10 Steps to Start Your Health Coaching Business
Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you want to start a health coaching business so you can do what you love while earning a great living!
Many health coaches believe that getting a certification is the only step they need to take to start their booming health coaching business. However, the reality is that getting certified is just the first step.
This guide on how to start a health coaching business will help you through all the steps you need to take to build a thriving, profitable, and fulfilling practice. I’m covering everything from deciding what programs you’ll offer, to choosing your marketing strategy, to getting organized and getting more done.
So let’s dive in to the 10 most important steps you can take to start a health coaching business.
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Table of Contents
- Choose a specialty
- Tell your network
- Decide on programs to offer
- Choose one or two marketing strategies to start
- Get the legal side of your business set up
- Create a website & social media presence
- Find networking opportunities
- Choose the online marketing tools to run your business
- Setting up your systems
- Find a mentor for your health coaching business
Client-Getting Step #1 – Choose a specialty
Your specialty (also called your niche) is a combination of who you serve (also known as your target audience) and the problem you solve.
This can be very specific such as “women in their 20s who struggle with emotional eating” or it can be more general “women in their 50s and 60s struggling with chronic health conditions.”
Why is choosing a specialty so important?
When you know who you are serving, you will start to speak and write in a way that makes your ideal clients feel that you are speaking directly to them. They will feel that you know them, understand them, and have the expertise to help them.
You will be able to get clear about…
- What your offerings should be
- What to write about in your newsletter or blog
- Who to connect with when you are networking and where to network
- What to speak about when you give workshops or webinars
- What areas you want to research and learn more about
For all these reasons, choosing a specialty will help you become a client attracting magnet!
4 Key Questions to Ask to Choose A Specialty
1. Who do you love working with?
These are the people who you find easy to work with and they get great results.
Make a list of the various types of clients you work with. The list might look something like this:
- Moms who want to lose weight
- Professional women, who don’t have children, who want to lose weight
- Women who struggle with emotional eating, fatigue, and poor body image
Now, put a star next to the group that you enjoy working with the most. If you had all the money in the world, which group would you want to work with for free?
If you haven’t yet worked with clients, think about friends or family you may have advised and notice if anything stands out.
2. What do people continually ask you about?
Think about your friends, co-workers, people you meet networking and in the community and the questions that often come up.
3. What message or information do you want to get out in the world?
Think about areas you feel passionately about.
4. What is your story?
Often our niche is related to something we struggled with and overcame.
The answers to these questions are like puzzle pieces, that you can fit together to determine your niche. By combining these different elements, you’ll be able to determine a specialty that…
- Is fun, easy, and comes naturally to you, so work is a pleasure
- Taps into what people want, so you can easily enroll clients
- Draws upon your passion and/or compelling story, which is what will keep you motivated and driven as you build your business
If it’s still feeling difficult to select a specialty, keep in mind that you don’t have to marry one niche for the rest of your life.
I encourage you to try one on and see how it fits. If it isn’t working for you or doesn’t feel right, go back and answer the 4 key questions again to get the juices flowing.
Client-Getting Step #2 – Tell your network
It’s time to start getting the word out about your new health coaching business!
Now that you’ve decided on a specialty you want to start with, it’ll be easier to communicate exactly what you do, who you help, the kind of problems you solve and the kind of results you help your clients achieve.
The first place to start is with people you already know. Use our networking email template to tell your family and friends what you’re up to, who you’re helping and how you help them.
You can also share the news on your social media channels.
Not be sure exactly what to post on social media?
Click here to download our fill-in-the-blanks social media posts that you can use to reach potential clients and get referrals from the people you’re connected to.
Be sure to ask your network to share your information with anyone they think may need your help. This is the best way to start getting referrals.
Client-Getting Step #3 – Decide on programs to offer
You don’t need a fully customized curriculum and unique-to-you program to start out, but you do need to have a program to tell clients about!
