Starting a coaching business is pretty simple compared to other career shifts, but you can’t rush your coaching business plan.
Before you dive into creating a shiny website and advertising your coaching services to all your friends, hit pause.
It’s essential to have an organized strategic document that you can reference and update as your coaching business evolves.
Today you’re going to learn the three steps to writing up a coaching business plan that will set you and your clients up for success, along with a template of fundamentals to include in that plan.
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!
This article is for you if you:
- Are thinking about becoming a coach, but like to plan things out well in advance before taking any risks.
- Are in the process of starting a coaching business, but want to get your priorities straight.
- Are already a coach, but are struggling with finances, operations, or long-term goals and know you need a strategy to stay on track.
If you’re not ready for the nitty-gritty details of writing a coaching business plan, you might want to take a look at our first article on how to start a coaching business, where we go through the big-picture process.
1. Preparing to make a coaching business plan
Are you easily carried away by your passion for helping people, entrepreneurial spirit, or enthusiasm? I get it!
You want more to life than your boring day job. Or maybe you’re counting on coaching to finally save up for taking off to Europe, or bringing the kids to Disneyland, or tackling that renovation that you’ve been putting off for years.
If you are multi-passionate and feel pulled apart by your great ideas at this stage, schedule out brainstorming time and write them all down. Then, as you compose your business plan, look for wise opportunities to integrate those ideas.
For example: early on in your coaching journey is not the time to create and promote an expensive online course for how to become a millionaire in six easy steps. You may not have even figured out whether millionaire-making is a successful niche!
As a coaching newbie, you are better off starting with simpler digital marketing materials. Think guides, short E-books, or other learning materials, based on your unique coaching methods.
Some of those materials could be a perk you offer only to clients who commit to a certain number of coaching sessions, and thus a client acquisition strategy.
More ambitious projects, like creating an online course, can stay in the business plan as part of your longer-term strategy. Refer to them for motivation and encouragement even when starting small!
To be clear: becoming a successful coach requires a solid business plan.
Jumping into coaching without a business plan is like diving overboard without a life jacket. Truth is, hundreds upon thousands of coaches are just as fired up about starting their business as you are. And sinking, unfortunately, is the fate that awaits many self-styled coaches.
An airtight business plan will keep you afloat when they sink. And today you’re going to learn how to put together a business plan that will launch you toward your ambitious dreams and beyond.
Once you feel confident that you have the time and resources necessary to put together your coaching business plan, it’s time to dig deep and start asking questions!
2. Questions to ask yourself when making a coaching business plan
Having more questions than answers at this stage in the process is actually a good thing! Following your passion for coaching takes guts and a driven mentality, but it also takes thoughtfulness, patience, and discernment.
Below is a list of key questions to ask yourself before making your coaching business plan. They’re broken down into the same sections that make up the template of coaching business plan fundamentals, which we explain in the next section.
Think of this like a Q&A exercise with yourself. You’ve let your coaching dreams run wild, now dig deep and ask that future coach what their business looks like.
Mission and Vision:
- What problem do I want to solve for clients?
- What unique assets/services do I have that no other coach does?
- Why am I passionate about coaching?
- What field of coaching do my mission and vision align with?
- Can I describe the kind of coaching I do in one sentence?
- Who are three types of people I want to work with?
- What are those ideal clients like? What do they do for a living, how do they behave on social media, and how much are they willing to pay a coach?
- Unique selling proposition
- What is your methodology (whether a known type of coaching program or something unique you developed) for solving your clients problems?
- What do you bring to the table that similar coaches don’t (affordable rates, an exclusive community, a guarantee of certain outcomes)?
- If they follow your coaching program, how soon will your clients see results?
- Should I register as an LLC or Sole Proprietorship?
- Does my city or state require a business license?
- Do I have a well-lit home office without background noise for online meetings, or a public location like a coffee shop in mind to meet clients in person?
- What software and apps will I use to facilitate payment processing, scheduling, or any other aspects of my business?
- Is undertaking a coaching certification program a financially viable option for me at this time?
- How much should I charge per session? (keep in mind that the investment of a coaching certification program will give you the credibility to charge more!)
- How much per year can I spend on online presence (website, marketing, etc.)?
- How many client sessions will I need for my coaching business to become profitable?
- What forms of income in addition to coaching sessions can I integrate into my business?
- What are my projected earnings during the next weeks, months, and year, and how will that affect my taxes?
- Are there industry conferences in my field (health, entrepreneurship, executive success) that I have the time and funds to attend?
- Have I found a certification program that fits the needs of myself and my potential clients?
- Are there free learning opportunities that I can take advantage of regularly to build my expertise as a coach?
- What kind of marketing efforts are most effective for my target client?
- Which social media platforms will I focus on? How often will I post?
- What digital materials will I create and sell or promote to drive client acquisition efforts?
- What are other coaches in my niche doing to be successful, and how will I differentiate my brand from theirs?
Your Coaching Program:
- How will I open the conversation without it feeling awkward?
- How will I get my client to open up about the solutions they need from me?
