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Starting a coaching business - Everything you should know for success

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Updated on:
December 11, 2022
December 11, 2022
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If you are passionate about helping others be successful, starting coaching business should be at the top of your list. Not only is it a financially rewarding career, but it will also offer professional satisfaction.

The problem is that a thriving business takes a lot of work. You need to think about all the coaching details and take every little step into consideration. This guide will tell you everything that you need to know.

Note: If you are starting a coaching business, get access to all of our software tools to help you streamline your business today. We have task management, time tracking, tax, proposal, intake form templates for coaching businesses and more. Claim your 7-day free trial today.

Why Start a Coaching Business?

There are several reasons why you should start a coaching business, including:

The Flexibility of Your Own Business

Many coaches struggle with a 9-to-5 job before they decide to take this path. As an online coach, you have a more flexible schedule. Since you will be your own boss, you can decide for yourself when you want to hold the coaching sessions.

Run a Profitable Coaching Business

For most coaches, it all boils down to finances. Coaching is an industry with plenty of potential, and an experienced person may easily earn from six to seven figures per year.

Desire to Help Potential Clients

Last but not least, if you like helping people, coaching brings a lot of professional satisfaction. You will help numerous people change their lives for the better, which can be very rewarding for your soul.

Note: If you are starting a business for coaching, try Bonsai to run your business. Our task management, time tracking tools, intake forms and other templates can make streamlining your business much easier. Try a 7-day free trial here.

Types of Coaching Businesses

When you start a coaching business, you should also know the type that works best for you. Here are the most common categories:

Career Coaching Business

A career business coach will help people find a job, change their career, ask for promotions or handle workplace problems. A coaching practice may focus on a certain business (i.e., IT) or may cover various other industries.

Life Coaching Business

The life coaching industry is very broad, as it has multiple sub-categories. When you start a coaching business, you can help people with personal development so that they can make positive changes. Read more about how much life coaches can charge to see how profitable this industry is.

Relationship Coaching Business

In this case, you may be working with couples or single people. Here, your aim is to help your clients with finding and building relationships. Conflict resolution may also be something you'll deal with regularly.

Wellness and Health Coaching Business

Wellness is another category that many aspiring coaches go for. Here, you help people reach their nutrition and fitness goals. Mental health is also something you may approach with your clients.

Financial Coaching Business

As a financial coach, you will help people learn how to make more money. These coaching businesses teach people how to save and budget, as well as how to make wise financial decisions.

Ways to Deliver a Coaching Program

Now that you are ready to coach, you need to decide how you want to deliver your coaching skills. Here are the most common ways you can hold a coaching business today:

Private Coaching

Private coaching is preferred by most potential clients, as they get your undivided attention. You may meet your clients in person, via telephone, or through a video conference, discussing their specific needs.

Group Coaching

If you prefer a wider reach and don't want to limit yourself to 1-on-1 sessions, you should consider a group coaching program. Here, you may coach people with similar concerns and problems all at the same time.

Online Coaching

A successful online business is a good option for coaches who wish to attract clients from abroad. An online coaching business gives you a lot of flexibility, as you may pre-record sessions or video-conference your clients.

Many clients go for this type of business coaching, as they no longer have to leave their homes to see the coach. Since most videos are kept online, clients can also go at their own pace.


While not the most common, podcasting can be used by successful coaches to reach more clients.

If you start by podcasting, it may not bring money right away. However, it will get your name out there and you should be able to gather more paying 1-on-1 clients.

Steps to Start a Coaching Business

Whether you start an online coaching business or one within a home office, there are certain steps that you need to follow. These can include:

Define Your Coaching Skills

New coaches should first look at their coaching skills before they begin laying the grounds of their business. You don't necessarily need a degree to coach - just the knowledge is enough.

For instance, if you just paid off a huge student loan, then you may teach other people how to do the same.

Find Your Niche and Target Audience

Next, you need to determine who your target audience is. If you want to attract clients, you must figure out who your ideal customer is.

If you are a financial coach, ask yourself what the qualities of a target client will be. This should help you put together your online courses.

Join a Certification Program

You will not need a business license to be a coach, nor require any certifications. However, it is recommended you get at least one.

Clients feel safer when they know they are working with a certified coach. This will bring more customers your way.

Choose Your Business Structure

When you are starting a coaching business, you also need to determine what business structure you want. The main choices are sole proprietorships, LLCs, and corporations.

Starting a sole proprietorships is great for beginners, but LLCs give you liability protection. Regardless of the structure you go for, programs such as Bonsai can help you get started.

Create a Business Model

If you want to run a thriving coaching business, you need a good business plan.

What are your goals, and when do you plan to achieve them? How long do you expect it to take until you make a profit?