When talking to potential clients, you want to make your coaching package feel tangible. Your program should have a name and a price, and you want to be able to communicate how this will help your potential clients achieve their main goal or alleviate their main pain point.
I recommend setting up 3 programs when you are starting out:
- A short, low-cost program such as a cleanse or detox
- A mid-range 3-month private coaching program
- A high-end or VIP private coaching package
Creating a mix of programs like this allows you to meet different health concerns and levels of support.
Some people want support to achieve their health goals, but they may not be ready to invest in 1:1 coaching. Others will want and need lots of hand holding and be ready to invest in that.
1. Low cost group program
I call this type of program an ‘easy yes’ program, because the investment is low but your clients will still get results…and in a short period of time.
I know what you’re thinking. “Amy, you said I should be getting 1:1 clients, why are you telling me to set up a low-cost group program?” Well, hear me out.
Yes, getting 1:1 clients is the fastest way to meet your income goals. However, offering an easy “yes” program can actually help you reach that goal – if you get strategic about it.
The mistake I see coaches making with offering easy-yes programs is that they try to meet their income goals solely from enrolling a lot of people into their group program.
This is a really difficult thing to do when you’re a newer coach and don’t yet have a large audience.
The strategic route I recommend to my clients is using your easy-yes program to quickly get new clients, then upsell them into working with you one-on-one.
Using a done-for-you health coaching program like our Ready-to-Launch Cleanse makes it quick and simple to offer an easy-yes program.
You see, once they’ve enrolled in your short group program and started to see results, some of your group participants will be so thrilled with what they’ve seen that they’ll want further support from you.
2. Mid-Range 1:1 Program
Your mid-range offer can be a 3-month program (which you can also call a 90-day or 12-week program), where you work closely with clients.
Instead of scheduling coaching calls every other week, set-up your program to have 3 calls each month. This will allow you and your clients to build momentum, maintain consistency and (most importantly) accelerate their results.
If you’ve offered an ‘easy yes’ program, you can offer this as their “next step” to continue working with you.
3. Signature High End 1:1 Coaching Program
Your high end offer can be almost identical to your 3 month offer but with a few extras.
This may be something you’ve never envisioned before, but allow yourself to get creative.
As a new coach, you might fear that you can’t sell high end packages. You might think that you should focus on lower priced offerings, but here’s the deal….
Many clients want a high level of support and are willing to pay for it!
In my health coaching practice, my highest-end offering was by far the most popular.
And keep in mind that if you’re a newer coach, you’re probably not going to start out charging extremely high rates. This program will simply be a higher investment than your mid-range program. And over time, you’ll gradually increase your rates.
Offering a mix of programs allows you to meet people where they’re at, so you can serve more people. If you only offer one program, you’ll be missing out on a huge part of the market.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with the thought of having to create 3 different programs, you don’t have to! There are so many done-for-you programs available that you don’t need to spend months and months creating something from scratch.
Client-Getting Step #4 – Choose one or two marketing strategies to start
It’s likely that marketing your business can be a lot simpler than you think…
You see, a lot of new coaches attempt every marketing strategy in the book.
They’ve been told they have to do marketing tactic x, y, z… be on social media channels, blog every week, go to big networking events, send out postcards and flyers and business cards, create sales funnels on your website… the list goes on.
The problem with doing so many different things to market your business is it isn’t sustainable. You’re working tirelessly every single day, filling all your free time hopping from task to task, but not seeing any results.
The key thing you can do with your marketing plan to get the best results while spending less time marketing is to focus on ONE strategy at a time.
After trying many tactics myself and working with hundreds of coaches over the years, I can tell you that these are the most effective marketing strategies for each stage of business:
- Speaking (local talks and webinars)
- Referral partners
- List Building
- Social media
- Facebook Live streaming
(If you want to read about how to choose the strategies that are right for your health coaching business, download our Client Getting Tool Kit right here)
I’m giving you lots of options, but that does NOT mean you should try to do it all. I recommend you choose one tactic to focus on – and get really good at it before adding another tactic into the mix. This will keep you out of overwhelm and get you better results.
