Life coaching is all about helping people declutter their lives so that they can see where they are and then take the steps necessary to get them to where they want to be. Every day, life coaches empower people to regain control over their circumstances and transcend obstacles they previously thought were insurmountable.
If you have decided this type of profession suits your skills and personality, great! Now you have to take your idea and bring it to life here in the real world. The good news is that setting up a life coaching business is not as difficult as you might think. Below we’re going to present you with an easy-to-follow guide to setting up your own life coaching business.
How to set up an online life coaching business in 6 simple steps
Even if you have no business experience, setting up a business as a life coach can be a relatively straightforward process if you take things step by step. To help you along we have created a 6-step programme that covers everything from A to Z.
Step 1: Find your coaching niche
“Find my niche? But I thought life coaching was my niche!” It’s not quite as simple as that because within the broad category of “life coaching” there are areas of special concentration that include:
Happiness coaching: Not everyone who is unhappy is clinically depressed. Sometimes a person just needs some objective insight to help them find their way back to their bliss.
Stress coaching: People often feel overwhelmed by the amount of stress that’s come to weigh on their shoulders. They need perspective, practical advice and guidance on how to relieve it.
Health coaching: People recovering from injury or illness, or those who are simply concerned about their physical state often need guidance and motivation to return to robust health.
Relationship coaching: Our relationships have a huge impact on our overall quality of life. Relationship coaching helps people make sense of their relationships.
Parent coaching: Parents often need someone to help them put things in perspective as well as practical tips on how to stay centred and calm amidst the whirlwind of child-rearing.
Financial coaching: Money makes the world go ‘round but money concerns can also make people’s heads spin. Financial coaches are almost always in demand.
Career coaching: The nature of work itself is changing so rapidly these days that many people don’t know how to respond. A quality career coach should have no problem finding clients.
The truth is that no matter which area of life coaching you choose to specialise in you are likely to wind up wearing more than 1 hat. For example, someone in need of career coaching is likely stressed out over their current situation. They may also be facing financial issues related to poor career choices. And chances are they’re not terribly happy or they wouldn’t be seeking help.
Still, being able to identify a niche that dovetails nicely with your skills and experience is important if you’re to set up a life coaching business. Here’s how you do that.
Sit down with a pen and paper (or at the computer) and make a list of your skills and accomplishments. At this point, these do not have to be directly related to any particular life coaching niche. They could be anything.
Note: We’re going to assume that you have some people skills, otherwise you would likely find the idea of working closely with others to overcome their problems to be somewhat intimidating. So that’s a given. But what else?
For instance, are you technically proficient? Do you have experience investing? Have you been in a stable relationship for years (that’s definitely a skill)? Have you raised kids? Do you have any particular coaching certifications? Do you know your way around the equipment at the health club? Have you lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off? Etc, etc.
When you’ve finished you can use this list to determine where best to focus your life coaching efforts. Keep in mind too that as you take on and work with clients you may find that you’re able to specialise in more than one area. Your initial niche is a starting point, a way for you to focus your energy and efforts while you’re trying to get things off the ground.
Step 2: Develop your life coaching business plan
A lot of people who lack formal business training get hung up on this step. But developing a business plan does not have to be a soul-crushing slog. It’s actually pretty straightforward as long as you break it down into the following easily manageable steps.
1: Create a mission statement: Keep it simple and clear. The mission statement will be a reference point for you during those times when you feel like you’ve lost your way (it happens), and for your clients to refer to when deciding whether to sign up for your life coaching services.
2: Conduct market research: Some suggest you should create an executive summary, but for life coaching, that’s just overkill. You’re not pitching an idea to venture capitalists, after all. A better idea is to research the industry. See who your competitors are, how they market their services, whether they use a website or app, how much they charge and other relevant facts.
3: Describe your ideal client: You can’t market your life coaching service unless you know who you’re trying to reach. So sit down and try to describe the ideal client. Where do they live? How old are they? What are they hoping to achieve?
4: Describe how you can help them: How can your life coaching service address the needs of your clients? If they feel unmotivated, how can you put the wind back in their sails? If their work/life balance is out of whack how can you help them restore equilibrium?
5: How you will acquire clients: Now that you’re clear on what you offer, who you are targeting and how you can help them you have to figure out how to reach them. Use the ideal client you laid out as a guide. Would you reach that person through social media? Would you find them on self-help forums? At the local health club? Once you know where to find them, decide on the best way to reach them.
6: Finances: You will need to establish financial goals. This will give you a point of focus. But be realistic. How many clients can you handle? How much can you potentially make from each client? You’ll also have to determine startup costs.
While starting a life coaching business is far less expensive than starting, say, a restaurant, there are still going to be costs involved. These will typically include things such as:
- Smartphone or smartphones
- PC or laptop
- Branding, i.e. logo design, stationery & misc items
- Website, domain name, hosting plan, content creation, SEO etc…
- And/or… a dedicated community app
People often default to setting up a website. But the fact is there is now an entire generation of people who have little or no experience with browsers and websites. They use apps. So do a significant percentage of older folks who appreciate the simplicity of tapping an app icon on their smartphone.
Step 3: Understand your clients
Above we touched on the need to create a portrait of your ideal client. When you do that you provide yourself insight into the people you’ll be dealing with.
