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How to Become a Successful Business Coach in 2024 (full guide)

Want to learn how to become a business coach? 

You’re in the right place. Today, you’ll learn how to start your business coaching business with all the impact, flexibility, and freedom that comes with it. 

Want to learn more? Read on!

What is a business coach? 

A business coach is someone who helps provide feedback, set the direction, and give tools, guidance, and perspective to entrepreneurs (or aspiring ones). Business coaches act like mentors and mentorship can have a big impact.

One-third of successful entrepreneurs have turned to a mentor or support group. 33% of top-performing founders are mentored by successful entrepreneurs. And 92% of small business owners agree that mentors have an impact on their growth and the survival of their business. 

What’s more, 88% of business owners with a mentor say that having one is invaluable. 

But business coaching goes way beyond mentorship. While a business owner might meet with a mentor once a year or every six months and get an hour of support, a business coach is much more hands-on. 

After all, business coaching is a paid service, while mentors do it for free and have no obligation to show up for their mentees. And finding a mentor is another hurdle of its own. 

In other words, business coaching can be incredibly valuable and have a lasting impact. 

But who is qualified to become a business coach? That’s what we’ll look at next. 

What are the qualifications of a business coach? 

To become a business coach, you do need to have experience as an entrepreneur or business owner. And more specifically, you need to have relevant experience in what you’re teaching. 

For instance, if you’ve built a successful business from scratch as the founder of that business, you can help other people start their businesses.

Or, maybe you’ve grown a company from eight to nine figures. In that case, you have relevant experience to coach others to do the same. 

The reason is simple:

As a business founder, you’ve seen all aspects of building a business. Only when you’ve actually experienced the full spectrum of growing or building a successful business, can you truly equip your clients to succeed for the long-term.

I’ve seen too many people coach entrepreneurs when they had no business giving that advice. While their clients might end up making some money, their coach can’t help them sustain their income. And as a result, their business fails. 

I myself have first-hand experience of this. The first business coach I worked with kept telling me simply to “believe more” to achieve results without offering any practical advice. 

The thing was, she had only built one business and so when she was coaching me, she could only tell me exactly what she’d done. And when that advice didn’t work for ME, she didn’t understand why it didn’t work or how to help me. I ended up losing $18,000 on this coach—and I hope that doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Now, if you haven’t started a business on your own, you might be an expert on one area of building a business. And in that case, you can teach people about that specific area. 

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For instance, when I first started my business, I had about 10 years of experience building businesses, from a six-figure tutoring business to a tech startup with a multi-million valuation.

But I hadn’t built an online business, so I wouldn’t have been qualified to help people start their own online businesses.

Instead, I sold digital advertising consulting to business owners (I had learned how to use digital advertising in my 9-5). 

Within four months, I had made six figures and that’s when people started to come to me for advice on building their online businesses. 

What should you do if you haven’t started a business? 

If you have experience as a team member of a new business, as a management consultant or similar, you can coach on the aspects you’re an expert on and title yourself as such.

For example, you can be a business systems coach, productivity coach, marketing coach, confidence coach, mindset coach or sales coach. 

But… let’s first dispel a very popular myth in the online world.

That you can only be a business coach by teaching people how to make money. 

Let me clear that up right now:

Off the top of my head, here are just a few of the not-money-making-related industries I’ve helped clients make 6- to 7-figures in:

  • Confidence
  • Leadership
  • Mindset
  • Health
  • Organization
  • Beauty

The truth is, anyone who’s claiming that you can only make money selling a certain type of product is simply not very good at crafting offers that’ll sell, or, at selling them.

Even when I think about the courses I’ve personally created, although they all help you build a profitable business in some way, many of them should not have succeeded based on “conventional wisdom.”

Like my course that teaches you how to build systems and analyze your business. There’s a reason you don’t see many other courses teaching this; unless you know how to position the offer and market it, it feels way too boring. 

