Written by: Linda Evans, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
So you think you want to start a solo coaching business? It can be very fun and rewarding... after you’ve laid the proper foundation for it to flourish.
I’ve had my career coaching business, Launched by Linda, LLC, for 9 years. After being asked by many people how I got started and what advice I have for them, I decided to put together a checklist for individuals who are considering starting a coaching business. This checklist is not only to help you know what to do but also to help you honestly ask yourself if you really want to invest your time and resources in this endeavor. If you already have a coaching business, this checklist may help you improve it.
My business has been an enriching addition to my full-time career in higher education career services, but I will be the first to tell you that I did things out of order. It worked for me, but I generally don’t suggest following in my footsteps. There is a better, more proper order I recommend.
($) indicates a financial investment, ($+) indicates recurring payments
1. Get proper training and credentials ($+) – Whatever area(s) of expertise you intend to coach in, be sure you have the necessary training, credentials, and/or experience to be competent and confident as a coach. You should also consider how you will continue your professional development through books, webinars, conferences, memberships, etc.
2. Create a business model – What services will you offer? How long will each session be? What will your fee structure be (i.e., standard rate or sliding scale)? Will you have discounted rates for packages? Who is your target audience? What location or platforms will you use to conduct your sessions? How will you schedule clients? Will you be open to calls, emails, or texts outside of coaching hours? Will you follow up with clients after sessions, and if so, at what frequency?
3. Create a business name – Will you use your personal name or create a business name? This will ideally never change even as your business evolves. Do an internet search to ensure it is not already in use by another coach.
4. Create a logo and brand look ($) – Hire an experienced graphic designer who can advise you on what kind of logos, fonts, and colors work well for your business.
5. Get professional photos ($) – Hire a photographer or barter your services for a set of professional quality photos for your website and marketing materials. Get various poses, including close-ups and whole-body shots, in landscape and portrait orientations.
6. Buy a website domain ($+) – Choose a website platform and purchase a domain (the .com address for your website). Ideally, it is just the name of your business, but if it’s already taken, you may consider renaming your business.
7. Design your website ($+) – Many platforms are easy to use, but if you don’t feel tech-savvy, it will be a worthwhile investment to hire a web designer.
8. Create a business email address ($) – Your website platform may allow you to create an email using your domain, or you can use another domain like Gmail or iCloud.
9. Set up a payment system – Some website platforms will have a built-in payment system for a small fee. You may also consider using free apps like Venmo or Paypal.
10. Create a company page on Linkedin – This will allow you to add it as a job under your Experience section with an official logo. You can also gain followers and post about your services on Linkedin through your official company page.
11. Create social media pages – Consider Facebook, Instagram, and whatever other platforms make sense for your target audience.
12. Create a marketing strategy ($+) – How will you attract new clients besides referrals?
13. Create a receipt template – This document confirms payment and the details of your sessions for each client. It is also a great way to reinforce your brand.
The following steps are the best legal practices in the United States, most of which are for your protection in a highly litigious country. I highly recommend hiring a lawyer to assist with these processes. Laws in other countries will dictate other legal steps.
14. Register your business name ($) – Check the specific laws for your state and reserve your business name.
15. Buy a business license ($+) – Check your local laws for licensing your business; it may require annual renewal.
16. Form a Limited Liability Company ($) – Follow the specific process for forming an LLC in your state. This legal designation separates your business funds (revenue and costs) from your personal financial accounts, so if a dissatisfied coaching client ever sues you, it will not affect your personal finances.
17. Create a business bank account – Having a separate bank account for your business will allow you to benefit from the protection of your LLC.
18. Register for an EIN – The Employer Identification Number is issued by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to be used when paying taxes each year.
19. Prepare an Operating Agreement – Details your business’ financial and functional decisions, including rules, regulations, and provisions.
21. Prepare Client Agreement – This is the contract you should have every client read and sign before beginning services. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has a template you can download and edit, but make sure you also read and abide by their Code of Ethics.
22. Track all clients – Keep a detailed record of each client’s name, sessions, and payments for both financial and business improvement purposes.
23. File taxes yearly ($) – Be an honest taxpayer!
It usually takes months or years to build up a coaching business that can sustain all your living expenses, so don’t quit your day job until you have received sufficient income for several months!
When you have a business, and you are the only employee, your business and personal brands completely overlap—exercise deliberate intention for every decision and action to maximize your brand's value and reputation. Good luck!
Linda Evans, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Linda Evans is a strengths-based career coach and personal branding expert. In 2011, she founded her virtual career coaching business, Launched by Linda, LLC. Her full-time career has been in higher education since 2012, and she currently works in Career Services at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Linda has a B.A. in American Studies and a minor in Ballroom Dance from Brigham Young University, and an M.A. in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. She is also a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and has certificates in positive psychology and public speaking.