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In this detailed guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know in order to start a successful coaching business online.
Are you passionate about helping others achieve their goals? Do you have a lot of knowledge and experience that you want to share with the world? If so, starting your own online coaching business may be the perfect career for you!
We will cover topics such as choosing your niche, setting up your website, creating valuable content, and building a client base.
- You're passionate about coaching and helping others
- You have valuable knowledge and experience to share
- You want to be your own boss
- You want to make good money
- You want flexibility and freedom
- Career coach
- Life coaches
- Business coaching
- Health and wellness coaching, or fitness coach
- Relationship coach
- Sexuality coach
- Spiritual coach
- Executive coach
- Financial coach
- 1. Choose your niche
- 2. Choose your ideal customer (target audience)
- 3. Identify a problem and the solution
- Do-it-yourself (DIY) online courses and programs
- Done-with-you (DWY) / cohort-based online courses and programs
- Other products and services you can offer
- Business structure
- Business license
- Business Insurance
- Business bank account
- Coaching materials
- Marketing plan
- Website hosting and domain name
- Email marketing service
- Accounting & finance system
- Creating your professional website
- Writing your bio
- Developing your coaching program
- Validating that people want your coaching
- Creating a sales funnel
The Right Mindset To Start A Coaching Business
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of starting a coaching business, it’s important to start with the right mindset because, frankly, if you don’t have the right mindset, your coaching business will likely fail.
Passionate – You must be passionate about coaching and helping others because if you’re not, it’s going to be very difficult to succeed. It’s also important that you’re passionate about the niche or industry that you choose to coach in.
Committed – Building a successful coaching business takes time, energy, and effort. You need to be committed to putting in the work day after day even when you don’t feel like it and even when things get tough.
Growth Mindset – A growth mindset is essential for any entrepreneur, but it’s especially important for coaches because as a coach, your job is to help your clients grow. If you don’t have a growth mindset, it will be difficult to help your clients achieve their goals.
Now that we’ve covered the right mindset to start a coaching business, let’s move on.
Related: 10.5 Distinctions: Successful Coaches & Struggling Coaches
Why start a coaching business?
There are many reasons why you might start a coaching business, but here are a few of the most common ones:
You’re passionate about coaching and helping others
This is likely the most important reason why you would start a coaching business. If you’re not passionate about coaching, it’s going to be very difficult to succeed.
You have valuable knowledge and experience to share
As a coach, you have the opportunity to share your valuable knowledge and experience with others. If you have a lot of valuable knowledge and experience that you want to share with the world, starting a coaching business is a great way to do it.
You want to be your own boss
One of the great things about being a coach is that you get to be your own boss. You get to set your own hours, work from home, and choose your own clients.
You want to make a difference in the world – If you want to make a difference in the world, starting a coaching business is a great way to do it. As a coach, you have the opportunity to help people achieve their goals and improve their lives.
You want to make good money
Coaching can be a very profitable business if you choose a profitable niche and manage your finances properly. Successful coaches can charge high fees and make a great income.
You want flexibility and freedom
Another great thing about coaching is that it offers a lot of flexibility and freedom. You can choose your own hours, which clients you work with, work from home, and take time off when you want.
Pros and cons of coaching businesses
Running a coaching business has its pros and cons, just like any other business. Here are some of the most common ones:
Pros of starting a coaching business
Low barrier to entry
One of the great things about coaching businesses is that there is a low barrier to entry. You don’t need a lot of money or experience to start a coaching business.
You don’t need any special qualifications or experience to get started. Having said that, we do recommend that you get training as a coach so that you can offer your clients the best possible service. Also, the best coaches are usually the ones who have overcome actual challenges in their life and can empathize with the challenges their clients face.
Flexibility and freedom
As we mentioned before, coaching businesses are very flexible. You can choose your own hours, work from home, and take time off when you want. No longer will you need to worry about Mondays!
You get to choose your clients
Another great thing about coaching is that you get to choose who you work with. You can work with clients who you enjoy working with and who are willing to pay your fees.
You’ll have the opportunity to help others
Another pro of starting a coaching business is that you get to help people achieve their goals and improve their lives. This can be very rewarding and satisfying.
Coaching can be very rewarding both financially and emotionally
If you’re good at what you do and marketing your services, coaching can be a very profitable business. Not only can you make good money, but you can also help people achieve their goals and feel good about making a difference.
Coaching is a growing industry, so there’s plenty of potential for growth
Research shows that the coaching industry is growing rapidly. This means that there’s plenty of potential for you to grow your business and make a good income.
