Over the past year and a half, great changes to daily life have been forced upon the world. Some people have used this time to take the initiative and start a business that can not only be run from home, but appeal to those stuck at home. One such industry is health coaching.
At-home fitness and online health guides are only growing in popularity, starting well before the pandemic (though some credit is due). Between full-time health coaching practices to part-time, passive income streams, the coaching industry is booming. To differentiate your own health coaching business from the growing sea of health and fitness coaches, we’ve compiled a short guide to get you started in a way that keeps your own business level and ready for growth without the fear of pitfalls.
Follow our guide to get started and pay attention to these 5 simple but extraordinarily important things to help you attract new clients, make money, stay ahead of the competition, and scale accordingly.
1. Identify Your Audience and Differentiate Your Service
Every product needs to address a problem. Of course, the major problem being addressed with any health coach business is poor health. That can be physical health, mental health, emotional health, dietary or aging. But do you see the issue with this? The problem being “solved” is too general. You need to find a way to stand out.
It’s a wonderfully altruistic idea to try and cover all health-related issues as a business owner. However, the reality is that people won’t trust your business if you dabble in too many things. Pick a niche and run with it. People want expertise in one, maybe two related areas. Beyond that is too much of a stretch and you risk devaluing your business.
To truly deliver a solution to the problem, you need to discover your audience. Take the time and do the research: find competitors, use online market tools to discover trends, and search on social media for groups and people related to your service.
Once you discover your ideal clients and your niche topic, you can start building your business. This is the backbone of what makes a successful health coach business. Always aim to understand your customers and soon they will become brand ambassadors handing out referrals like candy.
2. Create Value for Your Coaching Business
If an online health coaching program is your planned main source of income, you need to build value for it long before launch. If you’re selling your service at a premium, users need to know what they’re getting into and perceive the same value for your product as your aim.
Luckily, you can do a lot of this for free or minimal monetary investment. You need a website, of course. That’s step 1. While you’re preparing for launch (we’re talking months in advance), start publishing blog posts that demonstrate your expertise in the niche you’ve selected. Many small businesses fail because they let the fear that sharing too much information about their service will prevent people from making a purchase. Instead, the opposite is true: you’ll gain more customers when they can recognize your knowledge of the subject you claim to be an expert in—without the paywall.
You’ll also want to start posting on social media platforms and attracting the clientele you expect to use your service. Interact with them, let them know your brand is human, compassionate, and one they can get behind. Regular email newsletters are also helpful here, especially when gauging interest in your business. Services like MailChimp make sending out emails impossibly easy by helping you set up email lists and giving you templates to fill in the data.
Displaying your achievement of success through a coaching certification program designed to help regulate the coaching industry gives your wellness business an extra check in the value section. Prospective clients use it to validate your content and business, thus becoming more willing to attend your online programs.
3. Utilize Data Collection Tech
For some small businesses, managing customers might be easy to do the old-fashioned way. But when you expect your business to gain international success, you need better data collection and management tools.
There are tons of backend integrations to link with your CRM, whether you use WordPress, Squarespace, or something else, to help you analyze anything from basic demographic data like location, age, and gender to complex data like customer purchase journeys and competitor trends. The purpose of collecting and ultimately understanding this data is to better understand your customers (or potential clients). With it, you can adjust your product offerings, create a better business plan, and find a subgroup of interested persons outside your target market to home in on with your marketing campaign.
Data collection doesn’t have to be associated with privacy violations, as is the moving trend today. You don’t need to know every detail of a user, just the pieces relevant to your product, completely anonymous.
Data collection also helps you provide more valuable feedback when users have issues or are unsure if your product is right for them and are hesitant to make a purchase.
4. Discover the Payment Model that Fits Your Customer’s Financial Standing
There are two ways to go about this: subscription pricing or up-front payments in full. A lot of businesses get disorganized and fall apart here because they fail to create appealing packages.
Subscription billing is used more often in the case of online businesses related to health coaching services and wellness professionals because customer retention is higher and making payments is automated. However, a single payment for a high-ticket item is also appealing to some people who want to secure their position for the amount of time they’ve paid for.
Find out how your competitors are pricing and do a bit of research to see if there’s any negativity surrounding it. A great way to test what works is using initial test groups once you’ve got some interest going for your service.
Now there’s a caveat: healthcare, life coaches, and wellness coaches are high risk as well as subscription pricing models. Even high-ticket items give businesses the label of a high-risk merchant. If you deal with weight loss, integrative nutrition, supplements, and online courses related to healthy living, you’re a high risk merchant. That means you’re a financial risk to the acquiring banks who would process payments for your service.
This is also why a lot of businesses fall apart at the pricing stage. Because they fail to outline the value of each coaching package they sell or offer too many packages, it gets difficult for customers to understand what they’re paying for: how many coaching sessions are included, what are the benefits, what are the expectations, etc. That’s uncomfortable for payment processors. It could easily lead to a chargeback, where a customer requests a refund from their bank rather than from you.
Chargebacks are one of the biggest detriments to high-risk businesses, and unfortunately the online health coaching industry is associated with a high chargeback ratio. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. The right payment processor will help you keep the chargeback ratio low, which we’ll get into in the next section.
5. Apply to High-Risk Merchant Accounts for Payment Processing Solutions
Get it permanently stamped in your mind now that wellness/health coaching, life coaching, fitness, and dietary coaching (via nutritionists) are all high-risk merchant types. The sooner you accept it, the better your business will run. While the label does make things a bit more complicated, there are some very easy solutions to get you started, running, and scalable.
High-risk merchant accounts are designed for businesses like this, and the right one should have some expertise in the coaching industry. DirectPayNet’s customer support team and agents are knowledgeable about the industry and can properly negotiate with acquiring banks to get you a payment gateway that works. The right one will also help you manage chargebacks better and mitigate fraud, two things associated with high-risk merchants that make payment providers hesitant.
In the end, you’ll get a customizable payment gateway that accepts credit card payments (Visa, MasterCard, etc.), debit cards, and even ACH payment processing which is highly popular for subscription models. It’s the best way to make sure your shopping cart works without issue.
Something else you should keep in the back of your mind is that you can hold multiple payment solution accounts for your one website. In the beginning, a merchant account of any kind would be difficult to acquire because you need to meet certain criteria like credit/transaction history. Third-party processors are a great way to get started but not to continue your business indefinitely. But that doesn’t mean you need to close your account; you can simply use it as a temporary backup if ever the need arises.
Stripe is a great 3rd-party payment processor to get you started. They approve you almost instantly and you don’t need to have any processing history to get your account opened. The caveat is you’ll need to pay higher fees and keep monthly sales volumes under or around $10k. You could always try to open a second 3rd-party processor account to switch over to if you get too close to the $10k limit with Stripe.
This method is only to help you get going at the very beginning. Once you’re prepared, a high-risk merchant account is your greatest solution.
Get in Touch with DirectPayNet for More Assistance
We’re eager and just as excited to get your business running as you are. Speak with our support team or an agent for more assistance with getting started, merchant accounts, and how you can scale your business with confidence.