It takes a lot of dedication and grit to start a health coaching business. You need to have the passion and drive to persevere and go the distance, even if you encounter rough patches. After all, you’re not going to work for someone else. You’ll have to do all the heavy lifting yourself.
So ask yourself… Are you willing to work on weekends? Get up early and work late? Miss time with friends and family? These are tough choices. But like any self-employed business owner, there are sacrifices you may need to make to get your business up and running and keep it there.
Considering what’s involved, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about how to set up your health coaching business. We’ve demystified the process in this comprehensive step-by-step guide. When followed, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed! So, without further ado, let’s get started…
Step 1: Get Certified as a Health Coach
The journey to becoming a health coach starts with getting certified. Certification is essential because it validates your ability to provide professional health coaching services.
Certification also helps you develop the business skills necessary to launch your practice. Most certification programs cover topics like behavioral change and motivational interviewing, which are fundamental to health coaching.
Typically you can earn your certification via online programs. Here are two of the best:
Health Coach Institute
Health Coach Institute is our favorite certification program. It’s an online-only course that encompasses nutrition and personal growth through habit change. The program also develops your business skills to equip you to run your own practice. In addition, it provides practical experience by giving you the opportunity to coach real clients.
The Health Coach Institute program is self-paced and delivered in mp3s or PDFs. The entire course takes six months to complete, thus enabling you to get your business up and running quickly (so long as you commit between five to seven hours per week studying). Health Coach Institute offers two programs:
- The Become a Health Coach (BCH) Program – Health Coach Institute’s core program.
- Mastering the Business and Art of Coaching (MBA) – This program offers practical business management education.
Health Coach Institute has no enrollment requirements, so anyone desiring an education is welcome.
ACE Fitness Health Coach
If you’re looking for an inexpensive alternative to Health Coach Institute, ACE Fitness Health Coach is a great contender.
ACE’s reputation is iron-clad because it’s the only health coaching program approved by the prestigious National Commission for Certifying Agencies. [source] It offers high-quality materials, particularly, “The Professional’s Guide to Health and Wellness,” a super-detailed textbook that explores the psychology of positive change.
ACE Fitness Coach packs a lot of education into their course and it only takes three to four months to complete. It’s easy to qualify for ACE’s program: you simply need to be 18 years old, have an ID, and CPR/AED training.
For more information about certification programs, check out our detailed guide to the 9 Best Health Coaching Certification Programs.
Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience
You’re interested in health coaching because you want to help people, right? While an honorable goal, you won’t help anyone by trying to help everyone. Instead, you need to whittle your services down to a niche.
A niche is laser-focused upon a sliver of the population and their specific needs. Within a niche, you provide services to a specific group only. The most natural way to find a niche best suited to you is to base it on your interests and experiences. After all, only you have these interests and can present them from your own unique viewpoint in your own unique way.
For example, here are two coaches who based their niche on personal experiences:
- Nicole Jardim – The niche of well-known health coach, Nicole Jardim, is to help young women understand their hormones. From the time she got her first period at age 17, Nicole grappled with terrible cramps and bloating, mood swings, and erratic cycles. This experience spurred her to help women who suffer from similar problems. [source]
- Anthony Treas – Anthony Treas is an Iraq war veteran who returned home with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and a sense of purposelessness. He discovered his mission was to inspire men to reclaim their mental health and find purpose. He now uses his S.T.R.O.N.G Method to help men attain wellbeing. [source]
You can discover your niche by asking yourself questions like these:
- Who do you want to help?
- What issues do they struggle with?
- What is your purpose or passion?
- What are your strengths as a coach?
Once you’ve homed in on a niche, you can outline its details in a mission statement:
“I am a health coach who helps [ideal clients] who struggle with [specific issue] to [the service you provide] so they can benefit [the benefit you provide].”
Then fill in the blanks:
“I am a health coach who helps mothers who are struggling with empty nest syndrome regain a sense of meaning so they can have a full, happy life, despite their children’s absence.”
For more information about identifying a target audience, check out our detailed guide on How To Find The Right Niche Market For Health Coaches.
Step 3: Write a Business Plan
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a wide-eyed newbie, a business plan is a must-have to help reach your short-term and long-term business goals. A business plan allows you to analyze your company’s weaknesses and inconsistencies so you can correct them.
It’s important to write a plan before investing time and money to start up your business in order to determine if it’s feasible.
Here’s what a business plan can do for you:
- Proves you’re serious – A formal business plan shows you’re dedicated to your business’ success. You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and thought into putting something serious together to represent your business.
