Start a Coaching Business in 2023: The Ultimate Guide
Are you ready to embark on the exciting journey of starting a coaching business?
Whether you’re passionate about life coaching, career coaching, business coaching, financial coaching, or anything in between, our ultimate guide will provide you with the tools and knowledge needed to turn your passion into a successful coaching business.
In this article, I break everything down into very doable bite-sized chunks. Just take your time and remember to reward yourself as you make progress along the way!
The Journey to Becoming a Coach
Starting a coaching business is a rewarding and fulfilling endeavour. By leveraging your unique coaching skills and expertise, you’ll be able to make a lasting impact on the lives of your clients.
Personal development, training options, and choosing the right certification are essential steps in your journey to successfully launching your own business. Remember, you can only take your clients as far as you have gone yourself.
Unlocking your full potential starts here. Investing in your own personal and professional development is crucial if you want to be a great coach and a successful business owner. As Adrian Shiel says, “To be an entrepreneur, to be successful, you have to do the inner work.”
There are loads of resources you can consume on your own, or better yet, you can utilise the skills of other coaches and invest in your own private coaching sessions. As you journey through this, you’ll gain the necessary skills, strategies, and systems to succeed and overcome any limiting beliefs you may have.
This is especially important in the beginning when most coaches struggle with issues such as not charging what they’re worth, imposter syndrome, and so on. Don’t let these roadblocks stop you from starting a coaching business and achieving your goals.
Remember, a thriving business is built on a foundation of passion, skills, and personal experience, so embrace the journey. As you grow, you’ll be better equipped to serve your clients and build a profitable business.
Choosing the right training and certification
Exploring various training options is crucial to developing your coaching skills. Stimulating options include online or in-person workshops, online courses, webinars and so on.
By investing in your training and development, you’ll be better equipped to serve your clients and create a thriving business.
As for certification while it isn’t a requirement to launch your coaching business, obtaining the right certification can enhance your credibility and set you apart from the competition.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) for example, offers an Education Search Service (ESS). It is designed to help you identify the best life coach certification programs available. This way you can ensure you get maximum value from your training.
When considering coach training programs, like any service you’re interested in, it’s always prudent to thoroughly go through the inclusions and read through reviews from other students before enrolling.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that not having a certification is by no means a deal breaker.
Many coaches have done years of study and have a wealth of experience and effective coaching skills, but for a number of varying reasons, just don’t have a piece of paper to go with it.
If this is you, it’s a good idea to collect as many testimonials and case studies to provide your potential clients with credibility and social proof.
When you start a coaching business there are various legal issues to consider including your business name, business structure, and drafting contracts and agreements.
These elements might not be as exciting as other facets of your practice but are essential aspects that you can’t afford to brush over. By addressing these matters, you’ll safeguard your coaching business and ensure its long-term success.
Your business name
You may already have chosen your business name, but before locking anything in, I suggest asking yourself the following:
- Is it easy to spell and pronounce? there’s nothing worse than trying to “Google” a business name when you can’t spell it correctly
- Is it memorable? Names that are long & complicated are easily forgotten
- Is it available? This is a biggy! So many people fall in love and start trading under a name before checking if it’s even available. Is someone else using it or using something close to it that could cause confusion? Is it available to register with your local authority? Is the domain i.e. (www.yourbusinessname.com) available?
Regarding the domain. Even if you’re not ready to build a website yet, it’s so important to check that the one you will eventually use is available… and lock it in.
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than establishing a business and all your branding only to discover that you can’t use your chosen name as your domain.
Selecting a business structure
Selecting the appropriate legal structure for your coaching business is vital. Options vary depending on your location but almost always include structures along the lines of a sole trader, partnership, company, etc. Each with its advantages and disadvantages.
A company (Pty Ltd, LLC) is often the optimal choice for coaching businesses. They provide limited liability protection for business owners while maintaining affordability and flexibility.
Take the time to look into this to find the structure that is going to work best now and in the future. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to seek expert advice, it’s always best to get this right from the start.
Contracts and agreements
Coaching agreements are essential for outlining the expectations and benefits of the coaching relationship, including payment, schedule, duration of service, confidentiality, and intellectual property.
Crafting a clear and concise coaching agreement that includes all relevant details and ensures both parties understand and agree to the terms is crucial for a successful coaching relationship.
You can find templates for the documents online to get you started, but it’s also recommended to seek legal advice from a professional to make sure your contracts are robust and airtight.
By having a solid coaching agreement in place, you’ll protect both yourself and your clients, fostering trust and satisfaction.
As a coach, the hope is that after working with you, your clients go on to lead more positive lives. Sadly though in some cases, problems can arise and they may want to hold you accountable. This is where having appropriate insurance is strongly advised.
The best way to protect yourself from legal disputes is by having a well-drafted Coaching Agreement as mentioned above. It is also advisable to have appropriate Disclaimers, T&Cs and IP clauses. When that isn’t enough though, insurance is designed to protect you.
