During my 30 years as a coach, I have observed many changes in the coaching industry. In the 1980s triathlon coaches were few and far between. Through the 1990s there was an increase in coaching education and overall growth of the sport into the early 2000s. This meant there were more coaching choices, but the idea of age group athletes having personal coaching was still a novelty.
Today there are many coaching options, and fortunately there are also more athletes than ever being coached. There comes a tipping point for every successful coach when they need to understand that they are ready to expand their coaching business in order to manage their client load and build a larger coaching brand. If you are one of these coaches enjoying noticeable growth, but you feel you have more to offer a broader athlete base, consider these factors in preparation for expanding your business or deciding whether or not you should begin the process:
1. You have a loyal athlete base.
A strong base of loyal athletes is a good sign. It indicates that your coaching quality and services are meeting your athletes’ needs, and that there would likely be more athletes who could benefit from your skills.
2. Athletes are asking you to grow.
They want more practices to attend. They have friends who are interested. You also have athletes who are willing to travel to spend time working with you, or your online coaching clientele roster is growing steadily.
3. Your coaching business has been profitable for at least three years.
Steady profitability is a sign you’re doing something right and that your business model will work elsewhere. A recent surge isn’t necessarily enough to justify business expansion—it could be temporary or seasonal.
4. You have a strong pool of assistants.
To handle growth, your need to have well trained assistants ready for additional work. You’ll need to be ready to properly train or mentor other developing coaches in different locales. You will need to hire help or have the capacity for more administrative work. If you’ve got the bandwidth, your chances of a successful business expansion will improve greatly.
5. Your marketplace is expanding.
You are located in an area where the sport is growing without much coaching competition, or you have identified another community with a growing athlete base without strong local coaching support.
6. You have an efficient e-commerce system.
You can have a robust client base, but if you are not efficiently transacting payments, collecting receivables and have an inability to manage payroll, you won’t have the financial foundation you need to fund business expansion.
7. You have more business than you can handle.
Are you turning away athletes or too busy to contact sales leads in a timely fashion? Are there not enough work hours in the day? Assuming that this isn’t the result of poor time management—but due to high demand—this is a major sign there is room for business expansion.
8. You see a need for related coaching services or products.
If your personal coaching business is strong, it could be time to add to your offerings. Camps, bike fitting, lactic testing, swim clinics, video biomechanical analysis, spin classes, online coaching, and industry product sales are some examples.
9. You have operational systems in place.
If your coaching business is still operating by the seat of your pants, business expansion is not timely. You’ll need to have proven systems to be able to replicate your services at other locations and to ensure consistent quality from your assistant coaches.
10. You’re running out of room.
Your coaching is facility-based and all your facilities are over-full. You have between eight and 10 athletes per swim lane. The run track is overcrowded, impeding a smooth practice. Your athletes are rubbing elbows in spin groups. It may be time to seek a larger space or different venues for expansion.