Cons of starting a coaching business
It can be difficult to stand out
Because there are so many coaches out there, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. You need to find a way to differentiate yourself and make your coaching business unique.
You’re not prepared to put in the time and effort
It takes a lot of work and time to start and grow a successful coaching business. A wise mentor once told me, “whatever timeframe you think it’s going to take to be successful, triple it.”
You don’t love building businesses
If you love coaching but don’t love sales, marketing, managing finances, or admin work, then starting a coaching business may not be for you. Your better option might be to work as a coach for someone else’s business.
Unpredictable revenue stream
You might have months where you make a lot of money and then months where you don’t make much at all. So if you don’t have enough savings to cover at least six months of living expenses, starting a coaching business might not be the right choice for you.
Coaching certification can be expensive
If you want to get certified as a coach, it can be expensive. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the largest coaching organization in the world, and its certification process starts at $495. Some other companies charge even more.
Unlike other industries like IT or hospitality, where there are standards and expectations, the coaching industry is still unregulated. This means that anyone can start a coaching business without any formal training or certification, and companies offering certifications might not be legitimate.
In my personal experience, clients never asked to view my certification before hiring me. I leaned on a mix of my professional and personal experiences, as well as various coaching skills training programs I attended, to help me become an effective coach.
I’m not saying that certification isn’t important; it can be helpful in some cases. But it’s not necessary, and it shouldn’t stop you from starting your coaching business.
As with any decision, it’s important to do your research and make sure that starting a coaching business is the right choice for you. If you decide it is, then go for it!
Types of coaching businesses
Choosing what type of coach you’re going to be will be dependent upon numerous factors such as your skills, experiences, and interests.
Here are some of the most popular coaching niches:
A career coach helps people find jobs, change careers, or start businesses. They might also help with things like resume writing, interview preparation, and salary negotiation.
A life coach helps people improve their personal and professional lives. This can include things like goal setting, time management, stress reduction, and relationship advice.
A business coach helps people start and grow businesses. They might help with things like marketing, sales, financial planning, and time management.
You could also be a specialist business coach where you have expertise in specific areas of business. Examples of this include sales coaching, marketing coaches, and operations coaches.
Health and wellness coaching, or fitness coach
A wellness coach helps people improve their physical and mental health. This can include things like nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management.
Relationship coaches help people improve their personal and professional relationships. This can include things like communication, conflict resolution, and setting boundaries.
A sexuality coach helps people improve their sexual relationships. This can include things like communication, exploration, and pleasure.
A spiritual coach helps people connect with their spirituality and find meaning in their lives. This can include things like meditation, prayer, and journaling.
Executive coaches help people in leadership positions improve their performance. This can include things like time management, delegation, and decision-making.
A financial coach helps people improve their financial well-being. This can include things like budgeting, investing, and saving for retirement.
What kind of coach should you be? Finding your protifable niche
Picking the right niche is critical to the success of your coaching business. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. But if you focus on a specific niche, you’ll be able to better serve your clients and build a successful business.
1. Choose your niche
Start by considering what unique experience and skills you can offer as a coach. What are you passionate about? What do you have experience with?
If you’ve never experienced losing weight, then choosing to be a weight loss coach might not be the best idea. Likewise, if you’ve never started a business, you may not want to start coaching people on how to start their own businesses.
Your niche should be something that you’re passionate about and have some experience with. It’s also important to choose a niche that you feel you can be successful in.
If you’re thinking of coaching in a completely different industry or area, then we recommend that you think seriously about the time and energy required to build up relevant experience and knowledge.
Remember, as a coach, you are an expert in your field, and your clients will come to you for advice and guidance. If you don’t have the experience or expertise, then it’s going to be difficult to build trust with your clients and help them get results.
2. Choose your ideal customer (target audience)
Now think about the type of client you want to work with (e.g., individuals, groups, businesses). Some questions to consider here include:
– What age group do you want to work with?
– What gender do you want to work with?
– What location do you want to work with? (e.g., local, national, international)
– What type of personality do you feel most comfortable working with? (e.g., extroverted, introverted)
– What interests do you want your clients to have? (e.g., sports, music, travel)
Keep in mind that you don’t have to coach everyone who comes your way. It’s important to be selective and choose the clients that are the best fit for you and your business.
If you try to work with everyone, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin and won’t be able to give your best to any of your clients. But if you focus on a specific target audience, you’ll be able to better serve your clients and build a successful business.
