging you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.

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