How to start and grow your coaching business

Find out what you need to start your own successful coaching practice and get paid for it.

There is more to starting a business than being a great coach. I have put together this simple guide to help you to start and grow your coaching business.

This article will walk you through the 10 essential steps to gain your first paying clients and help turn your passion into a career.

1) Get a coaching qualification 

A coaching qualification is a great way to continue learning and developing your skills, even if you’re an experienced coach.

The benefits of getting a qualification include:

· Gaining credibility with clients especially corporate clients

· Being able to set yourself apart in an unregulated industry

· Increasing revenue through increased opportunity in this competitive industry

· Gaining referrals when people know you’re qualified

Where to start 

There are so many options depending on what you want to do.

I chose to do the ILM L7 in Executive Coaching and mentoring with Love Your Coaching.

If you’re thinking of training as a career coach Career Counselling Services offers award-winning accredited career coach training, career coaching and career management services to employers and individuals.

2) Create a vision of what you want from your business

Building a business can feel like you’re lost in a sea of overwhelm without a clear vision. Your vision will help you to make decisions and to know what you stand for.

Where to start

Write on a blank piece of paper ‘I’d love it if…’ and continue writing in as much detail as possible. What will you see, hear, feel, smell, touch?

3) Identify your niche = Target Market (WHO) + Your Solution (WHAT) and how to say it simply!

This is often a tricky one for coaches as it’s our natural inclination to want to help everyone.

I’d encourage you to be courageous and choose a niche as I’ve seen the success this creates in my clients’ coaching businesses.

A niche helps to elicit the thought ‘this is exactly what I need’. You’re already positioned as the expert who has the ‘solution’ to the exact ‘problem’ they have.

Where to start

Ask yourself ‘What do I want to be known for?’

A ‘70% there’ niche is good enough to take to market and know that it will evolve as you do and there is no ‘right’ answer.

Then complete the following statement:

I help WHO with GOAL so that RESULT

4) Create and price one coaching package and a way to take payment

Creating your own signature coaching package is a brilliant way to position yourself as an expert in your field and to make the intangible (coaching) into something more tangible so that people can understand it’s value.

It also helps you to price on the value you create rather than for your time in the session.

Where to start

· What is a big enough problem that they will pay to fix?

· What do they think is stopping them from solving it?

· What do you think is stopping them from solving it?

Working from the destination they want to be at, what journey will they need to go on to solve this problem?

Where they are now……|……….|………|………|………| Where they want to be

Map out the 3-6 high level steps they would need to take.

Congratulations you have created your first coaching package! You can display this journey on your website or talk to people about it in person.

5) Put in place a basic coaching agreement

You’ll want to outline your agreement prior to starting out with a new client.

Where to start

The ICF has published a sample contract here.

6) Tell your network your coaching speciality

Your lowest hanging fruit in terms of gaining your first clients will be through people in your existing network. It’s worth being super specific as they need to clearly understand exactly what you do to refer people to you.

Where to start

Here’s an example script to share with your network:

“I was wondering if I could ask your help in something… It’s my goal to help [target market] to [solution and result]. I was wondering if you knew of any other [target market] who could use my help? I’d be very grateful for your support. And, of course, I promise to treat your friends like gold.

7) Collect testimonials

You know you can help masses of people, yet you’re not gaining the traction you deserve.

Maybe you’re thinking it will get better when you gain more testimonials. And it’s true. But if you’ve done any coaching at all, I can guarantee that you already have more testimonials than you think.

Where to start

Contrary to popular belief testimonials aren’t about us. Your potential clients want to see the journey of someone ‘just like them’ to believe that it’s possible for them too.

Here are some questions to help:

  • Where you were before the coaching?
  • Why you signed up and if you had any worries about joining?
  • What has been the main outcome for you?
  • What would you say to anyone considering signing up?

This blog post contains more information on collecting highly converting testimonials even if they don’t want anyone to know they’ve had coaching.

8) Write your LinkedIn profile or website

It’s easy to get distracted by spending a lot of money and time on a website but you really can start with a Linkedin or other social media profile.

LinkedIn has served me very well and is the most successful in generating clients for the coaches who currently work with me.

When you are clear on your niche and offer, nows the time to create a website.

Where to start

Update your Linkedin photo, headline, about section and cover banner (Canva is a fantastic tool for your cover banner).

Social media branding, logo and website doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Brandority built my website and and sells branding packs, logos and social media resources, without it costing you a fortune.

9) Identify your 2-step marketing system 

Don’t just think that by having a coaching qualification you’ll get clients right away. You need to do some marketing too. Marketing and selling yourself and your qualifications can be a real challenge, but I’m here to help!

There are many ways you could sell your wonderful coaching – from creating different journeys which you could take potential clients on that match their needs, to building trust with initial unpaid coachees to gain referrals.

The possibilities are endless; however there is one way in particular I’d like you to focused on: Be prepared to listen intently to the potential client’s pains and desires so you can summarise these at the end of the call. You’d want link their needs to your signature coaching package or create a simple outline to take them from A to B.

This might change as the coaching progresses but as coaching is intangible you will gain paying clients from helping them see the likely value to their immediate needs and desires.

Where to start

1. What do you like doing – eg writing, talking, video?

2. Where are your potential clients hanging out?

10) Provide an outstanding service

It’s important to create an optimal experience for your clients so it feeds into the ecosystem of your business.

Where to start

1. Show enthusiasm when they say yes! It’s a huge moment for them to decide to invest in themselves and it’s worth celebrating.

2. Have a very clear onboarding process so they know their next steps

3. Consider ways to wow your clients and overdeliver on expectations. Ask yourself the question ‘How can I make success inevitable for my client?’.

For example, when I ask myself this question I see that my clients need to build the belief that their coaching is valuable and worth shouting about! So in addition to marketing and sales training I incorporate several ways to build my clients belief in themselves so they feel worthy of all the success that’s coming their way. For example, you might like to send a welcome gift in the post. Perhaps provide voice note or/and video support in-between sessions. Maybe send a personalised card when they hit an important milestone.

Your clients are the people who will recommend you and of course their success will bring you fulfilment and joy.

So, there you have it. You now know how to set up your coaching business for success so that you can start getting paying clients.

Get the love and support you need to make it happen

If you’d like my help to implement this so you make a difference, AND make a living, you can learn more about how I can help you in The Business of Coaching.




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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.