Client-Getting Step #5 – Get the legal side of your business set up
Running a health coaching business comes with a few ‘boss’ responsibilities. Things like taxes, legal disclaimers, and business registration are all things you’ll need to look into.
Each of these things highly depends on the area in which you live, so I won’t go into much detail here. Google ‘business setup’ in your area to find the appropriate information from your government.
And if you’re looking for some advice in the realm of all things legal, my friend Lisa Fraley is my go-to resource. As a lawyer and a health coach herself, she understands exactly what new coaches need to set up their business and protect themselves when working with clients.
Client-Getting Step #6 – Create a website & social media presence
I see a lot of coaches getting hung up on this step and I’m here to tell you – you don’t have to!
Having a beautiful website and a massive social media following is NOT a requirement to start getting clients. In fact, you don’t need either of these things to get clients, to start charging for your services, or to be a legitimate health coach.
You’ll likely want to build up your online presence as your business grows, but you can start with a very simple, straightforward approach and build on it later.
For new coaches just getting started, I would recommend creating a simple, one-page website and a Facebook page.
Creating a website
Setting up a simple one-page website has never been easier. You don’t need to know how to code or have a degree in computer science to create a beautiful and effective website.
There are many options for setting up your website like WordPress, Squarespace and Wix. Choose what feels best for you.
What should go on your website? Here’s an outline to help get you started:
Start by connecting with your ideal clients and what they’re struggling with.
Speak to the pain they’re experiencing and their goals. This will let them know that you “get them” and they’ll feel they’re in the right place.
Then, share that there is a solution and that you can help.
This is where you can highlight the areas in which you support clients.
Next, invite them into an initial consultation.
You might call this a strategy session, breakthrough session, or get-acquainted session. Share what they will get out of the session. (Don’t oversell it, but let them know what to expect and share the value of the call – even if it’s a free call.)
Include a prominent button where they can click to schedule the consultation.
This button can say “Schedule a FREE Nutrition Strategy Session.” Have the button link to an online calendar like Acuity where potential clients can schedule the call.
A website structure like this gives potential clients the most important information they need to know about working with you.
Social media channels
Facebook is the best place to start for new health coaches because, chances are, your audience is hanging out on Facebook!
Getting on Facebook
Set up a Facebook business page for your health coaching business. You can create your header image and any other graphics you need using Canva, a super easy-to-use design tool. Invite a few friends to like your page and write a few helpful posts.
Facebook groups are another great way to build your community. Creating a free Facebook group around your specialty will help you to attract an audience looking for guidance and support around that specific issue. Groups are great for getting discussions going.
I also encourage you to try going live! Facebook Live videos are one of the best ways to quickly connect with your audience
When I started doing Facebook lives, I have to admit that I was nervous about trying this new medium, just as I was nervous when I gave my first talk. But now that I’ve been doing them for a while it comes more naturally!
I recommend jotting down a few notes on a topic you want to share, practicing what you want to say a few times, and hitting that live button. Sticking to one main topic and having an idea of what you will cover will make your live video flow easier.
Other social media channels
If you absolutely love Instagram and you’re a great smartphone photographer, consider using Instagram as a way to connect with your audience. If you love creating videos, maybe start a YouTube channel.
The important thing about your social media strategy is that 1) your audience is using that channel and 2) it works for you!
Don’t worry about trying to be on every social media channel out there. If you are spreading yourself too thin trying to keep up with multiple platforms, your social media marketing won’t be as effective.
Like I always say, it is better to focus on one thing at a time and do it really well.
Client-Getting Step #7 – Find networking opportunities
Having a network of people who refer clients to you is the most powerful form of marketing for your health coaching business.
Traditional networking, referral partners and organic networking are some of the strategies I recommend for new health coaches.
