Do you want to start a life coaching business online? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a life coaching business with NO money and no experience plus a sample life coaching business plan template. If you have ever helped to guide, support and counsel people who have life issues around you for fun, but with results, then it is high time you consider starting a life coaching business.
As a life coach, your job will be to work with people and help them live out their potentials by creating the life they desire. As a life coach, you will need to be good at communicating, listening and also have a deep sense of understanding and compassion. Your clients may reject your suggestions sometimes; this only means that you must have a holistic view of life in order to see things from their perspective.
Just like any other business, it is necessary that you conduct thorough research on the business you intend to go into as this will help you discover what niche you would be best at, especially as the life coaching business is one that offers intangible services that can only be deemed successful after clients have utilized your suggestions and are making visible progress.
Once you have decided on the right niche for your business, you can then expand your services as well as your client base. If you have carried out thorough research on the business, then you would need to write a business plan. It is equally important that you lay out plans on how you intend to market and promote your business in order to attract the right clients for your life coaching business.
You may need to use a combination of methods in order to get people to notice your business. If you feel overwhelmed at any point, you can get a consultant who has the necessary experience in the area you are going into to help you out. If this is a business that you feel is right for you, then reading the whole article will help you take the right steps into becoming a life coach.
17 Steps to Starting a Life Coaching Business Online
1. Understand the Industry
According to IBISWorld, there are no major life coaching companies with a dominant market share in the industry even though the industry generates a billion dollars annually. The annual growth was pegged at 4.7 percent and is expected to continue to grow through a five year period, 2012 – 2017. There are more than 13,400 life coaching companies in the united states of America employing more than 18,000 people.
This goes to suggest that most of the life coaches either work alone or have one or two employees. Demand for life coaching comes from clients who earn high incomes. The surge in demand has seen an increase in competition as more life coaches have entered the industry especially with the low barrier of entry in the industry.
Those who operate in this industry help individuals who have issues with their businesses, personal or relationships and the reason why there are so many life coaches is due to the fact that more individuals are having less confidence in their abilities to handle issues in their life.
It should however be noted that demand is also subject to how much disposable income clients have. This therefore means that an improvement in the economy will see the industry generate more revenue and since it is likely that the economy will continue to improve, the revenue generation is also expected to improve till 2022.
Due to lack of a structured regulation in the industry, entrepreneurs looking to start a life coaching business have found that there are almost no barriers to entering the industry. Also, most of the operators in the industry are sole proprietors who work from a home office and work with their clients via phone or online video platforms in order to conduct their coaching sessions.
Coaches who often have to meet with their clients often have to travel to where their clients live or work in order to be able to carry out their coaching sessions. Having professional certification in this industry is not compulsory but necessary especially if an entrepreneur intends to have a competitive advantage over his/her competitors.
The coaching business is regarded as a booming business on a global scale and a study in 2012 showed that the International Coach Federation (ICF) had more than 41,000 active coaches who were regarded as professionals globally and generated about $2 billion in revenue annually.
North America for instance had more than 14,000 coaches generating annual revenue close to $710 million. There are new associations springing up globally where professionalism in coaching is promoted so that coaches could begin to meet up with a certain standard. Nowadays, there are now coaches for specific groups.
Even though the life coaching industry is largely unregulated, it has continued to grow and expand as according to a report by Market Data, more than 40,000 people in the United States are life coaches and generate about $2.4 billion annually with the industry growing at 18 percent per annum.
The reasons why there is such growth in the industry, according to the report, is because the new generation are not only moving from one job to another unlike the old generation but are also starting to work from home as against working in a traditional office facility, which is why so many life coaches are working from home.
According to a study, the life coaching industry will continue to have new entrants which will grow till unemployment declines. Also, the life coaching business will no longer be regarded as one enjoyed only by the elites and will become very common in 10 years’ time. The innovation in technology will allow coaches to be able to compete against each other on a global scale, this will in no way discount the importance of in-person coaching sessions.
The coaching fees which have been high since the inception of the industry will start coming down as there will be a division, where some coaches will cater to the elite and wealthy people; while a larger group will cater to medium and low income clients.
Also, coaching is beginning to get regulated in several countries and in countries where the industry isn’t regulated yet, government is looking into regulations. These regulations may include coaches having to get coach-specific training and certification as well as ensuring that professional coaches adhere to a code of ethics while coaching their clients.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the services of a life coach is not restricted to the elite and highly placed executives but also to those who require assistance with decisions that affect their lives. The life coaching business mostly conducts its session via the internet or phone, which is why coaches are now able to offer their services on a global scale.
