Four Key Ways to Recession-Proof Your Coaching Business

by Duanna Pang-Dokland

Like many coaches around me, my coaching business was affected by the economic downturn, and it culminated in the loss of a five-figure corporate contract.

That led me to the query: how have coaches who have been in business for over 10 years made it through tough times in the past, and how do they make it through this volatile economy? What kinds of time-tested marketing activities bring them consistent results? How do they decide which business-building strategies to adopt when there are so many to choose from?

To find the answers, I interviewed 11 veteran coaches. From these interviews emerged four key ways to make it through this soft economy:

  1. Market consistently
    As business owners, we need to run our coaching practice like a business, and continuous marketing is crucial. If you want quicker results, it works to generate face-to-face opportunities with prospective clients through speaking, networking or requests for referrals. Online marketing tends to take a longer time to bear fruit. These veteran coaches also pointed out that media interviews and/or articles tend to be more effective than advertisements.
  2. Form a support network through a mastermind group or learning community
    This was a “secret” in that not many of us knew it is a common practice amongst established coaches to support one another, without fee, through mastermind groups that meet regularly. They coach one another with best practices in marketing, coaching processes and personal breakthroughs.
  3. Use flexible contracts instead of rigid long-term ones
    Despite what some coaching schools and marketing consultants advise, some clients simply want sessions that are not tied to 3-, 6- or 12-month contracts. To sustain your business in a soft economy, it is helpful to be flexible with the contracting process.
  4. Cultivate a resilient mindset
    To sustain yourself during down times, find ways to “win” that have nothing to do with conventional definitions of success like getting clients, making money or obtaining certain material things. One of the interviewees talks about baking a cake when he feels stuck in order to experience a sense of accomplishment. And he offers a profound reminder: Is your purpose in life to have a fulfilling life, or to have a full practice at any cost?

Coaching is one of those vocations that can positively revolutionalize the world. My wish for you, dear coach, is that you will use these priceless insights to create a business that outlasts any tough times. Because the world needs you to serve the best of what is possible – right now.

Duanna Pang-Dokland is the author of Inspired and Prosperous: 11 World-Renowned Coaches Reveal Their Success and Sustainability Secrets. An ICF Chapter Past President, she works with corporate executives, business owners and coaches to design inspired and prosperous businesses they love. Connect with her at

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