Which goes to show that you can sell whatever you want, no matter what industry you’re in, what price you want to charge, or anything else you think might be stopping you.

The thing is: 

It all starts with your offer and how well you sell it. 

If you know how to craft and position your offer in a way that’s attractive to your ideal clients, you can explain it clearly and confidently, and you’re clear on the value of your offer, you don’t need to promise people you’ll help them ”make money.”

But how do you know if you are qualified to become a business coach? That’s what we’ll look at next.

Do you need a business coach certification? 

There’s one thing you need in order to be qualified to teach others how to start a business:

You must have experience on the thing you’re helping people with.

But is a certification necessary? 

No, you don’t need one. While yes, a certification might help you coach better, you can also learn this by offering lower rates to your first few clients so that they get to work with you for a reduced rate while you build your coaching skills.

Think about it this way: Do you need an MBA to start and build a business? No, you don’t. A lot of people (maybe yourself included) have started businesses without MBAs (I did, my background is in engineering). 

Plus, not all coaching certifications are equally credible. Certification companies (just like most coaching businesses) aren’t regulated in any way. If you want to get a certification, make sure you get it from a trusted provider. 

In this short video, I walk you through what it takes to start coaching and get paid for it right from the start (even if you don’t have a certificate): 

Next, let’s look at how you make your income as a business coach. 

How do business coaches make money?

The first service you’ll likely sell is one-on-one coaching.

So you help individual clients start their own businesses.

The next step is coaching in a group setting. In other words, you coach a group of students simultaneously so that you trade less of your time for the money you make, while you’re able to help more people.

And once you’re really ready to scale, online courses can help you. Courses remove the need to trade time for money, but it is a good idea to sell coaching services first because you learn how to teach and you can use your coaching methodology to create your course content (making it faster and easier to set up a course). 

But are business coaches sought after? Here’s what you need to know!

Are business coaches in demand? 

Yes, business coaching is in demand. Overall, coaching is a billion-dollar industry. IPEC reports that every month, 1.5 million online searches are made for business coaches, life coaches, and executive coaches. 

Plus, 34% of Americans have a side gig, while 50% of millennials and 70% of Gen Z are picking up side businesses. It’s clear that entrepreneurship is on the rise and so more business owners will likely need help with building their businesses.

But how do you become a business coach? That’s what we’ll look at next. 

How to become a business coach without a degree

To become a business coach, you need to pick your niche, grow an audience, and create your coaching offer. In this section, we’ll look at each of these three steps. 

Find a niche 

What’s your niche? AKA in what specific way do you help your clients get results?

When I started my business coaching business, I saw a gap in the market. There were tons of business coaches for people who didn’t come from a corporate background.

But there weren’t coaches for people like me who had a good paying job but wanted more out of life.

So I started helping employees who wanted to become entrepreneurs.

At that point, I also focused on women, but today, I help both men and women. Plus, I’ve expanded to other audiences, too. While my flagship course Employee to Entrepreneur still serves my first audience, I have coaching and course offers for people who already have a business too. 

Other potential niches for business coaches are:

  • Startups
  • Small businesses 
  • Ecommerce businesses 
  • Female entrepreneurs
  • Young entrepreneurs 
  • Senior entrepreneurs 
  • Family businesses 
  • Service businesses 
  • Non-profit or social businesses 
  • Software businesses 
  • Blogging businesses
  • Influencer businesses 
  • Real estate businesses 
  • Online businesses 
  • Help businesses scale 

…And so on.

The niche you pick depends on your experience. While you technically can help people start many types of businesses, you do need to focus on that one thing you as a business coach are THE expert on to truly deliver value to your clients. 

Here are my best tips on how to find a niche:

Create your coaching offer

The next step is to create a coaching offer, AKA your coaching package.

What should you include in your offer? 

According to SCORE, some of the main things business owners ask their mentors for help with include: 

  • Human resources issues (61%)
  • Growth/business expansion (59%) 
  • Start-up assistance (53%) 

Should you then randomly include advice on these and other topics? 

