Do you want to start a career coaching company? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to start a career coaching business with no money and no experience.
If you have successfully cut your teeth as counselor or coach, and as one who has worked with professionals, and you are looking to start your own business, then one of your best options is to start a career coaching business.
In the united states of America and of course in most countries of the world, career coaches are in high demand since it is the norm for students who have graduated to enter the corporate world, or for employed people to switch from one career to another. Giving out professional insight to career people as they seek to grow in the corporate ladder is exciting and financial rewarding.
If you have been pondering on starting your own career coaching firm, but do not know how to go about it, then you should consider going through this article; it will give you the needed guide and direction.
Starting a Career Coaching Business – A Complete Guide
Table of Content
- 1. Understand the Industry
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
- 7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- 8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
A career coach is a professional who helps career minded people define, redefine, and achieve their professional cum career objectives.
As a career coach, you can choose to work for an organization and part of your responsibility is to help with staff training and development, role transition, and employment-related issues. Career coaches are known to communicate clearly and confidently with all professional levels, including executives, both one to one and in front of an audience (e.g. presentations, workshops, seminars).
To earn credibility as Career Coach you are expected to enroll in an International Coach Federation (ICF) approved or accredited coach training program, completing at least 60 hours of coach-specific training. To become an ICF member, Career Coaches must also complete a certain number of coaching hours under the supervision of an experienced coach. They must also demonstrate complete mastery of ICF standards, Code of Ethics, and Core Competencies.
In addition to a coaching certification from an accredited ICF school, Career Coaches usually own a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in Psychology, Career Development, Community Engagement, Human/Social Services, Business Administration, Education, or other related fields.
A recent report published shows that growth in the Career Coaching industry has compounded swiftly in recent years.
Career coaches generate revenue in a variety of ways, including assisting clients during the job searching process by providing them with interview preparation and résumés/cover letters advice, identifying clients’ skills and helping them improve these skills or develop new ones, facilitating conflict resolution by helping the client develop emotional intelligence, etc.
Over the past five years, economic growth and rising employment has pushed the industry upwards and revenue is projected to continue to increase as financial markets improve.
Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own career coaching business is that the business has low level entry requirements and of course it is one of those businesses that can be started with very little startup capital especially if you want to start from the comfort of your home.
Interestingly, as a career coaching business, you can afford to partner with other smaller firms that are into business coaching, personal coaching and businesses that offer related services. The bottom line is that you must always be networking and maintaining relationships to actively promote career opportunities.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of clients in this industry are individuals who are upwardly mobile, or who have recently been laid off from a mid-level or higher position. They also cut across fresh graduates from High School, Trade Schools, Colleges, Universities and corporate executives.
As regards age bracket, those that are qualified as your clients are those who fall within 18 to 65 years as the law stipulates when it comes to working class. Although it is preferable to target younger clients because they are the largest number of groups that are looking more for career coaching, while older clients may need your assistance to stay up on current trends and to make sure that their CV is current and competitive.
So also, career coaches may also be hired by corporate organizations to help support their staff members who are struggling with specific issues, such as dealing with difficult people or negotiations. These high-potential individuals may need a little boost in order to be successful in their positions, or they may be preparing to take on new responsibilities.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
There are no niche ideas within this particular business that one can specialize in because career coaching is a niche idea in the coaching industry.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
No matter the line of business you decide to pitch your tent, you are still going to compete with others who are into same area of business and career coaching services business is not an exemption.
The level of competition in the career coaching industry depends largely on your location and of course you can boost your competitive advantage in the industry by ensuring that you keep updating yourself. You must always be networking and maintaining relationships to actively promote career opportunities if you want to remain competitive in the industry.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or services properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you have what it takes to coach aright, to proffer the right solution to people and organizations’ career concerns and you know how to reach out to your target market.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
These are some of the leading career coaching services firms in the United States of America and also in the globe;
- Career Planning & Adult Development Network (CPADN)
- Happen To Your Career, LLC (HTYC)
- The International Coach Federation (ICF)
- The Coaches Training Institute (CTI®)
- The Academies
- Career Directors International (CDI)
- The Life Purpose Institute
- The Career Thought Leaders Consortium
- Nielsen Career Consulting
- Jody Michael Associates
When it comes to starting a career coaching firm, you just have to get your economic and market research right before venturing into the business.
Depending on the scale you want to start from, you might require as much as multiple thousands of dollars to strike this off, and at the same time you might need far less than that if you choose to start the business from your home, a virtual office and shared office space.
You will be expected to hire the services of experts that will help you with comprehensive economic and cost analysis and the profitability of the businesses within the location that you intend launching the business. If you get your economic and cost analysis right before launching the business, you may not have to stay the long before you breakeven.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful career coaching firm as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive buying the franchise of an established career coaching firm, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.
But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the coaching industry, then you might just want to start your own career coaching firm from the scratch. The truth is that it will pay you in the long run to start your career coaching firm from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own career coaching firm today, one of the major challenges threats you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established career coaching firms and also other related life coaching and personal development businesses who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- Best Legal Entity to Use for This Type of Business
When considering starting a career coaching firm, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.
You have the option of choosing a general partnership or limited liability company for your career coaching firm. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale career coaching firm especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have clients both corporate and individual from all across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your career coaching business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to study the various legal entities to use for your career coaching firm, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your career coaching firm so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company; you will enjoy flexibility in ownership and in your management structures.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When it comes to choosing a name for a business, it is expected that you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own career coaching services firm, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Sam Dennis® Career Coaching Services, LLC
- Upshot® Career Coaching Services, LLC
- Larry & Williams™ Career Coaching Firm, LLP
- George Larrup & Co™ Career Coaching Services, LLP
- Next Level® Career Coaching Services Company, Inc.
