If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been thinking or thought previously about starting your own life coaching business.
Perhaps like many of us, you’re unsure where to start. Maybe you’re disillusioned by the lack of clear, actionable information available and have shelved your plans – for the moment, at least.
But don’t give in. Help is at hand.
This article introduces many of the answers to the question, “How do I start a life coaching business?”
In doing so, we borrow heavily from a book written by one of our founders at PositivePsychology.com, Seph Fontane Pennock, The 7 Pillars of a Profitable Practice. It is a great read and highly recommended; however, this article offers a powerful starting point regardless, with actionable points, a business plan, and a free template.
Life coaching can have far-reaching and diverse positive impacts on clients’ lives (Clutterbuck et al., 2016).
Many of us have toyed with the idea of starting a life coaching business, helping people change health-related behavior, improve wellness, boost their careers, and strive for personal goals (Karmali et al., 2020; Mann et al., 2022).
You most likely feel you have something to give: highly transferable skills learned from harsh life lessons and/or expertise in psychology, learning, leadership, self-development, and communication.
Or perhaps you are simply great at making people feel so empowered that they stop being “stuck” and take the bold steps to overcome obstacles holding them back.
Whatever your reason and motivation, we will help you get there, and the best place to begin is right here.
Begin at the beginning!
We start by recognizing our barriers.
What’s stopping us? Most likely, it’s our mindset rather than something physical. The following beliefs are potential obstacles, blocking us before we even start:
Not enough time: “I would give it a try, but I simply don’t have enough time.”
Self-doubt: Our lack of confidence sabotages our entrepreneurial journey.
It’s not about ignoring the fear or letting it determine how we act; it’s about accepting it as an inherent part of our journey.
Accept fear as part of your journey.
Next, evaluate your existing time commitments. Prioritize your current tasks, dropping some of the nonessentials, and plan to set aside time to start your life coaching business. This is something you’ve dreamed of doing and aligns with your bigger life goals.
There will always be things to do, but by changing your mindset and prioritizing this dream, you will find the time to make it a reality.
Everyone has 24 hours in a day. What will you accomplish with yours?
Finally, recognize your feelings of self-doubt but don’t let them control you. Reflect on some of your past successes and reach out to those closest to you for their support, encouragement, and practical advice.
To build confidence, you have to practice confidence.
If we don’t start, we will never know
Now that we have faced our barriers and established a healthier relationship with them, it’s time to step outside our comfort zone and start the journey.
Who is our dream client?
We can’t be great at everything, so we need to narrow our focus and reach and find an authentic niche.
For example, perhaps you enjoy helping people in the workplace. So, maybe your dream client has worked for several years but now feels stuck in their career. They need help to reevaluate where they are, where they want to go, and how to change their mindset to move toward a more fulfilling career.
Once we’ve defined our ideal client, we can consider each of Seph’s seven pillars for starting and growing a coaching practice sustainably:
Pillar #1 – Promise
We need to be able to make a pledge to our dream client. The five Ps will help: People: Who are we helping? Place: Where are we helping them? Problem: What are we helping them solve? Product: What will we use to do this? Price: What will we charge to do it?
Pillar #2 – Leads
We need to attract more of the right sort of clients (ideally, they will contact us). We must think about how our dream client will find us, perhaps via YouTube, a blog post, a personal website, or social media (think LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, etc.).
Pillar #3 – Clients
How will we convert leads into clients? It may involve screening out those who are not a good fit for our services (depending on our coaching philosophy) and following up quickly with compatible ones.
Pillar #4 – Traffic
Reducing the legwork associated with finding leads is crucial; ultimately, it gives us more time to help others.
Pillar #5 – Retention
Attracting and converting new leads is vital, yet so is holding on to existing clients. What potential offers can we share with existing clients to maintain (or boost) engagement?
Pillar #6 – Products
How can we generate more income without spending extra time? It might include offering group coaching sessions or additional training, downloadable PDFs, podcasts, or webinars.