Therefore, if you are looking to narrow the demographics for a life coaching business to just a few set of people, you would be wrong, as almost everyone is plagued with life issues which make it all encompassing.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Life coaching business is the offering of intangible service to clients who are seeking for solutions to their never ending life problems. The coaching business as a whole denotes several aspects and as one who is just starting out, it is important that you pick a niche that will enable you to deal with the problems of your clients as opposed to trying to offer various services at once.
While this is a service that can be offered physically or via an online platform, entrepreneurs have decided to stick to a niche in order to allow them offer excellent services to their clients. It is only after growing to a certain point in the business that some entrepreneurs expand their services and client base.
Therefore, if you are thinking of some key areas to major in while starting your life coaching business, below are a few;
- Life Coaching
- Career Coaching
- Health Coaching
- Financial Coaching
- Executive Coaching
- Accountability Partners
- Business Coaching
- Creativity Coaching
- Weight Loss and Fitness Coaching
- Relationship Coaching
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the life coaching business industry is in no way dependent on the location of the business especially as most life coaches give sessions over the internet or via their phones which allow them to operate from any part of the world and still compete with others globally.
In the life coaching business, distance is not regarded as a barrier in getting clients either within or outside the country. What most clients are looking for is to be guided and assisted in making certain choices that have an effect on their lives; hence they are ready to hire a life coach from any part of the world or country to help them out. This does not mean that there aren’t sessions where life coaches need to meet up with their clients which is where locally based life coaches are able to compete or have the upper hand over their international counterparts.
According to statistics, there are several life coaching companies all over the United States of America and even globally. If you therefore intend to start your own life coaching business in the United States of America, no matter your niche, you will be meeting with stiff competition not only in the country but globally as well.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Even though the life coaching industry is largely a fragmented one, there are still brands that stand out due to their performance or how they are regarded by the public. There are reasons why a brand might be popular over others and some of the reasons are that; they have existed for a long time, they have terrific publicity activities, or they have great testimonials from their various clients.
Below are some of the leading life coaching companies in the United States of America and even globally;
- Abraham Group
- Michael E. Gerber Companies
- Miss J
- The Miles Group
- The Hybrid Leadership
Life coaches often assist people deal with challenges in their lives either professionally, economically or personally. Sometimes, life coaches may be employed to help people attain a higher level either personally or professionally. The life coaching business is one that is growing and booming especially in times of uncertainty regarding matters like a terrible economy. This has led to stiff competitions in the industry as more people with diverse backgrounds are entering into the industry as well.
Regardless of how the industry has seen the entrants of many operators, most life coaches have become financially successful especially as there have been an application of several strategies to make this possible which includes but not limited to, building a high end client-base and leveraging on one’s practice. These strategies have formed the trend for most of the innovative and enterprising life coaches.
In a bid to compete effectively in an industry that has seen stiff competition, life coaches who intend to stand out have positioned themselves as leading specialists in the field and have used this to effectively differentiate their life coaching practices from those of their competitors, thereby allowing them to attract new clients, while also retaining a huge number of their existing clients.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Starting one’s business from scratch or buying a franchise is one decision that an entrepreneur has to think through because each option has its pros and cons. While starting from the scratch might favor one entrepreneur, it might not favor another and this is because both entrepreneurs have different objectives and goals regarding their business. However, the life coaching business is one that is filled with independence and as such there are no franchises in existence for those looking to go into this business.
This is why it is necessary for you to have the required passion and motivation for this business as this is a business that has to be stared from the scratch. Starting a business from the scratch enables the entrepreneur to have an intimate knowledge of the business and learn from the mistakes that occur during the process of starting the business. In starting from the scratch, you are able to determine the right niche for your business and what strategies would be best in helping you push your business into achieving its intended goals and objectives.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Every business no matter what kind of products and or services it offers always faces challenges and threats at certain points of its life-cycle and the life coaching business is no different. It should be noted that while some challenges can be taken care of, some threats cannot be, so an entrepreneur has to always be prepared.