That portrait will give you a general idea of who your potential clients are and what their lives are like. Then, when they wander from specific topics like their career and begin to talk about how a career setback is affecting their kids you won’t be taken off guard, because the ideal client you created had kids.
You can gain additional insight into your clients and potential clients by making note of where such people are likely to be found. Are they the types that spend time in Reddit groups? Do they rely heavily on YouTube videos for workout advice? If so, which ones?
Spend some time perusing the places where you think your potential clients will congregate and see what people are talking about in the comments sections.
Step 4: Create your pricing structure
You’ve determined your niche, created your business plan and you have a good idea of who your client base is going to be and what you have to offer them. Now it’s time to think about how much you are going to charge and what pricing model you’re going to use:
- Per session pricing
- Monthly pricing
- Or pricing per package (i.e. X amount for 3 months etc…)
Life coaches typically make anywhere from $50 per hour to several hundred dollars per hour. To figure out exactly where you fall in this range ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my niche? (Investment coaches charge more than happiness coaches.)
- How much experience do I have?
- Do I have any specific credentials that relate to the niche?
- Who is my target market? (Are you targeting New York, London or Tokyo?)
- What are my financial goals?
Also, before you set your pricing schedule in stone, research others in your niche and see what they are charging.
The advantage of packages or set coaching programs
For those starting out, charging by way of package deals is usually a solid strategy. Packages enable you to have a clearer picture of your income going forward, which lets you manage your expenses better.
You can also be sure that people who sign on for package deals are committed to the process. Whereas those signing up for hourly coaching may just be kicking the tires to see whether life coaching is for them.
Typical life coaching packages would look something like this:
- 1 session per month for 6 months: $600
- 2 sessions per month for 6 months: $1,100 (they save $100)
- 4 sessions per month for 6 months: $2,000 (they save $400)
Ultimately, what you charge is up to you. But it’s in your interest, especially when you are just starting out and are an unknown commodity, to keep your prices reasonable. Though not so reasonable that you undermine your long-term goals.
Step 5: Create your marketing plan
The best business plan and a well full of good intentions won’t help if you don’t have a plan for marketing your online life coaching business. The good news is that there are more platforms than ever from which to promote your business. The bad news is that you will have to buckle down and do the promotion yourself. But it can be done and here are a few tips that should help.
For the past 15 – 20 years or so the default method of promoting any type of business has been by way of a website. Websites still have promotional value and you should definitely consider one. And if this were even 10 years ago the conversation would stop here. But it’s 2022, not 2012. So…
Instead of using a website as your primary means of communicating with your client base, use it as an informational platform. Have some biographical information and contact info, sure. But more importantly, use it to spread the word about your coaching app. (You should also have a way to download your coaching app on the website.)
Coaching app? That’s right. Over the course of the past decade, a sea-change has occurred whereby countless people the world over have quietly moved from websites to apps as their primary method of digital interaction. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
Apps load instantly, provide much higher degrees of customization than websites, are never bogged down by dodgy internet connections and provide all the features that are normally provided on a website. If you are serious about success you need to explore the possibilities of a Disciple Media community app.
Is that it?
Nope. While an app is a must-have marketing and community-building tool these days you will also need to create and leverage a social media presence. That means having an active presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and making sure they feed into one another and the website and that they each promote your app and provide information on how to download it.
Beyond the digital domain, you should also consider advertising in trade journals, printing and distributing leaflets and perhaps creating guest blog posts related to your field of expertise.
Step 6: Gather all the necessary legal documents
Welcome to Step 6. By now most of the heavy lifting has been done. All that’s left is to tidy up some legal niceties and get some insurance. Legal stuff first:
When it comes to setting up a life coaching business you’ll need to create a legal business entity: Why? Because any time your business is handing out advice there is the possibility someone could say you gave them bad advice and ruined their life. Lawsuits follow, you lose your shirt and it’s hard to coach without a shirt.
In most cases registering as a LLC or forming a company is ideal for a coaching business. Both options are relatively easy to start and inexpensive to set up.
Aspiring life coaches often wonder if they should sign contracts with their clients. The answer is “yes”. The contract is your best friend. It lays out in black and white:
- Exactly what services you will provide
- The start and end date of those services
- The payment terms
- Your refund policy (if any)
- Liability waivers (essential)
- Disclaimers (also essential)
- And other things that will form a legal fence around your person
Disclaimers should include things such as you not being responsible if the internet goes down during a virtual session. You should also reserve the right to terminate the agreement at any time. This will come in handy on the off chance that a client becomes belligerent or abusive.
You will also want to engage in intellectual property protection. The courses you create, the blog posts you write, the training programs and videos you produce and more are your intellectual property and should be protected from theft by competitors and others.
Finally, you will need to have robust insurance coverage.
The types of insurance most often recommended for a life coach include:
- General liability insurance: This protects you in case a client comes to you for a session and winds up injuring themselves while on your property.
- Professional liability insurance: This protects you in case a client sues you for negligence or some other sort of dereliction of duty, such as sharing confidential information.
- Cyber liability insurance: This protects you in case someone hacks your business computer and makes off with client information.
- Employers’ liability (EL) insurance: This only comes into play if you’ve grown to the point that you have an employee or employees.
- Commercial property and auto insurance: If you have a business property and a business vehicle you’ll want to make sure they’re properly insured.
That’s how to set up a life coaching business. If you follow those steps you will be ready to open for business and start building your client base.