No! My best tip is to create an A to Z program that teaches your clients ONE result. 

For instance, if you help people start their businesses from scratch, you’d take them through the steps that someone needs to take to build a business.

In other words, you’d teach them how to find a niche, grow an audience, and sell their first product or service. 

Or if you help more seasoned entrepreneurs grow their businesses, you’d help them choose marketing strategies, set up systems for those strategies, and scale their businesses. 

I typically recommend my students to start with a three-month coaching package. That’s because three months is long enough for people to get results, but short enough for making your offer a “heck yes” offer for people. 

And, unless you’ve coached before, a good price point for your first offer is $1,500.

While you know how to build a business, you don’t necessarily know how to coach. Pricing your offers lower than you otherwise would will offer a win-win for you and your clients. Your clients get access to you and your experience for less, while you develop your coaching skills.

In this short video, I show you how to create and systematize a coaching offer:

Sell your coaching package 

Once you have a coaching offer, the next step is to start selling it. 

There are various ways in which you can do this, but I recommend that you focus on one or two strategies.

One of the most effective ways is to use strategies you’ve used before in your businesses because you’re already familiar with those strategies. 

That said, selling a coaching offer is different from other offers (like ecommerce products) and so you might need to learn new sales strategies. 

The most efficient way to sell high-ticket coaching offers is to first build relationships with potential clients (or leverage existing relationships) and then hop on a discovery call with them. 

And to build relationships, some of the best strategies include: 

Leverage your network

You have an existing network and some of the people in that network are likely interested in getting help with what you teach. 

By reaching out to your network, you could land your first few clients. That’s what I did when I started my first coaching business.

I offered career coaching and asked people who I knew were interested in my coaching if they wanted to work with me. As a result, I got my first few clients very quickly. 

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Build relationships on social media (or elsewhere) 

You can also build those relationships on social media or another forum (such as live conferences). That’s how I started my advertising consulting business. I was sharing a lot of valuable advice for free in social media groups and after a while, I had made a name for myself and clients started coming to me. 

Other potential platforms are TikTok, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Offer value upfront (without expecting to sell) and you’ll start building relationships with people who are interested in your offers. 

Get in front of your audience

A great way to get your first paying clients is to get in front of them in different ways. For instance, you might guest post on a website, become a podcast guest, or do a joint livestream on social media or a webinar with someone who works with people you’d like to work with.

Those are just a few strategies you can use to reach potential clients. 

In this video, I share more strategies:

And once you’ve successfully used these strategies and people are curious about your services, you can invite them to a sales discovery call.  

This sales call is all about understanding if you’re a good fit for each other. For the specifics on how to hold a discovery call, take a look at this quick video: 

The last step when selling your coaching services is to send your new clients a coaching contract, a payment link (I like Stripe or Paypal), and a calendar invite to your first coaching call (Calendly is a great tool for scheduling calls).  

You don’t really need anything else at this point because you can use a tool like Zoom to hold your calls and share files in Google Docs, both of which offer free versions. 

Grow an audience 

When you have paying clients and your business is officially off the ground, the next step is to start growing an audience. (Mainly an email list, as emails have the highest ROI compared to other platforms.)

The reason you’ll want to grow your own audience instead of just relying on social media audiences is that you don’t own your social media following. Too many people grow massive audiences on social media, only to wake up one day and realize they’re gone because their account got hacked or the social media platform changed its algorithms.

And with your audience, you can build long-lasting relationships, so that people get interested in your offers and continue following and, eventually, buying from you. 

There are plenty of strategies you can use to grow your audience. Social media ads are one strategy, guest posting and podcasting another. Once you’re ready to scale, you might use search engine optimization (SEO) so that people find your business organically.  

Scale your coaching business

When you’ve successfully sold your first coaching offer, you’re maxed out on one-on-one clients (which usually happens at around 10 clients), and you want to grow your coaching business, it’s time to start scaling.

