10 Steps to Start A Life Coaching Business Online
Interested in building a coaching business, but not sure where to begin? In this guide, we’ll break it down into a series of simple actions you can take to get your practice up and running.
"Everyone who feels called to become a life coach and get their coaching certification gets excited when they finally are ready to hang up their shingle and get started. But from what I’ve observed, many coaches burn out or end up getting in their own way before they even get their practices off the ground.
Here's a few things we've learned over the last decade working as coaches and helping thousands of others begin to find their way." - John Kim, Lumia Coaching co-founder
Starting A Coaching Business Checklist
1. Get clear about why you want to start a coaching business
Getting in touch with your core values is an important aspect of goal accomplishment, especially when pursuing aspirations that are significant - like starting your own business!
Why? Because when we set out to accomplish BIG goals, obstacles are inevitable. Research shows that tapping into core values in order to establish grit results in increased performance and persistence over time (Vansteenkiste et al., 2004).
As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to keep your purpose front and center every step of the way. It will serve as your trusted compass, helping you stay on course and remember the big picture through the daily highs and lows of building a business.
Want some tools to kickstart the process? Check out these resources:
2. Cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset
If you plan to run your own coaching practice, then congratulations - you’re now an entrepreneur! What that means is that there’s more to your success than simply being a great life coach. You need to know how to be an effective CEO for your business as well.
Not everyone is a natural born entrepreneur. In fact, we’d argue that such a human may not even exist! And while it’s true that some people may be more suited to self-employment than others, everyone has the capacity & potential to build an online coaching business.
After working with thousands of aspiring life coaches, we’ve observed that there is often a gap between the idea of entrepreneurship, and the lived reality of it.
If this is new territory, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The important thing is to not overcomplicate it. Just start with the basics and build your way forward step by step.
You’ve got this!
Ready for some inspiration? Check out this podcast with Lumia Instructor and finance coach Brianna Firestone: Entrepreneurship 101 for Life Coaches.
3. Learn about the life coaching market
As a new coach, the great news is that you’re entering into the life coaching industry at a time of unprecedented growth. According to the Global Wellness Institute’s most recent study, the wellness economy is currently valued at $4.5 trillion, and projected to reach nearly $7 trillion by 2025.
There are eleven sectors in the wellness economy, and coaching fits into every single one of them! This spells a whole lot of opportunity for life coaches. The trick, of course, lies in figuring out where your particular interests and skills intersect with consumer demand.
Want to learn more about the coaching industry? Explore our research and trend guides:
- The Wellness Economy: What Life Coaches Need to Know
- Coaching Industry Insights: ICF Consumer Awareness Study
- 2023 Life Coaching Industry Trends
4. Create a coaching business plan
If you’re new to entrepreneurship, crafting a business strategy will help you focus on what you’d like to achieve, both professionally and financially. It also provides a handy road map for prioritizing your time and commitments along the way.
A life coach business plan doesn’t need to be long or complex to be effective. Think of your plan as a compass - it’s here to guide your direction and help you navigate. You can start by setting aside an afternoon or two to get the essentials down on paper.
Want to keep it simple? Lumia instructor Pam Covarrubias breaks down her tips to streamline your business launch in the blog Top 3 Things You Need To Start Your Life Coaching Practice
Need help structuring your coaching business plan? Check out this Simple Business Plan Template from Forbes.
Wondering how to set your pricing? Check out our guide: How to Set Your Rates and Create Coaching Packages.
5. Determine the legal structure of your coaching business
According to the US Small Business Association, you’ll most likely choose from one of these three business structures:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability corporation (LLC)
For many life coaches, operating as a sole proprietor is a sound approach. You may never decide to incorporate your business, and that’s OK! This decision looks different for everyone, and has a lot to do with your financial circumstances, local laws, and personal tax status.
Regardless of which direction you go, make sure you understand your location’s laws regarding small business operations. Even if you don’t legally incorporate, it may be necessary for you to obtain a business license with your city, county, state or province.
Need more information on this topic? Check out our resource guide: Does A Life Coach Need A Business License And Insurance?