For most coaches, the insurance you choose won’t be different from any other business. With the recent growth of the coaching industry, some companies are now offering coaching-specific insurance, so that’s worth looking into.
Establishing your coaching niche & ideal client
To be a successful coach begins with establishing your coaching niche and who your ideal clients are. Before diving into that, let’s first clarify the difference, as the two are often confused:
Niche: the product or service you specialise in.
Ideal client: the specific group of people you serve.
Now onto how to go about finding a profitable niche and the right coaching clients for you:
Passion and Skills
Your passion and skills are the driving forces behind a successful coaching niche. Passion is crucial for fueling your enthusiasm (your why and ultimate purpose), while your skills are necessary for providing the best outcomes for your clients.
Get out your notebook and start making a list of the things that light you up, the areas that bring you joy and all the skills you have to complement that. We’re almost always our own worst critics when it comes to skills, so if need be, ask family members or friends to write a list of your strengths for you… and actually, take them on board!
The current market demand for coaching is on the rise. According to Gitnux – The market value of the Life Coaching Industry is expected to reach $25 billion by 2025 with a 7% average annual growth rate from 2022 to 2025. WOW!
So we know there’s plenty of market demand and coaching niches to choose from. Now it’s time to let your passions and skills guide you towards a niche that has a healthy market with paying clients who are ready and waiting for you.
You can research market demand using tools like:
- Google Trends
- Page Insights by Meta
- Answer The Public
- Pinterest trends
- And Google’s free keyword research tool just to name a few!
Start searching for terms based on your list of passions and skills. Take note of the results that are getting the most traffic. Those with the lowest indicate that there isn’t much demand.
During your research, if you find that there’s a lot of competition for your prospective niche, don’t let this put you off going for it. This is also a good indicator that there is plenty of demand.
Conversely, when you don’t find much competition, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve discovered an amazing untapped market… Chances are someone already has, it just didn’t pan out.
Once you get settled on a niche, your business will be better positioned to attract and serve your target market.
Understanding your target audience
Understanding your target audience is vital in being able to create messaging that resonates with them.
Say you have a coaching service that targets mothers. Just “mothers” is a very broad audience. For example, the needs of mums with young children would be greatly different to those who have recently become empty nesters.
When your marketing is communicated to a broad audience it becomes generic and uninspiring. It also won’t address the specific problems your ideal customer wants to be solved. This results in a lack of empathy, connection and subsequently, a lost sale.
By refining your customer avatar, you’ll be able to start creating programs, services and marketing material that addresses their specific needs. You will also be better able to understand what they want, how to reach them, how to get them to buy, and most importantly, how to give them the outcome they desire.
Want to dive into this further? Check out the article below which includes a free worksheet for you to get started on creating your customer avatar:
When it comes to establishing your niche & ideal client keep in mind that this process is very rarely perfected from the get-go. It is often refined over the years as you begin working in your business.
So, don’t put off launching your coaching business just because you haven’t got this just right yet. You’ll get there.
Pricing & packaging for your coaching business
Determining the right pricing and packaging for your services is crucial when you start a coaching business.
Conducting a competitive analysis is a great way to start determining the best pricing strategy for your services. Analyse your competitors’ product offerings, pricing models, and marketing strategies to identify gaps and how you can capitalise on them.
By gathering this valuable insight, you’ll be better positioned to set appropriate prices and attract your perfect clients.
Once you have determined your pricing, offering a variety of coaching packages is a smart way to serve your clients effectively and maximize your income potential. Consider offering packages that include different levels of service. For example, the number of one on one coaching sessions, online coaching versus in-person coaching, and additional resources.
Providing clients with options allows them to choose the package that best aligns with their goals and budget. This will result in higher client satisfaction and retention.
Furthermore, offering flexible payment options is also another effective way to serve your clients well. For example, offering monthly payment plans or a reduced rate for full upfront payments.
Plus, it can also mean an improvement in cash flow for you. This helps to ensure you have enough money to stay on top of business expenses and have a healthier bank account. And that just makes great business sense!
Finally, underestimating your worth is a common pitfall for new coaches and can greatly impact how quickly you reach your business goals. So, when setting your prices, always remember to value yourself and your expertise. You’re worth more than you think!
Then, be sure to review and adjust your prices regularly. This will ensure your business continues to grow and remains profitable.
Building a strong online presence
In today’s digital world, a strong online presence is crucial for the success of your coaching business. By investing time and resources into it, you’ll create a solid foundation and increase your visibility.
Your website may well be your most powerful marketing tool. Almost all of your potential clients will visit it to learn more about you & your coaching services before making a purchasing decision.
To be effective, it is vital that your website is both attractive and backed by marketing strategies proven to attract & convert clients.
Ensure you cover the basics by including essential elements such as:
- About, Services (or work with me), and Contact Page
- A Blog to showcase your expertise.
