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What Does It Take To Start An Online Coaching Business?

April 16, 2020

I’m Kim.
I’m an M.D.-turned-coach and I’m dedicated to helping you build your dream career + lifestyle. Welcome to my blog, where I write (and podcast) about wellness, business + success!
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When you’re thinking about starting an online coaching business, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into right from the start. Many people want to become their own boss and launch an online business—more so right now than ever before, given our current situation.

For many people, coaching is the perfect choice. But let’s talk about what it takes to start a successful online coaching business.

In today’s episode and blog post, I am getting VERY real with you, as I answer the following questions and more…

  • What training or qualifications do you need?
  • How much money (ie. startup capital) do you need?
  • What kind of mindset do you need?
  • How much time do you need to devote to your business every week?
  • How long will it take before you achieve “success”?

Let’s dive in!

By the way, if you’d rather listen than read, here’s where you can tune in to this episode:


I’m really excited to get into today’s topic, because we are going to get down to the nitty-gritty of what it takes to build an online coaching business.

Now, before we get started, I want to tell you about something I’ve been cooking up behind the scenes for a little while. It’s my 5 day free challenge called Design Your Dream Business. It’s specifically for people who want to build an online coaching business — and if that’s you, I would love to see you inside this challenge! I’ll be describing the details of the challenge (including the VERY juicy giveaway I’m doing) at the bottom of this post, so scroll down if you want to learn more. If you’ve been wanting to build an online coaching business, but you’re having trouble getting started, or you’re not sure how to wrestle all your ideas into a cohesive plan…this challenge is for you. 

Now, on to today’s topic.

When you’re thinking about starting an online coaching business, it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into right from the start. 

Many people want to become their own boss and launch an online business. And so many people gravitate toward coaching because it’s one of those professions that is highly paid and also allows you to feel really meaningful and and excited about the work you do every day. Not only that, coaching is something you can do from home, or you do it while you’re traveling, so you can take your business with you and it doesn’t even require special certifications or skills for you to get started. 

So is it really that easy? Well, let’s talk about what it takes to launch a successful online coaching. After working with dozens of coaches over the last couple of years, and helping them build their businesses, I can tell you from experience what it really takes to launch and scale a highly profitable and successful business online.

1. WHAT TRAINING OR QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU NEED?

This is the question I get asked the most: do I need to do a certification or training program to build an online coaching business? What qualifies a person to become a coach?

And my answer?

You do not need a coach training or certification program. Coaching is unregulated, and there are currently no requirements.

Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t value, potentially, in a coach training program. Because it may be a very good idea to get some basic training or education in the field you want to move into. 

But here the answer is very individual. What you need to do is figure out your goals, where you want to be, what is your vision, what is the kind of work you want to do, and then be very honest with yourself about your gaps. What is your skill-set? Are there actual skills and knowledge that you don’t currently possess that you will need to go forward in your chosen field or niche. Be honest with yourself, and also recognize when your perceived gap is coming from a case of impostor syndrome. Now, this is not always easy to do (be sure to listen to my previous episode on impostor syndrome). Is this just a limiting belief — that you don’t know enough to be a coach in a particular field — or is it a legitimate lack of knowledge or skills. 

If you feel like you have a gap, if there are things you really need to know, then by all means, seek out a training course or program that will provide you with the tools you need. 

Some people have enough to get started right now. Your life experience and whatever education you have acquired up to this point is very likely enough to get you going, and take the first steps to building your business. There will always be training or certifications you take along the way, to augment your skills and take things to the next level. Personally, I am always improving my skills and knowledge and business, I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. But what I don’t want you to do is let a perceived lack of qualification stop you from getting started. Sometimes the best thing to do is just get going.

Bottom line with the qualification issue: figure out where you want to go, first, the kind of business you want to build, and then reverse engineer–seek out the training that will get you there, and then get started with those things — but always being mindful that you’re not just procrastinating on building the actual business by doing more learning.

2. HOW MUCH STARTUP CAPITAL DO YOU NEED?

A lot of people ask if they can launch their business for free. They say they want to do it themselves, get started and make money first, and then reinvest the money they have earned into their business. And if people ask me if this is a good idea, if this is possible, my answer is no.

This is a very bad idea. If you ask any successful business owner in any industry they will always tell you that starting a business takes financial resources. 