Everyday you likely come in contact with lots of people – co-workers, if you have another job, people at the gym, the store, other parents and teachers if you have school-aged kids, people in your neighborhood that you see walking the dog. Or, people you see in groups or activities you’re involved in.
These are all people who may either be potential clients or may be people who know of potential clients to refer to you.
Organic networking means you bring up your business in natural, organic ways during everyday conversations. For example, when someone asks you “How are you?” you can say “I’m great. I don’t know if you know, but I just launched my wellness coaching business. It’s been a busy time, but an amazing experience and I’m working with some amazing clients.”
This is an easy and natural way to let the people you interact with on a regular basis know that you’re a health coach and you’re taking clients.
Even if they aren’t interested in working with you, they may know others who could use your help.
When I was a new health coach, I spent a significant amount of time doing “traditional networking” — networking in organized networking groups.
Personally, I went into these meetings with the goal of forming relationships with other health and wellness practitioners who might make good referral partners or want to host me for a speaking gig.
This strategy can be very effective – if you’re attending the right groups/meeting. But it can also end up being draining and a waste of time if you don’t approach it strategically.
Find groups – Start by doing a Google search to find groups. Type in “networking groups [insert your town/city]” and then do the same search for surrounding towns. You may also find groups on meetup.com and eventbrite.com. (I can also promise that when you attend one group you’ll meet people who can tell you about the other groups in the area.)
Set a goal – What do you want to get out of networking?
Here are some possible goals: to get clients, connect with potential referral or promotional partners, or connect with people/groups who could host you to speak.
Be ready to introduce yourself – I know this can be a bit anxiety producing, but I have an easy fix.
Write a short one sentence description of what you do ahead of time and practice it. This will allow you to feel more at ease when meeting people.
Don’t be surprised if you even get EXCITED about introducing yourself! And keeping it to one sentence means you won’t have a long speech to memorize.
A “referral partner” is someone who is a good fit to refer clients to you.
They are someone (or a company) that ideally has a sizable number or clients, patients or customers who would make ideal clients for you.
I LOVE this strategy because I’ve seen clients of mine end up filling their practice – or getting a steady stream of clients – from 1 or 2 strong referral partners.
Pretty cool, right?
Who would be a good referral partner for YOU?
Your first step is to think of people who offer something complimentary to you, but don’t compete with you.
Potential referral partners might be…
- personal trainers
- pilates or yoga studio owners
- medical doctors
This is not an exhaustive list, but will get your juices flowing!
Get referral partners by making a list of people you could contact (or friends that could introduce you to potential referral partners) and reach out.
One of the biggest mistakes health coaches can make when approaching referral partners is making it all about them. Focus on building a mutually beneficial relationship and make it a win-win for both of you.
Finding your network as a new health coach isn’t just about finding clients and getting referrals. It’s also about finding your health coach peers and mentors for support.
Joining a community of health coaches can give you an opportunity to share ideas, get feedback, and get guidance and support from people who are going through exactly what you are – or who have already been there.
This is exactly what you’ll get in The Health Coach Collective, our free Facebook group for health coaches at every stage in their business.
Client-Getting Step #8 – Choose the online marketing tools to run your business
As you grow your practice, do you wonder which tools and services you should have in place to start your health coaching business?
I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options, as well as feel the need to sign-up for the “next best thing.”
I like to keep things simple by focusing on the tools that will help you bring in more revenue.
When you’re just getting started, you need tools for:
- Accepting payments
- Managing clients
- Email & social media marketing
- Getting organized
- Webinars, online meetings, live streaming
I wrote a guide on all the best tools for each category to get you started.
I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options, as well as feel the need to sign-up for the “next best thing.” When you’re starting out, I recommend choosing one tool at a time and making it work for you before moving on to the next.
Client-Getting Step #9 – Setting up your systems
Systems might seem like something only big businesses need to worry about. Afterall, you’re a one person operation, so do you really need systems?
