Start Coaching Business - a step-by-step guide.

Start Coaching Business - a step-by-step guide
Photo by Sébastien Goldberg / Unsplash

What Do Coaches Do?

Although coaching has grown in popularity in the past few decades, it is not an entirely novel approach. There is an indication (Passmore & Lai, 2019) that some kind of workplace coaching was present even in 1937. Nowadays, coaching is not only work-related but covers various domains. Based on the International Coaching Federations report from 2021 (IFC, 2021), there are 50,746 professional coaches around the globe. The number of new members increased by 25% compared to 2020. The top three countries regarding the number of coaches that are members of the IFC are the USA (19,427), Canada (4,324), and the United Kingdom (3,733).

Literature speaks of many different definitions and many different types of coaching. Yet, some features are universal. In a broad sense, we can define coaching as: “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them” (Whitmore, 1992, p.8 cited in Passmore & Lai, 2019).

So, let’s start with a list and brief descriptions of different types of coaching:

Life Coaching

Life Coaching helps people to define and reach their personal and professional goals, which should increase subjective well-being. For instance, a life coach can help people improve relationships, establish a healthy day-to-day routine, abandon old habits, deal with stressors, etc. Many use the term "life coach" as an umbrella term for many more specific types of coaching.

Career Coaching

Career coaching is a specific type of coaching that aims to help people reach professional goals and build their desired careers. It takes into account client's needs, values, skills, and currently available resources and aims to identify professional opportunities and help them achieve the desired career outcomes in the future. For instance, a career coach can assist clients in several areas: finding a job, changing positions within the same company (whether it is switching to a new position at the same level or a promotion), finding a job in a different company, or even completely changing the profession (Ramirez-Cyzio, 2010).

Business Coaching

According to Schutte and Steyn (2015, pp.8), business coaching is "a one-on-one relationship with the purpose of changing behavior through learning to improve organizational effectiveness by setting goals to achieve the desired results." A business coach can help clients outline the organization's vision and guide and support them while analyzing their businesses, identifying issues, and removing obstacles.

Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is part of business coaching and was developed primarily for senior managers. Its aim is to develop leadership and management skills (Passmore & Lai, 2019).

Skills Coaching

Although skills coaching could also result in better performance, the main difference between skills and performance coaching is that skills coaching is usually significantly shorter (one or two sessions). It focuses on a particular behavior that one wants to improve. Also, during skills coaching, the coach might model the required skills, and coaching sessions consist of practicing the desired behavior and getting coach feedback (Grant & Green, 2018). Although we aim to provide specific descriptions, the truth is that there is no such thing as a clear cut between different types of coaching as they might overlap. So, use the information provided as a rough guide but do not take them literally.

Financial Coaching

The goal of financial coaching is to help clients change their finances-related behavior. More specifically: “Financial coaching focuses more on the aspects of financial literacy that clients need in order to achieve their financial goals. “ (Collins et al., 2007, pp. 14). During financial coaching, the client learns and practices new skills and (with the help of a coach) monitors the progress.

Spiritual Coaching

The main task of a spiritual coach is to “ help another person reach his or her God-given potential in using skills, gifts, talents, and abilities” (McBride, 2009, pp. 49). They might help clients connect with themselves and the deeper meaning of their lives.

How much do coaches get paid?

Salary depends on the level of expertise, particular field, and market, but also the coachs sales and marketing skills. Based on information from the BetterUp website, career coachees charge between 50$ and 250$ per hour. However, some coaches earn much more (even millions annually). Therefore, it is not surprising that coaching has become a famous profession. An excellent coach could earn an impressive amount of money while enjoying the flexibility and a work-life balance.

The Pros and Cons of Coaching business and why now is the best time to start

Depending on your personality traits, the coaching business might be the best choice for you, but it might also be the worst.

Coaching might be the perfect profession if you like to have a flexible schedule, organize your day, and/or work remotely. Also, those who love challenges and are eager to learn and develop their skills might find coaching enjoyable as it provides plenty of opportunities for self-improvement. Coaches teach their clients while simultaneously learning from them (if they are open-minded), which can be very rewarding. Finally, coaches can decide how much they want to work and, consequently, how much they earn.

Nevertheless, the coaching business also has some cons. Firstly, the coaching business is associated with much uncertainty and challenges. Unlike standard 9 to 5 jobs, where someone else bears responsibility, sets your tasks, and ensures that your salary is on time, in the coaching business, you are the one who needs to make all that happen. You might possess extraordinary skills and expertise, but you still need to find a way to make your skills marketable. Positioning as an expert and finding clients could be the most challenging task and probably one of the main reasons why some eventually give up. Paying taxes is another thing you will have to think about. So, if you don't like to be challenged practically on a daily basis, coaching might not be the best career choice for you.

Finally, why is now the best time to start? The most straightforward answer is: The number of coaches is increasing, but the demand still exceeds "the supply." So, if you are considering entering the coaching profession, the best time might have been a few years ago, but, as the popular proverb says, the second best time is now.

Steps for Starting a Coaching Business

If you decide that coaching is something you would love to do, there are several things you should do in order to start a successful business.

