So you want to start an online coaching business – specifically a life coaching business?
You’ve got a lot of planning to do! But luckily, you’ve also got plenty of handy resources here you can draw from to assist you on this journey.
This piece pulls together some of the best information available to help you create a plan and begin to build your dream business.
How To Start a Life Coaching Business From Scratch
First, let’s cover the basics. What does it take to build a life coaching business from scratch?
You’ll need to do some research on your business idea and your approach. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is my particular business idea? What approach do I plan to use?
- Is my proposal new, unique, or innovative in any way?
- Will my approach be useful for clients? Will it solve a significant problem for them?
- Is my approach feasible? Do I have the time and resources to invest in it?
Naming Your Coaching Business
What is in a name?
As it turns out, quite a bit! Your business name is the first impression potential clients will get, and it’s important to strike the right chord.
Brainstorm some ideas, then ask yourself these questions to guide you in choosing the right one:
- Is it short and clear?
- Is it easy to spell and pronounce?
- Is it memorable?
- Does it say who you are?
- Can you get a matching domain?
- Has it been trademarked?
- Will you love it tomorrow?
Coaching Business Models Explained: 3 Templates
In today’s world, most coaching happens at least partially online. When you’re putting together your business plan, you’ll want to consider which coaching business model you want to use—or which models, if you plan on creating different packages.
Consider the following model templates:
- The Hybrid Model: this model involves a combination of in-person and online interaction. You may decide to stick with in-person meetings for the intake and establishing the coaching relationship, but then move to mostly online sessions until and unless something big comes up, or you implement a technique that is more effective or feasible in person.
- A Fully Remote Program: this all-online model sees all content and service delivered virtually, and is a good choice for someone just starting out or someone looking for a very broad audience throughout the country or across the globe. You’ll definitely want to use a dedicated platform or learning management system for a mobile coaching model like this.
- A Maintenance Program: this is a lower-cost model that centers around content rather than one-on-one sessions with clients. It’s a great choice for clients who have already completed your more traditional program, or for coaches who want to focus more on delivering content than having face-to-face meetings.
- A Marketing and Prospecting Model: this model is all about engaging prospective clients with valuable, low-cost, or free content that will bring them in and lead them to your more intensive packages.
Crafting A Coaching Business Plan: 3 Examples
When you’re crafting your business plan, you need to keep three things in mind. Your business plan should help you clarify your:
- “Why” – What is the greater purpose of your coaching business? What is your vision for the future, for both you and your clients?
- “How” – What is your mission as a coach? What are your objectives, and what approaches will you employ to strive towards them?
- “What” – What techniques, tools, resources, and interventions will you use to deliver your coaching program to your clients?
To see some good examples of a life coaching business plan, check out these three samples:
- USA Small Business Administration Sample
- Life Coaching Business Plan Sample Template from Profitable Venture
- Life Coaching Service Business Plan Sample Template from StartupBack
Starting An Online Coaching Business: 10 Tips
There’s a lot to think about when you’re starting an online coaching business.
Although this list isn’t comprehensive, it will get you off on the right foot. Consider the following:
- Keep your concept simple, and consider your unique selling point (i.e., what makes you different from the competition).
- Start making money as soon as possible by using a simple and convenient payment system.
- Conduct market research to understand the demand, the right pricing structure, where your target population is located, and what similar services are currently being offered.
- Overestimate your costs as a default strategy to give yourself space for unexpected expenses.
- Establish a reliable support team of peers, employees, freelancers, virtual assistants, part-time admin support, and/or mentors as needed to help you through the business setup process.
- Understand the commitment you are making by starting your own business—it will likely be more than a 40-hour week in the beginning!
- Pick the right time for launching your business, considering the ebbs and flows of your industry, how successful your competitors have been, the availability of funds to back your business, and what’s happening in your personal life.
- Be flexible and open to new ideas, as trial and error is a way of life for establishing a new business.
- Create a signature framework for your coaching programs that you can build on to create your packages and content.
- Deliver your coaching program with the right mix of easily digestible content, simple progress tracking, and personal touchpoints with your clients.
