8 | Build Your Coaching Business

I am a coach, not a marketing expert. The principles and practices shared in this chapter are the result of my personal experience, acquired knowledge, and the advice I have received from experts in the field. This chapter is not intended to be an exhaustive list of marketing practices. The information presented here is designed to offer some concepts to get you going in your coaching practice.
                                                                                                                                           – Rev. Dr. Felix Villanueva
Preliminary Questions
We all have limiting beliefs. These are their voices in our head that tell us we cannot be successful or it is too hard. These are the voices that do not allow us to dream because our dreams might be impossible to attain. These are the people in our past who told us that we will not amount to anything, that we were failures, and that success was not for us. Starting a business of any kind requires courage. Success requires courage. For this reason, it is imperative that we address and understand our limiting beliefs before engaging in building our coaching practice.
  • What is your dream?
  • How big is your dream?
  • What are your limiting beliefs?
  •  How would you define success?
  •  How big would you like your business to be?
  •  How many clients would you like to have? 
  • How much money would you like to make? 
  • How long do you think it will take for you to get there? 

These are some of the initial questions you will need to address as you launch your coaching practice. Once you answer these questions, the next step will be to determine who is your target audience. Who is your ideal client (“avatar”)? Knowing what your ideal client looks like will assist you in determining your marketing, finances, and other tools or resources that you might need. For example, two of my avatars are successful executives and healthy teams.  Although these two categories are avatars seem to be very broad, I have defined each one of them in more detail:
  •  How do I define success?
  • How do I define healthy teams?
  •  What do I do when offered to work with executives or teams that do not meet the parameters I have set?

Knowing the answer to these questions will give you the foundation you need I will set the path to developing a successful business.
One final preliminary question that you will need to answer before launching your coaching practice is, how comfortable are you with technology? In this day and age technology will determine the size of your business. Basic knowledge such as how to set up the website, how to use social media, how to write a blog, and how to use online marketing tools will allow expanding your business to your heart’s desire. On the other hand, being uncomfortable with technology will seriously limit your success and your earning potential.

Defining Your niche
Successful coaches have one thing in common: they have to figure out their niche. If you take a closer look at big business practices, you will notice that the vast majority of them have defined their niche in a very narrow way. The common understanding in creating a successful business practice is that the narrower the niche, the more successful you will be. In addition, the narrower the niche the greater your income potential. If you look at various professional careers, you will notice that specialists earn more money than generalists. A benefit of defining a narrow niche is that you can become a sought-after expert in that area.

How do you define your niche? 
Start with what you are passionate about. This is another reason why defining your avatar is so important. Equally important is doing research to find out what are the needs of the market. For example, I am an executive coach. There are plenty of coaches who market themselves as executive coaches. What makes me unique is that I have had experience as an executive in a couple of organizations and I have taken the time to acquire training and tools that put me above many of my competitors. I have also done some research to see what my competition is doing. Knowing what the market needs will allow you to set yourself for success. It would also give you data to see if you can make your passion into your niche. If the market is flooded with what you’re passionate about, that means that either you are not going to be as successful as you might think or you might have to become extraordinary at what you do in order to be successful. I’m not saying this to discourage you from following your passion. What I’m saying is that if you choose to follow your passion regardless of what the market says, you might have to work harder at it.  Once you determine your niche, you will need to determine what services you are offering. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the question here is, what separates you from the rest? The final step in defining your niche is to develop 30-second and one-minute elevator speeches. The goal here is to spark the interest of potential clients. A well-crafted elevator speech is bold but not exaggerated. The best way to develop an effective elevator speech is to work with another coach who can give you honest feedback and help you polish it.

The first step in marketing your business is determining your price points. This will probably be the hardest decision you will have to make. Knowing how much to charge for services presents a challenge since we are accustomed to paying for tangible things. We go to the store and pay for groceries without thinking too much about it. We go to see a physician and pay for their services because they make us feel better and we don’t think much about it, either. But when it comes to charging for coaching services, we are hesitant. If you’re a minister, charging for your coaching services is affected by the limiting belief that says that ministers shouldn’t make a lot of money. Unfortunately, this is a limiting belief common in our culture and which we have embraced.