Make a detailed plan so that you are not sent off-track.

Prepare Your Documentation

Coaches, like all business owners, need to exchange official documents with their clients. This includes everything from proposals to contracts and invoices.

The best way to handle this is to get some templates and customize them. Platforms such as Bonsai can give you access to these proposal, contract, intake form and invoice templates, simplifying your job.

Decide on Accounting and Prices

Next, you need to think about accounting and the prices for the services. Make a price list for all the services that you offer and be sure your clients can see it.

You may want to use a payment medium that also enables credit card use. Most clients prefer this type of payment. Programs such as Bonsai allow you to open a business bank account with multiple payment features included.

Plan Out the Coaching Sessions

How do you want to hold your coaching session? Do you prefer to meet your clients face to face, or does video conferencing work better for you? The latter may be a suitable option if you run your business online.

Some coaches allow for texts and phone calls between sessions, for better results. This may only be a feasible option if you have a limited number of clients.

Start Gathering Paying Clients

Now that the business is planned out, it's time to get your first client. This can be done through a good marketing strategy.

If you have an online business, you should try digital marketing. Put together a professional website and connect the posts to a social media platform.

Keep your posts consistent, and make sure you target them to the right audience. You may also want to set up a referral program that can attract more prospective clients. Here's a guide on how to create new coaching clients in 15 minutes a day.

Tips for a Successful Coaching Business

Running a coaching business can be very straightforward, as long as you set it right. Even so, you need a certain strategy to thrive. Here are a few tips:

Keep Your Head High

Many coaches think of themselves as if they are in the passenger seat, taking a passive approach as "the help." What you need to remember is that you are not just a coach. Instead, you are someone running your own business. You are an entrepreneur, and you need to keep your head up just like that.

Overestimate the Costs

Many startups fall to the ground simply because they underestimate the costs. It's always safer to overestimate them when creating a business plan. This will give you more leeway and won't have you spending more than you can handle.

Keep It Simple

Many new business coaches try to break into the market by doing something overly complicated and fancy. Not only is that hard to implement, but it may also confuse the clients. Keep it simple by basing it on your unique selling point.

Note: Try Bonsai's suite of coach tools to help you simplify your business. Our all-in-one software lets you create templates for invoices, proposals, contracts, intake forms, questionnaires, etc on top of time tracking, tax and task management tools. Claim your 7-day free trial here.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

A lot of people starting a business prefer to stay in their comfort zone. It may be a good thing in the beginning, but you will eventually hit a plateau. To experience actual growth, you should give yourself up to the challenge and do those uncomfortable things.

Be Open to the New

Coaching is by itself a flexible industry. As a result, you need to be open to new ideas. Despite your thorough planning, you may need to make modifications now and again. Consider new concepts and expect to go through a fair bit of trial and error. A risky yet good idea can bring a lot of profit.

Bonsai's business account for Online Coaching Business

As a coach, you need a checking account to manage your funds. You can receive or send money, make credit card payments, and save extra funds in "Envelopes."

The bank account comes with physical and virtual cards that you may use upon need. You can withdraw up to $300 every day from ATMs, which is more than enough for coaches with a small business.

Bonsai's business account has no hidden fees and no minimum either. This makes it a good option if you are just starting and don't have a big capital, to begin with.

Note: Open up a guaranteed business bank account with Bonsai's business account today. We don't use a ChexSystem for credit checks, no monthly minimums and hidden fees. It is simple to set up and you can also get a physical debit card. Claim your 7-day free trial today.

Bonsai Tax for Successful Coaching Business

When you are into business coaching, you need to pay your taxes to the IRS as well. Many of the taxes that you pay can be deducted, allowing you to save money.

The Bonsai Freelancer Suite also has a feature called Bonsai Tax, which tracks all of your expenses. This will point out potential deductions and help maximize your write-offs.

Bonsai Tax also estimates the quarterly taxes that you need to pay. This way, there will be no surprises by the time tax season turns a corner. Bonsai can automatically set aside the money for the IRS, preventing accidental overspending.

Note: Try Bonsai Tax to scan your bank/credit card receipts and discover all your potential tax deductions. Our expense tracker maximizes all your write-offs. On average, users typically save $5,600 from their tax bill. Try a 7-day free trial today.

The Bottom Line

Starting a coaching business may seem difficult in the beginning, considering the responsibility. Still, as an entrepreneur, you definitely love a challenge.

It won't be a walk in the park in the beginning, but once the roots are set, you should start to soar. You just need to follow every step accordingly and have a good plan for the future.

Try our full-suite of coaching tools, from invoices & contracts to custom proposals & taxes, free!
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