3. Identify a problem and the solution
Once you have a good idea of the type of coach you want to be and the clients you want to work with, you can start narrowing down your niche.
Think about the types of problems you want to help your clients solve and are qualified to help with (e.g., career, financial, health, and wellness).
For example, if you want to be a business coach, you could further narrow your niche down to sales coaching or marketing coaching if you have experience in those areas.
The key here is to find a problem that you’re passionate about solving and that you have the skills and experience to help with. This way, you can build a successful coaching business by helping your clients solve their specific problems.
If you try to solve too many different types of problems, you’ll end up being a jack of all trades and master of none. But if you focus on solving a specific type of problem, you’ll be able to better serve your clients, and you’ll quickly get known for your specialization. That means it’s much easier for clients and others to refer you to people who need your help.
So take some time to think about the problem you want to solve and how you can be the best coach to help your clients with that specific problem.
By narrowing down your niche in this way, you’ll be well on your way to starting a coaching business that is successful and sustainable.
We also recommend that you do some market research to see if there is a demand for the type of coaching you want to offer.
If there are already a lot of coaches offering similar services, then you’ll need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. But if there’s not much competition, then that’s a good sign that there’s potential for your business.
Warning – if there’s NO competition, that could be a sign that there’s not much of a market for your services. So be sure to do your research!
Related: Coaching prices: How much to charge for your services
Coaching services – ways you can coach
When it comes to choosing a business model and which service(s) your business will offer, you have a few options.
The type of coaching business you start will likely depend on your preferences, qualifications, and experience.
Private one on one coaching
Some coaches start out by offering one-on-one coaching because it’s a good way to get started and build up a client base. Once they have more experience and feel comfortable working with groups, they start offering group coaching as well.
– You can charge more for one-on-one coaching than for group coaching
– You have the undivided attention of your client, so you can really get to know them and help them achieve their goals
– It takes more time to meet with each client individually
– You can only work with a limited number of clients at a time
Some coaches start out by offering group coaching because it’s a more cost-effective option for clients and requires less of a time commitment from the coach. Once they have more experience, they start offering one-on-one coaching as well.
– You can work with more clients at a time
– It’s less time-consuming than one-on-one coaching
– Clients can learn from and be motivated by other group members
– You have to be careful not to overwhelm clients with too much information at once
– It can be more challenging to build a rapport with each client
Online courses and programs
Online courses and programs can typically be broken down into do-it-yourself (DIY) and done-with-you (DWY).
While it’s easy to get sucked into the idea of creating an online course or program because it’s a “passive income” stream, we recommend that you start with coaching first. Why? Because it will be much easier to sell your coaching services if you have already helped people achieve results in person.
Plus, you can always add online courses and programs to your business later on. But if you start with them, it will be more difficult to add coaching services because people won’t know if they can trust you.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) online courses and programs
With a DIY online course or program, the client goes through the material on their own and doesn’t receive any additional support from the coach.
– You can reach a larger audience with your message
– Once the course is created, it doesn’t require much maintenance
– It’s a passive income stream
– There’s no personal interaction or support, so clients may not get the results they want
– You may get a lot of questions from clients that you can’t answer
– It can be difficult to stand out in a crowded market
Done-with-you (DWY) / cohort-based online courses and programs
With a DWY online course or program, the client goes through the material with the support of their coach and a group. This could be done through weekly calls, a private Facebook group, or some other format.
– You can reach a larger audience with your message
– Clients are more likely to get results because they have support from the coach
– It’s a great way to start building a relationship with potential clients
-Cohort-based programs have the additional benefit of clients supporting each other and keeping one another accountable.
– It takes more time to create a DWY course or program
– You have to be available to answer questions and provide support
– It can be difficult to stand out in a crowded market
A membership program is a great way to provide ongoing support and coaching to your clients. It typically includes some sort of community (e.g., a private Facebook group) as well as access to exclusive content (e.g., videos, articles, courses).
– You can charge a monthly or annual fee for access to the membership program
– You can reach a larger audience with your message
– Clients are more likely to get results because they have ongoing support from the coach
– It’s a great way to start building a relationship with potential clients
– Membership programs keep people accountable and engaged because they have access to a community of likeminded individuals.
– It takes more time to create and maintain a membership program
– You have to be available to answer questions and provide support
– It can be difficult to build a membership community from scratch, especially if you don’t have community management experience
Other products and services you can offer
In addition to coaching, you can also offer other products or services in addition to coaching (e.g., books, courses, retreats, podcasts)
Which service should new coaches start with?