Pillar #7 – Team
We can’t achieve everything alone. Over time, a successful coaching business may expand and include dedicated staff performing those administrative activities that take our time away from coaching.
3 Requirements for Setting Up Your Practice
Setting up a life coaching practice requires some upfront analysis, decision-making, and planning and should consider the following.
What is the best platform for a life coaching business?
Traditionally, life coaching was practiced face to face and involved a great deal of manual administration behind the scenes.
Thankfully, new technology and online platforms mean we can perform coaching remotely through video calls and set up meetings, share activities, and exercises, and take notes online (Ribbers & Waringa, 2015; Kanatouri, 2020).
Our very own Quenza has been designed by and for coaches, counselors, and therapists, and that is why we believe it is the best coaching platform out there. It allows life coaches to focus on client needs, goals, and overcoming challenges and is a scalable solution for a growing business.
Do you need a business license?
You do not need specific qualifications to set up as a life coach, but accreditation can boost potential clients’ confidence in your abilities.
However, obtaining a business license is required in some locations to provide life coaching services legally. If you’re unsure whether you need a license, check with your local government agencies or consult a lawyer or accountant familiar with your jurisdiction (Lumia, 2022; Blackbyrn, 2023).
3 Best life coaching certification programs
There are many life coaching courses available. However, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s best-known and respected coaching program certifier.
We list three of our favorite life coaching certification programs, but many others exist.
Spend time researching the one that best matches your coaching plans, availability, and budget.
Coaching Out of the Box
This fast track to ICF certification can help turn your dream of starting a life coaching business into a reality. It includes group and one-to-one coaching and certification and supports individuals as they obtain documented coaching experience.
This ICF and university-accredited coach training offers online coaching expertise to develop the coaching skills required as a life coach, HR professional, or business leader.
Life Purpose Institute
The institute offers the coaching tools and marketing expertise to build a life coaching practice plus the training hours required to get ICF credentials. The number of students in online courses is limited, and students can learn the skills needed to coach individuals, groups, and workshops.
In this example, we target people who feel stuck in their career or their life (or both).
What is the business called? “Clarity Life Coaching”
Our target clients are individuals who feel stuck, lost, or uncertain in their personal or professional lives. We focus on mid-career individuals or those experiencing significant life changes, such as divorce or career transitions.
Client pain points
Our clients struggle with a lack of direction, feel overwhelmed, and lack clarity about their goals and values. They may feel stuck in unfulfilling jobs or relationships and experience high stress or anxiety.
Clarity Life Coaching provides personalized coaching services to help individuals clarify their values, goals, and priorities. Our coaching process helps clients identify their strengths and areas for improvement, develop a plan to achieve their goals, and overcome obstacles that may stand in their way. We use various coaching techniques, including goal setting, visualization, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Several life coaching businesses in the local area provide similar services, but our unique approach and personalized coaching services set us apart from the competition. We focus on a highly customized coaching experience tailored to each client’s needs.
Our revenue streams include one-on-one coaching sessions, group coaching sessions, and workshops on topics such as goal setting and stress management.
We use online advertising, social media marketing, and partnerships with local businesses and community organizations. We will also attend local events and conferences to promote our services and network with potential clients.
Existing and future expenses include rent for our coaching space, coaching materials, advertising and marketing costs, and attending events and conferences.
Team and their key roles
The team will consist of one life coach responsible for providing coaching services, managing client relationships, and handling administrative tasks such as scheduling and billing.
Initial thoughts on milestones include:
Launching the business and securing our first clients within the first three months
Expanding our client base by 25% within the first year
Increasing revenue by 35% within the first year
Hosting a successful workshop or seminar within the first six months of operation
Help mid-career individuals gain clarity and direction and achieve their personal and professional goals.
Your plan will evolve and should be revisited regularly to grow and manage your life coaching practice.
How to Market and Advertise Your Coaching Business
Coaching isn’t a business if you don’t have clients.
For many of us, marketing and advertising can fill us with fear – an unknown and confusing process.
When your visitor arrives on your website, they should:
Know which problem you can help them solve or which goal you can help them achieve.
