Do you have a skill set or expertise that you can teach to others? While it might take some digging to figure out what your shareable skills are, almost everyone has something they are passionate about that they can teach. Once you figure out what that is for you, you have the potential to start a lucrative coaching business.
A coaching business is a business where you use your expertise to help your clients transform their lives in a certain area. Many of us are familiar with life coaching businesses and small business coaching businesses, but they are by no means the only type of coaching business out there. In fact, you can start a coaching business around almost anything!
Let’s dive into why you might want to start a coaching business and types of coaching businesses. Then, we’ll discuss ways you can coach and how to get your coaching business off the ground and running in no time.
Why start a coaching business?
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to start a coaching business. Some people start one as a side hustle, while others quit their 9 to 5 and dive right into being an entrepreneur. These are the top three reasons why most people decide to start a coaching business. If any or all of these resonate with you, starting a coaching business might be the right next step.
1. You want flexibility
Do you feel trapped in your 9-5 job? Do you wish you had more time to pursue other passions? Do you wish you could work with clients you actually like? Are you a working mom who wishes she could spend more time with her kids? All of these are reasons why you might want to start a coaching business.
Owning your own coaching business can be demanding, but it offers flexibility a traditional job cannot compete with. You can choose your hours, your clients, and what days you work. You might even love it so much that you spend more hours working on your coaching business than your 9-5! Whatever the case, work certainly feels different when you are the one in control and making the choices.
2. You want to make more money
Sometimes, it comes down to finances. Are you looking for a new career with endless upside potential? A coaching business, if you put in the work to make it grow, offers just that. It might take some time to get the business going, but many coaches earn six or even seven figures a year. Why can’t you take up small business coaching, for example, and do the same?
3. You want to help others
Lastly, and certainly not least, you want to help people. Coaching can be life transformative. Do you want to play a large part in someone’s positive life change? If so, a coaching business might be right for you. Sharing your knowledge and helping people solve their problems is extremely rewarding.
Pros and cons of coaching businesses
Ok, so who wouldn’t want to start a business that offers flexibility, more money, and helps others? Before you pick the name for your new business, let’s go through some of the pros and cons of running a coaching business. That way, you’ll be informed of the good, and the potentially bad, before you jump in.
Inexpensive to start
A coaching business costs very little to start and maintain. You can get started with just a simple website, an Instagram account, and/or a Facebook page. While the costs will increase as your business grows, they are still very low compared to other businesses.
Low barrier to entry
There is also a low barrier to entry. All you need is a skill that you can teach others. While some people do get certifications (more on that below), it is not required to begin coaching. Plenty of successful coaches do not have any formal education or certifications.
With a coaching business, your primary focus will probably be private and group coaching. But that is not the only way to make money. In addition to the various coaching methods we discuss below, coaches also have the opportunity to sell other products. Whether it is books, speaking engagements, or something else, coaches often expand their initial offerings to include more money-making opportunities as their businesses grow.
Ability to do what you love
You get to do what you love and share what you love with others. What’s better than that?
At least in the beginning, while you are building your business, you will probably be working alone most of the time. You won’t have colleagues to bounce ideas off of or a boss to ask for guidance. While the internet is a wonderful place and you can find coaching mentors and friends, it can be lonely and challenging building a coaching business on your own.
Unpredictable revenue stream
Once you dive into entrepreneurship, gone are the steady paychecks. Even seasoned coaches have unpredictable revenue streams. You might have ten clients one month but only two the next month, so you’ll have to plan for this.
Self-promotion and marketing are necessary
Do you shy away from self-promotion? If you want a successful coaching business, you will have to market yourself and sell your services. Some people thrive on this, while others find marketing, especially when it involves self-promotion, to be very difficult.
Certification is expensive
You do not need a certification to become a coach, and many successful coaching businesses are run by founders without certifications. However, certification does offer credibility and can provide you with valuable skills to pass on to your clients. If you are interested in getting a certification, some of the programs can be costly. Make sure to sign up for a program that is accredited by ICF, the International Coaching Federation, so that your investment is worth it.
It takes time to grow any business. Especially one like a coaching business where you rely on client reviews and testimonials to get more clients. You must have the patience, and the savings, to tide you over until your business becomes profitable.
Types of coaching businesses
There are countless types of coaching businesses. To get you thinking about what might be the best fit for you, here are some of the most common types of coaching businesses:
Small business coaching
Small business coaching helps entrepreneurs and small businesses launch and build-up their businesses, platforms, services, and offerings. Coaches work with business owners and solopreneurs to help them make decisions, scale-up their business, find clients and customers, and fine-tune their product offerings, among other things.
Career coaches help their clients find new jobs, change careers, deal with work-place issues, ask for raises, and more. Some career coaches focus on specific industries and jobs (e.g., the legal industry), while others work with clients across a broad spectrum of industries.
General life coaching business
Life coaching businesses are probably the most common coaching businesses because they encompass so many sub-topics. Life coaches support their clients on their personal growth journeys. They work with clients to change habits, reduce stress, and overall make positive changes.