This is also when you can start offering group coaching. So instead of private coaching calls, you coach multiple people at the same time. 

You can either create intimate, high-end programs (with 10-25 participants) or bigger programs that you pair with a self-study course. The latter option means that people go through your course on their own so that they get the fundamentals and your group coaching then supports them in implementing that program. In that case, you can coach anywhere from 300-400 people.

I’ve done both and both options have their pros and cons. The one you choose depends on your goals. A high-end, intimate program will help people get great results as you will have more time to dedicate to each student, but a bigger program will make it possible for you to work with more people at the same time. 

Either way, you do need to know how to coach to sell both private and group coaching programs. Next, we’ll look at what it takes to become a great coach. 

How to be a great business coach 

Finally, how do you become a great business coach who helps your clients get results? 

After all, it’s very different to know how to build a business… And to teach people how to do it. 

Fortunately, coaching is a skill you can learn. In this short video, I share what it means to be a coach: 

And here are the steps you need to take to become a valuable coach for your clients: 

Coach and consult 

First things first, understanding how to coach is a must if you want to coach others successfully.

There is a common belief that coaching can only look one way. While yes, “traditional coaching” means that coaches have a purely supportive role, today, they can also take on a more guiding and advisory role.

I call this “coach-sulting” or coaching + consulting.

You support your clients in finding answers to their questions (AKA traditional coaching), but you also advise them based on your experience. 

But what does coach-sulting look like when you’re actually working with a client? That’s what we’ll look at next. 

Offer an end result

Your coaching package should have a clear end result. So within three months, clients can expect that result if they implement what you teach. Obviously, it shouldn’t be the end-end result (like teaching people how to build a seven-figure business from scratch in three months…that’s probably not going to happen), but still, a clear result. For instance, if you work with new entrepreneurs, the result you help them get might be their first paying customers.

By offering specific results, you set the expectations for your program AND you give clients an easy way to measure their progress. 

Divide results into sub-results

To make your program as actionable as possible, use sub-results. Every month, your clients work towards one of these sub-results. 

For example, let’s say you help business owners create their own ecommerce shops. This is what your sub-results might look like:

Month 1 – Build your shop

This first month, your clients learn how to research their market, source a product, and build an ecommerce shop. 

Month 2 – Market your product

Month 2 is all about mapping out and implementing their marketing strategies. 

Month 3 – Sell your first product 

And during this last month, the goal is for your students to sell their first product. 

This structure gives you a clear outline for your coaching calls, so that you and your clients know what to focus on each call/month. 

Map out your coaching calls

Start by mapping out your first few coaching calls so that you know what to say, even if your client doesn’t know what they want to talk about.

You can map out basically everything you want to talk about during that call in a structured order. If you don’t get through the list, no worries, but this way, you WILL have something to say no matter what. 

However, I don’t recommend that you share more than a few main themes during a coaching call. You’ll want your coaching to be actionable and that’s only possible if what you teach is relatively simple to implement and not overwhelming. 

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Offer support 

What type of support should you offer your clients? 

The level of support you want to offer is up to you. However, most programs include one or two calls a month (opt for two calls when you’re a new coach so you get as much practice as possible) and support through a different channel in between calls, such as email, Voxer, Slack or some other online tool.

In terms of how much feedback you give, remember that you’re a coach and your services aren’t done for you. In other words, you don’t need to build your clients’ businesses for them. And in fact, offering that type of support will hurt them more than help them because they won’t know what to do after they’ve finished your coaching program.

Yes, give them support, advice, and provide them with the tools they need to build a business, but realize that they need to do the work to ultimately build their business. 

Over to you!

There you have it! Now you know what it takes to become a business coach.

Ultimately, building a coaching business can help you have a big impact, while this business model is both profitable and sustainable.

However, you need the RIGHT strategy to get there in the fastest and easiest way possible.

Want to know what it is?

Get my FREE blueprint, which shows you exactly how to build a six-figure coaching business from scratch:

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About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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