How Top Business Coaches Spend Time [INFOGRAPHIC]

Our recent benchmarking study illustrates how top business coaches spend their time — and where they're losing both time and money. We surveyed 40 business coaches — some who coach Fortune 500 companies — and here are our results.

Profi Research Background

Driven by our mission to help profis (professional service providers) everywhere maximize their impact, we're always doing two things:

1) Listening to our customers' and future customers' current challenges, needs and desires, and

2) Digging deep to design and build new solutions to help coaches maximize the impact they're making in their businesses.

Research is a key component of our strategy, allowing us to listen and understand where the drains are in a coach's day and what the critical drivers of growth are. This benchmarking study helps us better understand how business coaches are really spending one of their most precious, controllable resources: their time and energy.

So, without further ado... the results!

INFOGRAPHIC: How Top Service Providers Spend Their Time

INFOGRAPHIC of how top business coaches spend their time
The unified professional services platform, Profi, surveyed 40 business coaches on how they allocated their time. These are the results. [INFOGRAPHIC]


The Data & Insights: What we Learned from Top Business Coaches

Remember the challenges and needs I mentioned above? What the research revealed to us can be summed up as follows:

  • A staggering 91% of business coaches surveyed literally gave away unpaid service time.
  • More than 85% of business coaches spent less than half of their time doing paid coaching!
  • 140 hours (or 3.5, 40-hour work weeks) on average were spent on completely automatable functions like scheduling clients and billing them.
  • Even for the special few who were able to spend the majority of their time on paid coaching... 40% of their time is still spent on unpaid, automatable work!

So what do the numbers mean? Let's break down each of the top findings above into the insights they reveal about the time and energy of top business coaches:

1) The Value Imperative: Value Your Coaching Services

📊 Data point: A staggering 91% of business coaches surveyed literally gave away unpaid service time.

What's an all-too-common, yet tough-to-spot coaching gap in the service industry that revenue loves to seep out of? It's what our customer, Innovation Experts terms "knowledge leakage," and if you're leaking knowledge then you're losing business revenue. The Product Manager of their expert marketplace of 40 coaches and consultants shared that turning knowledge leakage into expert-level user-generated insights in their content was the second most critical way their team was able to plug that 14%, or one-third, of unpaid service time they were doling out to clients.

🔑 Key #2 to finding a competitive advantage in a new market: “Our ability to have consultant profiles connected to content insights has helped move people to pay for those insights.” Michael Kearnes of Innovation Experts Marketplace says their coaches and consultants termed the phenomenon as “knowledge leakage” meaning they were often overspending time with new clients, giving away gems of insight and not getting compensated for their expertise.

This expands from actually placing proper value on all your services to mindset: valuing yourself and your work as a business coach. Undervaluing your coaching work is one of the top reasons why coaches in the industry fail.

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it. — Margaret Fuller

Our study showed that, on average, coaches spend a significant amount of time giving away their knowledge, process, frameworks or insights. How much? Coaches surveyed spend 14% of their time on unpaid coaching work. Which works out to be about one-third of the time (41%) that they spend doing paid coaching.

2) Optimize Your Resource Utilization

📊 Data point: More than 85% of business coaches spent less than half of their time on actual paid coaching time (that generates revenue for their businesses)!
📊 Data point: Even for the special few who were able to spend the majority of their time (60%) on paid coaching... 40% of their time is still spent on unpaid, automatable work!

Have you found the silver bullet to effectively utilizing your most important resource: you and your coaches?

No?

Don't worry... you're not alone.

For most coaching solopreneurs and teams of coaches, understanding and designing optimal time and resource allocation into their businesses is an ongoing challenge.

Forecast’s Utilization report showing billable time utilization  versus target time utilization
See a snapshot of your billable utilization versus a personal business or client utilization target that you set in time management and resourcing software, Forecast’s, Utilization report.
According to Forecast, a time management and resourcing software, "an appropriate level [of utilization] to target would ... be between 70-80%, since there will always be time spent on other important tasks that are not directly linked to a client."

When we realized that more than 85% of business coaches that we surveyed spent less than half of their time on actual paid coaching time, we were astounded. And, it also began to validate our questions going into the benchmark study that continue to fuel our Profi team. It's part of the premise of why we care about building a unified platform for business coaches that re-slices this pie chart below.