The way I was able to work through this limiting belief was to think not about the fact that I was charging for talking to someone for 30 minutes but to think in terms of the resulting transformational change in the coachee.  The fact of the matter is that what I offer has a life-long impact on the person I’m coaching. As the commercial used to say, “that is priceless.”  Having said all this, the best way to determine your price point is to check what other coaches at your level and within your niche are charging. I personally like to set a price point and then ask the possible client how they feel about what I’m charging. I will then adjust it, accordingly.  My price points vary. I contract with an outfit that does all the marketing for me and feeds me, my clients.  Since I get a lot of clients through them, my price point is lower than if this was a client that I received through my own marketing efforts.  The fact that I don’t have to work to get these clients justifies my decision.  Remember, your time is your most precious asset!

Some entrepreneurs spend a lot of time designing a logo. This will be justified if you were thinking about creating a multimillion-dollar company. For most of us, this is not the case. A simple logo will suffice. Creating a simple logo allows you to have a visual image for your business. In addition, a logo gives the image of a serious business plus it looks cool on a website. Along with the logo, you might want to create a tagline. Your tagline should be short and should quickly state your main purpose. My tag line is: “Revealing the heart of transformation.” Short, sweet, and to the point.

Having business cards is a subject that has changed with time. In the past, having business cards were a must. Today, it all depends on your niche. I used to have business cards. I handed them out to people at different events. The return on investment (ROI) was zero. Meaning that I never attracted a client using my business cards. These days I rely more on having an electronic business card on my phone that I can text or email to someone. These are cost-effective as all they require is a few minutes for me to set it up.

Creating a website, on the other hand, is a must. Websites function the way the business cards used to function. Prospective clients go to your website after they meet you on social media. In other words, your website serves as a reference to your business. When you create your website use the Eight-second Rule. This rule states that visitors to your website will only spend eight seconds to determine if they
are interested in the content or not. If your website doesn’t capture their attention in that time period, they will move on. In addition, you should always offer something for free in exchange for visitors’ email addresses. This will create a “funnel” of possible leads. You should also add “Google Analytics” to your website to track traffic. This will provide data to measure the impact of your marketing efforts. In order to create a website, you will need to purchase a URL. Most URLs come with multiple email addresses. When choosing a URL make it simple and easy to type. In this era of immediate satisfaction, people don’t want to think too hard when typing a website name. In addition, a simple URL is easy to remember.

Business Formation Steps

Now that we have taken care of the preliminaries, it is time to get more practical. I strongly suggest that you choose some form of incorporation to set up your business coaching practice. The economy of the United States is geared to support and protect businesses. In addition, there are several tax deductions available to corporations that are not available to you as an individual or as a sole proprietor. Another benefit of incorporating is that you can set up healthcare insurance, 401(k), and other benefits for yourself as an employee of your own corporation. A final benefit of incorporating is that you can separate yourself from your business, thus protecting your personal assets.

Before setting up a corporation, I suggest you consult a tax professional who is a qualified corporate formation expert. Please be advised that not all accountants are corporate experts. Finally, read one or two good books about the benefits of incorporation. Resources in this area abound. My preferred method of incorporation is a Single-Member Limited Liability Corporation or LLC. This method of incorporation gives you all the benefits of a regular corporation without the hassle or paperwork required to set up a regular corporation.

Once you choose your method of incorporation, then it is time to choose a name for your corporation. Every state has a process to incorporate. Choosing a name is part of this process. It is important for you to check with your state to see if the name you have chosen is available. Your home state usually makes this process very easy. Most states offer information about this on their Secretary of State’s website.

After choosing your corporate name then you can apply for an employer identification number or EIN. This number is free and you can apply for it through the IRS website. You will then apply for a State Identification Number and a business license if required. Again, check with your city and state as the requirements may vary. Incorporating to your state and city usually costs money. There are states that are friendly to business and this cost is minimal. Other states such as California, charge a lot of money for incorporation and corporate taxes. There are certain advantages to incorporate in a different state if your state is not corporate-friendly, but that is a subject you will need to discuss with a tax professional. If you choose to do the incorporation paperwork yourself, take your time and read carefully the instructions provided by your state. Filling out the paperwork incorrectly may cost you additional money. For this reason, some people choose to hire someone to fill out the paperwork for them. There are many online services that will incorporate for a reasonable price.

Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society. Regardless of whether you decide to incorporate or not, you will need to get liability insurance for yourself and/or your company. The International Coach Federation (ICF) offers third-party insurance at a reasonable cost for its members ( My suggestion is that your insurance covers a minimum of $1 million per instance. This assures that you are your company would be protected in case of a lawsuit.

