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Karen Williams

Advantis Credit Ltd

Operations Director

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What every coach needs to know before setting up a business


To make it as a successful coach you need to understand how to run a business, says Karen Williams.


There are many thousands of people across the world who have decided to train as a coach. Some of them have experienced coaching themselves, and want to make a difference. They see training as a coach as a great vehicle to achieve their ambitions.

Many of these people have spent their working lives in a corporate environment and decide to then make the transition to a career in coaching. However, it is more than a career change, it is a way of life, and the skills you need in a corporate career are very different to those needed for actually running a business.

"Many successful coaches worked part time when they first got their business up and running, as it can take time for people to be ready for your services."

From my experience, and from spending time with 25 successful coaches, just 10% of coaches who qualify make it in terms of creating a financially viable business. Although some may come into the profession to help others, the bottom line is that you need to be able to pay your bills and live your ideal life. 

On top of that, some of the training companies will sell the lifestyle of running a successful business, but it does take an incredible amount of work, luck and contacts to achieve the results you want.

Now do not get me wrong, there are plenty of successful coaches who are reaping the rewards of their activities, so I would like to share with you a few of the tips that every coach needs to know before setting up a business.

1. Be aware that you are running a business

As I mentioned earlier, it is not about changing career, you need to know or be prepared to learn the nuances of running a business. From the matter of becoming self-employed to learning the business and marketing skills, to getting clients, managing the legalities, administration, and other matters, these can all get in the way of your success.

2. Be prepared for it to take time

There are always those who have the contacts and luck to make their business a success from day one, but there are others who get frustrated when they do not get immediate results. Many successful coaches worked part time when they first got their business up and running, as it can take time for people to be ready for your services. This ensured that they did not suffer from the strain of having to convert every potential lead into a client, and had a focused route to success.

3. Get yourself support

It never ceases to amaze me that many new coaches spend thousands of pounds on a coaching qualification but are not prepared to invest in themselves when they want to create a business. I often see people in forums asking for pro-bono support to help them get their business off the ground, which frustrates me. 

Would it not make more sense to work with someone who has already achieved a successful business? I believe that it is prudent to learn the short cuts, not make expensive mistakes and to learn from the successes and failures of others.

4. Start with the end in mind

As one of the chapters in my book, this is crucial to success in so many ways. When you have that vision for your business, you can make sure that all the activity you do is focused towards that aim. From choosing your website name to deciding which list provider to use, getting clear on your ideal clients and your financial goals, these are all vital for success.

5. Remember the importance of your past

Even though you may be new to business, you would have only got to where you are today due to your experience, knowledge and contacts. So when you set up your business, tap into all that you know already.  Choose a niche where you have knowledge and expertise and draw on your networks to accelerate your business success. 

What next?

It is a huge transition for many who go from training as a coach to running a business, and I know it is not for everyone. There are wonderful opportunities in many organisations where you can use your coaching skills in the security of the corporate arena.

But for those of you who decide to take the step to running a business, with the right support, you’ll get incredible rewards from serving your clients, getting great results and achieving success.

Karen Williams has been running Self Discovery Coaching since 2006, which specialises in helping career changers and those facing redundancy to find a job they love. She also mentors coaches to enable them to turn their passion into profit. She has interviewed 25 successful coaches and is author of The Secrets of Successful Coaches, published earlier this year. You can get hold of your copy of her free report, What Stops Coaches from Running a Successful Business? at

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Karen Williams

Operations Director

Read more from Karen Williams

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