Build a Successful Coaching Business, 12 Steps

Coaches come in all types: Business, voice, life, executive and many more. And if you’re a coach, you may be wondering about what, specifically, determines success. Is it your impact on the industry? Or the success of the people you’re coaching? Or the number of followers you have?

Success is highly subjective and dependent upon factors specific to your market. However, there a number of things you can do to ensure that you’re doing your best for yourself, and for those you coach, as you build your reputation and your business.

This is a timely subject, considering the number of coaches currently flooding all industries. It can be difficult to set yourself apart from the pack.

So let’s talk about how you can be the coach that your ideal clients have been waiting for, to build the business you’ve been dreaming of.

1. Know your Clients’ Strengths and Weaknesses.

Every client will come with natural gifts and talents. Some will need to be expanded, whilst others are already highly developed. Other areas will require beginner-level training, and yet others will need to be delegated or contracted out. You know what it takes to be successful in the area you’re coaching, so create a series of questions, activities, exercises…so you can assess each client’s unique skillset, for efficient and effective results. I would recommend disguising this assessment as something else—like a friendly conversation. Blatant evaluations don’t usually generate accurate results.

2. Establish Structure.

Every great coach owns a strategy that she will use to structure every coaching session. This strategy’s design should be created based on what’s necessary for progress, as well as what’s proven useful for success—based on conventional industry wisdom, as well as your own professional experience. Each session—and each relationship—will be unique, based on particular needs and circumstances; however, with structure, you can practically ensure forward movement and results.

3. Avoid Surprises.

You will evaluate each client so you know what you’re dealing with. Your clients deserve the same courtesy. Before you get into coaching exercises, let your client know what will be expected of him or her (both during your sessions and on their own time), how they can anticipate others reacting to their new skills, the responsibilities that will come with their new abilities, and whatever else will change as a result of your coaching.

4. Be Specific, with Examples.

Skirting around any subject is not common practice among great coaches. Statements like “try harder” have no place in a coaching scenario. Instead, use targeted instructions that will deliver predictable results. If you’re teaching someone public speaking, demonstrate how to move around the stage for optimal engagement. If you’re a business coach, show them how to increase margins by conducting a product-specific cost analysis with them.

5. Listen.

You have the expertise that your clients will need to experience success; however, unless you take the time to listen to their specific concerns, you’ll miss opportunities to tailor your wisdom to their condition…for results that will exceed their expectations. What you know will apply to all your ideal clients. It will not, however, apply to each one of them in an identical way. The only way to know the difference—and make a difference—is to hear what they’re saying about the problems they’re having, the outcomes they’re hoping for and the rewards they’re pursuing.

6. View your Client as an Equal.

In the best coaching relationships, the mentor and mentee view themselves as a team, working toward a common goal. If either one sees the coach as a superior (in anything but experience), then maximum success cannot be achieved.

7. Avoid Rushing.

No client should ever feel that he or she is being rushed beyond their own natural pace of learning. Of course, you should not be required to spend more time than you’ve been contracted for; however, these types of learning curves should be accounted for before the contract is written. Assess needs. Know limitations. Account for them, so that the only surprises are pleasant ones.

8. Welcome Challenges.

It can be easy to get excited about simple coaching assignments that promise great results. However, if you want to set yourself apart in the market, it’s important that you show enthusiasm about challenging assignments, too. These are the projects that will help you to build your reputation and gain trust among potential clients. Of course, this means you’re prepared to tackle those difficult tasks—so training, knowledge and preparedness are of the utmost importance.

9. Keep Learning.

The best coaches are always looking for new information, techniques, research and other elements that will enhance their instruction and keep their coaching fluid and adaptable. A great coach isn’t afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and she’s committed enough to say, “I will find out” (and then do it). Your industry will change. Your clients’ needs will change. You will change. Know this and anticipate it, understanding that by staying flexible and eager to learn, you will maintain a competitive advantage.

10. Practice Self-Awareness.

As a leader of any type, including a coach, your actions will often have greater impact than your words. Look at the principles you teach in a new light: compare them to what you’re putting out there, in the way you treat others, in the way you speak about others and in the ways you express yourself. These things will make indelible impressions on your clientele…and everyone you come in contact with. In fact, when you make great impressions in every type of situation, you will pick up more of the right kind of clients…just by being you.

11. Always have a Plan B.

Even if your coaching formula has delivered results that exceed expectations in every situation so far, it’s important that you be prepared for that one client who breaks the mould, or the circumstance that is unlike any other. Avoid thinking about predictable success in all conditions, and instead, start thinking about what you’ll prescribe if things don’t go as planned. Often, the biggest successes come the second time around, when the others would have given up.

12. Follow Up.

Stay connected with your clients, even after your coaching sessions are completed. This will prove to them that you really do care about results. Being there to answer questions and offer follow-up advice also means you’ll stay at the forefront of their minds—so when friends, family members or colleagues need a coach, you’ll be the first one they recommend.


If you’re building a coaching business, it’s going to take more than brilliant marketing and bookkeeping. It’s going to take more than lucrative connections and a great sales pitch. You’re going to have to deliver: results matter above all—followed closely by the customer experience.

So what will you do to make sure your coaching business outshines the rest? How will you find the clients who need you most, and then deliver beyond their wildest dreams? The answers for every woman will be different, and one of the best ways to find those answers and deliver on them is to work with a coach who is farther along on her journey than you are. You don’t have to do this alone, and why would you want to? I take on a select number of mentoring clients every year. If you have the passion, drive and commitment to succeed in business, and you’d like to explore all the opportunities available to you as a professional coach in any field, then click here to learn more about my Individual Coaching program.