If you’re not sure which type of coaching business is right for you, we recommend starting out by offering one-on-one coaching. Once you’ve built up some experience and clients, you can start to add other products or services.
This is just one way to start building a coaching business. But we believe it’s the best way because it will allow you to get started quickly and without many overhead costs. Plus, it will give you the opportunity to build relationships with your clients and really understand their needs.
What you need to get started with your coaching business
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stuck with all the things, so we’ve created this helpful list of what you need to start your coaching business.
There are a few different business structures that you can choose from, and the one you choose will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of your business, the products/services you offer, and whether or not you have employees. We recommend that you consult with an accountant or lawyer to help you choose the right business structure for your coaching business.
Depending on the type of coaching business you start, you may need to get a business license from your city or state. This is typically required if you’re starting a brick-and-mortar business, but it’s always a good idea to check with your local government to see if you need a license.
You’ll want to have business insurance before you start working with clients. This will protect you in case any legal issues come up. We recommend talking to an insurance broker to figure out what kind of coverage you need.
Business bank account
You’ll also need to set up a business bank account so that you can keep your personal and business finances separate. This will make it easier for you to do your taxes at the end of the year.
Related: Profitable Coaching Business: A Guide to Improving Financial Health through Bookkeeping
It’s important to have a coaching agreement in place before you start working with clients. This document should outline the terms of your coaching relationship, including things like cancellation policy and payment schedule.
A professional coach will have a range of materials they can share with their clients to help them meet their goals. This could include books, workbooks, audio, and video recordings, articles, blog posts, infographics, and more.
As you develop your coaching business, start creating a library of resources that you can share with your clients. This will make it easier for you to create customized coaching programs that meet your clients’ needs.
If you don’t have any experience with creating digital products, we recommend starting by writing articles or blog posts on topics related to your coaching business. You can then compile those articles into an ebook or workbook and sell them on your website.
Coaches fail when they don’t market their business. If you want to be successful, you need to create a marketing plan that outlines how you will attract and serve your target market.
Your marketing plan should include things like your website, social media, email list, and any other channels you’ll use to reach your target market. It should also include a strategy for creating and promoting content, as well as a plan for selling your coaching programs.
If you need help creating your marketing plan, we recommend hiring a marketing consultant or taking a marketing course.
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to be certified to start a coaching business. However, many coaches choose to get certified through an accredited program.
There are many benefits to getting certified, including:
– Gaining credibility with potential clients
– Access to exclusive resources and tools
– Opportunities for continued education
– A network of fellow coaches
If you’re interested in becoming certified, we recommend doing your research to find a program that’s right for you.
Online Tools for coaches
Website hosting and domain name
You’ll also need a website and domain name for your coaching business. If you don’t have any experience with web design, we recommend using WordPress.com or Squarespace.com to create your website. Once you’ve created your website, be sure to include an opt-in form so that people can sign up for your email list.
Email marketing service
To start building your email list, you’ll need an email marketing service such as Convertkit or Mailchimp. These services allow you to collect emails from opt-in forms on your website and then send emails to those subscribers.
Accounting & finance system
It’s important to track your finances from the start so that you can see how your business is doing. We recommend using simple accounting software like Xero or Wave Accounting. These platforms will allow you to track your income and expenses, create invoices, and manage your finances.
You could also keep it simple and use a spreadsheet to track your business expenses and income each month.
Creating your professional website
Whilst it’s not essential, most coaches choose to create a professional website for their business. This is usually the first port of call for potential clients, so it’s important to make a good impression.
Your website should include:
– A clear description of your coaching business and what you offer
– A list of your coaching programs and services
– Client testimonials
– A blog or resource section
– An opt-in form to collect email addresses
If you’re not sure how to create a professional website, we recommend using WordPress.com or Squarespace.com. Both of these platforms offer customizable templates and easy-to-use drag-and-drop editors.
Writing your bio
As a coach, one of the most important things you’ll need is a well-written bio. This is usually the first thing potential clients will read about you, so it’s important to make a good impression.
Your coach bio should include:
– A brief overview of your coaching business
– Your coaching credentials and experience
– Your coaching philosophy
– What you can help your clients achieve
If you’re unsure how to write a bio, we recommend hiring a copywriter or taking a course on copywriting.
Developing your coaching program
Your coaching program is the core of your business. This is what you’ll be selling to your clients, so it’s important to ensure it’s well-designed and effective.