Building Your Business: Ultimate Checklist
Once you have your answers to these questions and a solid idea of what your business will look like, it’s time to consult the checklist.
This handy checklist will guide you in the planning process. If you want to build a life coaching practice from scratch, you’ll need to do (or at least consider) the following:
- Do your research on your target market. Make sure there’s a market for the service you’re selling, and get to know this market intimately.
- Create a life coaching business plan. At a minimum, your business plan should include your vision, your mission statement, the resources required to get it off the ground, and your expectations for client traffic and income.
- Research the regulations in your area. You may need to meet specific requirements to operate your business, and they can vary by country, state/territory, and even city. Do your homework, and consider hiring a lawyer if it seems complicated.
- Consider getting a coaching certification. You probably won’t need accreditation to practice as a life coach, but it can be a handy way of showcasing your expertise and bolstering your clients’ confidence in your abilities.
- Establish an online presence. Whether you set up your own website, use social media to build a presence, or both, it’s important to create an online presence that you can use to bring in potential clients and engage with current clients.
- Create your signature coaching program. Determine what approaches and techniques you will use and how you will deploy them to help your clients.
- Set your pricing. Determine how much you will charge your clients and on what basis (e.g., hourly, one-time fee). Think about how you may want to scale up your practice over time and how that might change your pricing.
- Bring in clients! Use your online presence to advertise and draw in clients. You could also get yourself listed in coaching databases or use a platform that matches you with potential clients.
Best Practice Management Software To Use
There are many practice management software options for coaches available to you, and the best choice will depend on you and your practice’s unique needs.
These software solutions offer a wide range of features, and you may need only some of them to start and maintain a successful practice.
As you weigh your options, consider which features you need:
- Scheduling appointments
- Sending notifications and reminders to clients
- Recording client information (e.g., a client profile)
- Generating and sending invoices
- Payment processing
- Video conferencing
- Chat feature
- Progress tracking and monitoring
- Generating reports
- Templates for forms and taking notes
- Content delivery system
For a reliable software solution that does content delivery more effectively than any other, check out Quenza. Its unique features make it a must-have for coaches delivering any content to their clients outside.
How To Grow and Scale Your Coaching Practice
Virtually every coach aims to grow their practice. If you’ve got a great program that helps clients, of course you’ll want to share it with even more people!
There is no one right way to grow and expand your business, but you will have to confront the problem of scale at some point. There is only one of you, and you only have 24 hours in a day.
If you want to expand beyond the number of one-on-one relationships you can manage in those 24 hours each day, you’ll need to make some decisions on scaling up your practice.
You have options here too! You can go with one, any, or all of the following expansion options:
- Group coaching: serve more people in the same amount of time—for the sessions, at least. Clients will still need one-on-one support.
- Online courses and products: these digital products are valuable for clients, as they can access, save, and return to them at any time.
- Speaking engagements: these are a great way to share your coaching practice with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people at a time.
- Streamlining your business processes: Having a slick operation will free up your time, allowing you to take on more clients. Quenza Pathways makes the issuing of a pre-defined coaching program easy and convenient.
Implementing A Strategy For Success
However you decide to expand your business, make sure you return to your business plan and align your plan for growth with your vision, mission, and values. Check to see if your expansion ideas will allow you to further your mission and achieve your goals while still staying true to what drove your business in the first place.
It’s vital to have an overarching strategy for success and to ensure that your original intent doesn’t get lost in the hustle for growth.
Marketing and Promoting Your Business
Once you have a good plan in place and you’re ready to hit the ground running with your practice, it’s time to start marketing yourself and bringing in clients.
You’ll need to think about what your business is offering, how you want to brand yourself, who your target audience is and where you can find them, and who can help and support you on your journey. Take some time to really nail this part down, and the strategies themselves will be far easier to implement.
Getting Coaching Clients: 23 Ideas
When you’ve done your homework and you’re ready to get started, consider this list of 23 ideas:
- Begin with a “warm audience” (i.e., people who know and love you, people who are already interested in what you have to offer) and offer something valuable for free—like a workshop or seminar—to bring people in.
- Attend networking events that put you in contact with potential clients and with other coaches who you can learn from and share referrals.
