Starting a coaching business can be an incredible venture for those with the expertise and passion to help others realize their potential.
When I first started my coaching business, I felt a mix of exhilaration and uncertainty. I was so excited to help motivated leaders and businesses achieve their goals, but I didn’t know the best business model or how to get clients.
Whether you’re aspiring to support individuals or businesses, there are vital steps you should consider to ensure success.
In this article, I’ll share with you the essentials of how to start a coaching business, from qualifications and skills to business models and marketing plans. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
How to Pick a Coaching Business Name
Your business name should reflect your services and be easy to remember. It’s wise to check with the U.S. Patent And Trademarks Office for trademarks to avoid legal complications. My first business name was Live Not Loathe. I wanted to represent the transformation that my clients would go through when working with me. Many people I encountered didn’t know what ‘Loathe’ meant, but I used that as a conversation starter.
As I added more services outside personal development, such as business coaching, my original name didn’t reflect the new suite of services, so I knew it was time for a rebrand. I ran a survey through my email group and social media platforms that listed four options. BrightMind Consulting Group won by a wide margin because the voters felt it represented the light that turned on for my clients in life and business.
Our tagline is “Illuminate Your Path To Success.” Although it doesn’t include coaching in the name, it has worked wonders from a branding perspective because it’s an interesting name, and my prospective clients can deduce how I can help them before they ever speak with my sales team.
Are Any Qualifications Required to Be a Business Coach?
In theory, anyone can call themselves a business coach. However, holding relevant certifications from respected organizations such as the International Coaching Federation can provide you with credibility.
Given that you’re essentially selling trust, certifications can be invaluable. Moreover, having a solid educational background or industry experience can differentiate you from the competition.
What Skills Do You Need to Have?
Your ability to articulate ideas, strategies, and feedback clearly can make or break your coaching relationship. On the flip side, being a good listener is equally crucial. Clients often need a safe space to express their thoughts, fears, and aspirations. By actively listening, you can identify their true needs and obstacles, thus offering more targeted and impactful advice.
Coaching isn’t just about lending a sympathetic ear; it’s also about solving problems. You’ll need to analyze complex situations and provide actionable solutions quickly.
Understanding your client’s emotions and viewpoints is crucial for fostering a trusting and fruitful relationship. Empathy allows you to tap into the emotional nuances that drive your client’s behavior and decisions. Sourcing from your experience can help build empathy with a client.
For example, if you built and sold a marketing agency, you’re going to understand what a coaching client that runs an agency is feeling.
In any coaching relationship, clients will share sensitive personal or business information with you. Whether it’s financial woes, personal struggles, or insider business information, maintaining confidentiality is ethical and critical for trust.
If you tend to dish gossip at your Chamber of Commerce happy hours, building a coaching business is going to be difficult.
Resilience and Adaptability
The coaching industry is intensely competitive and constantly evolving. New methodologies, tools, and even competitors are constantly entering the field. Being resilient means you won’t be easily discouraged by setbacks, losing clients, or facing business challenges.
Adaptability is the flip side of this coin, enabling you to navigate change effectively. Whether adapting your coaching techniques to suit a client’s needs better or revising your business strategy in light of new industry trends, resilience and adaptability are vital for long-term success.
How Should You Charge for Coaching?
Setting your rates can be tricky. Market research can give you an idea of the going rates in your area. Different pricing strategies include:
Most coaches using this pricing structure charge between $100 and $500 per hour when they start.
When charging per package, think about how much you want to make in the timeframe of the client engagement and the perceived value of the results you offer. For example, a three-month coaching package with 12 sessions for $3,000 would not benefit you if the expectation is to help the client reach a million in sales. But, it may be fair value to both parties if you’re a new coach helping them with difficult conversations with their investors.
Getting paid a retainer, the same fee every month, is an easy way to predict your income. The problem with a retainer fee is that the value can skew either way. The cost may become too low if you don’t cap how much the client can contact and work with you. Conversely, if the client doesn’t feel they are getting value from your services, you may lose them.
