Coaching Branding – The startup mistake that’s costing you time and money

Traditional typewriter showing writing What's your story?

There are some common mistakes that most new coaches make when they’re starting out – I know I did!

I can’t go back in time and change things for myself, but I can share my learnings with you, in the hope that you’ll avoid making these mistakes and save yourself a lot of time and money.


Slick branding and a snazzy website? No!


A fancy logo and an all singing and dancing website is not the golden ticket to establishing a successful coaching business. 

In many of my discovery calls, and on my challenges and webinars, many people say they’ll be in business once they’ve got their website sorted.

I have to point out that you won’t be in business until you have paying clients, no matter how fancy your ‘shopfront’ is.


A solid business foundation is more important than lovely colours


One of my coach friends, Delphine, has been in business for five years now and, as far as I know, she still doesn’t have a website.

Genuinely, you can build a business from a LinkedIn profile, or whatever social media platform you choose.


The branding illusion


Many coaches spend months perfecting their brand’s visual identity, thinking about colours and typefaces, and paying people a lot to create their logo and website.

What they often forget to think about is who their ideal client is, that their branding should be attracting.

You can’t build a brand and a website without knowing exactly what problem you’re solving, and who you’re solving it for.

Most of the coaches on my Business of Coaching programme are surprised that we don’t cover websites and social media profiles until Module 9.

It comes up later in the programme because there is a lot of work to be done before you get to that stage and, if you don’t do that work first, you might just find that your creative theme is the wrong fit and you have to do it all again.

You might be fine with that but, if you’d rather get it right first time so you can move on with building your business, read on!


Brand perception


Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

This quote highlights the importance of your reputation and people’s perception of you. 

It’s about the value and transformation that you bring to their lives, not the fonts on your website. 


Four great foundations for building your successful coaching business


So, if website building and branding are not the right areas to be focusing on when you start out in business, then what is? 

  1. Clarifying your niche


Guess what, the number one step towards building a successful coaching business is clarifying your niche.

It really is the foundation of your message and your marketing – it doesn’t matter how gorgeous your website looks if you haven’t got the right message to communicate on that website.

Your niche is made up of four components:

  1. The person you help.
  2. The problem you solve.
  3. The result you deliver.
  4. How you’re going to achieve that result.

My article on Finding your profitable niche goes into a lot more detail on this, and my article on How to create your signature coaching offer covers the fourth component – the ‘how’ – of your niche.


  1. Validating your niche and offer 


Before you think about what logo you like, find out whether people are willing to pay for your coaching. 

Validation comes from the market and the only way you’re going to know what people are prepared to invest real money in is by going out there and asking them. Have honest conversations with your ideal clients and ask them what their biggest challenges are with regards to your niche. 

One of my clients cleverly put it this way – she asked how much people were prepared to pay to fix their problem, on a scale of zero to 10.

Interestingly, no-one gave an answer above a five, which was a brilliant way to establish that her offer wasn’t a ‘bleeding neck’ issue that people would have an urgency to pay to fix.

Another effective way to validate your offer is to invite people to have a free coaching call with you, on your particular niche.

If you struggle to get people to book free coaching time with you, then you are unlikely to get people to pay for it, which is great validation feedback. 


  1. Creating a simple, effective online presence


People will need to easily find you online, but it doesn’t need to cost you a fortune or take months to create.

A simple, clear LinkedIn profile, or other social media platform profile, will be the perfect start.

And, if you do want to have a website to add credibility and show that you are a ‘proper’ business when people are Googling you, there are really cheap ways of doing this, like using Canva. Canva is a DIY graphic design platform that gives you numerous free templates for creating logos and website templates, lead magnets, social media graphics and anything else you can think of.

Here are some examples of Canva’s website templates tailored for our industry.

This is a fantastic, easy and almost-free way to have a professional presence and look established, whilst you are still figuring out your niche, your offer and all the details.


  1. The power of storytelling


If you’re going to focus on one area of branding, this is it. People want to hear your story. They want to know why this is important to you. They want to support you and to ask for your support.

Simply listing out what your services are doesn’t move people emotionally, and make them feel invested in you.

So, I would urge you to craft your story. Share your mission. Bring people with you on your journey. 

Stories help people get to know you, which then builds their trust in you. People who don’t trust you don’t buy from you.

Be yourself. Be consistent. Have empathy. Show them that you really ‘get’ where they’re at. Showcase client case studies.

This is what it takes to build a solid business and this is what you should be prioritising from day one.


In summary


So, investing a lot of time and money in your brand before you have validated your business and secured your first clients is putting the cart before the horse. 

It’s a common startup up mistake.

Just think of all the time you could waste working on your brand and website behind the scenes, when you could have been out there talking to people, networking, putting posts out shouting about what you do.

Ask yourself, are you focusing on the right activity? Are you investing in the areas that will truly move the needle for you in your business?


Next steps


If you are just starting out and you’re not yet 100% sure on your solid niche and your ideal client, and exactly what you’re selling, I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on branding and website designing.

All you need at this stage is a quick and easy solution.

Canva has some amazing really low-cost options, and my sister’s company, Affordable Websites for Coaches and Small Businesses (, which provides brand kits as part of their offer, is really economical too.

You can always spend more down the line, when you are more established – I invested in my brand six months ago, and more recently had a new website built. But I’m now four years into my business and this was the first time I’d properly invested in this area.

What you do need to do right now is share your message loud and clear with as many people as you possibly can, so you can go out there and do what you’re good at and change people’s lives for the better.

And, if you’re ready to get the help you need to build that solid business, that’s exactly what I’m here for. Click here to find out more!



Prefer Audio? You can also listen to all my new content on my podcast Women in the Coaching Arena


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you grow your coaching business:


  1. Love coaching, but struggling to get clients? Download the 12 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Clients now.


  1. Interested to know more about the Business of Coaching programme? Click here.





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Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.