How To Make A Great Living As A Coach (Without A Ton Of Clients)

The no-flood approach to building a coaching business


Rodney Daut

3 years ago | 6 min read

Why are many oranges dyed the color orange?

Most people are unaware that ripe oranges are actually green. It’s only when the chlorophyll in their skin dies off that they turn orange, which is also right before they rot. Since people think green fruit is unripe, store owners feel compelled to make sure oranges look orange.

The true color of this citrus fruit is a surprise. And the idea that we can build a thriving coaching practice with very few clients is similarly surprising. Fortunately, it’s possible with the no-flood model.

The no-flood model involves three steps we use to build a profitable business with a small number of clients. The steps are:

  1. Solve a compelling problem
  2. Describe a complete system
  3. The math of no-flood

1. Solve a compelling problem

Which of the following pairs of statements is catchier?

I help you change your behavior and emotions
I help you overcome the fear of public speaking

I help you grow your business
I help you end your client drought

I help you to have a healthy lifestyle
I help you overcome insomnia and get a good night’s sleep

Notice the second in each pair is far more engaging. You can see the value in each service, even if it’s not for you. You probably know people who are not getting clients, who don’t sleep well, or who fear public speaking.

You could refer a person to a business serving those needs. And if you have any of these problems, you may be curious about the solution.

But it’s much harder to imagine doing business with someone who just says, “I help you live a healthy lifestyle.” You don’t even know if you’ll agree with what they consider “healthy.”

But if you can’t sleep at night, you’d most likely be willing to do anything to solve this problem. So as a coach, you’ll find it much easier to get clients when you connect your service to an apparent problem your clients have.

How do you discover your client’s biggest problems? Simply ask.

I spoke to a coach named Diane recently, whose program was called “The Authentic Diva.” I asked her to describe her coaching.

She told me her coaching is for women that combines self-esteem, authenticity, and spirituality. I felt it was still too abstract. I asked her, “What do the women you work with complain about?” She said they get passed over for the plum assignments and, as a result, often miss out on chances for promotion.

Now that’s a specific problem.

Notice that with this problem description, we can understand her service. We can also figure out who might need it. I might know a woman who wants to stop getting passed over for promotion. I don’t know anyone who says they need more authenticity.

How do you connect your service to a problem?

First, ask a client what problems they have in the area in which you work. Once you have the list of problems, consider how your service solves those issues. Then choose one problem to make as the focus of your marketing message.

2. Describe a complete system

Why do people pay so much more for system coaching than non-system coaching? And what is system coaching anyway?

System coaching is what you get when a coach has a program that offers specific results in a particular time frame with specific steps. Non-system coaching, by comparison, is a vague offer to help you improve your life or business.

And why does the system coach get paid more?

The short answer is confidence. When you hear that an expert has a system, you feel more confident that they can help you. You get the sense that they honed this system through experience, that they won’t just be guessing at how to guide you. They will lead you step-by-step from where you are today to where you want to be.

One of my clients struggled to sell her five-figure program. She helps entrepreneurs in the financial services sector overcome their hesitation to approach the big players in their industry, allowing them to create deals worth millions. She was quite good at explaining her program and its benefits. However, her offer still felt a bit abstract. So I helped her describe her work as a four-step system:

Step 1: Compelling goals
Find the goals that really move you so you can feel energized throughout the program.

Step 2: Pattern definition
Define the patterns of unworkable behavior that slow you down or stop you from reaching your goals, such as procrastination or fear of public speaking.

Step 3: Belief discovery
Find the root causes of your unworkable behaviors — limiting beliefs — so we can take the next step.

Step 4: Change your limiting beliefs
After each belief changes, you feel less held back and can more easily take actions to reach your goals

After we described her work with these four steps, she met with a prospect who signed up for her five-figure program at the end of their first meeting. Of course, other factors got the client to sign up as well. However, the system helped give her client confidence that she could help him.

Sometimes I hear from clients, “But my work is intuitive. I don’t have a system.”
However, we’ve always found there are repeatable elements. One way to find them is to list ten things you did with your last client. Then see which of those ten things you do with most clients. You now have the elements of your system. Of course, you can always deliver more than you promised, but at least now they know you have a plan. And a man (or woman) with a plan is one we can trust much more than a person using intuition alone.

3. The math of the no-flood model

Would you rather require a flood of clients to make your living? Or would you like to thrive on a steady trickle?

Many coaches struggle and fail because they don’t do the numbers. They imagine there’s some way they can make it rain clients day after day and week after week. However, it’s tough to sustain such a high quantity business.

In the early days of my coaching, I helped a client create a flood of business selling $200 an hour coaching. These events took place in the early 2000s. We relied on Google Ads (then called Adwords) to keep her practice full. But eventually, with Google Ads changes that led to rising costs and fewer clicks, this model became challenging to sustain.

We could have revamped that business to get the client flood going again, but she hated the turnover in clients. So I helped her create a more sustainable model that required no advertising and a much smaller number of higher-paying clientele who stayed longer.

She went from selling $200 an hour, coaching to $3,000 packages of value. Her revenue increased, and her stress levels went down. Much of this was dependent on selling her offer as a system that solved the client’s specific problems.

Just to see how this works. Imagine that you need to make $6,000 a month as a coach; if you are selling $200 an hour coaching, that’s 30 hours of client meetings. That’s not bad, especially if you don’t have to do any other work. However, if each client has about four sessions with you (which was one client’s average), then you’ll need to get about eight new clients a month to get to $6,000 in a year that’s 72 clients. That’s a huge number.

Now with $3,000 packages, how many new clients do you need to reach the $6,000 figure? Just two. In a year, you need only 24 clients. So with only a quarter of the number of clients, you can make the same amount of money.

This is why it pays to create coaching packages for which you can charge high fees.

Final Thoughts

To make a good living from very few clients requires that we first connect our coaching to a compelling client problem. Second, describe our coaching with a complete system. And third, that we charge high fees for our system, so we don’t require a client flood to keep our business afloat.

My suggestion is that if you’re not making the living you want from coaching that you consider the no-flood approach. Solve a problem, create your system and charge high fees for it. You’ll discover that you can build a business that helps your clients, is satisfying, but also makes you a great living.


Created by

Rodney Daut

Rodney Daut helps coaches and consultants create compelling offers that get them high-paying clients. Discover the three mistakes that keep you from making offers that compel clients to work with you here:







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