- Jim Richards & Associates® Career Coaches, LLP
- Pinnacle® Career Coaching & Advisory Services Group
- Free Fly™ Career Coaching Services, LLC
- Sébastien Anderson & Co Career Coaches, LLP
- Lilac Gates™ Career Coaching Services, Inc.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States of America and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance policy covers and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
You would need General Liability Insurance as well as cyber liability insurance policy cover (This is a new form of insurance that protects you from hackers). If you hire employees, it will be mandatory to buy Workers Compensation Insurance because it is a legal requirement in all states in the United States of America.
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own career coaching firm, usually you are required to file for intellectual property protection/trademark because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to challenge organizations and individuals in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
So also, if you want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
If you want to make an impact in the career coaching industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in this competitive market.
To earn credibility, Career Coaches should enroll in an International Coach Federation (ICF) approved or accredited coach training program, completing at least 60 hours of coach-specific training. To become an ICF member, Career Coaches must also complete a certain number of coaching hours under the supervision of an experienced coach. They must also demonstrate complete mastery of ICF standards, Code of Ethics, and Core Competencies.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own career coaching services firm;
- Certifies Professional Career Coach (CPCC)
- Certified Career Coach™
- Membership of National Career Development Association
- Degree in Psychology or Related Courses
Please note that you cannot successfully run a career coaching firm in the United States and in most countries of the world without acquiring professional certifications and business license even if you have adequate experience cum background in the industry.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- Services Contract (Outlining terms and conditions of service)
Career coaching businesses should require clients to sign a service agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, and service level expectations.
- Coaching Disclaimer & Waiver
Career coaches need to make it clear to their clients that they are not trained medical professionals. This can be accomplished by having clients sign a release of liability form. Here are some of the other legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own career coaching firm in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Business License and Certification
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Consulting contract documents
- Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
- Company Bylaws
- Insurance Policy
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Aside from the required certifications and hands-on experience, starting a career coaching firm can be cost effective. Securing a standard office in a good business district, equipping the office and paying your employees are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.
No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business or to partner with you.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your career coaching services firm;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source soft loans from your family members and your friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Career coaching businesses and most consulting services based types of business, to a large extent, require that you see physically with your clients hence it must be located in good location; a location that is prone to both human and vehicular traffic and a location that is at the epicenter of a business district if indeed you want to attend to loads of clients and maximize profits from the business.
So, if you are looking for a location for your career coaching firm, ensure that it is a place that is located in a business district in your city, a place that is visible and easily accessible. Of course, you would not want to locate this type of business on the outskirts of town.
Your clients should be able to drive down and locate your office with little or no difficulty. These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your career coaching firm;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for the services of career coaching services firm related businesses in the location
- The purchasing power of the residents of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The number of career coaching firms and related services businesses that in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community / state
- Traffic, parking and security
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
On the average, there are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for customized tracking and coaching software and other related software and social media management software applications. You will also need computers / laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves).
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the career coaching firm you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard career coaching business then you should consider leasing a facility for your office.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer/Lead Career Coach cum Advisor, Career Coaches, Admin and HR Manager, Business Developer, Accountant, Customer Service Executive/Front Desk Officer.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 3 to 7 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard career coaching firm.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Service delivery process of a career coaching firm revolves around communicating with clients and doing research to help solve challenges. On a daily basis, a career coach is involved in re-writing a resume, updating a LinkedIn profile, polishing up a corporate presentation, or counseling a client on a particularly difficult situation with others.
- Offering support in professional development by identifying clients’ goals and helping them work toward achieving them.
- Identifying clients’ skills and helping them improve these skills or develop new ones.
- Assisting clients during the job searching process by providing them with interview preparation and résumés/cover letter advice.
- Facilitating conflict resolution by helping the client develop emotional intelligence and networking and maintaining relationships to actively promote career opportunities.
It is important to state that a career coaching services firm may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them good return on investment (ROI) efficiency and flexibility.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- Marketing ideas and strategies
As a career coaching services firm, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before attracting corporate organizations and individuals to hire your services.
People and organizations will only hire your services or purchase your product if they know that they are going to get good returns on their investment. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your career coaching services firm;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the corporate organizations, fresh graduates and job applicants within and outside the city you are operating in who have the capacity to pay for your services
- Advertise your business in relevant career magazines, radio and TV stations (make yourself available for financial consulting services related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radio)
- List your business on local directories / yellow pages
- Attend international HR and job expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with them
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business
- Join relevant associations around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you offer your services at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your working capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate.
Another strategy that will help you offer your services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products and services.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives.
18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
If your intention of starting a career coaching services firm is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
In promoting your brand and corporate identity as a career coach, you should leverage on both print and electronic media and also social media (the internet). As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.
Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and to promote and advertise your career coaching services firm;
- Place adverts on career related magazines and newspapers, radio and TV stations.
- Encourage the use of word of mouth publicity from your loyal customers
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other platforms to promote your business.
- Ensure that you position your banners and billboards in strategic positions all around your city
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas in and around your neighborhood
- Advertise your business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Brand all your official cars and ensure that all your staff members and management staff wear your branded shirt or cap at regular intervals.