The essential guide to starting a life coaching business and launching your successful coaching career
Are you passionate about helping others realize their full potential and improve their lives?
Do you believe that you’re called to make an impact in the world and long for a meaningful, abundant career?
Would you love a career that offers time, location, and financial freedom while still allowing you to feel passionate about your work?
If so, starting a life coaching business could be a rewarding and fulfilling career path for you!
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the 8 basic steps needed to start your own life coaching business, including:
- How to decide what type of life coach to be and identify your coaching niche
- How to write a life coaching business plan
- How to choose your life coaching business structure
- What you need to know about registering your new business and insurance
- How to choose a business name and coaching services
- Key steps to develop your online presence
- How to grow your life coaching business and get more clients
- The importance of commitment to ongoing personal development & professional growth
This guide is a comprehensive resource to support aspiring coaches through the process of starting a life coaching business. It’s a great way to get started if you feel overwhelmed or unsure about the steps required.
However, some people may not be at this stage in their life coaching career journey, and that’s okay!
If this life coaching business guide is right for you yet, consider starting with one of these resources instead:
- Struggling to decide whether life coaching is the right path for you? Our eBook, Are You Meant to Be a Life Coach? can help you find the clarity you need. Download it for free!
- Curious about the steps needed to become a life coach, but aren’t ready to launch a business just yet? Read our complete guide on how to become a life coach here.
- Exploring life coach certification and training programs? Learn what to look for to choose the best life coach certification program here.
8 Steps to Starting Your Successful Coaching Business
Step 1: Decide what kind of life coach you want to be & choose a life coaching niche
The first step to starting a coaching practice is to decide what kind of life coaching business you want. Clarity about the kind of coach you want to be will guide you through the rest of the steps in this guide.
First, it is possible to be a general life coach and find success. However, we have found that coaches who focus on the work and clients they’re most passionate about often find the greatest success.
There are many different types of life coaches you can choose to be. To help you decide, ask yourself these three questions:
- What kind of problem would you love to help potential clients solve?
- What type of person do you feel most passionate about helping?
- What skills, training, experience, and natural gifts do you already have that enable you to impact people’s lives?
Once you’ve decided what kind of life coach you want to be, the next step is to identify your niche. In other words, who is your target market?
Your niche, or target audience, is simply the specific people who are experiencing a specific problem that you and your life coaching business will be most able to serve. Understanding your niche will help you avoid the common mistake of trying to be everything for everyone.
To help you identify the specific niche your life coaching business will serve, ask yourself these questions:
- Who would I most love to work with?
- What problems am I most qualified to help people solve?
- What problems are people willing to pay to have help in solving?
The answers to these questions will help you begin to identify the people most likely to relate to your message, benefit from your coaching services, and be able to invest in the solutions you offer.
For more support in nailing down who your life coaching business’ ideal client will be, explore our guide to the most profitable niches for life coaches here.
Step 2: Write a life coaching business plan
Writing a business plan for your life coaching business can help you clarify your vision, understand your audience, and establish an effective roadmap for growth.
Creating a business plan is an ongoing process, and you may find the need to come back to certain sections.
You don’t have to come up with and plan the perfect business idea all at once! Instead, think of this as an opportunity to gain clarity and create a working business model for the life coaching business that would best support the kind of life you would love to live.
To get you started, here are the key steps to creating a successful business plan:
- Executive Summary: This first section should briefly summarize the plan and vision you have for your business. Include your mission statement (the ‘why’ of your business and what you want to do in the world), your target audience, and financial projections.
- Company Description: This section should describe your business in as much detail as you can (remember, you can come back and add and edit as you build and grow your business!).
Consider including the services your coaching business will offer, how you will help your ideal clients and what sets your life coaching business apart from others, as well as your goals for growth.
- Market Research: To complete this section, spend some time researching the coaching industry and your target audience. You should have a good understanding of your competitors, develop an avatar of your ideal client, and explore some of the market trends that may affect your business now and in the near future.