Once you are incorporated, your next step is to open a business bank account. These accounts usually come with an ATM card that you can use to build credit. One important reminder is that you will need to keep your business income and expenses separate from your personal finances. Failing to do so may impact your taxes. A separate checking account will clearly separate the two. Otherwise, you will be co- mingling funds, a practice that can easily get you into hot water with the IRS.

Depending on the size of your business you might want to register your business with Duns & Bradbury (DUNS) and NAV. Keep in mind that your business is treated as an individual by the IRS. Like any individual, your business can build credit on its own. DUNS will provide you with a number that you can give other businesses you do business with in order to build business credit. NAV is the equivalent of EQUIFAX or other credit agencies, but for business. DUNS is free, so is the basic NAV service. Establishing a positive credit score for your business will open doors to commercial credit. The beauty of this system is that any incurred by your business does not affect your personal credit score.

What Does Success Look Like?

At first glance, this might seem like a “no-brainer” question. Most people dream about being successful, but the meaning of success varies from person to person. For some of my clients, success means an accumulation of over $2 million in cash and investments, retiring by the age of 50, and making over $250,000 annually. For them, this seems to be a pretty realistic definition. For others, this might not be the case. I am over 60 and until a few years ago, I have never made that kind of money. For me, success is to have some money in the bank with enough residual income that will carry me into my last days, while enjoying life to its fullest. Thankfully, I started early and have been successful in carrying out my plan.

What does success look like for you? This is a really important question as it sets the foundation for your future. The second question is as important: How realistic is your definition of success? There are other questions that are as important such as: How long do you think it will take you to get there? What do you need to get there? What is it that you don’t know you don’t know? What is your first step?

Both, Michael Gerber and Bill Baren offer models to assist entrepreneurs in defining success. In his book, “The E Myth” (Harper Business, 2004), Gerber differentiates between being a technician, a manager, and an entrepreneur. In a nutshell, when you begin your own business, you are mostly a technician (unless you have a lot of money to invest in your efforts). In other words, you are in charge of performing every task needed for the success of your business. As a technician, you are “in the weeds.” As your business starts to grow, you become a manager. As a manager, you are still doing some of the technical stuff, but you are also hiring other people to take over some of the functions of the business. At this point, your job is to manage those people as well as be in charge of some of the technical requirements of the business. According to Gerber, your goal is to become an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur doesn’t take care of any of the details of the business nor manage people. A true entrepreneur creates systems that run the business. The job of the entrepreneur is to make sure that the systems are working and to continue to provide a vision for the future of the business. Given this model, what would your ideal state be? Is your vision realistic?

How to Market Your Coaching Practice

 Bill Baren is a business coach. He has delineated five stages for business success. These stages are highlighted below:

STAGE  1  |  Establish ($0 – 39,999)

This is the initial stage of any business startup. The main goal here is to build your business foundation. This includes:
  • Become an expert in finding clients: A smart way of going about this is networking with people who can connect you with possible clients. Make a list of possible network connectors and follow-through in contacting them. In addition, create “funnels” on your social media to collect information about possible contacts.
  • Create a big vision: If you are going to dream about the future, dream BIG! Without a vision, your coaching practice will stagnate. Once you create the vision, plan accordingly.
  • Implement proven systems: A mistake some entrepreneurs make is to try to “reinvent the wheel.” This takes a lot of time and effort. Why not adapt what’s already available? There are plenty of systems out there that you can implement and adapt to assist you in developing your business. Remember, your time is your most precious commodity! The less time you spend in the minutia, the more time you will have for your clients.
  • “Iron sharpens iron”: Network and create relationships with other successful coaches. Learn from them. Ask for their feedback.
  • Choose your niche: We have already talked about this. Your niche will determine your client base.
  • Create your marketing message: What’s your elevator speech?
  • Open and use a business account: This is one of the first practical steps after you choose what type of business entity you want to create for your business.

