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The 4 Most Profitable Online Coaching Business Models in 2024

Are you wondering how it’s possible to start and build an online business that can replace your salary? 

The key to building a business that can consistently replace your income is to make sure you have the right online coaching business model. Basically, how your business is going to make money.

Want to know what that model is so you can finally quit your job?

Let’s dive right in.

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How to start a coaching business online

How do you start a coaching business from scratch?  

Good question. Starting a coaching business doesn’t have to be complicated (that said, it isn’t always easy), even if you’re currently in a 9-5 and don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands. 

How do I know? Because I’ve helped thousands of students start their own coaching businesses. In fact, I started my first coaching business as a side business that quickly (within 4 months) had grown to a six-figure business. 

Payment first paying client
The first payment I received in my first online business! Did it feel great? Yes! It showed me what was really possible with an online business.

And if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s this:

To build a coaching business you do need the right online coaching business model.

But more on that below. First, let’s look at what a coaching business is. 

What is a coaching business?

A coaching business is a business that lets you have a direct impact by helping people reach their goals. 

You can take a look at this video to understand exactly what a coach does. 

As a coach, you essentially guide and mentor students. The reason you’re able to mentor them is that you’ve already achieved (and/or helped others achieve) that same goal.

So, let’s say you’ve lost weight and now have a great system to help others get healthy. As a health coach (or weight loss coach), you could help them do that. 

The reason a coaching business is such a great business model if you’re in your 9-5 is that it doesn’t require huge investments and you don’t have to work 24/7. 

Because coaching is so tailored and personal, you can ask for higher rates. And that’s why it’s also such a profitable business. 

I tend to recommend that my students start at $1,500 for a 3-month coaching package. So with just a few clients under your belt, you can relatively soon start to plan for when and how you’ll leave your 9-5. 

Contrast that to a different online business model, such as an ecommerce business. If your product would cost $100, you’d need to sell 15 products to get to the same income as with one coaching package.

online business model pricing models
How many units you need to sell of coaching vs. physical products to reach the same revenue

But to start a business, you need a coaching business plan. Here are the steps to take. 

Starting a coaching business checklist

What do you need to start a coaching business?

(Also, make sure that your niche isn’t a niche that requires a license or similar. Most coaching niches don’t require one, but some, especially health-related businesses, do. Note that this isn’t legal advice!) 

What you DON’T need when you’re starting out is a website (that’s right!), business cards, or complicated marketing funnels. 

The reason is simple: 

None of this matters when you’re looking for your first few clients. 

What DOES matter is that you follow a proven strategy (like this one for getting your first paying clients).

Add on websites and other “nice-to-haves” once you have at least a few clients. 

And if you want more, here’s a short video I put together with my tips on starting coaching… today!

The next step is to choose your online coaching business model. Let’s take a look at your options. 

How to choose the right online coaching business model

There are a few different coaching business models to choose from. But before we look at them, a quick note:

The way you deliver your coaching (online or face-to-face) makes a huge difference.

If you offer your coaching services online, you instantly have access to a much bigger pool of coaching clients (the entire world vs. where you’re located). You can also market your services in many different ways.

And ultimately, the scalability of your business depends on if you’re offering coaching online.

That’s why I see online coaching as the best way to offer your services. (Plus, online coaching has become more popular than face-to-face coaching.

With that said, let’s look at the different models you can use to offer your coaching. 

One-on-one coaching

The first one is private coaching. This means that you privately coach your student with weekly, biweekly or monthly calls and maybe email support. 

This type of coaching is highly tailored to your client’s wants and needs. You guide them step-by-step.

This is the coaching model I recommend that you start with.

Why? Because when you build your business, you don’t know your audience that well. 

 But by working closely together with your clients, you learn the exact pattern of challenges, mindset blocks, and fears that they face.

You’re basically being paid to do market research!

(Which, by the way, is extremely important. 42% of small businesses fail because of a lack of demand… But by refining your coaching offer until it’s a no-brainer for people, you won’t run into that same problem.)

This isn’t a scalable business model, though. Once you’ve hit 10-15 clients, you’re probably more or less fully booked. 

That’s when you might consider one of the other coaching models to grow your business. 

Group coaching

The next step is to start group coaching.

You can essentially take your existing one-on-one offer and use that as a group offer.

The best part? You reach more people and at the same time, scale your business. So, if you can sell 10-15 private coaching offers before you’re booked out, you can offer your group coaching program to far more people. 

A group coaching program has the same value as a private coaching offer. The only difference is that your students don’t have one-on-one access to you.

Instead, you conduct coaching calls in a group setting. You might also have a Facebook or Slack group where you support clients in between calls (instead of them having email access to you). 

If you’re thinking that you have to lower your price significantly for this offer, it’s not true. You see, what I’ve found with my own and my clients’ offers is that group coaching can give your students even more value than private coaching. 