 1. Decide what type of coaching you’re going to do

Even if you have many interests, choose a single niche and specialize in it. That is essential, although it perhaps sounds counterintuitive. Your reasoning might be: “If my target group is broad, I will have more clients and be more successful.” However, that cannot be further from the truth. If you want people to recognize you as an expert, you need to demonstrate the ability to solve a particular problem. So, you will not need to invest substantial money in marketing as satisfied clients will be the best recommendation for your work. Also, as a recognized expert, you can charge more for your services. Eventually, you might start working less but more effectively, earning the same or more (that is the goal, right?).

So, how to choose the type of coaching you want to do? There are at least three things that you should consider. First, you should choose the topic you are passionate about. Remember, you will be doing this job daily, so it is important that you enjoy it. The second important thing is to evaluate your skills (see the next point for more details). To be successful, you need to have the required skills. You cannot teach others something you have not mastered yet. Third, but equally important, pay attention to the current market. Who are your competitors? Is there a need for your services? What else could you offer?

At the beginning of this article, you can find a list and descriptions of various types of coaching. Does any of those sound like your dream job? Maybe you can even create a new type of coaching?

 2. Consider doing coaching training

If you already know what type of coaching gits you best, your next step is to (objectively) evaluate your current set of skills. Do you already possess the required knowledge and experience? If not, you might want to consider taking part in coaching training. Inform yourself about different pieces of training and choose the one that fits your interests best or emphasizes the skills you lack. The Catalyst program might be a good fit for those interested in business coaching. It is an eleven-week group program aimed at those who want to become business coaches and those who are already in the coaching business and want to level up their business. This program will provide you with practical skills and certification.

Certificates are essential because they speak of your competence (assuming you are certified by a credible institution). Thus, they can distinguish you as an expert in your field. Some of your clients will check not only whether you are certified but also which training you attended.

Of course, keep in mind that coaching requires lifelong learning, not just one training, no matter how good it might be. To be an excellent coach, you need continuous work on self-improvement.

Finally, even if you have enough knowledge related to the topic, you might want to consider going through the coaching process as a client before becoming a coach. Psychotherapists are required to go through personal therapy, and coaches are recommended to do a similar thing. You will get a chance to acquire new skills and knowledge and identify your strengths and weaknesses.

 3. Set up your business

So, you chose your field and completed your training - what is next? How to make people notice and choose you, among others? Well, this requires a bit of time and the right strategy.

It is not enough to have the most beautiful website, to invest a lot of money in paid ads. That surely helps, but what people buy are you and your success story.

That's why we suggested you earlier to choose your field of expertise wisely. Your clients will believe you when they see you live what you preach. Showing passion will signalize the clients that you genuinely care. Remember, you are the best promotor of your own business.

 4. Promote your business

In order to be hired and to start building your reputation, you must become visible not only to potential clients but also to your colleagues (who might even recommend you for a particular topic). Developing a personal brand is one of the critical steps for coaches. But how to be recognized as an expert in your field?

Connecting with other professionals from the coaching business has several positive outcomes. We already mentioned that if your colleagues think highly of you, they might refer some of their clients to you. For instance, your colleagues might refer clients when they have too many of them or when they believe a particular client might be more suitable for your methodology and system of work. Furthermore, networking will allow you to keep up with news in the coaching business and learn from more experienced or successful colleagues.

In addition to professional networking, you can use social networks to promote your business. After all, we live in the internet era. By creating free but valuable content, you will gather the attention of people that might be your potential clients. Before they decide to work with you, they need to be assured that you can solve their problem and that they will benefit from working with you. In this phase, it is beneficial for you to be as authentic as possible. Authenticity will help you attract ideal clients and reject those who are not. Again, it might sound counterintuitive because: “more clients=more money,” right? However, in the long term, you want your clients to be satisfied with your service and to recommend you further. To be extraordinary, your service needs to be specific and well-tailored.

At the end of this article, you should be at least one step closer to deciding whether the coaching business is right for you. If you want to learn more or just need more information, we recommend the Business Coaching Guide for further reading.

Hopefully, this article also made it at least a bit clearer which steps are required for setting up a successful coaching business. If you want to learn more about the coaching training, you can learn more about the Catalyst programs.


Cooks-Campbell, A. (2022, June 7). Does career coaching pay for itself? A guide to costs and value. Better up.

Collins, M. J., Baker, C., & Gorey, R. (2007). Financial Coaching: A New Approach for Asset Building? PolicyLab Consulting Group.

Grant, A. M., & Green, R. M. (2018). Developing clarity on the coaching counselling conundrum: Implications for counsellors and psychotherapists. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 18(4), 347-355.

International Coaching Federation (2021). Elevate: 2021 annual report.

McBride, J. E. (2009). Spiritual coaching: Helping people develop and implement their own growth strategies. [Doctoral dissertation]. Andrews university.

Passmore, J. and Lai, Yi-Ling (2019). Coaching psychology: Exploring definitions and research contribution to practice? International Coaching Psychology Review 14 (2), 69-83.

Ramirez-Cyzio, K. (2010). Career coaching-trend or necessity? In L. Czarkowska (Eds..), Coaching as a method of developing human potential (pp. 136-151), Poltext.

Schutte, F., & Steyn, R. (2015). The scientific building blocks for business coaching: A literature review. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 13(1), 1-11

Think Meta Team

Think Meta Team

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