Setting up systems, even for a one-person business, can have real benefits:
- Systems save you time and help keep you organized
- Systems help you to seem more organized and professional to your clients, which allows you to deliver a better experience for every client you work with
- Systems can streamline key interactions with clients, like getting contracts signed and collecting payments, so your business can run more smoothly and no important details are missed
The most important system for a health coach is the new client system.
A big part of keeping new clients from backing out and remaining excited to work with you is giving them an amazing experience from the very beginning.
If done right, this part of your post-sale process can improve your client retention. It should instill confidence that they made the right choice in working with you.
It will also streamline things and keep you out of overwhelm. And, as you get busier, you can delegate this process to an assistant.
This process should have 4 main steps:
- Scheduling the first session – I’ve found it works well to solidify the client’s decision and get them excited about working together.
- An agreement or contract – It’s critical that you and your clients are on the same page. Use your agreement to set expectations and outline what’s included in the program, what the client can expect of you, your refund policy (even if your policy is that you don’t accept refunds), and how they can reach you and at what hours.
- Payment – collect payment based on the agreed payment schedule and methods outlined in your contract
- Welcome packet – This is a way for you to collect information about your client. It’s also an opportunity to provide instructions on scheduling calls with you and any other important information they need.
Once you’ve worked with your clients for a while, you’ll then want to create the opposite system – your client wrap up system.
There are 4 key reasons to have a wrap-up process:
- Ensure the future success of your clients
- Collect feedback and testimonials
- Give opportunities for continuing to work together
- Ask for possible referrals
Taking the time to set up these systems early in your business can help you save time later on, while also making your clients’ experience more positive and streamlined from the beginning.
Client-Getting Step #10 – Find a mentor for your health coaching business
Having a mentor will help you with every step in this guide.
There are so many ‘to dos’ on your list, you might not know where to start. But it gets much easier with the expert advice of someone who has done it hundreds of times before.
And, let’s be real…without someone supporting your marketing efforts, it’s much less likely to happen.
Finding a mentor gives you:
Sometimes knowing the order to do things in can be the most overwhelming part of growing your business. There are so many things that you can do, but knowing what’s going to work for you right now is almost impossible without getting expert advice.
Having a roadmap means having a clear path forward. It gives you a step-by-step plan to follow, instead of working on scattered tactics that don’t build on each other.
Those who publicly declare their intentions are four times more likely to complete their tasks than those who keep their tasks private.
If you’re working on your own, you’re probably not sharing your goals or your progress with anyone. When you don’t have anyone holding you accountable, it’s much easier to procrastinate on the marketing.
But when you work with a mentor who cares about your success, and is there to answer your questions, give you feedback, and encourage you every step of the way, you’re more likely to complete your work.
Saves you time
Wasting time with marketing strategies that don’t work is so deflating. I remember years ago feeling like I would never be able to figure it out, wondering if I should just throw in the towel. But really all I needed was a mentor to guide me.
When I finally sought out expert advice, I was able to see how much time I was wasting on things that didn’t work. I eliminated those things, and honestly my business started to feel so much easier. I felt like I had HOURS back in my week because I could spend time on tasks that felt fulfilling… instead of working on draining tasks that got me nowhere.
If I hadn’t gotten the guidance of a coach who knew my business, I don’t think I ever would have realized what wasn’t working for me.
Expert advice from someone who’s been there can make all the difference when it comes to getting real results from your marketing.
You’re given the roadmap, you’re given the templates, you’re given the advice, and you’re given the human support. These four things combined are why your marketing is more likely to work when you get expert advice and work with a mentor.
With planning, choosing the right marketing tactics, and guidance from someone whose been there before, you can start the health coaching business you’ve been dreaming of.
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Now I’d love to hear from you:
How many of these 10 steps have you completed so far? Where are you at in your journey of starting your health coaching business?
Comment below or come join our Facebook Group to share!