- What actionable steps will I give my clients in our first meeting (and second meeting, and third meeting)?
- How many sessions should each client expect before they reach their goals?
I know, that’s a lot of questions. You’re probably thinking: “do I really need answers to all of these questions before I start coaching?”
But think of it this way. The answers to all of those questions?
That’s your coaching business plan.
If any of these questions take you off guard, there is no shame in taking time to research! Stay open-minded and know that the answers might change (especially the structure of your coaching sessions!) Growing and maturing are part of the business plan too, and if you take your coaching business seriously, they will come with the package.
3. Fundamentals of a coaching business plan
You’re probably feeling philosophical after that Q&A with yourself. Hopefully, you’ve realized a lot of new things about your passions, your dreams, and how they connect to your coaching business. In the eternal words of Kronk, it’s all coming together.
Below, you will find an explanation of the fundamentals you need to include in your coaching business plan, which correspond to the categories of questions above. The best plan is simultaneously comprehensive while avoiding superfluous details.
MISSION AND VISION:
Your mission is the short statement you put front and center on your website to let your clients know how you can help them.
Your vision is the big-picture dream that you hope to achieve through a coaching business driven by that mission.
These two go hand-in-hand and should be the driving force of your business plan. Amidst the logistical, financial, and emotional trials that can come with starting any business, never lose sight of your mission and vision!
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a well-defined niche, both for your coaching services and the clients you intend to work with.
In your business plan, your field of coaching and your target client should be clearly and concisely defined. This will be the standard you hold yourself to as you speak with potential clients, choose your marketing targets, and describe your coaching services.
UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION:
Your niche is the specific area of coaching where you excel. Your unique selling proposition sets you apart from the competition within that niche.
How you formulate your USP depends on what education or certifications you pursue, what life experience lends you the expertise to coach in your area, and how your methodology produces the best results. A potential client should read your USP and say “Wow, this is exactly the coach I need!”
The research you conduct on competing coaches in your field or in your local area will heavily inform this section.
Especially since coaches usually start out solo, clarifying your business operations from the start will save time and money.
Any scheduling apps, bookkeeping software, licenses, and tax information should be included here.
Don’t forget your projected coaching schedule, what times you are available for sessions, and how you plan to collect payments!
What goes hand-in-hand with a well-documented operations plan?
A financial plan.
Create a basic budget that includes your actual and projected business expenses (website fees, certification programs, marketing software, etc.). Set your rates, include projections for rate increases, and make a plan for becoming profitable. Ideally your financial forecast will span an entire year, if not a longer-term period of business growth!
This essential section will help you avoid many headaches when filing taxes and keep you from ending up knee-deep in the red by accident.
This is where you conduct a gap analysis of your current coaching status vs. where you want to be in the future. It’s important to channel your entrepreneurial qualities into acquiring new knowledge and tools for bettering yourself as a leader and coach.
Whether you’re a life coach, business coach, wellness coach, or have created your own special brand of coaching (go you!!), you can benefit from certification, industry conferences, and events both online and in-person. Hiring a mentor or coach yourself–something we highly recommend–would go in this section too!
This essential section will help you avoid many headaches when filing taxes and keep you from ending up knee-deep in the red by accident.
This is the section where you outline the marketing strategies that fit into the budget from your financial forecast.
Ideas from the competition, your social media posting schedule, and any materials you plan to compose and promote belong here.
If you plan to offer free sessions, speak about your coaching services at events, or create an online course, put it here!
YOUR COACHING PROGRAM:
Here you detail how your sessions will go, what materials you will use, and how you will produce long-term results for your clients. Sticking to a methodology that corresponds to your USP will help you market your business and keep you on track.
You will want to return to this section as you grow your coaching business and see what works best for you and your clients.
With these guidelines and your answers from the Q&A above, you will formulate your coaching business plan.
Sure, you’ll find longer and more flowery lists if you search for business plan templates online, but these are the eight sections that every coaching business plan needs. You will know best (especially if you devote ample time to self-discovery and Q&A) if there are items unique to your coaching situation that belong on this list!
If your coaching business plan covers each of these fundamentals, I guarantee you will have a huge headstart over the many coaches who fail because they forgot to plan strategically.
Flying by the seat of your pants won’t get you very far as a coach.
Instead, equip yourself with a strong, strategic coaching business plan that will bear fruit for your business far into the future!
To wrap up, here are a few common FAQs about coaching business plans:
How do I create a coaching business plan?
The eight essential sections of a coaching business plan are: Mission & Vision, Niche, USP, Business Operations, Financial Forecast, Continuing Education, Marketing, and Your Coaching Program. Get focused and spend some time in self-discovery before populating each of these sections with your strategy.
How much can I charge for coaching?
New coaches generally charge between $50.00 and $150.00 per hourly session depending on experience, location, and field. Use your financial forecast to determine what rates will help you become profitable!
How do I market my coaching service?
Some of the best ways to market a coaching business include: word of mouth marketing to friends and family, offering free introductory sessions, featuring client testimonials, active engagement on social media, and creating digital materials.