STAGE  2  |  Expand ($40,000 – 69,999)

  • Expand your marketing. Become comfortable with visibility:  How much would you like to be known as a coach? How would you manage your success as a coach and as a minister? Are they separate?
  • Address your limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs, as well as the Impostor Syndrome, do not go away with success. In many instances, if unchecked, they tend to get in the way of your success. Knowing where your limiting beliefs reside is key to a successful coaching career.
  • Celebrate successes and seek new clients. We don’t celebrate successes enough! Get in the practice of celebrating every time you achieve one of your goals. In addition, getting new clients is the key to a healthy coaching practice.
  •  Improve message and hone niche. As your business grows, your message and your niche might change. You might discover that there are better opportunities elsewhere. It is important to remain open to those changes. I know coaches that have limited their success by clinging to a niche that is not providing enough opportunities for them.
  • Develop your signature talk, In Stage 1 we talked about creating your elevator speech. In Stage 2 it is as important to develop a signature talk. This is your branding. You will use this speech every time you get to talk to people in addition to whatever subject you have been invited to share. When you watch successful presenters, you will notice that they will give you a small “commercial” about the business, usually at the end of their presentation. That’s their signature talk!
  • Be bold about what you offer. This takes some confidence development. Do you believe in what you are offering? If so, then be bold about it! In my practice, I offer transformation in a very short amount of time. What do you offer?
  • Hire a virtual assistant. In Stage 1 we talked about starting to learn how to automate. A virtual assistant is one more way to release you from the small details that take so much time. In addition to giving back more time to coach, a virtual assistant will offer the opportunity to show that your business is growing.

STAGE  3  |  Leverage ($70,000 – 250,00)

  • Focus on systems that save you time and money.
  • Shift from being an “operator” to becoming an “entrepreneur.”
  • Maximize the use of webinars and live events. This is the time to start exploring how to get in the “Ted Talks” circle and as an expert speaker in various venues.
  • Develop “packages.”

STAGE 4  |  Leadership ($250,000 – $1M)

  • Become an influential leader in your industry Stage 5: Legacy ($1M - $10M).
  • Create a business that lives beyond you and thrives without you.

STAGE  5  |  Legacy ($1M - $10M)

  • Create a business that lives beyond you and thrives without you.
Final Word
As I began my coaching journey, I was often overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know and how much I had to do. I later discovered that this is a very common feeling. I also learned that if I applied what I learned in my coach training to my business marketing process, I could overcome that feeling. For me, it all started by defining my present. After that, I explored my desired future and established goals to achieve it. Finally, I started my business by taking the first step. Along the way, I created S.M.A.R.T. goals and learned to explore alternate paths when things were not working. I also added accountability partners and a business coach. Above all, I gave myself grace and patience. Finally, I learned that there is no such thing as failure. What we call failure is nothing more than an opportunity to learn something new.

Exercise 1 |  Write  or  type  a  draft  of  your  coaching  business

If you had to describe to a close friend what your coaching practice will look like five years from now, what would you say?  Would you be using your skills to engage more thoughtulfly with friends family members?  Would you bel leading paid and volunteer teams through a coaching lens?  Would you have developed a coaching business that replaces your current income, and perhaps have brought on a few additional people to manage the workload?  As a coach, you invite other to embrace a preferred future?  How does your coaching business fit into the overarching dream you have for yourself and your loved ones?   Block off a few hours in the next week to reflect on , and respond to the questions below.
Preliminary Questions:
  • What’s your dream?
  • Who is your ideal client (avatar)?
  •  How much money do you have available to launch?
  •  What’s you target date to get your business up and running?
  •  How would you define “success”? What are you limiting beliefs?
  •  How comfortable are you with technology?

Defining Your Niche:
  •  What are you passionate about? (Get specific about who you are going after)
  •  What are the needs of the market?
  •  Research the competition.
  •  Determine what you will offer.
  •  Develop your 30-second and 1-minute elevator speech (be bold about what you offer). 

Business Formation Steps:
  • Determine business structure (Sole Proprietorship, LLC, S-Corporation).
  •  Choose a corporate name (even if you are a Sole Proprietorship entity).
  •  Get an Employer Identification Number through the IRS (free).
  •  Get a State Identification Number and Business License ($$$).
  •  Depending on the business structure, get liability insurance for you and/or business. (ICF offers a great option through the Hartford Insurance Company).
  •  Open a business bank account that comes with a VISA/Mastercard ATM card.
  •  Optional: Register business with Duns & Bradbury (DUNS) and NAV. (DUNS will provide you with
  • A  number that you can give other business you do business with in order to build business credit. NAV is the equivalent of EQUIFAX or other credit agencies, but for business).
  •  Start building credit for your business.

  • Determine what you will charge for your services.
  •  Create a logo (doesn’t need to be too sophisticated).