Trying to patch a business together completely for free is the slow road to success. It will take a very long time–if it works at all–and because you are signing yourself up for years of struggle, most likely you will give up before you get any kind of liftoff. These are the people who say “this isn’t working” or “there’s no money in X industry or niche” because they have not set themselves up for success in any way. 

So how much startup capital do you need? And what should you invest your money on?

In terms of how much you actually need to get started building an online coaching business, I usually tell my clients approximately $5K-10K. Now know that this is a very broad ballpark, and yours may be less, or it may be more, but I wanted to give you an approximate benchmark to look at. If you can plan for an approximate investment of $5K-$10K you have a financial cushion to invest in the support you need to get your business off the ground and then actually recoup that investment in fairly short order. And I’m going to talk about time frames and expectations in a second. But in terms of the initial startup investment, that should give you an idea of what you’ll need to invest to get things off the ground.

And if that number scares you, I just want you to remember that this is a BUSINESS you are looking to start. If you’re serious, this is not a hobby, or kind of a passing interest. If you are legitimately talking about building a new career for yourself, a viable stream of income, a business that is going to support you for years to come, it is quite frankly naive that you can start it with nothing, or start it for free. Think about anyone who, in the past, has started a business. In the days when the only kind of business was really a brick-and-mortar shop, or something like that, people don’t just go into it expecting that they’re not going to have to put any money into it upfront. Whether it’s rent, fixtures, advertising, stock, hiring staff…whatever it is, it costs money. If you truly want to start a business, you need to be willing to invest in it UPFRONT, as hard as that is, because yes, it is a leap of faith, but that’s what is required, in my opinion. An online business is different, you don’t need the same things that a brick-and-mortar shop needs, but you are going to need other things to help you succeed and stand out in the online marketplace.

So I want to dispel this idea that you can launch your business for free and try to figure it out on your own in the beginning and become profitable because that for most people simply does not happen. And I say that because I want you to be realistic and have the right expectations when you’re going into business for yourself. 

So what you invest your money on depends on the specifics of you want to do but there will always be an initial upfront investment into your business so that you can get everything off the ground and started the right way. If you’re a new coach and you want to start an online business, most likely you’ll need to invest in a business coach or mentor. Most new coaches need a business mentor or trainer because this is a new venture for you, and you’re not born knowing how to build a brand, or build a website, or how to create offerings, and how to market yourself, and how to gain clients. And that’s not your fault, of course, this is not a failing on your part, but it is a gap, and you need to learn those things to get started. You may also be investing some startup capital in a photoshoot, a website, and possibly some online tools and systems, later you may need to invest some capital on advertising and marketing and things along those lines.

Now let’s shift gears and talk about the mindset that’s required.

3. WHAT KIND OF MINDSET IS REQUIRED?

When I say “mindset” here, I’m really talking about your commitment. So let me ask you: how committed are you really to launching a successful business? On a scale from 1 to 10 where one is just kind of thinking about it and 10 means you’re as committed as they come, where do you stand? Really ask yourself that question because what I know is that in order for you to grow your business, and overcome challenges, and face your fears, and put yourself outside your comfort zone, you need to be all in. You need to be fully committed, and 100% in. When a potential client contacts me to work together, I always ask how committed she is.

And if she says anything less than an 8 out of 10 I don’t usually work with them. That’s because if you’re less than an 8, you are probably just looking into this idea, maybe you’re just in the initial dreaming stages, or exploring this idea, and maybe it’s a great idea for a business, but you’re not 100% in.

And what I know is that in order for you to be successful as a business owner you need to be 100% committed. You need to be a 10 out of 10. So if your degree of commitment right now isn’t at that level, maybe now is not the right time for you to get started.

4. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS?

This is another thing that aspiring coaches ask me about all the time: how long will it take? As in: how long is realistic to expect that it will take their business to achieve a certain level of success? Now, my preamble to this piece is that there is a LOT of marketing and hype out there in terms of hitting certain milestones in very short time frames, and some of it can be very seductive. 6 figures in 30 days, or 7 figures in 3 months, and all kinds of claims…and while those things are possible — I mean, anything is possible in the online business world because the potential reach is so huge — but these kinds of milestones are not realistic for most people.

I want to give you more realistic expectations so you don’t get overwhelmed or  frustrated and disappointed with yourself. 

When you’re getting yourself into business it’s important to look at what’s feasible for you, and what your income expectations are. And this will of course look different for everyone.