- Use effective branding to highlight your “sweet spot” (i.e., who your ideal client is, what problems they have, and what you can do to help them solve this problem).
- Leverage your experience in other areas to build connections (e.g., reach out to people with similar backgrounds and emphasize your shared experience).
- Partner with others to promote your business; consider collaborating with other coaches or freelancers with similar goals.
- Get referrals regularly by reaching out to your contacts—in a professional manner, of course.
- Use targeted videos showcasing your services, and include a hook at the end (e.g., an offer/pitch and a way to contact you).
- Create buzz by generating valuable free content to bring interested individuals in to see what else you have to offer.
- Turn the “wrong” people away (perhaps even by referring them to other coaches who may be able to help), and only take on those clients you are sure you can help.
- Become the coach you would want to work with. Decide what qualities and attributes are most valuable and desirable in a coach, and create a plan to boost them in yourself.
- Know your brand and convey it effectively.
- Spend time where your target audience spends time, and you’ll get valuable interaction with potential clients.
- Differentiate yourself from other, similar life coaches; let potential clients know what you are doing better.
- Write an ultimate guide for your clients to show them you have the in-depth knowledge and experience needed to help them.
- Organize a coaching event and make it comfortable and useful (e.g., offer free food, make it interactive, share valuable information).
- Build your own “private pond” via social media to create brand awareness.
- Truly care about your clients to keep yourself engaged and provide the best quality service.
- Use smart, tailored e-mail marketing to bring in new clients.
- Use webinars to share information and entice potential clients to your practice.
- Be solution-oriented in your free content, and interested individuals will be more likely to turn into paid clients.
- Invest in branding to make a strong connection with your potential clients.
- Find a mentor and get some coaching for yourself! They can help you think through your strategy and make better decisions.
- Use blogging and vlogging to increase your web presence and bring in new eyes.
3 Helpful Books To Read
If you want a little more in-depth detail and guidance on your journey to establish a successful life-coaching business, you may want to start reading to dive in a little deeper.
There are many excellent life coaching books that may be helpful, including books on how to maximize your own potential, the psychology behind self-improvement, techniques, and approaches to making behavioral changes, and more.
If you’re looking for help specifically with starting a life coaching business, these may be the most relevant titles for you:
- Transformational Life Coaching: Creating Limitless Opportunities for Yourself and Others by Cherie Carter-Scott, Ph.D. (Bookshop.org)
- Life Coaching Guide: How to Be A Life Coach & Launch A Life Coaching Business In Less Than 30 Days by Sara Stephens (Bookshop.org)
- How to Become a Great Life Coach. Positively Influence People with Your Life Coaching Skills and Leadership: A Life Coaching Guide: Steps on How to Start Your Life Coaching Business Career by Jan Morgan (Bookshop.org)
Launching a life coaching business is an exciting adventure and one that will bring you a great deal of meaning and fulfillment.
However, it will also require a lot of time, effort, and research. This guide was created to help you as you embark upon this journey, and hopefully, it will take some of the guesswork out of setting up your practice.
Make sure to check back often to see what’s new in the world of coaching and get more tips on running an effective life coaching business. And don’t forget to start your $1 Quenza trial!
- ^ Townsend, C. (n.d.). How to choose a name for your coaching business. The Good Alliance. Retrieved from https://thegoodalliance.org/articles/naming-your-coaching-business/
- ^ Gambill, M. (2021). Which online coaching business model is right for you? Nudge Coach. Retrieved from https://nudgecoach.com/blog/online-coaching-business-models
- ^ Groves, D. (2021). 10 things you need to start an online coaching business. Nudge Coach. Retrieved from https://nudgecoach.com/blog/10-things-you-need-to-start-an-online-coaching-business
- ^ LPI. (2019). How to scale your life coaching business. Life Purpose Institute. Retrieved from https://www.lifepurposeinstitute.com/how-to-scale-your-life-coaching-business/
- ^ Blackbyrn, S. (2021). How to promote your life coaching business? (2021-22 Edition). Coach Foundation. Retrieved from https://coachfoundation.com/blog/life-coaching-business/