Create a “tag line”. 
  • For coaches to be effective to others, they must first be well-informed about their own values, needs, interests, abilities, personality type, sensitivities, and hot buttons. Coaches should be keenly aware of anything and everything about themselves that might affect how they come across to other people.
  •  Determine if you want business cards. (Today e-cards are more common, but having a business card doesn’t hurt. Follow the rules to create an effective business card).
  • Purchase a URL that comes with email accounts.
  •  Update or create a LinkedIn account. (Make sure to add logos received when completing certifications).

Create a website. 
  • The ability to be completely present in the moment is one of the most difficult competencies for coaches—as it is for us all.
  • Coaches must be able to put aside their personal worries and to-do lists, and quiet their self-critical voices and all of the other “noise” that keep them from paying full attention to what’s happening with their clients.
  •  People being coached will know when the coach is distracted and won’t feel they are being well served. 
  • Follow the 8-second rule and add offer something for free to create your client funnel.

Create a lead-generating PDF. 
  •  Frequently track traffic on your website.
  • Create a blog/e-newsletter where provide free information targeted to your audience (post frequently).
  • Create a social media presence and post regularly.
  • Create an email signature.

Build your database/and email. 
  • How will you capture and cultivate leads? What will you send to existing clients? To those you've connected with in the past.
  • Consider an email sales campaign.
  • Identify at least three “connectors” (people who have connection with large number of people) and network with them.
  •  Network with other coaches and business people (Chamber of Commerce; local civic groups)
  • Develop benchmarks for success.

Marketing Don’ts
  • Don’t make your website/business cards too busy, less is more (hire a professional if not sure)
  •  Don’t subscribe people to your blog/newsletter without their permission. (Don’t assume that having a business card is implied permission).
  • Don’t keep people on your marketing list if they asked you to be removed. Always offer the option. 

  • Create the habit of writing a contract every time you engage a new client even if pro-bono.
  •  Offer various options to the client e.g., platinum, gold, silver options.

Exercise 2  |  Learn  from  other  coaching  professionals

Based on 2021 interviews with ICF coaches
“So often coaches fail before they start because they do not have a concrete plan for succeeding.” This quote from a coach I interviewed summed up the importance of having a plan and adequate margins to do the necessary work that leads to success. Coaches I’ve interviewed this past year within my ICF Chapter and coaching network emphasized the importance of having clarity about their business plan, their next steps, and their own skills and capacities. In the following section is a summary of their insights and recommendations for succeeding in this field
Several coaches mentioned that the barriers to entry for launching a coaching business are low. You can start a coaching business with a computer and basic software along with adequate training in coaching principles and practices. As you grow your client base, you can upgrade to better tools, software, and technology. Most coaches stated that having an engaging website and LinkedIn presence was worth the time and energy creating them so that potential customers could find you and see that you’re “legit.” Potential clients want to know who you are, what you offer, and what’s unique about working with you. Coaches kept their sites simple, engaging and focused on the needs of their clients and how they could help them solve their most significant challenges. They used engaging images, often had a welcome video, sprinkled their site with quotes from past clients, and made it easy for people to schedule time with them. Several coaches found that sending emails to current, past, and present clients a few times a month was also a great way to remain in people’s stream of consciousness.  The following information is a distillation of comments by coaches, organized into 5 themes, about what it took for them to develop a sustainable, profitable business based on overarching themes. May you learn from their wisdom and apply what’s helpful to your coaching plans.