- Strategies in place for relationship nurturing such as social proof, FAQs, a lead magnet, a discovery call option and so on.
Click here if you’re interested in knowing more about how we can help you to create a Coaching website that works.
Social Media Strategy
Leveraging social media is a powerful way to promote your online coaching business and engage with potential clients. Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram allow you to showcase your expertise and connect with your target audience.
When engaging with potential clients on social media, take a subtle approach, focusing on providing value and building relationships rather than aggressively promoting your services. This strategy will help you attract and retain clients while building a positive reputation for your coaching practice.
Content marketing is an essential tool for all coaches to build a strong personal brand, attract prospective clients, establish thought leadership, and be seen as an authority in their industry.
You can utilise various content formats to provide valuable information and engage your audience. Some examples include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts and videos
- Case Studies
- eBooks, checklists and how-to guides
With a comprehensive content marketing strategy, you’ll not only attract new clients but also strengthen your relationship with existing clients to support business growth.
Finding coaching clients and retention strategies
Acquiring and retaining clients is the lifeblood of any business. The kicker though is knowing what to do and how to do it right. And unless you’re a marketing expert, this can be an understandable challenge for many coaches.
The good news is there is an abundance of different ways to market your online coaching business and find coaching clients. And do so not only within a budget that works for you but also with what’s in line with your strengths, and the target audience you wish to reach.
Marketing strategies for coaches
With numerous options to choose from, my advice is to answer the following 3 questions first:
- What’s in line with your strengths? Seriously, if you suck at making videos but are great at blog writing, give priority to your blog! You’ll be able to do it well and more importantly, be more motivated to be consistent… And consistency is key.
- What will resonate with your target audience? There’s no point posting on Twitter if none of your clients are on that platform. Plus, you don’t want to reach any and all clients, you need to connect with your ideal clients.
- What works with your budget? While we don’t always want to admit it, budget is often a factor, especially if you are a new business. There’s no need to break the bank though when so many effective, free marketing strategies are available. Find what is comfortable for where your business is now. You can always re-evaluate investing in new marketing strategies down the road.
I cover specific marketing options in more detail in the following article if you wish to explore the topic further.
In it, I cover the following:
- Instagram, Facebook Pages & Facebook Groups
- Start your own blog and guest blogging
- List Your Business on Directory Websites
- Create a Strategy-Driven Website
- Speaking Gigs
- Be a Podcast host or guest
- Networking groups
- Email Marketing
- Paid advertising
Client Retention Techniques
Retaining clients is essential for the long-term success of your coaching practice. As you build relationships with potential clients, prioritise providing personalised attention and support, ensuring they feel valued and cared for.
Offer tailored advice, respond quickly to inquiries, and provide additional resources to give your clients the personalised experience they deserve. By focusing on client retention, you’ll create a loyal client base that continues to invest in your coaching services.
Scaling Your Coaching Business
Scaling your coaching business is an exciting milestone, allowing you to leverage your time and maximize your income potential. Expanding your offerings, automating processes, and leveraging technology can help you grow your business and reach new heights of success.
Consider expanding your coaching offerings by providing continuing education programs, diversifying services, and expanding your expertise. Automate processes such as appointment calendars, email sequences, and payment and invoicing to streamline your business and increase efficiency.
As you scale your coaching business, remember to continuously evaluate your progress, adjust your strategies, and invest in your personal and professional growth.
Expanding Your Offerings
Growing your coaching practice involves expanding your offerings to reach a wider range of clients. Consider crafting a self-study version of your coaching program. Or, choose your favourite coaching model to monetise and sell digitally 24/7.
Offering group coaching is another effective strategy to maximize your reach without increasing your workload. By diversifying your services and adapting to the needs of your clients, you’ll create a thriving coaching business that attracts and retains clients.
Embracing automation can significantly streamline your coaching business, allowing you to focus on what truly matters – serving your clients. Here are some automation ideas:
- Use scheduling software or calendar apps to set up appointment calendars and stay organised.
- Employ email marketing platforms or customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These can automate email sequences, keeping your clients engaged and informed.
- Streamline payment and invoicing processes with online payment processors or invoicing software. This ensures a smooth and efficient experience for you and your clients.
In conclusion, starting a coaching business is an exciting and rewarding journey. With enough dedication, consistency and hard work, it’s definitely possible to create a successful online business.
The coaching industry continues to go from strength to strength. So, now is the perfect time to turn your passion into a fulfilling career as a coach.
How Life Coach Freedom can help you build a successful coaching business
If you want to grow your coaching business without confusion & overwhelm and save yourself oodles of time & energy, you’re in the right place.
My goal is to help you ditch the drama around running your coaching business so you can launch and grow with confidence. And in doing so, build a successful business so you can create the life you want.
All the best!
Digital Resource Specialist
Life Coach Freedom