3 Steps to Launch a Successful Coaching Business

by ICCA Executive Board Member Georgia Shaffer


Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.

Joshua 1:9 NCV

A lack of confidence often paralyzes coaches who are just launching their businesses. One coach emailed me saying, “I am stressed over the idea that people are now going to be paying me. Will I give them enough value for their money?”

            Another coach who was about to start his business said, “I’m worried about letting my clients down.”

            When thoughts like this start to haunt you, remember you are not alone. Moses was called by God, but he immediately responded, “Who am I?”

            If Moses were called today to be a coach he might ask, “Who am I to even think I can be a coach? Who am I to think I’m ready to launch a coaching business and be paid for my services?”

            It doesn’t matter who you are. What does matter is who God is. Just as He was with Moses, God will be with you. Therefore, the first step in launching your coaching business is to reflect on God and His attributes.


1. Reflect on Who God Is

Immerse yourself in Scripture that reminds you of the presence and power of God. For example, read the stories of Moses and Joshua and remember that just as God equipped these two men, he can equip you.

            As you reflect on the attributes of God, take an honest assessment of yourself. Do you believe God is creative and powerful enough to make a coach out of you? Do you believe He has the ability to do this even if you feel as though you’re not gifted in coaching? What do you believe about God’s ability to develop your talents and to use you in the lives of others?

            When you recognize your humble dependence on God and his power to enable you to achieve his purposes, that’s when He can use you to transform the lives of those you coach.


2. Get a Coach

Many who are first starting their business find it helpful to have a coach for support and guidance. Remember Moses didn’t go it alone either. He had his brother, Aaron, for support, and he took wise advice from his father-in-law Jethro (Exodus 18).

I often find that the clients I coach need a combination of encouragement and a gentle push. One beginning coach emailed me several times the day before her first appointment with a paying client. She was terrified. With some support and genuine encouragement on my part, however, she was able to push past her fears, lean on God, and take the risk. She kept reminding herself that God is powerful enough to coach her and sure enough, her first session as a coach went extremely well.

Experienced coaches can also help you by sharing valuable information they learned from other coaches along the way.  For example, one of my coaching friends shared that she learned from her coach how offering packages, a three- or six-month coaching program, was very successful.  When I passed this idea on to another coach, she had such great results that she said, “Make sure you include this marketing strategy in your book Coaching the Coach.”

You might offer, for instance, a Six-Month Plan that gives the client at least a 15 percent savings compared to the price they would pay for individual sessions.   Or maybe you create the option that if they sign up for a 12-Month Plan they save 20 percent over the per-session fee.  If you want to see a listing of different services and payment plans, you can find the specific coaching programs I offer for coaches, communicators and women on my coaching page at www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.


3. Organize the Details

Beginning coaches also need to organize their offices and attend to the administrative details. Decide on the key coaching questionnaires and inventories you like to use and then personalize them with your business name or logo. If an inventory or assessment is copyrighted, you definitely need to keep the copyright information on the document and give credit to the original author.  Where possible, you want a standard look for the documents you use with your clients.             

For example, in the top left corner of my welcome letter, client data form, and pre-session questionnaire I have my logo with the stylized words “what needs to Grow, what needs to Go” (you can see some examples of how I personalize my documents by visiting my free resources page at www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.  As one coach said, “Giving my inventories or articles a professional look builds my confidence and reminds me of the fact that I am a professional coach.” 

            I then store all these templates in one file folder named Coaching Tools under My Documents on my computer. 

            Decide also how you will keep track of your clients’ emails, their completed inventories, and their pre-session forms. For each client, I have a physical file folder, labeled with his or her name, stored in a file cabinet. I usually keep a copy of the life-coaching agreement and other key information in that file such as the client data form. You, however, might not have space for file cabinets or they might be filled with other documents and information. One of the coaches I worked with has her assistant electronically scan the various inventories and assessments and store them on her computer.

            For emails, I copy or drag all correspondence into separate Outlook folder labeled with the client’s name. I also keep another electronic folder with each client’s name in a folder labeled “Coaching” under “My Documents.” And I regularly back up my computer files on an external hard drive.

            Because we are all subject to the possibility of a computer crash, fire, robbery, or computer viruses, we are wise if we back up our computer files offsite. Whether you use iCloud or pay for a service like Carbonite, decide how you will back up your clients’ key information. For example, one of my friends had her laptop stolen and the offsite service enabled her to retrieve all her files.

            Finally, remember for tax purposes you need to report the income you receive from each client. It’s best to consult your accountant to find out what format he or she prefers you to use, such as QuickBooks or Excel.

            In addition to keeping records, part of organizing your business details may also include signing up and offering your clients services such as voice and video sessions over the internet (also known as Variable I/O Port or VIOP). Skype and Tango are common VIOPs that coaches use to connect with their clients. Some clients find that the cost of their time or money to learn how to use these services outweighs any benefits, while others enjoy using it and want to see their coach.

            Another service I provide for my clients, at no extra cost, is the option of recording their coaching sessions. This gives them the opportunity to go back and listen to their conversations with me. I’ve successfully used Freeconferencepro.com. If you use this option, you need to set up an account before you begin working with a client. Once you have an account, you will need to schedule each session on the website and send your client a phone number and an access code. After each coaching session, you can download the MP3 file and email it to the client as an attachment. One thing you need to make clear up front is that if your client has limited long distance or pays for telephone service by the minute, in contrast to unlimited long distance, the client will have to pay for the phone call.

            The advantage of attending to these details ahead of time is that later you are able to focus more on meeting the needs of your clients. The beginning stages of launching a coaching business can seem daunting, but the rewards of helping people change their lives are great. To move forward you need only take one step at a time. The first step is to reflect on God and His attributes. Then, find a coach and get busy organizing your details. With God’s power working in and through you, you will help others to grow.


Coaching the Coach Tip:

Throughout your coaching career, pause often and reflect on who God is. Find verses in Scripture that encourage you and help you focus on God. One of my favorite verses reminds me I’m not alone: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

            Reading this book and referring back to portions of it as necessary is a good way to be coached, but also consider enlisting the aid of a professional coach.

If you dislike dealing with details, you may be tempted to overlook or avoid getting your office documents organized. Resist that temptation because attending to these business tasks is what helps you become a professional coach.


Note: This article was adapted from the Coaching the Coach: Life Coaching Stories & Tips for Transforming Lives. Forty-nine coaches, including Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend, Dr. Tim Clinton, Dwight Bain, Christopher McCluskey, Dr. Linda Mintle and over 40 other top coaches; share their wisdom and expertise.  Click here to order Coaching the Coach

  About the Author:  Georgia Shaffer is a licensed psychologist, life coach, and the author of “How Not to Date a Loser: A Guide to Making Smart Choices”. She is a boardmember of ICCA who coaches and speaks frequently on the subjects of relationships, dating, grief, and rebuilding after loss. Georgia has over 15 years experience helping people identify: “What needs to grow? What needs to go?” For more information or free coaching tools, visit: www.GeorgiaShaffer.com   Want to join Georgia and 6000 other Chriatian Coaches to make a greater difference in the world?  

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