In early 2022, an email popped into my inbox from a midsize software firm asking if my company could provide outplacement services for 50 employees it was about to lay off.
Outplacement, I thought to myself—I don’t even know what that is. I’d never heard of it. There was nothing on our company’s website at the time that said we did this. What we did do was provide coaching to people who were looking for their first remote jobs.
My response to the software company: Sure. How difficult could it be? Our company, launched in 2019, provided coaching to individuals looking for jobs. This was much the same except that a company—not job seekers—would be paying for our services.
And so began our new service offering, which eventually led to a full-blown pivot. We have built Exec.com on the ashes of our consumer-focused business, seizing the opportunity to rebrand and refocus. Over a year later, we’re now helping clients like SAP, JP Morgan and Campbell’s with custom coaching and training programs. In addition to drawing high-profile clients, we’ve experienced a significant revenue boost that eclipses that of our original business.
Pursuing a new opportunity
As we took on that initial outplacement client, we discovered some major benefits to working for companies instead of consumers. For one, we loved the ability to acquire the equivalent of 50 or so consumers all at once. The hardest part of running our former company was finding new customers in a cost-effective way. A lot of people want a service like ours, but it’s difficult to get in front of consumers at the exact moment in their journey when they’re making that decision.
Initially, after that first outplacement client, we did little to change our existing business model. All of our systems, including our technology, worked great. We did some basic marketing of our new outplacement services on our website and promoted them on LinkedIn.
But those new services took off fast. We soon built a sales team, and in turn, sold a lot. And here’s where it gets interesting: One innovative customer, trying to maximize his spend, reached back out to us saying: “Hey, not all of my employees used your services, but I’ve already paid for them. Are there any other coaching services you can provide that aren’t job-search related? What about career coaching?”
We dove in. At the time, we had 20 coaches. We now have 200-plus trained and certified career coaches—many of them former executives—working with dozens of enterprise clients. Employees are matched with the most relevant coach through artificial intelligence, and they work on a fully automated platform that handles, among other things, a coach’s calendar and availability, security and billing.
Exec.com is already three times bigger than our consumer-focused company and revenues are growing 20% per month on average. In late 2022, we turned a profit for the first time.
What we’ve learned while building our new company is that the market never stops moving. You need to keep your ear to the ground, listen to what your gut is telling you, and adapt your services to meet the most pressing and urgent needs of the day.
Even within coaching, what clients are looking for changes frequently. In 2022, all we heard was retention, retention, retention. In 2023, all we’re hearing is performance, performance, performance. You have to be nimble, and for us, that means bringing in new coaches that are the best fit for the topic du jour.
Going forward, we will have to hire more coaches and salespeople—building an organization that can support the scale. This niche we’ve found really seems to be resonating.Print this article