THEME 1  –  Set  your  mind  right  and  have  a  support  network

Coaches were candid about how fear, lack of self-confidence, and lack of adequate planning often sabotaged their best efforts. Their suggestions below will get you to start strong and avoid the pitfalls they experienced.
  • Get out there. Start your coaching business now! It doesn’t matter if you coach for free of charge. Find ways to coach others every week. The faster you get going, the more you’ll learn and grow. Continue to sharpen your coaching skills. After a coaching session, be willing to ask a coachee if they have someone in mind that would benefit from a complimentary coaching session. Some coaches offered a free 30-45 minute session and one person offered a 2-hour mini-retreat. Many coaches developed their coaching skills by coaching people within their church or workplace.
  • Read your marketplace: Pay attention to what people are willing to pay for in the areas you seek to offer coaching. Listen for their pain points, their challenges, and the opportunities you might have to help solve their most pressing issues. Keep a running list of your observations, insights, and ideas. Review the list at least twice a month to stay grounded to current reality.
  • Give yourself permission to succeed and fail, and to learn from both experiences. Coaches viewed failure as learning experiences and opportunities to recalibrate how they coached and how they positioned themselves in the marketplace. One coach hired a coach to help him unpack and learn from his failures. Successes are worth celebrating and learning from. If something works, how might you do more of it?
  •  Reframe how you view other coaches and consultants. Successful coaches viewed other coachesas teachers rather than competitors. They studied how other coaches positioned themselves, kept lists of services others provided and what they charged for them, and noted their “call to action” statements to help people invest in a coaching relationship. They embedded the best practices they observed from other coaches into their coaching setting. They noted what didn’t work particularly well and found better ways to do it. A few coaches said they needed to give up their scarcity mindset, understanding that there is more work to do in coaching than there are coaches.
  • Be prepared for people to say “no” and to say “yes.” Get comfortable with inviting people into a coaching relationship. Expect most people to say no to your offer and a few to say yes. But you won’t reach new clients unless you’re willing to deal with rejection. Once people say yes, you need to be able to share with them what are the next steps for moving forward. Three coaches said that if you can’t get over the fear of rejection, you’ll struggle with being able to close the sale and build a business.
  • List the skills you have now, the skills you need to develop, and the skills you need to delegate.  You’ll need skills and a plan for marketing your business, running your business, and tending to the clients you already have.  You may need others to help you set up an LLC, find business insurance, develop an online presence, and create systems needed to automate much of your work.  A coach from Wisconsin said, “Don’t be a lone ranger. You’ll need others to fill your gaps.  Keep in mind that others are hiring you to help fill their gaps.”
  • Become an ICF member and join an ICF chapter. Join a network of like-minded people who will support you, challenge you, and be a resource for helping you grow your business. An ICF member of a local chapter acknowledged, “I received some of my best ideas from other coaches in my chapter and I received their support and encouragement when I had doubts about my capacity to coach others well.” Who will be those teachers, collaborators, and cheerleaders for you as you build your business?
  • Find a coach to support your efforts. Every coach should have a coach. Decide on who will be your coach in this endeavor. Keep in mind that it may be someone who is in your current class!

THEME  2  –  Keep  developing  and  refining  your  coaching  niche

Finding profitable coaching niches can be difficult. You’ll want to coach everyone at first but avoid doing so. If you want to get coaching clients fast, learn how to find a profitable niche as soon as possible. You may hear coaches say, the “riches are in the niches.” Knowing every want, need, and desire of your niche will simplify your business processes and marketing. Listed below are comments from coaches about their niches:
  • “I began developing my niches around things I loved, what I was good at, and what people were willing to pay for.”
  • “I floundered for 2 1⁄2 years until I finally crafted a marketing message that concretely told people what I do and why it should matter to them.”
  • “Quit trying to reach everyone with your coaching services. My business quit sputtering when I became laser-focused on finding 50 clients who sought to rebuild their lives after ending a marriage.”
  • It’s a lot easier to write marketing content and update your website when you know who your audience is. I saved a ton of time when I quit trying to network with people that didn’t fit my customer profile.”
  • Developing coaching packages and programs seemed to flow out of the needs I was hearing from the people I was already serving. I focused on getting referrals from my current clients because the names they gave me fit the niche I was offering.”
 Questions coaches found help when discerning their niche included:
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Who do you want to coach?
  • What makes your heart sing?
  • What do you want a coaching relationship to do for others? How will it help them succeed? 
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses according to your client’s perspective?
  • How can your coaching help the people you’re already in contact with?
  • Who seeks you out for advice or assistance with solving a problem?
  • Who are the people you want to spend more of your time with?
A coach who built her business around supporting physicians to find wholeness for themselves stated, “I doubt I’d still be coaching now if I had failed to find my niche.”

THEME  3  -  Build  your  in-person  and  virtual  team

A common theme among coaches was their recognition for needing additional administrative, marketing, and technical support, to do their best work. A coach from Iowa stated that she “wore way too many hats, most of which were ill-fitting.” Just because you’re a solo entrepreneur, doesn’t mean you can do everything. In fact, it’s not advisable. Even if they can do these items, it’s not always the best use of their time. If you can get paid $100 or more an hour for coaching, why would you spend your time updating your database when someone else can do it for $15 an hour? Coaches built out their teams using freelancers who could do bookkeeping and administrative work, editing and graphic design work, or offer website, social media, and marketing support. When hiring freelancers, coaches conducted “video” interviews and created a 60-90 day tryout period. Successful team builders created agreements and guidelines to ensure a shared understanding of the outcomes and expectations of the position. Keep in mind that there are IRS and compliance requirements for contractors which are designed to protect the contractor and you. Ensure you read over the compliance requirements from the IRS website. Seek legal advice if you have any questions.

