How to establish a successful coaching business

Coaching is not different from any other business. You sell a product or service that someone needs and customers are there and willing to pay. Pretty simple right? Not really. Starting a business of any kind is darn hard work. It requires determination, perseverance, patience, sweat, grit and a touch of insanity (okay – quite a bit!). Having something worthy to offer is just not enough to make a business successful. Here are 4 essential ingredients that you need to avoid a half-baked flop. I call it 4D targeting.

  1. Choose your target
  2. Connect with your target
  3. Speak with your target
  4. Deliver to your target


Choose your target

Targeting is the opposite to scattering. So, what’s scattering:

  • Grasping at straws
  • Trying to please everyone
  • Unfinished business
  • Lacking focus
  • Spreading yourself too thin
  • Not committing
  • Being good at everything and great at nothing
  • Losing trust
  • Collapse
  • Burn Out

So, choosing your target market for your coaching business is essential. Defining who it is that you want to work with streamlines your communication and marketing energies, provides focus and vision, and keeps you consistent.

Understanding true and pure coaching means that you know that coaching is coaching no matter who or what you are dealing with. But choosing a specific target will allow you to connect and build your reputation through utilising the specific networks and channels aligned to that target. Being authentic to your true self and your own passions, will also increase your sense of purpose and satisfaction, two things essential in driving your business.

It’s important to feel an alignment on some level to your target. Drawing from your professional background, education and experience will help you feel comfortable working with a certain type of person, in a certain type of setting and in a certain type of industry. Do you have an area of expertise or a field of accomplishment? This will work for you in 2 ways: 1/ it will help you be empathetic to your clients and understand their needs and desires and therefore the issues they are trying to solve; and 2/ it will build your client’s trust and confidence in you: they will feel they are in good hands.

In choosing your target there are 4 questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Do you care about them – do you feel passionate and want to be surrounded by these like minded people?
  2. Do they hold value – do they need what you have to offer and are they willing to pay for it?
  3. Are they worth the Investment – will the target grow with you and stay engaged?
  4. Do you still care enough to want to make an impact on your target?


Connect with your target

Sell the sizzle, not the steak. If you think you are selling coaching then you are not going to go anywhere. Coaching is the by-product and plays a minor role. People buy based on emotions not on logic. You need to connect with your target by highlighting the benefits they will gain from paying for your services. What problems and challenges will they fix? How will your services help them grow, perform better, live better, feel better? Find out what their common issues and concerns are and sell your solutions!


Speak with your target

Groupings of people respond specifically in different ways to different stimuli. Gone are the days of printed media advertising, sharing business cards, cold calling and word of mouth. Reaching your target means getting friendly with social media, or finding someone who is. This is a wise investment you need to make in your business. It takes time, knowledge and effort. You will need to weigh up: can I forgo 5 hours of paid coaching time to upload my social media feeds or can I outsource that for a fraction of that cost? Remember time is money!

In reaching your target consider the 3 P’s – Platforms, partnerships and positioning

Platforms- This includes Facebook ads, Google Adwords, instagram and LinkedIn ads. Pay per click (PPC) is an effective and speedy way to attract people to your website and content you create. Facebook allows you to target your specific audience with precision. You can target your ideal clients through demographic, interest, and behavior based filters when boosting and promoting your posts. You’ll need to allocate a budget dedicated to Pay Per Click and boosted posts. In the beginning, it’s essential to test different filtering variations and campaigns to fine tune your targeting effectiveness.

Partnerships- Developing profitable partnerships means finding someone who provides a service or product that complements what you offer and with whom you share a target audience. For example, with a previous company of mine, I partnered with a fitness magazine who agreed to offer their subscription for a highly reduced price, adding value for my customers, increasing exposure of the magazine company within our catchment and providing us with free advertising to the wider target audience being subscribers or consumers of their magazine.

Positioning- Position yourself as an expert in your space by creating engaging and valuable content that your audience craves. I’m talking blogs, live videos on social media, or creative social media posts. If your content is worth it, people will return the gift by sharing it on social media, a valuable modern-day form of word of mouth. Think like your audience. What are their problems and fears? If you know your target you will have them on the hook and they will be hungry for more. Remember to always connect your social media, blogs and posts to your website, allowing your target to respond now and connect with you when they are feeling those intense emotions that you have successfully aroused.

Deliver to your target

Okay, it’s all very well choosing, connecting and positioning yourself with your desired target, but they will soon run and hide if you don’t deliver. Walk your talk and deliver on your promises. In fact, the old principle of under-promise and over-deliver still applies and will be your best friend. Ensure you have the capacity, resources and systems to deliver to your target what they are hoping for. If you target ‘stay at home Mums’ but can only coach them in the evenings this will not work! If you target personal trainers and only deliver early in the mornings that will not work. If you commit to attending sessions all over a given city or region how will this be sustained?

Also, remember your target networks too. They will share their stories of their experiences with you. Do you have the systems and processes to ensure every single client is treated in the exact same way at all times? If you don’t, make it a priority NOW. What this means is that you create a leak proof system of recording customer enquiries, following up these customers, create templates for emails and letters that must be used at specific times, design methods for keeping data bases: information of when, how and for what clients were followed up, use custom-made welcome letters, forms, evaluation and feedback systems and so on. You may think this is going over the top when it’s just you starting out, but, believe me, this is the one thing that you will be thankful for and will turn your business from good to great!

Author: Kristin McMaster, Director, Health Coaches International. Health & Business Coach, Masters Nutrition, Dip Fitness, Executive Coaching Cert, ICF Member. Contact


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