Question: When should you start developing your coaching business?

Answer: All the time!

As business owners, we need to be looking at our business regularly. It doesn’t matter if we have just started out in our business, if we are long-time solopreneurs, if we run a limited company and have done so for a while, or it’s a part time business (or side hustle).

However, the depth that we need to be thinking about, and how our business plan might look, will often depend on where we are in our professional life. Are you just starting out? How many years have you been running (e.g. 5, 10, 15 +) ? Or indeed are you winding down? That also needs planning.

As I was developing our new Business Development for Coaches Programme, I recognised that there are many things we could all learn by stepping back from time to time as business owners. As someone starting out, it’s likely you have a lot more things to think about, as you may have never run a business before. However, even as a long-time business owner, it could be really helpful if you took the opportunity to look at your business through fresh eyes to review and re-energise your offering and how it is positioned. It’s very similar to completing a coaching training programme and going in with a beginner’s mind set.

What therefore might be some of the questions you need to ask no matter what stage you are in?

  • Who do I want as my clients?
  • Who are my clients?
  • Where might the clients I want come from?
  • Where do my clients come from now? (how do I track that?)
  • What ways of marketing could I try to find new clients?
  • What marketing am I doing and how successful is it? (Do I know?)
  • How much income do I need and how much do I want? (Two very different questions)
  • What is my 5-year business plan looking like? (What is my vision or goal?)
  • How am I tracking this?

The questions in italics are for those who have a business running already and which warrant consideration as well as the questions looking at new ideas.

As a solopreneur coach who has run her business for over 20 years, I know my business has changed in every way. I started by running a small business consultancy while training as a coach. Once I started coaching, I also realised I could add workshop training into my portfolio which increased my income and increased my ability to get new coaching clients. I had attended many great training programmes in my corporate life, so I used that knowledge to create some 2–4-hour workshops. Eventually I started training people to become coaches and that enabled me to drop the small business consultancy, which I no longer enjoyed. I then added Coach Supervision and Mentor Coaching to my portfolio.  In addition, over the years, I was drawn to different client types. Initially it was owners of small businesses, then I started coaching senior executives in large organisations, but I found my real love was working with people entering their 1st or 2nd line management role. Supporting them in what is often styled ‘the first 100 days’. In doing that, my financial model had to change as that level of client, didn’t command the same level of fees I could previously charge.

In sharing how my work has developed over the years, it hopefully demonstrates:

  • Why we need to be continually looking at our business and also continually developing it.
  • Why it’s important to have a business plan, and yet know that the plan may change.
  • Why you need to continually look at your vision/purpose for your business in the short and long terms and what you therefore need to do to achieve that.

In addition, we also need to be looking at where and how we reach and meet our target market and nowadays, with social media, we need to understand how best to utilise that. Always remembering that with coaching it’s relationships that sell, not advertising!!

Everyone needs some sort of a Business Plan. It doesn’t have to be long and detailed, but it needs to have at least the following:

Your Vision and Mission

  • What is your business?
  • Who are your clients?
  • Why are you doing this?


  • How will you reach your target client base?


  • How much income do you need/want?
  • How will you price your services?
  • When will you increase them?
  • What are your expenses?


  • Who will be your supporters, your advisors?
  • Who will be your colleagues?
  • Who might be organisations to associate with?

I would encourage everyone, at least once a year, to look back on their year and reflect on their business. What did you achieve, how did that compare to your original plan? How might your vision have evolved and what do you want your coming year to look like? Document it so you can look back and hopefully celebrate!

My thinking and offering in this blog are the tip of the iceberg in terms of Business Development, however my aim is to get you thinking about your coaching business.

Do you consider your coaching practice a business?

If not, what is it?

Do you want it to be a business and if so, what do you need to do?

Hilary Oliver, MCC

Hilary Oliver is a Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is also a trained Coaching Supervisor and Mentor Coach. Hilary trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an International Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organisations. Hilary also specialises in working with organisations to support them develop coaching culture. She has been the President of the UK ICF Chapter and is a Past Chair of the ICF Global Board.

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