By being supported by not just you, but the entire group, students get inspired by each other — and can, that way, get far better results. 

Supporting coaches

Another option is to use your existing one-on-one coaching plan and take on supporting coaches. That way, you can sell your offer to more people without being restricted to your schedule. 

Your support coaches are people who have a background in what you’re coaching people on. You might need to train them a bit so that they can coach your clients on your personal coaching methodology.

Online courses

Finally, the most scalable offer:

Online courses. 

An e-course is a highly profitable offer. You create it once (and iterate it as needed) and then you can sell it on an ongoing basis.

And as you don’t personally have to support your clients, you can sell as many courses as you want. 

While this is a profitable and scalable offer, wait until you’ve sold at least a few private coaching offers before you create a course

Why? Because it’s far easier to sell a coaching package than a course.

To sell a course, you need to learn sales, copywriting, ads marketing, and email marketing to name a few.

With a coaching offer, you can start at a higher price. You also don’t need all those skills to sell your offer — people tend to see the value with tailored support much more clearly than what they get with an e-course. 

Fortunately, you can take your entire private coaching offer and turn it into a course.

That’s because once you’ve coached at least three people, you know what their struggles are and what your course needs to look like to help them get results.

Plus, you build up revenue in your business that you can then reinvest into growing the course side of your business.

There you have it, these are the online coaching business models to use in your business.

Start with a one-on-one offer, then scale with group coaching or support coaches, and finally, create your online course to sell.

Now, let’s look at the three elements your coaching business MUST have so that you can leave your 9-5 in the smoothest and fastest way possible. 

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

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When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

The 3 elements that ensure you are building a coaching business that replaces your salary / income

So how DO you replace your salary? 

These are the 3 elements I used to replace my 6-figure salary. 

First up: Your product.

Element #1: The right product (so you actually make sales)

The first element of your online coaching business model is the right PRODUCT. Even though in a coaching or service-based business, you’re not technically selling a physical product, make no mistake. You ARE still selling a product.

The key for this element is understanding what your product really is.

Most new coaches get this wrong, because they think that their product is coaching. When in reality, what you’re really selling in a successful coaching or service-based online business is the result that someone will get from hiring you.

People don’t want or need more information or more coaching or more work. They want the result they’ll get from your coaching.

In other words, they’re paying for your guidance, the “shortcut” they’ll get from you sharing exactly what they need to do, and the accountability they’ll get from having a coach.

Here’s what it comes down to: 

Your product is their TRANSFORMATION (not INFORMATION).

The right product isn’t enough though. You also need…

Element #2 The right audience (so you actually have customers)

The second element is the right people who want to buy your product. 

Have you heard the saying, “They could sell ice to an Eskimo?” (Where “they” is usually referring to someone who is great at sales.)

That sounds great, BUT:

Do you really want to have to sell ice to an Eskimo? After all, it’s not really something they want or need.

What if you could take that same ice and sell it to someone through the desert? It would be more valuable than gold to them!

That’s why it’s so important to have the right audience.

What’s more, ask yourself:

Whatever your product is, are you selling it to an audience that not only wants what you’re offering, but who also has the ability to pay for it?

Going back to our example of someone trekking through the desert, you can get even more specific than that. 

Instead of trying to sell ice to just anybody trekking through the desert, focus on selling ice to well-to-do people on a desert adventure. They will definitely have both the willingness and the ability to pay.

So I had a bit of fun with that example, but I hope it got the point across!

Because only when you have the right product and the right audience, can you implement the final element…

online coaching business model

Element #3 – The right price (so you can replace your income without going crazy)

The final element of your online coaching business model is the right price.

From a business point of view, what you’re charging needs to allow you to replace your salary while handling a reasonable number of clients. 

Otherwise, can you imagine?

You’d go crazy before you quit your job!

As mentioned, for most of my students, the max number of clients they can handle at one time is about 10-15 private coaching clients.

Knowing this, you can back into what price you need to charge to be able to successfully replace your income.

That’s not the only consideration though. 

You of course have to provide a value to your clients that matches and exceeds the price that you are charging. 

(If you want help figuring out what price to charge, I walk you through how to do that in this tutorial.)

Once you understand the value you bring to your customer through the perfect combination of product, audience, and price, you are off to the races!

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

Get Instant Access To My FREE Ultimate Guide Below!

When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

Are you ready to replace your income and quit your job?

As you can see, your online coaching business model is all about focusing on just a few things:

Offering a valuable service, working with a handful of quality clients, and creating a win-win situation where you’re helping them achieve a result they want

In return?

You get the end result YOU want…being able to replace your salary and leave your 9-5.

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

Which element are you working on right now? Let me know in the comments below!

Learn more: 

Checklist for starting your coaching business

The best business courses for coaches

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.

Want to know how to build a profitable, meaningful business to replace your 9-5?

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