Health and wellness coaching
Another broad category of coaching is health and wellness. These coaches help clients deal with nutrition, weight management, mindfulness, mental health, and more. Anything related to maintaining a healthy mind and body and overall wellbeing falls under health and wellness coaching.
Financial coaches help their clients manage their money. They teach things like how to save, create a budget, plan for retirement, and make wise financial decisions. Like all coaches, financial coaches have expertise in their field, usually because they faced a financial challenge in their past and overcame it. They take that knowledge and share it with others through coaching (like Melissa Boutin, one of our favorite money coaches, did). Check out our article on how to become a financial coach!
Whether working with singles or couples, relationship coaches help their clients find and maintain healthy relationships. They also help with conflict resolution.
What kind of coach should you be? Finding your niche
Now that you have a sense of what types of coaching businesses exist, it’s time to think about what kind of coach you should be. The key to this is finding your niche, your ideal customer, and figuring out a solution to that customer’s problem. Here’s what that looks like.
1. Choose your niche
To begin, identify your skills. What can you teach someone? It doesn’t have to be something you have a degree in, just something you’ve experienced, worked through, and can teach others. For example, if you’ve recently paid off six-figures of student loans, could you teach someone else how to do the same.
2. Choose your ideal customer
Next, figure out who is your ideal customer. Who can you help? Let’s say you decide to pursue financial coaching, focusing on debt repayment. How old is your ideal customer? What kind of debt does she have? Where does she hang out online? How could you reach her?
3. Identify a problem and the solution
Once you’ve decided on your niche and who you want to help, identify a specific problem your future clients have and what solution you will offer them. In our example, your ideal client’s problem is overwhelming debt. Your solution might be coaching her on how to budget, which debt to pay off first, and how to create a long-term financial plan.
Ways you can coach
You’re ready to coach. Now what? You have to decide what type of coaching to offer clients. The coaching industry is always evolving and new ways to reach people are cropping up all of the time. These are just some of the ways you can coach clients:
Private 1-on-1 sessions
Private 1-on-1 sessions are the most common type of coaching and give clients the coach’s undivided attention. You meet with your clients over video conference, telephone, or in-person, and focus on their specific issues and needs. Some coaches also offer texting or audio message support in between sessions, so clients feel connected to their coaches at all times. This is the most time-intensive type of coaching, as you can only juggle so many 1-on-1 clients at a time.
If you want to reach more than one person at once, consider group coaching. With group sessions, coaches teach clients with similar problems or concerns at the same time. This allows coaches to guide more people, and also allows clients to interact with others going through similar things.
Next, there are online courses. Instead of tailoring your coaching to a specific person or group of people, you offer a pre-recorded course. Clients can take the course at their own pace. Coaches usually offer materials to go along with the course and some may offer group or 1-on-1 calls as add-ons to the course. You can check our 30+ completely free courses!
Lastly, think outside the box when it comes to ways you can coach. Podcasting is one way to reach even more people. You could live coach guests on the air, answer listener questions, or discuss topics that many of your clients struggle with. While this might not make much money directly, it is a great way to get your name out there and find paying clients for your other services. Check out the Clever Girls Know Podcast!
What you need to get started with your coaching business
There are some practical things you need to get started with your coaching business. Once you have these in place, you’ll be off to the races!
The most important piece of building your brand and business is a website (and blog). It’s easier now than ever to get started with a hosting company such as Bluehost or Squarespace. There’s no excuse not to have a professional website when you launch your coaching business.
You’ll also need a few more basic tools, such as a scheduler to keep your appointments organized, videoconferencing software, and a strong internet connection. Your goal is to make sure everything you do – from emails to calls to videos – looks professional.
Business bank account
As soon as you decide to launch a new business, it’s always wise to set up a business bank account. You might be tempted to skip this step, but putting the right accounts in place from the very beginning of your business will help keep you organized as your business grows.
Before you land your first client, you’ll want to have a plan for exactly what you’ll be coaching her on. Most clients will expect hand-outs and guides to accompany your coaching sessions, so before you begin coaching, prepare these materials.
How will you find clients? It all comes down to marketing. Come up with a marketing plan on how to get your name in front of potential clients. Start providing content and value for free, such as through a blog or social media platform, to gain an audience and gain their trust. From there, paying clients will start to trickle (or flow!) in.
As we talked about above, a certification is definitely not a prerequisite to starting a coaching business. But there are certain benefits that a certification brings. Some clients prefer coaches with certifications as it lends credibility. For new coaches, a certification can help them develop their coaching style and give them tips on how to coach.
Instead of a certification program, you might want to take an online course from a provider such as Udemy that will help you start your business. With just a small investment (we’re talking under $20), you can get help with getting your business up and running. Whether you choose to get a certification or take a course is up to you, just don’t let that stop you from starting a coaching business if that’s your dream!
Are you ready to start a coaching business?
It might sound like a lot of steps, but with the skills you already have, you are no doubt in the position to start a coaching business today. In no time, you’ll be on your way to ditching your 9-5, getting out of debt, and saving for the future, all while helping others achieve their goals and dreams.