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Joanna Lott Coaching

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Growing a Profitable Coaching Business

Notebook about studying a step-by-step guide

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Growing a Profitable Coaching Business

Table of Contents:

  1. Personal Journey: From Self-Doubt to Confidence
  2. Daily Practices for Success
  3. Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
  4. Balancing Time and Effectiveness
  5. Essential Steps to Start Your Coaching Business
  6. Marketing and Identifying Your Niche
  7. Creating Tangible Offers and Growing Your Audience
  8. Final Tips and Website Setup
  9. Summary and Final Thoughts

Something I’ve realised, is that many many people train to be coaches but, actually, only a few go on to create a profitable coaching business.

Underestimating the foundational basic steps to starting and growing a profitable coaching business is a huge mistake that many aspiring coaches make, and revisiting these foundational steps every single day is crucial for success.

When you’re starting out and you’re watching everyone else on social media, you can think that they’ve all got it sussed and you’ll never be like them. This can lead to self-doubt, especially for women, but for men too. You can often feel like you’re the only one struggling while others seem to have it all figured out. However, what you see on social media is just the highlights – behind closed doors, it can be a very different story. That’s why I love the community I’ve built as part of The Business of Coaching programme. We’re all in it together and sharing our real experiences, not just the shiny highlights.

Personal Journey: From Self-Doubt to Confidence

In 2019, I took the leap, left my job and trained as an executive coach. It was a hugely rocky journey of losing my identity and feeling like I was nobody. Going to events and being asked, “What do you do?” was a really hard time in my life. I also compared myself a lot during my coach training, feeling like everyone else was much more advanced, more senior and better than me. It was exhausting!

However, my confidence increased rapidly in around a year. In 2020, someone noticed this dramatic shift and asked me to share what had made the difference.

Daily Practices for Success

Here’s what I wrote in 2020:

– Morning affirmations (something I had never done before)
– Daily meditation (I did the Deepak Chopra 30-day meditation challenge, which helped tune into myself and reduce stress)
– A few good wins in coaching, especially in group coaching and training (which I had a huge limiting belief about, thinking I could never do training)
– Regularly coaching myself for the first time, gaining awareness of what was real and what were limiting beliefs
– Starting a nightly gratitude journal (which I’m still doing) to focus on what I’m grateful for rather than what I’m not
– A short confidence course as a reminder that our thoughts affect our actions, and that we can change those with practice
– The Positive Intelligence course, which rewires your brain if you keep up with the practice
– Helen Pritchard’s 5-day LinkedIn challenge, which helped me start posting (something that felt impossible at the time)

Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

One life-changing moment on my journey was overcoming my limiting belief that I could never do training or group coaching. A friend challenged me to run a women’s workshop, which I advertised that day – I was completely petrified but the experience was crucial for busting that limiting belief. It led me to have my own group coaching programme and it gave me the realisation that I can do training.

Balancing Time and Effectiveness

At the time, I only had two days a week when my son was in childcare, and I had three jobs as well as a one and three-year-old – which was obviously exhausting. However, having less time sometimes made me more effective, as I had no choice but to be super productive. Now, to be honest, with more time available I probably don’t get half as much done as I used to in those two days when I was like a superwoman, nailing everything.

While more time is helpful for reducing stress levels, you can start with the limited resources you have and build from there.

Essential Steps to Start Your Coaching Business

Overcoming Fear
The first essential step is overcoming the fear. I like to think of fear as “False Evidence Appearing Real”. Reading the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck helped me see that while I may not be great at certain skills yet, I could practice and become better. Before that, I had a fixed mindset of “I’m not good at that. That’s all there is to it.” Learning about the “power of yet” opened up a world of possibilities.

Define Your Vision, Mission and Values
Next, define your powerful vision, mission, and values. Have a clear vision of the difference you want to make in the world. Even if it feels at first like nothing’s working with your free marketing efforts, the more value you offer the more value will eventually come back to you.