Some of the threats and challenges that you might likely face when starting your life coaching business are; having to make your target market realize the importance of your business in their lives, having to face competition from new and already existing competitors and having to deal with the downturn of the economy as this will affect the purchasing power of your clients.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
The decision of what legal entity to use for your business is very important as what you pick will determine how far you are able to go in the business. Whatever legal entity option you intend to choose for your business, ensure that you keep important details such as legal liability and taxation as the key determinant of which legal entity would be best for you in the long run.
If you are however confused on what legal entity to choose, it is best you seek the services of an attorney or accountant who has sufficient experience in this field to help determine the best legal entity for your life coaching business.
There are six legal entities available to entrepreneurs in the United States of America and they include; sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Cooperative, C Corporation, Partnership and the S Corporation. However for the purpose of starting a life coaching business, the options are reduced to two – sole proprietorship and LLC.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Choosing the right business name for your life coaching business is very important and this is because your name should appeal to your target market and define the services you offer while being easily memorable and distinct. Most life coaches usually stick to their names but if you would rather not use your name, you can always use something that is simple enough but that can help you stand out.
Therefore, if you are thinking of suitable business names for your life coaching business, here are some for you to choose from;
- McClauren Coaching
- Beautiful Solutions Inc
- James Coaching
- Mike and Associates
- Sureway Solutions
- Helpful Coaching Inc
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Having an insurance policy is very necessary if you are looking to start life coaching as a business in the United States of America. Also, the fact that you are offering intangible service makes it imperative that you get proper insurance coverage so as to protect you and your business for any liability that may occur during the process of running the business.
Before setting aside a budget for your insurance, it is important that you seek the advice of an insurance agent or broker over what policies would best suit your business. Below are the basic insurance policies for your life coaching business in the United States of America;
- General Liability Insurance
- Professional Liability Insurance
- Premise Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Business Owner’s Policy Group Insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Cyber Liability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Errors and Omission Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are a life coach and you have spent a great deal of time developing the materials needed for coaching, then it is absolutely necessary that you seek for ways to ensure that you have intellectually protected your materials from being copied and either used by other coaches or your clients. Because of how difficult and rigorous applying for an intellectual property protection might be, it is necessary to seek the services of an attorney to help you file for an IPP with the USPTO.
Also, asides from your materials, you can decide to file for an IPP over your company’s logo, slogan or any other materials you might consider valuable to you. Any attorney with experience in this field should be able to put you through on what requirements to fulfill in getting an IPP.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
The life coaching industry is highly unregulated and therefore the issue of getting professional certification before starting the business is not one that is compulsory. However, because the low barrier has allowed a large number of people to enter the industry, life coaches are now seeing certification as one sure way of having an edge over their competitors, with most entrepreneurs aiming for more than one certification.
There are two ways a life coach can get certified and this is either via in-person coaching or via online. The in-person coaching which comes as seminars and workshops is usually very short and is at most 2 days to a week, unlike the online life coaching where the training is more in depth. The difference is why more life coaches prefer online certifications to physical ones. As the industry is not regularized, there are a lot of life coaching certifications available, all you need to do is look for those that are accredited and popular.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Having legal documents at hand when running a business in the United States of America is very important; which is why you need to conduct thorough survey about the business and the requirements needed before starting the business. Not having the right legal documents will make you get into trouble with the law.
Below therefore are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you intend to run your own life coaching business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement
- Business License
- Business Certification
- Business Plan
- Coaching Services Agreement
- Website Legal Notices
- Insurance Policies
- Employment Agreement
- Federal Tax Identification Number
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
In starting any business, an entrepreneur must make sure that the necessary finance to start and run the business to a certain level is available. Even though the life coaching business offers an intangible service, and not much is needed to start and run the business, it is very necessary to have all the needed funds in place. It is for this purpose that it is very necessary to have a business plan in place as this will help convince potential investors on the need to invest in your business.
Below are some of the options that you can explore when sourcing for start-up capital for your life coaching business;
- Raising part of the capital from personal savings and sale of stocks
- Sourcing for soft loans from friends and family members
- Applying for loan from the bank
- Raising money from private investors and business partners
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Whatever option you choose – working from home or from a commercially leased facility – should be one that is very convenient for you and your clients. If you intend leasing or renting a commercial facility where you intend to run your business, you need to ensure that you have a budget set aside and that your preferences as regards location and size match with what is available.
