How to Start a Coaching Business

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own coaching business, you’ve come to the right place.

The Speaker Lab has put together this quick guide to starting your coaching business, including how to optimize yourself online, FAQs for your financial and legal concerns, and a few tried-and-true tips to launch yourself into success.

Being a coach is no easy task, but you’ve discerned that you have the right combination of empathy and experience to take it on.

You’re a go-getter entrepreneur who loves interfacing with a diverse set of individuals and are empowered by helping others succeed.

Maybe your friends are overflowing with gratitude for how your advice helped them turn their life around, or got their business off the ground, or helped them excel in the job search.

You want to work for yourself full-time, add on a side-gig, or generate passive income, and you’re encouraged by how the fallout of COVID-19 has established that remote work is here to stay.

Whatever the case may be, if you think your talents are well-suited to starting a coaching business from home, there is no better time than the present!

Three stages of starting a coaching business

Today, we’re outlining the three stages of starting a coaching business that will guide you to a successful coaching practice that has the potential to generate profits immediately.

You can’t forget the mundane money essentials, such as setting your rates. Look up the rates charged by your local competition (or other coaches whom you see as role models) and consider your coaching business goals. Do you want coaching to become a full-time business in the short term?

If so, you should consider how much you want to make per year and price yourself accordingly. Do you want to offer both hourly coaching and packages that cover a longer period (perhaps with a discount for the long-term commitment)? Make sure you factor both options into your calculations.

The 3 steps to successfully launch your coaching business from home are:

  1. Identify your niche
  2. Set up the business basics
  3. Market yourself

Sounds easy, right? Well, as I break it down below, each step takes a lot of grunt work and decision-making. You might decide after reading this piece that you need more time to research the types of coaching, or compare the certification programs available, or evaluate whether you have time to develop a successful marketing strategy.

The easy part: starting a coaching business takes very little financial investment and can become immediately profitable. What’s holding you back? Let’s get started!

Step 1: Identify your niche

Before you dive right into coaching, now is the time to figure out your expertise. If you love being a personal hype–(wo)man and pride yourself on your entrepreneurial spirit, you might still be wondering where you fit in best with all the different types of coaching.

Trying everything at once – fitness coach, life coach, and business coach at the same time, for example – sounds great but doesn’t work, and will overextend you with more headaches than victories.

If you struggle with identifying a crystal-clear niche, try taking a piece of paper and writing out the accomplishments you are most proud of. Online skills finding quizzes are also a great source of inspiration!

Another idea: read through feedback from your past professional, volunteer, or personal experiences and see what people really love about you and the value you bring.

Chances are, all of these puzzle pieces will start to fall into place and you’ll see them converging on an area where you stand out from the crowd in your capacity for coaching.

A few examples of coaching areas to consider include:

  • Career coaching
  • Leadership coaching
  • Skills coaching
  • Mental health coaching
  • Executive coaching
  • Wellness coaching
  • Financial coaching
  • …and there are many more!

Once you’ve narrowed down your niche, it’s a good idea (but not necessary) to get certified in that coaching field. Certification is an important step to take so that future clients trust your qualifications…and you can’t go wrong with more education! Take some time to read up on the most respected coaching certifications that are well-suited for beginners.

Identifying the ideal client is just as important as narrowing down your area of coaching. This is where you put in the hours of market research, looking for the types of people you want to work with and who want you as their coach. Create fictional profiles of people who would look at the services you offer and say “please coach me!”
start a coaching business

When you develop your online presence, keep these target clients in mind as you develop a brand and a voice for your coaching business.

If you waste your time early on with clients who don’t fit your niche, you will likely lose their business and the benefits of great testimonials.

Identifying the type of coaching you want to do and identifying the client you want to work with will unlock the door to laying the practical foundation for your coaching business – which comes next.

Step 2: Set up the basics of the business

You’ve found your niche, it’s time to get busy on the boring stuff. If you’re planning on running your coaching business mostly or entirely online, ascertaining you have a well-lit office space and a good headset (or very quiet home) is an indispensable starting point.

Virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere – and trust me, nobody wants to be distracted from your coaching wisdom by the AC in your window.

Paperwork is the worst, but you don’t want to be held back from great opportunities or income by bureaucracy! Research whether opening a coaching business in your area requires a license. If so, get started on the application process right away so you can take clients as soon as possible.

Even if your city doesn’t require a local license, register your coaching business early on to have the proper legal and tax protections in place. Depending on your goals, you might choose to register as an LLC or Sole Proprietorship – if you’re not sure, this is worth seeking professional legal advice!

Next, create an online presence that aligns with your vision for your coaching business. This is the point where you buy a domain and create a website. Unless you’re already a great web designer, don’t go overboard on the bells and whistles, but focus on communicating what sets you and your coaching services apart from the crowd.

As you fill your coaching website with content, think back to the perfect client persona you have in mind and try to answer any questions they might have when researching a potential coach.

A safe range for a coach just starting out is between $50.00 and $150.00 per hourly session; where you land within that range depends upon what you discern based on your experience, location, field, and more.