- Services and Products: Describe in detail what services or products you will offer, what makes them unique and valuable to customers, and how you will price them.
- Marketing and Sales Strategies: This section should outline your marketing and sales strategies, including your brand positioning, what you will do to promote your services, and how you plan to connect with and build relationships to grow your client base.
- Financial Plan: Financial projections provide a snapshot of your business’s financial health and help you make informed decisions about pricing, marketing, and growth strategies.
This section should provide detailed financial projections, including a revenue forecast (how much money you plan to make in the next 1-3 years) and cost analysis (how much will it cost to run your business). It should also cover how much money you’ll need to start your business and keep it operating each month.
- Management and Organization: In this section, describe the organizational structure of your business (even if you’re a solopreneur!). Include any partners or team members and their roles and responsibilities. You can also include anyone you plan to hire in the next 1-3 years.
Once you’ve written your business plan, you should have a good idea of what your life coaching business will look like, how it will function, and how it will grow!
Treat your business plan like a living document- you can add to it, edit it, and adjust as your life coaching business grows and evolves.
Step 3: Choose your life coaching business structure
There are several legal structures that you can choose from when starting a life coaching business. Each structure has its own pros and cons, and it’s important to consider your business’ unique needs when selecting the best option for you.
Here are the most common legal structures for life coaching businesses:
- Sole Proprietorship: This is the simplest and most common legal structure for small businesses, and the one most often used in the life coaching industry. The owner is personally responsible for all business debts and liabilities, and the business income is reported on the owner’s personal tax return.
Pros: Easy to set up and maintain, low start-up costs, and complete control over the business.
Cons: Unlimited personal liability, limited ability to raise capital, and can cause difficulty separating personal and business finances.
- Partnership: A partnership is a business owned by two or more people. The partners share profits and losses, and each partner is personally responsible for the business debts and liabilities.
Pros: Easy to set up and maintain, shared financial responsibility, and diverse skills and knowledge.
Cons: Unlimited personal liability, potential conflicts between partners, and difficulty raising capital.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is a hybrid of a partnership and a corporation, offering the owners limited liability protection while allowing taxes to be paid as an individual, rather than as an entity.
Pros: Limited personal liability, pass-through taxation, flexible management structure, and easy to set up and maintain.
Cons: Higher start-up costs, ongoing filing requirements, and limited ability to raise capital.
- Corporation: A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, offering the owners limited liability protection and the ability to raise capital through the sale of stocks.
Pros: Limited personal liability, the ability to raise capital through stock offerings, and a clear management structure.
Cons: Higher start-up costs, complex legal requirements, and ongoing filing and compliance requirements.
- Nonprofit Organization: A nonprofit organization is a tax-exempt entity that operates for a charitable, educational, or religious purpose.
Pros: Tax-exempt status, eligibility for grants and donations, and the ability to operate for a social or community purpose.
Cons: Complex legal requirements, limited ability to generate income, and limited control over the organization.
Consider consulting with a legal and financial professional to determine the best legal structure for your specific business needs.
Step 4: Registering your new life coaching business and getting insurance
Before you start offering your life coaching services to the public, be sure to check with your local and state laws for small business registration requirements.
You will want to consider:
- Any registration requirements based on the business structure you chose in Step 3
- Registering your business name as a DBA (“doing business as”) if you plan to conduct business or accept payments using a name other than your own
- Business license requirements from your local government or state
- Applying for an EIN (employer identification number) if you plan to hire employees or open a business bank account (apply at IRS.gov)
It’s important to note that the registration requirements for a life coaching business can vary widely depending on your location and the legal structure you chose. To ensure that you comply with all applicable laws and regulations, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer or accountant who specializes in small business law.
Likewise, you may also need to consider insurance for your life coaching business.
While coaching sessions are generally low-risk activities, there are still potential risks and liabilities to be considered. For example, a client could make a claim against you for financial loss or emotional distress, and without insurance, you could be responsible for paying out of pocket for any damages or legal fees.