One thing about leasing or renting an office for your life coaching business, is that it allows you appear more professional to your clients, especially when you offer workshops or group coaching. Even if you rent a facility that is too huge for your needs; you can make extra money by renting or subletting to other coaches as long as you aren’t violating any lease agreement.
When working from home, it is important that you separate your work area from the rest of the house by establishing a boundary where you can easily avoid distraction especially when attending to a client physically, via phone or online. If more of your sessions are online or via a phone, then working from home is best but if you need physical meetings, then consider renting a facility.
It is important that you check your budget, niche, preferences as well as corporate goals before deciding on the option of location.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Once you have decided on the most suitable location for your life coaching business, it is necessary that you furnish the place with the right equipment that will allow you effectively deliver your services to your clients. If you are running on a tight budget, then you can get some of your equipment as fairly used so as to help lessen the cost of your start-up.
Also, it is necessary that before buying the equipment that you will need for your business that you consider where you will be coaching from as you might have to travel sometimes, so important that you pick equipment which are not only portable but which will also not cause you any problems while away from your regular location. Have back-up equipment at all times to avoid disappointing your clients.
The equipment that you would need that will help you start and run your business efficiently are; a good smartphone and wireless headset, notebook, high speed internet, laptop, tablets and software (virtual meeting space and skype).
The people that you might need to employ once your clientele base has expanded significantly are; Chief Executive Officer (owner), admin and human resources manager, business development and marketing executive, front desk officer and driver.
From the above analysis, you will need at least 5 key people to start and run your life coaching business successfully.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
There are various processes involved in starting and delivering quality service in a life coach business and this includes a different set of activities and skills. First off, it is important to learn about coaching skills and how they apply to the real world. Once you have mastered these skills and have launched your business, then you can start coaching clients by starting one-on-one sessions with them.
Once you have mastered the one-on-one coaching, you can then move to coaching people in groups. Coaching in groups can be very difficult, so it is essential that you know what you are doing as all the individuals have to be on the same wavelength.
Once you have succeeded in coaching singles and groups, you can then turn all the knowledge you have garnered and use this to create a product that can be sold via the internet and whenever you have a speaking engagement. Once you have started selling products such as your materials, you are projecting yourself as an authority and so you would need to ensure that you continually research on your niche and even train others so as to remain top of your field.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Marketing is a very important part of any business and it is therefore important that an entrepreneur takes this aspect very seriously. This is because not only do you generate revenue from marketing, you also help create the needed awareness for the business. Therefore, it is important that you draft marketing strategies and also set aside a budget in order to effectively market your life coaching business.
There are a lot of channels by which one can market life coaching services in order to get to the intended target market. The internet for instance has made it quite easy for entrepreneurs to reach more of their audience than they would have using only offline methods. Also, marketing via the internet is cheaper for entrepreneurs.
Most life coaches usually seek the services of a marketing consultant to help in drafting effective marketing strategies that are in line with their corporate values and objectives so as to allow the entrepreneurs concentrate on developing their coaching materials.
Some of the marketing ideas that can be used to promote the life coaching business are;
- Ensure that your life coaching business is listed in Yellow Pages as well as in online directories
- Market your life coaching business via social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google Plus
- Introduce your life coaching business via cold mails to your intended target market
- Place adverts in local and national newspapers and magazines as well as in local and national radio and television stations
- Ensure that you distribute handbills, business cards and fliers in strategic locations
- Place billboards and banners in different strategic locations
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
The life coaching business is one that needs a whole lot of publicity in order to gain the attention of your intended target market; therefore, if you are serious about becoming a national and international brand, you have to make effort to promote your life coaching business.
One thing to note is that no matter how long you have been in business, to remain relevant you will need to publicize your business, which is why already established and successful life coaching entrepreneurs dedicate a certain amount annually to promote their business.
The internet has made it very easy for entrepreneurs to easily promote their businesses especially life coaches. Asides from the fact that it is less expensive than the traditional ways of promoting a business, it is also more effective and reaches more people.
It is necessary that you study which channels will best suit your business and choose these, instead of engaging in many trial and error means of publicity. Below therefore are some of the platforms that you can leverage on to boost your brand and effectively promote your business;
- Ask your loyal customers to help refer others to your business
- Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google Plus to promote your business
- Place adverts in newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Offer speaking engagements in seminars, conferences and workshops
- Build a website and put up articles and resources to enlighten your target audience
- Distribute your handbills and fliers in strategic locations