This is a definitive guide on how to start a coaching business in 2020.
In this guide, you’ll discover:
- How to position your coaching so that it stands out.
- How to continually get new coaching clients.
- How to create a highly profitable coaching business.
- Lots more.
But first, let’s have a look at some exciting numbers.
Exclusive: Download our complimentary checklist to this article for a step-by-step guide on how to start a coaching business (coming soon!).
The State of the Coaching Business
According to a study by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the global revenue from coaching now exceeds 2.3 billion dollars globally.
Depending on factors like location, specialty, and demand, coaches earn an average annual income ranging from $27,100 to $73,100.
The average yearly salary worldwide is $51,000, but some specialty coaches make $100.000 and up.
As a whole, the coaching industry has grown 2,2% annually on average the last five years, and industry analysts expect the growth to continue.
Naturally, a lot of coaches are serving the expanding market.
Right now, there are roughly 53,300 professional coaches worldwide, and that number will also continue to grow.
So, to build a thriving coaching business in 2020, you need to stand out in the marketplace, market yourself effectively, and continually get new clients.
Keep on reading, and you’ll learn how to do all of that.
- Coaching Business Basics
- Find Your Coaching Niche
- Design Your Own Category
- Prepare Your Free Discovery Call
- Get Your First Coaching Clients
- Find Your Own Coach
- Get Your Coaching Training
- Create Your Coaching Offer
- Name Your Coaching Business
- Build Your Website
- Market Your Coaching Business
- Create More Income Streams
- Connect With Other Coaches
1. Coaching Business Basics
Before you set out to start a coaching business, you need to know what you’re getting into.
First off, don’t worry that sales and marketing are going to force you to become someone you don’t want to be. A lot of coaches start off feeling like selling is at odds with their mission to be serving clients. This is normal, but the advice below, and everywhere across Coach.me is based on sales techniques that are actually very similar to coaching. But you’ll learn very quickly that both coaching and sales rely first on being a great listener.
Second, let’s dive into what Coaching is because there are still a lot of misconceptions about it.
So, we’ll start with the very basics.
The ICF defines coaching as:
“Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
In other words, a coach is someone who supports clients in achieving their goals.
And it’s important to note that the coaching profession differs from similar disciplines in a few ways.
For instance, coaching is not:
- Therapy — Coaches don’t focus on what happened in the past. Instead, they help clients discover and go after what can happen in the future.
- Advising — Coaches don’t tell their clients what to do. Instead, they ask questions that help clients shift their perspectives and discover new solutions.
- Training — Coaches don’t choose the goals or processes for achieving them. Instead, they help clients establish their own targets and action plans.
So, coaching is about the future rather than the past, questions instead of answers, and support rather than commands.
You’re probably wondering why Coaching isn’t these other things. The reason is that coaching often achieves the best outcomes because it acknowledges both that the client is the only true expert on their own situation and that no value will be achieved unless the client actually takes an action. For that reason, a coach puts most of their work into helping a client craft a solution that’s both specific to their own circumstances and, very importantly, that they have the skill and motivation to follow through on.
If you want to learn more, check out out complete introduction to coaching.
When you understand the basics, and if the coaching profession resonates, you can move on to the next step.
2. Find Your Coaching Niche
One of the most common mistakes new coaches make is trying to help everyone.
That approach is very ineffective, and the reason is simple:
- A coach that serves the entire marketplace will get surface-level knowledge on a lot of topics and a bland marketing message.
- A coach that serves a small piece of the marketplace will get in-depth knowledge in one topic and a targeted marketing message.
By specializing in something, you become much more effective and appealing as a coach.
So, before you start looking for clients, you need to find your niche.
And you do that by finding the area where your unique strengths and natural interests overlap with the demand in the marketplace:
To pinpoint your niche, explore the three areas around it:
- Strengths: What do people ask me for advice about?
- Interests: What do I read books on, take courses in, and talk about?
- Demand: How can I use my strengths and interests to serve the marketplace?