Find clear evidence of your successful track record.
Be confident in your abilities and experience.
Be provided with some upfront value (perhaps a free e-book).
Do not overcomplicate the website. Consider removing unnecessary content. The goal is for traffic to arrive as visitors and leave as leads (or sales).
Make use of a call-to-action, either:
Offer a giveaway in exchange for their name and email.
Allow them to sign up for their first (complimentary) coaching session.
Productive conversations and creating relationships lead to new clients.
Make sure that you follow up on discussions promptly.
After an initial chat, ask the potential client to complete a prequalification survey.
Don’t leave them wondering. Tell them when they will receive a follow-up email.
Don’t be needy (even if you would like their business).
Be aware that the client will remember how you made them feel rather than precisely what you said.
Talk less about yourself and your coaching and listen more to their problems.
Writing for a personal blog or elsewhere can increase your reach, get you in front of clients, and help others take you seriously. But remember:
Aim for quality over quantity – you are targeting the right kind of traffic.
Change your mindset from “How do I find more clients?” to “How do my dream clients find me?”
Know what people are looking for and create resources on that topic.
Earned reach is the organic attention that you receive. Perhaps you got a mention in a podcast or on a news website. Paid reach has a cost, such as Facebook and Instagram ads or using the Google Ads Platform. Consider both.
If you post on your website, consider your owned reach. You should appear in the search results, so get to know which keywords people are searching for when they look for help.
A self-contract to encourage client accountability
Life domain satisfaction questionnaire
Strength interview form
Session rating scale
Coach evaluation form
End of therapy evaluation
Many other templates exist, including ones for visualization, mindfulness, goal setting, and benefit finding.
A Take-Home Message
Fear, time constraints, and self-doubt can hold us back from starting a life coaching business. Learning to accept our barriers and shift our focus from ourselves to our clients can dramatically improve our chances of success.
Learning from the experiences of successful business owners like Seph Fontane Pennock can provide valuable insights and help us create a profitable and impactful practice.
You most likely feel like you have something to give to your dream clients. You wish to create an opportunity for positive change in their lives while delivering on a personal vision for a life coaching practice.
Creating a clear and achievable business plan can be simple and will help you find your ideal clients and offer them a path to setting and striving toward their goals.
Having read this article and been inspired to start your life coaching business, why not look at The 7 Pillars of a Profitable Practice and use the many lessons Seph learned along his journey to inform your business plans and give your clients their best chance of success?
Blackbyrn, S. (2023, February 17). Does a life coach need a business license? Coach Foundation. Retrieved April 20, 2023, from https://coachfoundation.com/blog/life-coach-business-license/.
Clutterbuck, D., David, S. A., & Megginson, D. (Eds.). (2016). Beyond goals: Effective strategies for coaching and mentoring. Routledge.
Lumia. (2022, August 4). Does a life coach need a business license and insurance? Lumia. Retrieved April 20, 2023, from https://www.lumiacoaching.com/blog/does-a-life-coach-need-a-business-license.
Kanatouri, S. (2020). The digital coach. Routledge.
Karmali, S., Battram, D. S., Burke, S. M., Cramp, A., Mantler, T., Morrow, D., Ng, V., Pearson, E. S., Petrella, R., Tucker, P., & Irwin, J. D. (2020). Clients’ and coaches’ perspectives of a life coaching intervention for parents with overweight/obesity. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 18(2), 115–132.
Mann, A., Leigh Fainstad, T., Shah, P., Dieujuste, N., & Jones, C. D. (2022). “It’s nice to know I’m not alone”: The impact of an online life coaching program on wellness in graduate medical education: A qualitative analysis. Academic Medicine, 97(11S), S166–S166.
Ribbers, A., & Waringa, A. (2015). E-coaching: Theory and practice for a new online approach to coaching. Routledge.
About the author
Jeremy Sutton, Ph.D., is a writer and researcher studying the human capacity to push physical and mental limits. His work always remains true to the science beneath, his real-world background in technology, his role as a husband and parent, and his passion as an ultra-marathoner.