Here are some types of business insurance that you can consider for your life coaching business:
- General Liability Insurance: This type of insurance covers you against claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury (such as libel or slander) that may arise from your coaching activities.
For example, if a client trips and falls during a coaching session and injures themselves, general liability insurance can help cover any medical expenses and legal fees.
- Professional Liability Insurance: Also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, this type of insurance covers you against claims of negligence, errors, or omissions in your coaching services.
For example, if a client claims that your advice caused them financial loss or emotional distress, professional liability insurance can help cover the costs of defending yourself in court.
- Cyber Liability Insurance: This type of insurance covers you against claims of data breaches, cyber attacks, or identity theft that may occur due to your online coaching activities.
For example, if a hacker gains access to your client’s personal information, cyber liability insurance can help cover the costs of notifying affected clients, providing credit monitoring services, and defending yourself against any lawsuits.
- Business Property Insurance: This type of insurance covers your business property (such as equipment, furniture, or inventory) against damage or loss due to theft, fire, or other covered events.
While most life coaching businesses typically have low property values, you may still want to protect your computer, phone, or other tools that you use in your coaching sessions.
The specific insurance that’s best for your life coaching business will depend on your location, the size of your business, and the types of services you offer. It’s a good idea to consult with an insurance agent or broker who specializes in small business insurance to help you choose the right coverage.
Step 5: Choose your business name, branding, & refine your life coaching services
Next, it’s time to start refining your life coaching business’ outward facing elements. In other words, choosing and developing the parts of your business that your potential clients will see when they interact with your message!
If you felt at all overwhelmed or discouraged by the previous steps, that’s okay. You aren’t alone in that feeling! (It’s one of the reasons we include business training and support for all of our coaches at the Brave Thinking Institute)
This step usually feels a little more “fun” to most new and growing coaches… but don’t make the common mistake of skipping to this step before doing the previous steps, thinking that focusing on their business name, brand, and visuals will lead to success.
In reality, this step needs the foundation of the previous steps in order for you to do it right the first time and avoid costly trial-and-error changes as your business grows.
When it comes to choosing your business’ name, branding, and services, one of the most important questions to keep in mind is this: What would appeal most to your ideal client?
It can be tempting to choose the branding and look of your business based on what you like best- and, it is important that you like your business- but, ideally, every “front-facing” element you choose for your business should appeal to your ideal client.
Even if you use your own name for the name of your business, as many successful life coaches do, you’ll still be choosing a tagline that explains what you do, a logo, and many other elements that represent your brand.
From the colors you choose to your logo and from your website to your social media presence, these elements of your business are designed to attract, align with, and add value to the people you most desire to work with.
When it comes to a business name and branding, choose elements that:
- Are most likely to appeal to and align with the needs, desires, and preferences of your ideal clients
- Make it exceptionally clear what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for
- Are coherent and consistent with the message you want to deliver to the people you are called to help
- Feel exciting but also sustainable to you (you want to choose things that you are able to carry through in every place that your clients and potential clients interact with you)
This is your opportunity to refine exactly what your business will do for your clients.
When it comes to choosing the professional services you offer in your life coaching business, consider:
- What types of services and delivery of services would appeal most to your ideal client?
For example, would your ideal client prefer to work on zoom or over the phone? Are they more likely to invest in a 3 month program or a 6 month group program?
- What kind of coaching experience will most enable your ideal client to experience profound, life-changing results in the area you’ve chosen to specialize in and also help you create a career and a business you love?
- What kinds of resources, support, and opportunities would most help and appeal to your ideal client as they engage with your coaching services and make progress on their own journey?
For example, would your ideal client likely love and benefit from online courses created to support their journey? How about a workbook, mastermind, or a weekend workshop?
- What kind of coaching program will you offer outside of single, one-on-one sessions in order to help you grow a sustainable business?