When you’ve found a potential niche, validate it with a Google search.
If you can’t find any coaches serving the niche, the demand is likely low, and you need to keep looking.
But if you can find a lot of coaches serving the niche, the demand is likely high, and you can move on to the next step.
3. Design Your Own Category
Once you’ve found your niche, the next step is to design your own category within it.
You want to position your coaching business so that it’s the #1 choice in the world for your ideal clients.
In the marketing world, this strategy is called category design, and it’s best illustrated with an example.
Take, for instance, fitness instructor Steve Kamb.
When he started his business, he knew that there were countless other fitness websites.
So, instead of trying to compete with them, he decided to serve one group only: nerds.
And since his launch in 2009, NerdFitness.com has grown into a seven-figure business and worldwide community.
Kamb found a unique category and positioned himself as the #1 authority in the world within it.
And you can do the same by using the “What for Whom” framework.
Ask yourself: “What kind of coaching do I do, and for Whom do I do it?”
Steve Kamb’s category is fitness for nerds.
Write down several “What for Whom” statements until you’ve found one that resonates.
4. Prepare Your Free Discovery Call
Coaching is not a product — it’s an experience.
So, the best way to sell your coaching is not to talk about it, but to demonstrate it.
And the best way to do that is to prepare a free 30-minute discovery call where people get to experience your coaching.
Here’s a template you can use to organize your discovery call:
- Begin the conversation — Welcome the coaching prospect and affirm their interest. For example: “Hello! It’s nice to meet you. I understand you might be interested in working with me as your coach. Is that correct?”
- Find the biggest challenge — Establish the goal your prospect wants to achieve, and what’s standing in their way. For example: “What’s your #1 challenge right now?”
- Ask coaching questions — Help your prospect find solutions to overcome their biggest challenge. For example: “How can you overcome this obstacle?”
- End the conversation — At the end of the call, prompt your prospect to take action. For example: “What’s the next step you will take to overcome this challenge?”
- (Optional) Offer your coaching — If the prospect seems like a good match for you, ask for permission to describe your coaching. For example: “Do you want to know how we can work together?”
The beauty of free discovery calls is that they provide clarity on both sides.
Your prospects get to experience what your coaching is like, and you get to evaluate if the prospect is a good candidate for your coaching.
So, use the template as inspiration and prepare a discovery call in your words.
Then move on to the next step, where we’ll cover how to find prospects to jump on calls with.
5. Get Your First Coaching Clients
As soon as you’ve decided to start a coaching business, you should get your first clients as quickly as possible.
Coaching is a skill, and you develop skills best through real-world practice.
As a new coach, the best way to find clients is through your existing network.
More advanced marketing won’t work until you have a track record, a following, and some feedback on your coaching.
In the beginning, your friends and acquaintances are your most likely clients and referrers.
So, once your free discovery call is ready, ask people you know to get on the phone with you.
By the end of each call, you’ll probably be surprised at how many people want to work with you.
And even when they don’t, they’re often happy to provide insightful feedback and valuable referrals.
Either way, each call will make you more skilled and confident than the last.
So, get out there and start talking to as many prospects as possible.
The sooner you start, the better you’ll get, and the more your coaching business will thrive!
6. Find Your Own Coach
A lot of new coaches hesitate to hire their own coach.
And that’s understandable because when you’re just starting, you might not feel like you can afford a coach.
You might instead turn to sources like books, podcasts, and webinars to learn how to build your coaching business.
It seems like a reasonable approach, but it’s really a reflection of the same mindset as prospects who turn down your coaching.
“All the information I need is available for free, so I’ll figure it out for myself.”
It’s not until you hire a coach that you’ll know what it’s like.
A great coach will get you out of your comfort zone, hold you accountable to your intentions, and help you achieve your goals.
But that’s not all.
A great coach can also show you how to conduct coaching sessions, market your services, and grow your coaching business.
So, not only will you experience the incredible benefits of coaching from a client’s perspective.
You’ll also learn coaching and business skills that will benefit you for the rest of your career.
