What’s your breakthrough business model? Download the guide to find out!

Outsmart the Hustle

The Blog

Featured at

Michael Knouse Logos

In the previous post we explored how to streamline your services business with a high-impact, high-leverage model called Cohort-Based Coaching.

This is the same model I’ve used to lead cohorts for entrepreneurs, leadership teams & executives, and virtual cohorts with my wife in the yoga + health & wellness space.

I’ve also helped dozens of clients design, build, test, market, and sell their own Cohort Based-Coaching programs in both the B2C and B2B spaces.

It’s the single best business model I know of for harnessing expertise, creating deep transformation, and escaping the time-for-dollars trap that so many service providers find themselves in.

The bottom line is this: 

If you want to run a more fun, efficient, and profitable services business, you may want to consider Cohort-Based Coaching (CBC).

How do you build a Cohort-Based Coaching Program?

If you are interested in following the path of offering Cohort-Based Coaching, I recommend that you do two things:

  1. Start small
  2. Create one CBC Program at a time

With those things in mind, here are the steps:

Step 1: Get clear on the mission, objectives, and outcome

I can’t emphasize this enough. Set a clear mission for your CBC. This should describe the reason your CBC must exist.

For my past client, Becki Saltzman, her CBC mission is to “help forward-thinking leadership teams optimize their decision-making process.”

Next, you’ll want to state the objectives that your CBC will accomplish.

To stick with our friend Becki, one of the objectives for her High Stakes Decision-Making CBC is to “confidently and wisely make ANY high-stakes decision.”

Finally, you’ll want to state the clear outcome or promise for your CBC.

For Becki, the outcome of her High Stakes Decision Making CBC is to “give you and your team a reliable framework that can be deployed across the entire organization to inspire critical thinking, ask better questions, and make the best decisions.”

Step 2: Document your process

You may be so close to the way that you coach or teach mindfulness or give financial advice or help someone write the first draft of their book that you don’t realize all that’s involved.

If you are comfortable writing, you can imagine someone in front of you asking “If you were working with a new client, what is the first thing you would do? Then the next? Then the next?”

If writing is hard, try talking it out on video or audio, then having it transcribed.

Step 3: Create your framework

Once you’ve laid out the design of your CBC program, now you want to group your process into stages or steps.

Most CBC programs work best with 3-5 phases or steps so that they don’t become overwhelming.

Referring back to Becki’s High Stakes Decision-Making CBC, she brings her clients through the following five-step process:

  1. Prepare Your Mindset
  2. Guardrail Your Decision
  3. Filter Your Inputs
  4. Sanitize the Process
  5. Make the Decision

At each phase or step, group the tasks your client needs to complete, and match it with templates or tools you use in your work.

You may find that you’ll need to create these templates or tools if you just have them living in your head.

Step 4: Validate

Once your process and framework are clear, you’ll identify and enlist a group of trial participants to guide you through your program.

This can be paid or not, it doesn’t really matter that much at this point. I’ve had clients who charge full price for delivering a very hands-on experience as well as clients who haven’t charged anything.

The goal is to enroll dedicated participants that are willing to give you candid feedback and allow you to test-drive your CBC in the real world.

Step 5: Package, price, and deliver

Once your CBC program is organized and you’ve received valuable feedback from real clients, select the cohort style and pricing model that will make it easy for your market to understand, purchase and implement.

Here are the three primary CBC models:

  • Peer-Driven Cohorts – This style of cohort leverages the collective wisdom and diversity of the group to serve one another and process issues & challenges in real-time. The content is primarily driven by the participants of the cohort. This style of cohort is great for developing community and trust within existing organizations or teams. This is the model we use with our corporate leadership clients.
  • Skill Development Cohorts – This style of cohort focuses on teaching and integrating new processes, skills, or technology into the life and/or work of the participant. I have several clients who employ this cohort style to teach + coach their unique IP to a specific group within an organization or to a broader audience.
  • Vocational Cohorts – This style of cohort puts an equal emphasis on skill development and peer wisdom. This model is used when your cohort involves participants that share very similar goals, desires, issues, and functional roles but can’t disclose confidential or sensitive information. For example, your CBC might focus on Chief Operating Officers (COOs). There is huge value in curating a group who all share a similar functional role but you’ll need to design your cohort to protect the confidential nature of their work.

With each of these cohort models, you can adjust the duration, price, and personal preferences to fit your lifestyle preferences and the transformation you want to deliver.

For example, some prefer to keep their CBCs 100% virtual. Others like to include an opportunity for people to gather in person. And others prefer to include a unique experience like a retreat.

Each of these models can be significantly scaled using a combination of certification, employing other coaches/facilitators to deliver the CBC, and/or licensing your CBC for clients to use within their organizations.

It will take some time and focus to transform your human-guidance-heavy business into a CBC, but when you do, you will find that you can serve more clients, more consistently for more money.

Step 6: Architect your client journey

Once your style and process for delivering your CBC are clear, then you’ll want to map out the steps your potential client needs to take to connect with you.

You’ll examine the easiest paths for you to connect with your market and double down on these.

For example, if you’ve already got a solid LinkedIn following, this represents an area of leverage for positioning and marketing your CBC and you’ll want to be strategic with how you can use this existing resource.

You’ll also want to consider your genuine skills & strengths – the things that come easiest to you.

If you enjoy writing, you’ll want to employ your writing skills to create visibility for your CBC program. If you enjoy speaking, you’ll want to employ your speaking skills to create visibility for your CBC program. If you enjoy facilitation, you’ll want to employ those skills, etc.

This stage of the game is all about leveraging your existing resources and most natural skills to amplify the visibility and engagement with your market so that your ideal clients can easily discover the value of your CBC program.

Step 7: Automate, automate, automate

Once you clarify your client journey, use technology and automation tools like Thinkific, Kajabi, or Teachable to ease the delivery of your content.

You’ll also want to consider project management or document management tools like Notion and financial tools that automate payments.

Automate any tasks that do not have to be done by a human and simplify these steps whenever possible.

Step 8: Build community

The Cohort-Based Coaching model organically emphasizes inclusion and community so you’ll want to create a space for your clients to connect during and after participating in your CBC program.

You can use existing platforms like Facebook Groups or LinkedIn to support your growing community or you can create a more personalized experience with platforms like Circle, Mighty Networks, or Slack.

I love to build community in-person whenever possible so leveraging existing industry events to host a curated gathering or party is another fun way to enhance your community experience.

In the next newsletter, I’ll be sharing some specific client examples and how they’ve benefited from creating and leveraging the CBC model.

Live Bravely,


What's your breakthrough business model?

This guide contains the need-to-know facets of each business model so you can strategically plan your entrepreneurial journey.

Wanna learn more about working together?

#LessHustleMorePlay #OutsmartTheHustle