If you’re in the process of starting a coaching business or if you’re just considering it, this is for you. I’m going to give you the ultimate step-by-step guide to start a coaching business – a full breakdown of everything you need to consider when it comes to setting up your coaching business for success.
If you’re new to starting a coaching business you can also check out my free three month action plan to start a coaching business – Zero to Launch which you can sign up for here.
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You can follow these steps in a linear way, or a different order or work on some things simultaneously, there’s no right or wrong answer. It depends on where you’re at with things and what capacity you have to get stuff done.
The first thing you’re going to want to consider when starting a coaching business is your training certification. In the UK, there is no rule that says you have to be certified but I think it’s a really good idea that you do some kind of training which will make sure you’re able to properly support your clients.
There’s a huge number of certification programmes available these days, many you can do online. It’s worth spending some time looking for the right programme as they tend to be a sizable investment.
As a health coach, I studied with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition which I found really helpful. But I also bring in a lot of other skills and experience from other aspects of my career into my work, so don’t forget to look at your full range of expertise when it comes to starting your coaching business.
Here are a few different coaching schools and qualifications you can look into, these are all places my clients and students have studied and trained with (I’m not personally recommending these, just sharing them as a place to start!)
International Coaching Federation
Develop your niche and message
This is an area of business development that some people can find tricky, unless you have a strong sense of who you want to work with and the problems you’re going to solve from them from the start, it can be easy to let finding a ‘perfect niche’ become something that keeps you stuck.
My approach to niching is that it’s actually not that big of a deal – queue a bunch of business coaches getting ready to shout me down!
The thing is, if having a super narrow niche feels restrictive to you and you can’t pin yourself down then don’t! It’s totally ok to have a broader ‘niche’ (mine is that I help coaches start and grow a business they love – pretty broad by most people’s approach to niche) as long as you get more specific the closer to the sale.
This basically means that your programmes and offerings do need to be clear and specific, but your wider niche can be broader if that feels good to you.
Check out my post on how to choose your niche if you’re multi-passionate for more on this or if you want a full programme of support around developing your niche check out the Unboxed Guide to Niche and Messaging
Your niche is also wider than just who it is you serve the problems you solve for them. Your message, the ‘why’ you do what you do and your values communicate something important as well and these are all worth looking at in this stage of setting up your coaching business.
Create your services and offerings
As a coach, what you’re probably going to want to have from the very start is a main coaching programme. Where I see people get stuck here is that they just don’t really know what this needs to look like.
Everything from what to do in the sessions to the length of the programme, pricing – putting together the package can feel really hard!
One of my favourite approaches to explore putting together a coaching package is the A-B Method where you craft a journey for people based on where they are now to where they’d like to be.
For pure coaching though, sometimes the end destination is harder to define if you’re going to be purely client led.
When it comes to the development of your packages and services, I do think there’s a process of testing things out. Sometimes you need to work with a couple of clients through the process and then tweak it until it’s working exactly how you want it.
Check out these other blog posts which might help you create your coaching package:
How to create your coaching package
7 ways to sell your coaching package with confidence
Create your brand
Now it’s time for everyone’s favourite bit! Creating your brand. Your brand isn’t just your visuals, it also includes your photography, tone of voice, message and values and more.
Something to think about at this point is also your business name. Many coaches these days go with their names, but you could also have a business name or a combination (like my Wholeheartedly Laura). Whatever you go for you’ll want to check what domain names, social media handles and company names are available. You’ll also want to check it isn’t trademarked or already in use.
When it comes to the visuals, you can DIY it or work with a professional designer. It’s important to note that your branding isn’t just your logo, colours and fonts. It also comes into your social media presence a lot as well. In fact I hardly use my logo anywhere, it’s the other elements of the brand that tend to get used much more often!
Check out these other blog posts which might help you when it comes to branding:
How to brand yourself as a coach
How to plan a brand photoshoot for your coaching business
Set up your website
Next you’ll want to set up your website! Again, there’s no rule that says you need a website before you actually start working with clients. It’s entirely possible to sell without a website using social media and a Google doc. But I do think having a website is important and helps create trust – it’s your home on the internet so it’s worth investing in!
As for platforms for your website, I tend to advise people to stay away from Wix and Weebly and instead go for a self hosted WordPress website, Squarespace of Showit.
My personal preference is for WordPress and I’m currently really interested in getting to know Showit better. I tend to think if you’re going to work with a professional you’d might as well go for the best option which I think is WordPress / Showit.
You can of course DIY if you’re fairly familiar with tech, otherwise working with a designer is probably going to save you a lot of time and headaches!
And FYI, I offer a brand and website design service which you can check out here.
Also, take a look at my post on 5 ways to optimise your coaching website here.
Set up your email list
Something you definitely don’t want to miss out is getting your email list set up! You really want a way to capture people who visit your website and be able to build a relationship with them and sell to them so having an email list from the start is a great idea.
You’ll want some kind of free lead magnet, an email service provider and then a welcome sequence.
Your freebie should be something useful to your ideal client. You want to be attracting people on to your list who would be best placed to benefit from your services.
When it comes to email service providers I tend to recommend either Mailerlite or ConvertKit (affiliate link).
Mailerlite is great when you’re getting started, however if you envisage that your coaching business will have multiple offers, multiple freebies etc then I think Convertkit has some extra functionality which could make it a better option than Mailerlite.
It can also be useful to have a sequence of emails that people receive when they sign up for your freebie that ‘warms them up’ so that they’re more likely to become a paying client.
Then just ensure that you have multiple places on your website where people can join your list and get that freebie!
When it comes to growing your email list, check out this blog post on How to grow an email list for your coaching business.
Something else you’ll want to think about as part of your step by step process of starting a coaching business is the admin side of things going forward. This might be onboarding / offboarding your clients, managing your finances and things like how you’ll take payments, invoice your clients etc. You’ll also want to think about your business legal structure and things like tax.
Check out this blog post on How to onboard a coaching client.
Launching and creating a marketing strategy
Before we get into this, it’s important to remember that you can start marketing your coaching business at any stage. If you have the capacity to do so I think that starting to share stuff on social media (if you want to, there’s no rule that says you have to market on social media if you don’t want to) early on is a good idea. It gives you time to get comfortable in showing up and being visible and means that you have a community of people there you can offer your package to when you are ready to start working with clients.
Either way, you can launch your business in a big way or a more quiet way – it’s totally up to you. But what can be helpful is having some kind of strategy to help you get clients.
A lot of people get through all the set up stuff and then are totally stumped when it comes to the getting clients and making money bit – which is obviously quite important!
So make sure that you’re considering this as you’re setting up your business so when the time comes to get some clients you know what you need to do to give you the best chances of making that happen.
Grab your free Zero to Launch Guide for a 3 month action plan to set up your coaching business below:
Feeling a bit overwhelmed and wish you had someone who could walk you through all of this? Check out my Brand and Website Design + Mentoring Packages where I create all your branding, design your website and sort out your email list as well as mentor you on your niche, creating your packages, getting a marketing plan in place and much more.
Check out my done for you brand, website design and mentoring packages here.
As always, I’d love to know if this has been helpful, let me know in the comments!
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