Set Financial Goals
Setting financial goals was my next step. I soon realised it was impossible to reach my initial financial goal solely through coaching, which prompted me to explore business coaching, public speaking, and other revenue streams to hit my target.

Decide on Your Business Structure
Decide on a business format and set up a business bank account. The differences between a sole trader and limited company are important to understand (you can Google this). I opted for a sole trader initially, as it was a quick and inexpensive way to start without substantial upfront costs or an expensive accountant.

Professional Indemnity Insurance
Set up professional indemnity insurance for coaching, training, and education. I used Hiscox, which starts at around £10 per month and increases as your earnings grow.

Marketing and Identifying Your Niche

Identifying your niche is crucial, as it’s really hard to sell ‘coaching’ – you need to solve specific, urgent problems that people are willing to pay for. Get super clear on who you help and how.

Get to know your ideal clients by listening to their problems and by conducting market research to ensure there is demand for your niche and that people will be willing to pay for your services.

Here are some helpful resources on niching down:

Creating Tangible Offers and Growing Your Audience

Rather than selling generic ‘6 sessions of coaching’, create a tangible offer that people understand and are willing to pay for. I call this my ‘intangible to tangible’ process in my mentorship programme.

Next, focus on growing your audience through platforms like LinkedIn. Consistently sharing valuable content and telling people what you do is crucial, but you need a strategy for continuously expanding your reach to new audiences every month.

Final Tips and Website Setup

Setting up a website and professional email address should come later, once you have clarity on who you’re helping and how. In the beginning, you’ll likely have to evolve and edit your content as you gain that clarity.

Once you start getting clients, make sure you have a great onboarding system, and contracts in place to create a powerful experience. (I have a £7 Onboarding Guide which covers this process.)

Here are the key steps summarised:

– Overcome fears and build confidence
– Define your vision, mission and values
– Set financial goals to ensure they’re achievable
– Decide on a business structure and set up a business bank account
– Get professional indemnity insurance
– Identify your niche and get to know your ideal clients
– Create an offer and market it by constantly growing your audience
– Build a website and professional onboarding process once you have clarity

Summary and Final Thoughts

This was a quick overview of the essential steps you need to take for starting and growing a profitable coaching business, but there are many nuances that can’t be ticked off on a checklist. Building a successful coaching business is a skill, just like coaching itself. It takes years and hundreds of hours of continuous learning, practice, refining, and adapting as things change.

I’ve invested around £70,000 and thousands of hours into mastering these business skills. It’s crucial to prioritise, and to invest heavily in marketing and sales if you want your coaching skills to make a real impact.

Sadly, amazing coaching skills alone won’t create a successful business if you can’t get clients in the door. Decide that you’re going to go all-in on marketing and sales for your business, so that you can make the positive difference you’re meant to make in this world.

I can help you 

If you would like my help, I invite you to check out my Business of Coaching Mentorship programme. In June, I’m offering a special 12-month payment plan option, so you can start today for £270 per month (even though it’s a 6-month programme). Think about your return on investment and how much time and opportunity you’re wasting by staying stuck, when you could have real support from someone invested in your success – this is a mission for me, not just a business.

Wherever you are in your coaching journey, go for it! Commit to going all-in on starting and growing a profitable coaching business that creates tremendous impact.

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:

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Do you want help to build a successful coaching business? Check out my Business of Coaching programme

Hi, I’m Jo, and I’d love to help you on your coaching journey. I spent 20 years in corporate HR but faced challenges balancing work and family. Refusing to settle, I ventured into coaching, seeking financial success aligned with my values. Overcoming limiting beliefs, I developed strategies to attract clients, leading to the creation of my Reliable Results Path. Now, I support coaches in achieving their goals through my Business of Coaching programme. My values of honesty, personalisation, and courage guide me, fostering a community of impactful coaches who believe in inclusivity and making a difference. More about me

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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.