THEME  4  -  Create  a  written  plan;  review  and  update  it  monthly

As part of the Coaching School training, you’ll be asked to explain your coaching business plans (if that’s the route you’re seeking). A business plan is a cohesive strategy for your business that you may plan in your mind or in a written document that covers each major component of your business, how those major components will work well with one another, and your plan for executing those strategies. The process of writing a business plan will help you organize your ideas. The value of business planning is to identify problems and fix them early while it’s still cheap to do so. Writing out your plan also gives you
a central place that contains strategies that you and your partners can agree upon which will reduce misunderstandings among team members and facilitate discussions and brainstorming sessions.  Another benefit of having a written plan is that you can send it out to gather feedback. You will be able to use it for reference in case you forget any details.

A business model is how every component of your business works on its own and in relationship to every other component of your business. A business is made up of many separate components like marketing, creating improving the product, finances, employees, customer relationships, and much more. What is important in a business model is that its different components are not just great individually, but also work well together. Your business model and business plan are not static. They will continually evolve and you must constantly refine them.

Start with the simplest possible business plan. According to Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it.” All plans include information about the products or services you provide, information about who you plan to reach and how you will reach them, and how will you become and remain financially sustainable.
The coaches I interviewed responded to many of the questions below about their services, marketing plans, and financial goals and budgets.
Product or service
  • What are your products or services?
  •  What benefit does it provide to whom? 
  • What will each product or service cost?
  • How will the right people find you and your services?
  •  Who can you partner with?
  •  What are the major sources of revenue?
  •  When will you achieve financial sustainability?
  •  Do you need to raise money for this? How much? 
  •  What are your financial goals?

Most coaches did not have a concrete, written plan for building their business, and as a result, the time it took for them to achieve financial sustainability in their coaching business took significantly longer. A common refrain was, “I was forced to eventually create a plan because it was the only way I could keep on top of what I was trying to achieve.” Plans rarely exceeded 10-pages and most were 3-5 pages long. A few did exceedingly well with 1-2 page plans that addressed the following items:

1  |  An Executive Summary. The executive summary includes one or two paragraphs that serve as an introduction to the business plan. It explains the problems you’re seeking to solve and may include a mission statement if the coach has created one. The summary briefly explains what the key products are, and who the target audience is (which may include demographic/psychographic information).

2   |  An overview of your products and services. This is a section where coaches are more precise about the services or products being offered to clients and how they benefit the target audience.

3  |  A description of the stage your business is in. This section simply establishes where you are in the process of building your business along with some of the related key outcomes and key success factors for this stage in business.

4  |  Your target market and marketing strategies. The best plans seem to highlight who were the ideal customers for your services and how they planned to reach them.

5  |  Your anticipated revenue. List how much revenue you’re anticipating from individual clients. Providing group coaching? Selling subscription services? Training? Leading retreats? Selling books and other services?

   THEME  5  -  Learn  from  other  coaches’  mistakes

Coaches that were interviewed were eager to pass along suggestions for building the best possible plan and avoiding the mistakes they made along the way.  Coaches that intentionally used their plans to build their business reviewed them regularly (at least monthly), updated them often to reflect current realities, and referred to them as they set new short-term goals. Again simplicity was the key as well as continuously referring to it. As one coach said, “I measured my business plan in sentences, not in pages, but every sentence and bullet point mattered.” The plans that were transformational were designed to be a flexible resource, not something you never touched."  The final two questions that were asked of coaches who experienced business success included:
  • “If you could do it all over, what would you do differently?”
  • “What mistakes did you make that you hope others might avoid?  A summary of common mistakes is listed below.

Exercise  3  |  Learn from coaches  who reached their goals

MISTAKE  1  |  Using planning to procrastinate.

Don’t use planning as an excuse to put off starting work on your business. Many people deliberately and perpetually remain in the planning and research phase while never starting. At some point, you must start doing the actual work. Give yourself a planning and research deadline. Create and maintain a daily to-do list of things you actually do for your business after the planning deadline expires. You should continue to plan, strategize, and research different aspects of your business after that deadline, but use that date as a point in which at least some of your effort will be actual work instead of planning.