Keep in mind that pricing your services too low might bring clients who are hesitant to commit or deter clients who are looking to make an investment for their future– and these are the kind of clients you want most of all!

To receive your well-earned money, you will need to have a payment system in place from the get-go. Sure, you can always fall back on Venmo or Zelle, but a platform optimized for small businesses like Paypal or Square will offer added invoicing and accounting benefits.

Calendar and scheduling software also belong on the checklist, even if you prefer a paper planner. At the very least, make sure your virtual meeting platform of choice (Zoom, Teams, Google Hangouts, etc.) is well-linked to your calendar.

Investing in a simple booking software like Calendly or You Can Book Me will help populate your schedule without double-booking. Start using this early on so you don’t have to integrate it later when your clientele grows!

Step 3: Market yourself

Your website is up, your business license is secured, it is time to tell the world about the new great coach in town– literally!

Do your friends, family, and old coworkers know that you have started a coaching business? Word of Mouth Marketing costs nothing and can bring you some of your first and best clients. Use your networks wisely and enjoy the business that follows!

There are many other marketing strategies which I’ll outline below, but it’s important to remember that your marketing has to be backed up with really great coaching services and an airtight business. If you’re still struggling with anything from steps 1 or 2, make sure you lock those down before you get carried away looking for clients!

Offering free introductory meetings will help you get off the ground as a coach and draw in clients who might not be willing to pay for a relatively new kid on the block. These can be regular sessions or shorter calls, provided you leave enough time for you to establish your expertise and your unique fit for the client’s needs. The goal of your “freebie” session is hearing “wow, sign me up for more!”

Free sessions, even if they don’t turn into paid clients right away, will help you collect testimonials. These don’t need to be long or flowery, but should attest that your coaching services are unique, financially worthwhile, and results oriented. Use these prominently on your website and social media profiles, as potential clients will look for them right away!

Getting on social media is an important step, but this can easily seem overwhelming with the variety of channels available. Now is not the time to learn a TikTok dance for the first time (but if you’re into that, it’s certainly an option).

Start with a clean LinkedIn Profile (as clients will look you up there) and then choose just one or two platforms where you feel most comfortable. An Instagram page populated with lots of great content will serve you better than juggling Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with occasional sloppy posts.

On the platform(s) you choose to work with, make sure you are following some of the people in your target client demographic and engage with them. Spend some time observing their activity for market research – what hashtags do they follow? What coaches, authors, and speakers do they find inspiring? What sort of attitude do they have toward investing in their future? Your coaching business should rise to the challenge of meeting their needs.

Staying focused on consistency with one or two social media networks will help you remain goal-oriented and attain measurable success as your business grows on and offline.

One of the best tools with which to market yourself and generate more income is by creating materials that build on your successes. To set yourself apart and achieve success, you’ll want to develop a cohesive coaching methodology with tried-and-true results (learn about the importance of establishing a system here).

As you refine your coaching system, take elements from your program and turn them into an income stream– an E-book, an online course, or a downloadable guide for sale on your website. Shorter guides and PDFs are great to use as a free resource for giveaways and promotions, while longer resources can serve as accompaniments to your coaching program (a useful incentive for long-term commitment to your services).

Creating an online course is a great way to generate passive income and give the benefits of your services to those who don’t have the time for regular sessions. Our podcast episode on creating your own online course with coach Joseph Michael is a great place to start.

Congratulations, you’re a coach!

Here are a few pieces of advice:

ALWAYS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO TO A CLIENT.

Maybe they don’t seem like a great fit for your type of coaching, or you’re on the verge of over-extending your time commitment? Conserving your peace and energy will pay off more in the long run than expending too much on the wrong people!

REQUIRE COMMITMENT.

Clients should not expect their lives to change after just one session, and you should encourage or require them to sign onto a certain number of sessions to ensure that they get a chance to see results (and lock in positive testimonials for you!)

BE PATIENT.

Human nature is stubborn, and many clients, especially those who have not worked with a coach before, will be very resistant to the changes you want to help them carry out in their lives. Your patience will pay off in their success!

HIRE YOUR OWN COACH.

Experiencing another’s coaching style and allowing yourself to be molded into a better coach by someone with more experience is a great way invest in your future and hold yourself accountable.

How do I start my own coaching business?

Identify your coaching field and your ideal client. Set up the basics like a business license, a website, and a payment mechanism. Finally, market yourself on and offline!

How much does it cost to start a coaching company?

Since certification is not required, the cost of starting a coaching business can be as low as the price of a simple website (around $100.00 per year).

Is a coaching business profitable?

A coaching business run from your home has very low overhead costs and can become profitable almost instantly, as soon as you start working with clients regularly! Some coaches work their way to making six or seven figures within a year.

How much should I charge for coaching?

New coaches generally charge between $50.00 and $150.00 per hourly session depending on experience, location, and field.

Want to know exactly what to say to finally land paid speaking gigs?

We’ll send you the exact three emails you can send to conference planners and event organizers that Grant Baldwin (our founder) used to book over $2M in speaking gigs. 

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Here are a few other resources you might find helpful. 

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