A practical guide to starting a coaching business in the UK

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 July 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Coaching is one of the most empowering and rewarding professions. Knowing that you are helping someone to achieve their goals, whether that be in business or in their personal life, is incredibly uplifting. If you are thinking about starting a coaching business but want some guidance and advice, this article breaks down the process step-by-step. In this article, we explore what it takes to become a professional coach and break down the fundamental steps to follow to turn your passion into a full-time profession.

What is a coaching business?

Before starting a coaching business, it's important to have a clear understanding of the difference between coaching and counselling. Coaching focuses specifically on goals and training clients to achieve desired outcomes, whereas counselling focuses on seeking solutions to clients' psychological problems. To become a qualified counsellor, you require a degree and coaching licence. For a career in coaching, you require specific life skills that you can obtain without higher education, like a university or college degree. Ultimately, coaches are responsible for motivating people to realise and achieve their full potential.

Related: Professional coaching: a guide to the coaching process

What are the different types of coaching?

There are many different types of coaching, so it's important to know your niche and where your strengths lie before starting a coaching business. Coaching professionals require relevant experience in their field, so the area in which you choose to coach should be an area where you feel confident you have the knowledge to provide expertise in. The different types of coaching include:

  • life coaching

  • career coaching

  • financial coaching

  • sports coaching

  • relationship coaching

  • family coaching

  • health & wellness coaching

  • spiritual coaching

  • performance coaching

  • skills coaching

What are the benefits of starting a coaching business?

The great thing about coaching is that anyone can become a coach if they have the right set of life skills. Many aspiring coaches take courses and obtain certifications, but this isn't a prerequisite for qualifying in this profession. All you require to start your coaching business is a laptop or desktop computer, and a high-quality set of headphones. The main advantages of starting a coaching business are:

  • You don't need a lot of money to start a coaching business.

  • It is one of the most rewarding and satisfying professions, empowering both you and your clients.

  • You have the freedom to live and work anywhere you wish and choose your own working hours.

  • It can expand your professional network and community.

  • You have the ability to make a real difference in people's lives.

  • It is a great platform on which to promote yourself.

Determining if coaching is the right career for you

Coaching is a respectable and truly rewarding profession, but there are some factors to consider before you decide whether it is right for you. If you have committed to becoming a coach, then it is important to keep in mind the following:

  • You may want to consider becoming certified and going through coaching training before setting up your business to help build your reputation.

  • You need patience and a good work ethic to deal with clients professionally.

  • It takes time to build a trusting, strong long-term working relationship with clients.

  • It's essential to always maintain an air of professionalism, no matter how you're feeling.

  • You must be able to schedule your time effectively and manage your appointments efficiently.

  • You are your own boss, so if your leadership style isn't working for you, being open to trying out new approaches is important.

  • There can be challenges in getting clients motivated and into the right mindset.

Related: 10 types of coaching styles (with definition and benefits)

What skills make someone a great coach?

To be a great coach, you want some specific interpersonal skills and personality traits, which can help you to establish strong, long-term working relationships with clients. These skills are ones you learn throughout life and are essential for careers such as mentoring, teaching and counselling. Below is a list of the traits and skills required to become a successful coach:

  • patience

  • empathy

  • communication

  • active listening

  • goal setting

  • positivity

  • commitment

  • motivational skills

  • evaluation skills

Related: Top 9 leadership skills to develop

How to start a coaching business

If you're looking for a change of career and think coaching is for you, there are a number of steps to consider. These range from finding your area of expertise to creating a business plan. Here are 10 steps in total, which include:

1. Pick your area of expertise

There are many different fields of coaching, so it is important to conduct some thorough research when it comes to choosing your specialist area. Ask yourself what you are passionate about and make sure you know where your strengths lie and to which particular niche you can apply them best. Once you have an established business with regular clients, it becomes easier to refine your area of expertise, sharpening your skills in this particular area as the business grows.

2. Consider getting accredited

Because anyone can be a coach, you may want to consider earning an industry-recognised certification to stand out from the crowd. Taking an online course is a great way to learn valuable skills and tools that are applicable to all areas of life and not just coaching. It's also worth considering becoming a member of a professional organisation such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Related: What Are Certifications, Their Benefits and Types?

3. Define your mission and values

Creating a coaching mission statement is important to outline your purpose and passion, plus your vision and values. For example, if you are starting a financial coaching business, your vision may be to help clients make smarter financial decisions with a particular focus on budgeting and saving. Make sure you know your USP (unique selling point) to attract your target client base and stand out from the competition.

4. Have a solid business plan

To set up a successful coaching business, having a structured business plan in place is essential. The business plan should include your business's name, acquiring a business license, and working with a lawyer to create a solid coaching contract. How you offer your services is another factor to consider, for example, if you want to be home-based or office-based.

Related: 10 key business plan sections and why they're important

5. Set up a professional website

A website is crucial for promoting your business and acquiring clients. It is important to have clear content that explains what your service provides, your price plans and how you can help people to achieve their goals. Once you have an established business with growing clients, you can then enhance your site and add credibility to your name with testimonials.

Related: 29 website features to impress your audience

6. Market your business online

Once you've set up your business, do everything you can to promote your service and gain your first client, which is usually the most challenging part. Whether that's networking on social media, starting a blog, writing guest posts for other blogs, or creating inspiring YouTube videos. Marketing by word-of-mouth is just not enough in today's digital world.

Related: 12 inexpensive marketing ideas for small businesses

7. Have the right equipment and materials

Whether you wish to be an online coach using video tools or prefer face-to-face coaching, make sure you have the right equipment, software and materials to run your business efficiently. There are plenty of apps for organisation, time management and boosting workflow out there, so make sure you really explore the different options. If you're working from home, set up your home office in a way that allows you to work at your best.

8. Create a structure that works for you

Having a structure and framework for client sessions is essential in coaching. This includes establishing goals, identifying outcomes that you want to achieve and providing constructive feedback that your clients can learn and grow from. You might also want to consider worksheets and regular check-ins between appointments.

Related: How to create a work breakdown structure (with helpful tips)

9. Decide how to price & package your service

Having the right business model is crucial to how well your business grows. If you have three types of packages, it allows you to appeal to a wider range of clients, from those who want a taster session to those willing to pay premium prices for extra coaching benefits tailored to their requirements. Clients are happy to pay premium prices if you show them the way to achieving the results they want.

10. Build rapport with your clients

To keep your clients loyal and maintain their trust, you must be able to establish a good coaching relationship. Your clients want to know that you understand them and their specific needs and goals in order to feel like they can reach their true potential. For coaches to build rapport, they have to be great communicators and highly perceptive.

Related: How to practise rapport building (with tips and examples)

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