"You can’t expect more than 80% utilization on billable projects." — Forecast

So, how would we re-slice the pie chart if we had it our way at Profi? Let's break it down:

  • Target 70-80% billable and paid client service utilization versus 41% benchmark (and 60% the anomaly).
  • Turn the third of unpaid service delivery time (14%) into scalable, paid service delivery using blog content and training program features combined with well-placed individual and group sessions.
  • Automate the whopping 64% of non-revenue generating*, repeatable tasks with technology!

* Non-revenue generating activities: scheduling (4% time suck), client progress reports (9%), unpaid services (14%), key sales & marketing functions (19%), other administrative tasks (10%) and billing (3%).

3) Identify the Automatable Parts of Your Service Delivery & Optimize with Technology

📊 Data point: 140 hours (or 3.5, 40-hour work weeks) on average were spent on completely automatable functions like scheduling clients and billing them.
📊 Data point: Even for the special few who were able to spend the majority (60%) of their time on paid coaching... 40% of their time is still spent on unpaid, automatable work!

And now we come to the part that more than 80% of small business owners are still not effectively taking advantage of: automation with technology.

How do you know what to automate?

Common tasks and functions you can automate in your service delivery workflow today include:

  1. Tasks that are repeatable
  2. Tasks that don't generate revenue

These two litmus tests will help you identify where to focus your automation efforts in your service business.

"65% of small businesses are more likely to invest in technology like artificial intelligence for automation." — Hubspot small business statistics

How to identify what to automate and optimize with technology in your service delivery workflow

So, which tasks in the chart above can stand to be automated in your coaching business? As our survey of top business coaches indicates, start with these parts of your service delivery workflow while asking yourself the two litmus test questions we shared in the previous section.

  • scheduling (4% needless time suck)
  • client progress report tracking (9% drain)
  • unpaid services (14% total loss)
  • key sales & marketing functions (19% drain)
  • other administrative tasks (10% time suck)
  • billing (3% unnecessary drain)

And you know what that adds up to? (You may want to sit down for this one.)

Up to 59% of tasks in your service business can be automated using technology!

Seriously? Yes, upwards of 59% of your coaching tasks could be automated with technology. Just imagine the time and energy you could free up if you were able to automate even a fraction of 59% of tasks in your service business. And even more, imagine 59% more of your time being billable, revenue-generating time with your clients.

This is where you have to consider service technology — from integrated professional services software to AI and machine learning tools.

Bottom Line

How you allocate your time as a business coach can mean the difference between individual growth, team and business scale, and staying power in the coaching industry.

If you even have even the teensiest sneaking suspicion you're leaving money and time on the table, it's time to re-consider how you value your coaching services and then look to optimize your time allocation. And lastly, explore the repeatable parts of your service delivery workflow where the time and money drains are happening so you can focus your technology investments in those areas.

If you’re a coach or consultant looking for an all-in-one platform where you can get started applying these insights, try Profi for free for 30 days. (Check out our affordable solopreneur pricing.) 

For coaching teams and firms or networks of coaches, schedule a demo with us today!

Special Thanks to the Coaches and Coaching Teams who Contributed to our Study:

Below you'll find the names of the coaches and coaching businesses that participated in our study.
Some respondents chose to remain anonymous and we respect their privacy.

Alexis Haselberger, Holly Jean Jackson LLC, Janine Bolon, Status Flow (DBA - Chris M. King, LLC), Breanna Gunn, Shawn Johal - Elevation, Marian Bacol-Uba, Founder of Thriver Lifestyle, TEDx Speaker & Business Coach, Billy Goldberg, Gems Collins LLC, Michelle Dellavalle, Susana Fonticoba, Small Business Consultant, Michael OBrien, Peloton Executive Coaching, Courtney Underwood - Kassar Consulting, Irina Cozma Consultant LLC, Roger Southam High Performance Coach, Brad Atkins, Marty M Fahncke, Kara Duffy Coaching & Consulting, Boston Turner Group, Kathy Gruver, Bina Patel - PhD CEO Transformational Paradigms dba bina consulting llc, Tom Marino, Rhianna Basore - Self Trust Fund - a financial coaching business for creatives, Alice Dartnell - Alice Dartnell Limited - coaching and corporate workshop training, Bob Minhas, David D. Knapp, Ph.D., Anastacia Brice, Lori Karpman - CEO, Lori Karpman & Company, BetterYou, TerDawn DeBoe - Owner of Creative Thought Solutions, Beyond Influence and the Eternal Leadership, and Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal - Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) - Resilience-Leadership

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