The question is: if you’re aiming to leave a 9-5 job, how much income do you need to replace? I have worked with doctors and executives who needed to replace a multi-6 figure income, and I have worked with women who needed to replace a much lower annual income, so it really depends. 

What I know from experience is that most new coaches who are very strategic about getting things set up right, and are able to do the work, will be in a position to start earning money around month 3 or 4, and then working toward consistent income by the time they’re reaching the 6-12 month mark.

Now this is not a guarantee or a claim or anything this is what I have seen from experience. You could be earning a lot more, but you could be also earning a lot less. There are no guarantees in business so you need to be ready to do the work and have realistic expectations and also to keep going if you’re not making the money right away. And there’s no giving up because this is your dream, and your passion, and that you’re totally committed to making it work. This is what’s required. 

Now, let’s talk about how much time is required on a weekly basis.

5. HOW MUCH TIME EACH WEEK DO YOU NEED TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS?

Many clients ask me, when they’re just getting started — and especially if they already have a full time job — how much time they’ll need to devote to building their business.

It’s important to have realistic expectations around work and how much time it will take, and this is a tricky one to answer and make generalizations about. I have had clients who had a full time job and also had kids to take care of, and they’ve had an hour or maybe two at most every day to work on their business. I’ve also had clients who had the luxury of being able to work on their business full-time, so they were able to spend 8 to 10 hours every single day working on their business.

But I have to say: I have not noticed a strong correlation between the number of hours available to you, and your success. I have come to believe that your mindset and your determination are much more important. Some of my most successful clients have had young kids at home, plus a busy job. Somehow they find the time. If you’re committed, you’ll find the time. Sure, it may not be quite as much time as someone who doesn’t have those responsibilities but you can be sure you’re going to use those little wedges of time to really good effect when you do carve them out. And in general, if you can manage to find an hour or two each day to work on your business, that’s a good minimum. You can make progress if you can create that for yourself.

However, at the same time, it’s important to know that everyone needs to go at their own pace. You are not like everyone else and so you have to go this journey at your own pace. So it may take you 3 months maybe 6 months maybe even 12 months to have a fully functioning and profitable business. 

But what matters the most is that you get started right now. Because the other thing that I know is that life is never perfect. And just like there’s no perfect time to have kids, there is no perfect time to get started on building your business or your future. There will always be complicating factors, or reasons to delay or wait or hold off, but the question is: are you going to let those things stand in your way? You only have one life, so what matters the most is that you get started right now, go on this journey and don’t give up on your way to building a successful business for yourself.

And now I would love to hear from you! What is holding you back from launching your coaching or Consulting concerns? What are the things that are unknown for you right now that are stopping you from taking action? Let me know by tagging me on Instagram or Facebook, and let’s have a conversation.

JOIN MY FREE 5-DAY CHALLENGE!

I have a very special invitation for you! I’m holding a free 5 day challenge and you are most definitely invited to take part.

The challenge begins Monday April 27th, 2020, and it’s called Design Your Dream Business.

I’m going to be taking you through a 5-day process to completely design the business of your dreams, which includes crafting a business that supports the lifestyle you desire, the money you want, the purpose you feel called to serve….everything. And, at the end of the 5 days, I’ll be doing a giveaway of $500 toward branding and design for your business through 99 designs, which is an awesome marketplace for graphic designers and people who can help you with design and branding, and all kinds of projects. One lucky participant will have $500 to spend however you choose, on your logo, your website, a book cover, social media graphics — honestly, there are so many options and so many great ways you can take the branding and visual design of your business to a whole new level. 

Now, to qualify for that giveaway, you need to sign up for the challenge and participate each day — I’ll be giving you prompts for each day, in a live video training and email message for each day of the challenge. I’m packing this week with a ton of content and lots of good stuff, you definitely don’t want to miss it.

To participate in the challenge, sign up right here.

And then watch your email inbox for your welcome email. And then on Monday April 27th, we’ll get started!

I can’t wait to do this with you, I’m so excited to help you design your dream business!


Resources & Links:

Come chat to me on Instagram or Facebook and let me know what’s holding you back from starting your online coaching business—let’s have a conversation!

LET’S HOP ON A CONSULTATION CALL! LEARN MORE HERE: https://drkimfoster.com/consultation

N.B. some links are affiliate links.


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