MISTAKE  2  |  Not tending to financials.

Many people find the finance section of a business plan confusing and put it off you will need to face this at some point. It is much better to understand the financials of your business before you launch to provide preventable mistakes. Start by making a cash flow statement. If you have a piece of paper or excel ready, make two columns. Use one column for a list of ways that money comes into your business, and the other column is for ways that money goes out of your business. You can do this if your business is already started or just planning it. Over time the items from these lists will help you create more accurate statements. It is a simple way to get your finances organized and understand how much money you will need to raise before you start your business.

MISTAKE  3   |  Being  all  things  to  all  people.

When asked who their ideal customer is, many first-time entrepreneurs often say their business will appeal to everyone. This is almost never the case. You must have a very specific kind of customer in mind in order to truly satisfy them with your service and reach them with your marketing. Talk to people who you think might be your customers and get their feedback on whether they need your product or service and whether they would buy it. Understand the reasons for why or why not they would buy your service. This will help you develop a greater sense of who your potential customers truly are and who they are not. A common recommendation is to find the first hundred customers who will absolutely love your service rather than trying to please everyone.

MISTAKE  4  |  Failure to flesh out business ideas, products, and services

Clearly describe each item. Who is it for? What are the benefits? What is the price? How is it delivered? How do people sign up? What are the deliverables that a client will receive? You can’t promote your ideas, products, and services without providing a sufficient level of detail for yourself and the customer. As part of the class, you’ll have an opportunity to share your plan with other students and get their feedback. Be ready to ask them questions you’d find most helpful as you continue to refine them.

MISTAKE  5  |   Failure  to  do  what  matters  consistently

Coaches mention their regrets about not consistently reaching new people or nurturing the relationships of past and present clients. They regretted not creating systems for managing leads, invoices, and payments. They regretted not scheduling time to create content, send email updates to clients, and not having systems for creating new products and services. Small things that are of high value, and are consistently done, make a big difference long-term.

Exercise  4  |  Ask  yourself  11  questions  about  your  business

1  | Can I share with other people what I do as a coach in 12 words or less?
2  |  Do I have a vision of my coaching ministry that includes my next steps?
3  |  Am I practicing my coaching skills and taking advantage of continued education opportunities?
4  | How about to find my niche? Can I describe how my coaching ministry is different from other coaches?
5  | Do I have a virtual brand?  Can people easily identify my practice in my brand?
6  | Do I do more than coaching? If I provide content, do I give away my intellectual property
7  |  How much am I investing in my business financially? What is my financial plan?
8  |  What is my plan for growing my list of potential leads, and for growing my current client base?
9  | How much time do I spend connecting and networking with other coaches?
10  | Do I wish to function as a lone ranger or be part of a team?
11 |  How much time do I spend daily building my coaching ministry?

Exercise  5  |  Describe  the  benefits  of  your  services

Will coaching  INCREASE or IMPROVE  .  .   .
  • Revenue?  Profit?  Growth?
  • Value of Offerings?
  • Selection and retention of staff?
  • Return on Investment and assets?
  • Efficiency?  Productivity?
  • Visibility?  Awareness? Reputation?
  • Systems and processes?
  • Inspiration and motivation?
  • Capabilities?
  • Products or services?
  • Communication?
  • Customer satisfaction and  loyalty?
Will  coaching  REDUCE  .  .  .
  • Costs?
  • Time?
  • Effort?
  • Complaints?
  • Attrition?
  • Risk?
  • Conflict?
  • Overhead?
  • Infrastructure?
  • Stress?
  • Anxiety?  Negativity?
  • Recognition
  • Personal awards and rewards
  • Pride
  • Authority
  • Stature
  • Budget
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Discretionary Time
  • Personal Growth

       CHAPTER  8  |  Student Assignments 

Chapter Outcomes


Review of  Chapter Outcomes
  • To explore areas of ongoing growth related to the ongoing development of one's coaching capacities.
  • To identify a1-3 next steps for developing your coaching capacities.
  • To begin using the basic coaching agreement (the 5 questions) to guide coaching conversations.


                     Insights,  ideas,  and applications  from  former  students

"I need to work on my script for sharing with people about my coaching services.  I need to firm up what I plan to charge for my coaching services and how people will pay me."

"I 'd like to create social media content to positions me as a thought leader and a helpful guide for people. I created a wireframe of my coaching website that I will
start creating it this month."