Taking a Coaching or NLP certification course may inspire you to pursue a career as an independent service provider.  The certification is only a part of the battle.  Now you have to get into ‘business mode’ and create a successful practice.

Here are 7 steps that you can follow to put yourself in the right direction:

  1. Identify your target market. Do you want to work with business clients, athletes, celebrities or another specific group of people?  Don’t say ‘everyone’. It’s too big of a group to focus your efforts.  Then get even more specific: If you want business clients for example, do you want to focus on lower level employees, middle level, senior level or on CEOs only?    The clearer your definition, the easier it will be for you to find the clients that interest you.  Just be realistic.   Avoid picking celebrities, for example, because you think it sounds exciting, but in reality you have no connections in this market.
  2. Realize that in this type of work, you are a brand. Just like Nike or Coca-Cola, your name is now a brand.  Think of what kind of brand you want to be.  Be very detailed at this stage.  Are you a luxury brand or an economy brand?  Are you humorous or very serious?  Are you very focused on what you offer or will you combine it with other services you can offer.  Don’t worry, your brand, like any brand, will mature and evolve over time according to the demands in the market.
  3. Now make an elevator pitch. Describe exactly what you can do for someone in the time it takes you to get from one floor to another in an elevator.  30 seconds at most.  And write it in terms of how your client will benefit, not how skilled you are.  For example:  “I’m an executive coach who works with senior level managers.  I enable my clients to maximize their potential, and increase their productivity from 70-100% without working more hours.  This way my clients can often increase their incomes by 30% within the first year alone.”  Once you have perfected your pitch, tell a few people and see their reaction.  Then make changes if necessary.  A good pitch will earn you three magical words “tell me more”, so don’t try to pack everything you can offer in those 30 seconds.
  4. Now work on building your brand, and be creative in spreading it. Just like a company create a logo, build a web site, make a blog, be active in social media, etc.  Do everything in your power to build your brand and spread your name.  Everything I mentioned in this list can be done professionally with the help of a few books and maybe a bit of money on a web site and logo if you don’t have a friend who can make this for you. Speaking about logos, you don’t have to make a fancy company name.  Your name is the easiest one to spread because so many people know you already.
  5. Network, network and network. The more you get out and speak to people, especially new people, the more you can spread your brand and generated the best kind of market: word of mouth.  Never turn down an opportunity to speak about your brand.  Even if it’s drinks with some friends, if there is potential to meet someone new, go for it.  You never know who could turn into a client over a friendly conversation of “what do you do for a living”.  Just don’t be overly pushy.
  6. Let your friends and family know what you do. Be as clear and concise as you can.  They will be your best sales people.  This is called Evangelism.  You want people who know what you do to spread the word for you.  The more people spreading your name the better.
  7. Cold Calling. This is the part where, once you have identified who you want your clients to be, you need to call them and let them know what you can do for them.  Your elevator pitch from item 2 is the best way to start a phone conversation here.  A really good book on this is Selling to Vito: the Very Important Top Officer by Anthony Parinello.  I highly suggest this book even if you are not targeting a business audience.  It is very practical and straightforward, and goes through things like setting up your elevator pitch and how to deal with people who are difficult to get on the phone.

There you have it.  Seven things you should do to start your career in the personal service industry.  As with any business create a plan, set goals, and make it happen!