- What kind of services and programs will empower you to create a life and a business you love? Think about how you want to connect with clients, where you want to work, and how much you want to work in your business.
For example, if you’d love to do most of your work from cozy, local coffee shops, a virtual group mastermind might be a better option for your desired lifestyle than in-person weekend workshops.
Remember, as you choose the specifics of your life coaching business, you are creating the foundation and framework within which you will be able to embody the successful coach you were called to be. This is the vehicle through which you will make the impact and the income you’ve been longing to make!
You don’t have to choose everything your business will ever do right now! Your life coaching business will grow and evolve just as you will. But these foundational decisions can make the difference between expanding your coaching business in the future or having to start over.
Step 6: Develop your online presence
Your online presence should reflect both what will appeal and align with your ideal client. All of your efforts in this arena should make it clear how you can help your ideal clients and help build know-like-trust.
The ability life coaches have to connect with a broader audience of potential clients and to build connection is incredibly valuable to the process of launching and growing a successful coaching business.
As you choose which online platforms to use, consider where your ideal client is most likely spending their time online. What website or social media platforms are they most likely using?
Then, ask yourself which platforms you feel you can show up on consistently and confidently.
You do not have to be a viral sensation on every social media platform in order to be a successful life coach with a growing business!
We recommend choosing one or two that you feel you’re able to be the most consistent at using. Whichever platforms you choose to focus on, consider researching the best practices for that particular platform in order to make the most impact with your time and get better results from your efforts .
In addition to social media platforms, remember that your own website is a powerful way to create a hub for potential clients to connect with you and build know-like-trust. A blog, free or low-cost resources like ebooks and webinars, and videos and courses are a great way to offer value to potential clients and help them experience first hand how you can help them improve their lives.
Often, these valuable resources can be used to grow your email list (services like mailchimp, flodesk, and convertkit can help you set up a place to collect email addresses). They can also help potential clients experience the work you do and insight you offer, making them more willing to invest in the future.
As a life coach, consider all of the time, effort, and resources you put into building an online presence as an opportunity to build relationships with your future clients. The right person will find your content and connect with your message.
But, in order for them to find you in the first place, you have to create avenues for them to do so!
Step 7: Grow your life coaching business and develop strategies to get your first clients
Whether you’re a brand new coach or you’re already a life coach hoping to grow your coaching business, marketing and sales are a non-negotiable part of your business.
Unfortunately, many coaches, new and old, tend to get overwhelmed by the marketing and sales process.
We highly recommend finding support and training in these areas if you feel like they present a learning curve for you. Many highly skilled coaches miss out on the opportunity to have the impact and success available to them because they don’t feel comfortable with the idea of marketing their business and selling their services to potential clients.
To help you reframe marketing and sales into something that feels more possible and aligned for you, consider these tips:
- Instead of thinking of marketing and selling your business, think of it as sharing and serving. Prioritize genuine recommendations to people you know you can actually help, offering value in all of your marketing and selling, and leaning into the truth that you are offering people a resource that could change their lives, not manipulating them into buying something.
- Share from your “why.” Your “why” is the reason you are passionate about doing the life-changing work you do. As a life coach, when you allow your “why” to drive your conversations and offers, it not only helps people know-like-trust you, but it also ensures that you are connecting with people from a place of shared values instead of sales.
- View your audience and potential clients as family. Focus on sharing value and love with your audience, along with big truths that challenge them to live their best lives, just as you would want to do for a cherished family member.
We teach marketing and heart-centered sales that are founded in relationship, connection, and authenticity. With this approach, sales feels a lot less “icky” and a lot more like service to the people you’re passionate about helping!
No matter where you are in your life coaching career, understanding how to find, connect with, and invest in an audience of potential clients is a must. And no matter what your marketing strategy looks like, remember:
Marketing and selling your life coaching services is just the process of leading individuals on a journey to know-like-trust you enough to know, without question, whether or not your specific services are right for them.