6. Select your systems & tools
If you want to become an online life coach, you’ll need some tools for your virtual storefront! Some of the resources you may want for your life coaching business include:
- Scheduling system
- Payment processor
- Client management software
- Website hosting
- Social media content scheduler
- Video calls/webinar platform
- Project & client management software
- E-mail system
- E-learning platform
- Marketing & graphic design tools
- Blog or podcast platform
From organizing projects, scheduling calls, to connecting with your audience, odds are there's a product or service that can handle it for you. The trick is in researching which are best for your situation, and selecting your "must-haves".
Not sure which to choose? We’ve rounded up our favorite tools in each of these categories in our guide: Business Resources To Jump Start Your Coaching Practice.
7. Identify your audience & areas of focus
If you’ve decided to become a life coach, you've likely heard that you ought to choose a coaching specialty. In the coaching industry, this is often referred to as your "niche."
Coaching niches cover a wide range of interests and needs. Some common areas of specialization include:
- Career coach
- Relationship coach
- Wellness coach
- Divorce recovery coach
- Fitness coach
- Executive coach
- Small business coach
- Women's empowerment coach
- Productivity coach
- Creativity coach
- Life purpose coach
- Spirituality coach
It's OK if you aren't sure where you want to focus right now. For many life coaches, this happens in stages and becomes increasingly clear over time.
When you’re first starting out, you can think of niching as a marketing exercise. Having one helps differentiate your coaching business. It allows you to get very clear about your message, and the specific transformation you want to help others achieve.
If you’re grappling with the question of how (or if) to choose a niche, here’s a few additional resources to help you get clear:
- 20 Hottest Life Coaching Niches
- Coaching - To Niche or Not to Niche
- Choose Your Coaching Niche Using the Seven Stories Exercise
8. Implement a marketing strategy
There are many ways to position yourself and your services. Some approaches to consider including in your plan include:
- Word of mouth
- Testimonials and referrals
- Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)
- Publishing (blogs, articles, books)
- Presentations and guest speaking engagements
- Networking and relationship building via affinity groups, small business associations, chamber of commerce, rotary clubs, etc.
- Submitting proposals to businesses and organizations
The temptation at first may be to try it ALL and see what sticks.
Here’s what is most likely to happen if you do. By spreading yourself across too many tactics at once, you’re not likely to gain credibility and traction in any particular area.
Whether it’s posting 4 times a week on Instagram, writing 3 personal emails to your professional contacts every Monday, or sending out one enewsletter a month… the key to a successful marketing strategy is consistency.
Want some concrete ideas of where to begin? Check out this resource from marketing and brand strategist, Michelle Rabell: FIVE Marketing Priorities to Boost Your Coaching Business Fast.
9. Build a network of support
In the vast ocean of content out there about how to start a coaching business, we’ve noticed that the topic of peer support is rarely touched upon. Overlooking the importance of your professional network can be a costly mistake! At Lumia Coaching, we’ve learned that coaches benefit from having a network of trusted colleagues.
A coaching community is a group of fellow coaches who gather regularly to keep the conversation going about tools, techniques, and business development. You can build yours through:
- Events and conferences for coaches
- Continuing education programs
- Your coach training program alumni network
- Online forums like Facebook groups
Participating regularly in these communities is an effective way to exchange ideas and learn from peers. These dialogues offer an alternative lens through which to view your own practice, and helps you discover the wide range of approaches others coaches might take when tackling the same business problem or client challenge.
10. Continue building your coaching skills
Most coaches initially build their business through word of mouth and referrals. And the way for you to build that buzz is… you guessed it… by delivering a memorable and impactful coaching experience.
Completing a life coach training program doesn’t automatically result in a full roster of clients. You have to get on the bike and ride it. Alot.
Coaching is a craft, and like any skill it takes practice to master. As you build your coaching business, give yourself the time it takes to build confidence and an expanded client base.
Keep repeating the coaching fundamentals in every relationship you have:
- Build trust
- Practice empathy
- Ask open ended questions
- Resist the temptation to give unsolicited advice
- Avoid labels and judgements
- Notice your own responses
A word of mouth business is built on a foundation of trust. Whether you’re on camera for social media, or casually walking into your neighborhood coffee shop, having consistency and being authentic are essential ingredients to your success in business… and life!
Want To Be A Coach?
A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify adventurous coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love, on your terms.Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff. If you're ready to learn more, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training!