So, if at all possible, get your own coach early on.
It’s an investment that you’ll probably make back many times over.
If you want to get started right now, check out our guide on how to find a coach.
7. Get Your Coaching Training
Coaching is an unregulated industry, which means anyone can call themselves a coach.
There is no mandatory certification you have to have before you can legally accept clients.
That’s why it’s generally a better idea to get your first coaching clients before you get training.
The feedback you’ll get will tell you a lot about coaching skills you’re lacking and what kind of certification might be a good fit.
If you want to get certified, choosing your coaching training can be a challenge.
So, to make it as easy possible for you, we’ve put together a list of coaching certification programs.
If you decide to get a coaching certification, keep working on your coaching business anyway.
You don’t have to wait to get certified before moving through the steps below.
8. Create Your Coaching Offer
When you’ve worked with a couple of clients, you’ll have a better sense of what they’re looking for.
And that’s when it’s time to create a compelling offer for your ideal customer.
Whether you’ll offer 1-on-1 sessions, group coaching, workshops, retreats, mastermind groups, or some other service, always include the following:
- The biggest benefits — People don’t buy coaching: they buy results. So, ask yourself how your coaching will improve your clients’ lives. Then build your offer around those benefits.
- Customer testimonials — When you’re finished working with a client, ask them to write a quick review about your coaching. Save the best ones and use them in your offer.
- Your price — Base your price on the value of the results your coaching clients are getting. If you sell different coaching packages, include a price point for each one.
- A guarantee — A money-back guarantee relieves any anxiety customers may have about making a bad purchase. Plus, it makes it easy to let go of clients who turn out to be a bad fit.
- A call to action — At the end of your offer, show prospects what to do next. Tell them to buy your coaching, schedule a discovery call, or contact you via email. Whatever you do — don’t leave them hanging!
Your coaching offer will evolve as you get more client feedback, so there’s no need to make it perfect.
Make it good enough, and then move on to the next step.
9. Name Your Coaching Business
It’s time to make your coaching business official!
To do that, you obviously have to choose a name for your business, and that can be surprisingly difficult.
If you do a Google search, it might seem like all the good names are taken.
And that’s absolutely true for generic coaching business names.
But, as we already covered, you don’t want your coaching to be generic anyway.
You want it to be highly specific.
And if you’ve found your niche and designed your category, you should be able to find a name that reflects what you do.
Once again, NerdFitness.com provides an excellent example.
Or you can take another approach and use your own name or nickname.
Your clients will ultimately buy a relationship with you, so it makes sense to establish yourself as the brand.
Even if your name is common, there’s a good chance you can get [yourname]coaching.com or something similar.
You can use a service like BetterWhois to search for available domains.
And when you’ve found one you like, you can buy it from a registrar like NameCheap.
10. Build Your Website
Once you’ve named your business and registered your domain, it’s time to build your website.
Now, if the thought of website-building terrifies you, I have good news.
Building a website is way less complicated than it used to be.
These days, it can actually be quite easy — and even a lot of fun!
If you don’t know how to get started, google “how to build a website,” and you’ll find plenty of step-by-step guides.
All you need to get your website up and running is:
Once your website is live, all you need to publish is:
- An about page explaining who you are, what kind of coaching you do, and for whom you do it.
- A sales page showcasing your coaching offer.
- A contact page where prospects can reach out to you.
When your website is good enough, move on to the next step.
You’ll improve your web presence over time, so there’s no point tinkering with it.
11. Market Your Coaching Business
When you’re running a coaching business, one of your daily responsibilities is to find new clients.
In the beginning, the best way to do that is through your existing network.
Later on, as you improve and your business grows, you should expand your marketing efforts.
Let’s have a look at some examples:
- Start an email list — Sign up for a service like Mailchimp to collect email subscribers, send newsletters, and promote your coaching.
- Edit your welcome email – Ask new email list subscribers what their #1 challenge is and offer discovery calls to prospects who reply.