You are creating a client path for them to follow, starting with the person who doesn’t know you at all and ending with the most supportive or advanced service or product you offer.
To start developing your marketing strategy, think of opportunities you can create or leverage to connect with and offer value to people who might benefit from the coaching services you offer. You might consider:
- Developing a free or low-cost product that offers value or solves a problem for your ideal client that they receive after signing up to your email list
- Offering free discovery calls or short coaching calls to connect with individuals who might be a good fit for one of your coaching packages
- Running free or low-cost workshops or online events, like webinars, in which you offer measurable value and an opportunity for attendees to take the next step in your client journey
- Creating a free or low-cost evergreen online course that teaches something of value to your potential clients and gives them a clear next-step to do deeper, more supported work with you
- Networking with other professionals in your area or attending events geared toward the needs and values of your ideal client to connect with people in-person
- Collecting testimonials from your existing clients or group program members (with their permission) in order to demonstrate social proof from other people who have benefitted from their work with you
For more help with marketing and sales in your life coaching business, check out these resources:
- What to do if you despise sales and marketing as a life coach
- How to market your life coaching business on social media
- How to create a content strategy for your life coaching business
Step 8: Commit to ongoing personal and professional development
One of the most profound truths of the life coaching industry is that becoming a successful coach requires that we continue to do our own work. Only through our commitment to growth can we truly serve those we have been called to serve.
At Brave Thinking Institute, we recommend mentorship as a must when it comes to growing a life coaching business and becoming a successful life coach. Not only is it one of the best ways to ensure your own continued expansion, both personally and professionally, but mentoring can help you:
- Learn from someone with more experience: A mentor has been in your shoes before and has already achieved the success you desire. By seeking out a mentor, you can learn from someone who can offer guidance and advice tailored to building a successful coaching business.
- Gain new perspectives: A mentor can offer fresh perspectives and help you see things in a new light. Discussing your goals and challenges with a mentor can help you gain insights into how to approach problems, overcome challenges, and achieve your goals more effectively.
- Develop new skills: A mentor can help you develop new skills and techniques for coaching clients and growing your coaching business, helping you to become a better coach and a more successful business owner.
- Expand your network: A mentor can introduce you to new people in the coaching industry and help you build your professional network, leading to new opportunities for collaborations, referrals, and growth for your coaching business.
- Increase your confidence: By having a mentor in your corner who believes in you and your abilities, you can overcome imposter syndrome and other self-doubts that may be holding you back from achieving your full potential.
- Hold yourself accountable: A mentor can help hold you accountable for your goals and actions. By setting goals with your mentor and regularly checking in on your progress, you can stay on track and achieve greater success in your coaching business.
Overall, having a mentor can be incredibly beneficial for both personal and professional growth. So much so, that all of our certified coaches at Brave Thinking Institute are given ongoing support and mentorship after completing certification- it’s something we know to make a profound difference for the most successful life coaches!
Do you feel stuck and overwhelmed at the idea of starting and running your own coaching business?
Having certified thousands of successful coaches, we know that there are people out there who are called to make an impact…
And who also have the natural gifts and skills needed to make a huge difference in the world.
They may be passionate about doing profound and meaningful work in the world, but no matter how many guides they read or people they talk to, the business-side of a life coaching career leaves them feeling:
- Afraid they aren’t good enough or smart enough
So they often never start, or, if they do, they get stuck in a never-ending cycle of starting and giving up over and over again.
If this sounds like you, I have a valuable resource to offer you that can help you finally overcome your fear of the business of life coaching…
Because if you’re one of the people meant to make a difference in the world, I don’t want this to be the thing that keeps you from your calling!
Download your copy of our in-depth guide on how to start your life coaching business from scratch, the Coaching Success Blueprint.
In this powerful ebook, you’ll discover how to launch a successful coaching business, how to map out the transition from an unfulfilling career to a thriving coaching business, and the steps you can take to ensure your success as a coach. Get your copy here.