When creating your coaching program, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
– What problem does your program solve?
– Who is your target audience?
– What format will your program take?
Some coaches choose to create an online coaching program that can be accessed by anyone, while others prefer to work with clients one-on-one. There’s no right or wrong answer here – it all depends on what you’re offering and who your target audience is.
Validating that people want your coaching
It’s tempting to jump straight into building a website, setting up a sales funnel, and everything else.
Now here’s the reality – if you cannot validate that real people are willing to spend real money with you to solve their problems, then you don’t really have a business.
One of the best approaches that I’ve seen to validate a new business idea comes from Jenny Vandyke, strategic business advisor and author of The Innovation Recipe. Jenny recommends having 100 coffees in 90 days with your ideal clients.
Here’s Jenny’s cheat sheet on how to go about this:
Once you’ve spoken to enough of your ideal clients, you’ll be much clearer on what problems you can help solve and what you can start selling.
Note: if you prefer to go straight to inviting people to experience your coaching as a way to validate your service, then scroll down to Funnel 1 below.
Creating a sales funnel
Without getting too complex here, a sales funnel is the process that you take potential clients through from start to finish.
The goal of your sales funnel is to turn potential clients into paying customers, and there are a few key steps you’ll need to take to make this happen:
– Awareness: getting your target audience’s attention and making them aware of your coaching business
– Interest: sparking interest in your coaching program and getting them to sign up for a free consultation
– Decision: helping them make the decision to invest in your coaching program
– Action: taking the necessary steps to start working with you
There are a few different ways to create a sales funnel, so let’s look at three proven funnels that you can choose from.
Funnel 1: Rich Litvin’s and Steve Chandler’s Prosperous Coach client creation approach.
We recommend this as a great way to start because it is a case of making a list of potential clients you’d like to serve and inviting them to experience your coaching first. It’s a “try before you buy” approach.
Related: 2 ways to immediately create clients
Funnel 2: Social media funnel
This is a modification of approach #1, with a focus on reaching your prospective clients via social media.
Craft a launch offer. Maybe you could offer free or discounted 1-1 coaching sessions in exchange for testimonials and referrals.
Go to where your potential clients are. Post your offer on your preferred social media platform e.g. Facebook groups, online forums, or send an email to your contacts.
Deliver powerful coaching sessions and propose that clients continue working with you.
You may want to read this note from Rich Litvin about getting clients on social media too.
Funnel 3: Online coaching sales funnel
This is a typical online sales funnel that takes more time to set up than the other two options. But, if done correctly, it can be a great way to generate leads and sales on autopilot.
The key steps are:
– Create a lead magnet: this is an opt-in freebie that you offer in exchange for someone’s email address. It could be a PDF guide, video training, or a mini-course.
– Set up a landing page: this is where you’ll send people to sign up for your lead magnet. Your landing page should be designed to convert visitors into leads.
– Send traffic to your landing page: there are a number of ways to do this, but some popular methods include paid advertising, social media, and guest blogging.
– Create content that educates your target audience on the problem that you can help them with. This could be in the form of blog posts, YouTube videos, or podcasts.
– Follow up with your leads: once someone has signed up for your lead magnet, you should have an email sequence in place to follow up with them and start selling your coaching program.
– Free consultation: at the end of the email sequence, you offer a free consultation call to see if you’re a good fit to work together.
– Sale/investment page: if they’re interested in working with you, they’re then taken to a page where they can learn more about your coaching program and make the investment.
– Welcome/start working together: once they purchase your coaching program, they’re given access to the materials, and you start working together.
If you’re unsure how to set up a landing page or create a lead magnet, we recommend using a tool like Leadpages or ConvertKit.
Phew, that was a lot of information! But don’t worry – we’ve summarized everything in a handy checklist that you can refer to as you start your coaching business.
All of these funnels are effective, but it’s important to remember that you can’t just copy them and expect to get the same results. You’ll need to put your own spin on things and make sure that everything is aligned with your brand.
If you want to learn more about how to create a sales funnel, we recommend you check out this resource.
Related: Breaking down a million-dollar funnel for coaches and consultants ft. Taki Moore of Million Dollar Coach
Are you ready to start a successful coaching business?
Now that you know how to start a coaching business, it’s time to get out there and start making things happen! We hope this guide has been helpful, and we wish you the best of luck in your new venture.
Need some help setting your prices for your coaching service? Check out our tips here.