- Create a promotion schedule — Email your list with exclusive coaching offers on special occasions like Black Friday, your birthday, and so on.
- Utilize content marketing — Write articles for blogs, create videos on Youtube, or start a podcast relating to your niche.
- Use social media — Update your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, etc., and answer questions relating to your niche.
- Get press coverage – Sign up for a service like HARO to connect with journalists and share your expertise in the media.
Wherever you focus your marketing efforts, serving is the best selling strategy.
All you to do is be helpful, and potential clients will find you.
For more marketing ideas, check out our ultimate guide on how to get coaching clients in 2020.
12. Create More Revenue Streams
There are many more ways to make money as a coach besides coaching.
The most successful coaches have several revenue streams, and they are continually adding more.
So, once you are running coaching sessions regularly, think about ways you can supplement that income.
Here are a few examples:
- Affiliate marketing — Promote other companies’ products to your clients or audience and earn a commission on sales.
- Membership payments — Join a platform like Patreon and let your audience support your work.
- Paid writing — Write articles on Medium and get paid through their membership program or publications like Better Humans.
- Speaking gigs — Create a presentation and give talks at companies, conferences, or private events.
- Sponsorship revenue — Let advertisers sponsor your blog, podcast, or Youtube channel.
Obviously, each of these examples requires a new set of skills.
That’s why you should focus on your regulating coaching practice first.
But once you’re ready to branch out, a few more income streams can propel your coaching business to an entirely new level.
13. Connect With Other Coaches
One of the best things you can do for your coaching business is to get to know other coaches.
By connecting with peers in the industry, you can help each other with:
- Feedback on your coaching sessions, websites, and marketing efforts.
- Cross-promotion of each other’s coaching offers.
- Affiliate marketing for each other’s products.
- Continuous client referrals by sending prospects to each other.
- Collaborations like co-creating workshops, courses, books, etc.
- Accountability to your daily business tasks and long-term goals.
- Business tools and coaching skills you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
As you can imagine, collaborating with peers makes running your coaching business much easier and way more fun.
So, if you’re not yet part of a community of coaches, now is the time to find and join one.
Look for peers online, on social media, and at live networking events.
Reach out to fellow coaches, introduce yourself, and offer your support in any way you can.
Over time, you’ll build a powerful network of coaches to collaborate with.
And that can create fantastic opportunities you can’t even imagine right now.
Summary: How to Start a Coaching Business in 2020
- Coaching Business Basics — Coaching is about the future rather than the past, questions instead of answers, and support rather than commands.
- Find Your Coaching Niche — Pinpoint the area where your unique strengths and natural interests overlap with the demand in the marketplace.
- Design Your Own Category — Use the “What for Whom” framework to position your coaching business as the #1 choice in the world for your ideal clients.
- Prepare Your Free Discovery Call — Organize a free 30-minute session where prospects can experience, and you can evaluate your prospects.
- Get Your First Coaching Clients — Offer your friends and acquaintances discovery calls to get your first clients and referrals.
- Find Your Own Coach — If possible, make this investment early on to experience coaching as a client and jumpstart your coaching business.
- Get Your Coaching Training — If you want to build your coaching skills, consider signing up for a coaching certification program.
- Create Your Coaching Offer — When you’ve worked with a couple of clients, create a compelling offer for your ideal customer.
- Name Your Coaching Business — Find a name that reflects what you do, or use your own name as your brand, and then register your URL.
- Build Your Website — Google “how to build a website,” and publish an about page, a sales page, and a contact page.
- Market Your Coaching Business — As you improve and your business grows, start marketing your coaching outside your existing network.
- Create More Income Streams — When you’re running coaching sessions regularly, supplement your income through other products, services, and collaborations.
- Connect With Other Coaches — Reach out to peers in the industry, build a network of coaches, and help grow each other’s businesses.
Get Your Coaching Business Checklist
I hope you found this guide on how to start a coaching business helpful.
It’s a step-by-step resource you can use to start your coaching business today.
Here’s to your exciting new venture!