This method involves having a conversation with a prospect and learning more about the result they want. It can be challenging to price your services using this method, but it also allows for more pricing flexibility based on perceived value by the client. For example, a client making $1 million with your services may be OK with paying you $100,000 for an engagement.
The key is to offer enough value to justify your fees. Feel free to test the method that works for you or use a combination of pricing strategies when you start.
This is a function of your time and energy. Overloading can lead to decreased quality of service. A reasonable start would be around 5-10 clients, scaling as you become more comfortable and efficient.
My first breakthrough came from a Facebook group I created to attract potential clients. In this online community, I went live twice a week, discussing topics that ranged from overcoming adversity to effective leadership. After three weeks of this consistent engagement, I received a direct message from a group member inquiring about my services. That conversation materialized into a $5,000 contract for 12 coaching sessions. Other clients quickly followed suit, especially after my first client shared a glowing review within the group.
My early success lulled me into a false sense of security. I made the critical mistake of assuming that the referrals would automatically start rolling in, negating the need for further marketing efforts.
This oversight cost me both time and potential income.
Only when I revisited and refined my marketing strategies did I see sustainable growth in my business. What you will find in the following section are marketing strategies that have been instrumental in maturing my business. I strongly urge you to integrate these tactics into your strategy to sidestep the pitfalls that once hindered my progress.
Marketing Your Coaching Business
I prefer to use what I call O.P.P. “Other People’s Platforms” and networking to promote my services.
When you’re first starting, your best opportunities for speaking engagements are with professional associations and your local chamber of commerce. Find places where your ideal client will be and reach out to the event coordinators with a presentation that would be valuable to their members. You’ll be surprised how quickly this could help your business grow.
Being a podcast guest is a long-game strategy, but it helps with credibility and brand visibility. You can use sites like podcastguests.com and matchmaker.fm to get booked. Be sure to ask the host to provide a link to your website to help with SEO.
Similar to how I write for Foundr, identify blogs and writing opportunities your ideal client would read. Content on other reputable sites will build validity and trust for your brand and also help with SEO. A quick Google search will produce several articles on pitching editors and finding guest blogging opportunities.
Focus on using one platform at the start. Being a leadership coach and business consultant, I focus primarily on LinkedIn. You’ll have to choose the platform your ideal client frequents and fits your business goals.
Attend events that have attendees that fit your ideal partner profile or client profile. Partners will help you with referrals, and satisfied clients won’t hesitate to refer their network.
Coaching Business Models
- One-on-One Coaching: Personalized but time-intensive. You work with clients directly to solve their specific problems.
- Group Coaching: Less personalized but leverages your time. You can coach multiple clients simultaneously, typically at a lower price point per client.
- Online Courses: Offers a passive income stream but requires an upfront time investment for content creation. Plus, there’s extra marketing involved to get the courses in front of your ideal audience.
- Consulting: You are doing more of the work to create a strategy to achieve a result than traditional coaching.
- Membership Programs: A membership model offers exclusive content, resources, and limited consultation for a recurring fee. This can provide you with more predictable income and foster a sense of community among members who can learn from one another.
- Live Events: Workshops, seminars, or retreats can be powerful experiences that bring a more dynamic, interactive approach to your coaching. These events can be lucrative and offer a more tangible sense of connection, transformation, and immediacy than digital formats.
Keep Learning: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Business Coach
No Time Like The Present To Start Your Coaching Business
Starting a coaching business is undeniably rewarding and full of potential for personal growth and financial success. Before taking the plunge, ask yourself, “Why do I want to become a coach?” If your conviction to make a meaningful difference is stronger than any excuses or roadblocks you envision, you’re already mentally geared to run a thriving coaching practice.
Now, it’s time to start building your business. Remember, you don’t have to get everything right the first time. Test out what marketing tactics and strategies work for you, develop your systems, and start letting your network know you’re now a coach. You don’t have to wait to get certified to get started, and you don’t need to have everything figured out. Get a mentor or business coach to help you along the way.
There’s no time to manifest your coaching aspirations into a thriving practice like the present. Here’s to your impending journey, which promises to be as fulfilling as it is challenging.
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