- Positions you for success – A business plan helps you analyze your operational business goals.
- Establishes milestones – Like roadside milestones, business milestones mark your progress while you follow your plan.
- Helps you understand your competition – You need to know about your competition so you can write a business plan that gives you an edge.
- Describes your revenue model – This is the most important part of your business plan. It must precisely describe how your business will make money.
- Helps you stay focused – Your business plan keeps you from veering off course and instead steers you toward your long-term goals.
- Helps document your marketing plan – A thoroughly researched marketing plan answers questions, such as how you’ll reach clients, how much you’ll charge, and what you’ll do to keep them.
So how do you write a business plan? Here are some questions to start asking yourself:
- What problem are you solving?
- How will you solve the problem?
- What audience will you serve?
- How will you connect with your audience?
- What’s unique about your solution?
- What advantages do you have over the competition?
- What services will you sell to your audience?
- What will your price point be?
- How much will it cost to run your business?
For more information about writing a business plan, check out our detailed guide on How To Create A Business Plan For A Health Coach.
Step 4: Decide on a Business Name
Would you rather have salt-cured sturgeon fish eggs or caviar? If William Broad hadn’t changed his name to Billy Idol, would his sneer seem less menacing? Would “Dudes and Chicks Fighting for Power” stir up more interest than “Game of Thrones?”
A well-thought-out name is equally crucial for your health coaching business. It summarizes your business’ personality and needs to be catchy, descriptive, and memorable. When brainstorming for a name, remember it’ll be on all your branding, including domain name, emails, social media platforms, business cards, and digital and physical products.
The name you choose should be carefully chosen to set you apart from the pack and clearly represent your services. It should also accurately convey your intended meaning and be easily read, spelled, and pronounced.
To this end, here are some suggestions for choosing the perfect name for your business:
- Consider how it will interest your ideal client – Is this client playful? Serious? Stressed? Relaxed? Wealthy? On a budget? Craft your name to appeal to this person.
- Make sure the name isn’t taken – You can do this by searching the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office database. Also, run it through several search engines to make sure no one else already uses it.
- Avoid names that are unfunny puns or in poor taste – Here are some real businesses with epic name fails: Goin’ Postal, Wally’s Private Parts, and A Salt & Battery Fish and Chips. 🙄
- Don’t use nonsense words – Big corporations like Xerox can get away with it, but newbies can’t because they’re too hard to brand.
- Use short words – They’re easier to remember and easier to fit on business cards.
If you get stuck, many online name generators can come to the rescue, such as Lean Domain Search.
For more information about choosing a great business name, check out our detailed guide on How To Name A Health Coaching Business.
Step 5: Establish Your Brand
When you think about Coca Cola, what comes to mind? Is it the flowing logo, bright red packaging, fizziness or taste? Subconsciously, these elements represent quality and consistency. Whether you’re in your hometown or out of the country, you know Coca Cola’s standards won’t be compromised.
This is branding.
Branding molds an identity and sets a company apart from others, creating the perception of what can be expected from that company.
It’s important to plan your branding from the outset of your health coaching business. This gives you a framework to work within to keep all aspects of your business and its message aligned with each other.
You can achieve this in the following ways:
Pull Together Graphic Elements
Colors, typography, and logo are the graphic elements that define your business. You need to make sure they express a consistent message when looked at together. For example, you probably wouldn’t combine the brawny Impact font with a baby blue and pink color scheme. [source]
Create a Tagline
An important part of your branding, a tagline is a clever catchphrase that sums up your business. Three famous taglines are:
- “Because You’re Worth It” – L’Oreal
- “What’s In Your Wallet?” – Capital One
- “A Diamond is Forever” – DeBeers
Adopt the Right Voice
Voice is your brand’s personality relayed through communication. For example, if you want your coaching business to express luxury, your brand could depict this through exclusive spa getaways and recipes for healthy, exotic dishes.
Develop a Strong Business Personality
Like people, businesses have personalities, goals, values, and beliefs. People want to see the humanity within a business, and allowing your brand to come across as an actual person will help connect them with you. The stronger the personality, the more deeply the brand can connect to its audience.
For more information about establishing your brand, check out our Ultimate Guide to Health Coach Branding.
Step 6: Create a Health Coaching Program
A health coaching program, also called a signature system, focuses on one specific problem you want to solve. Instead of randomly creating 10 different programs for 10 different people, a health coaching program is a single program designed for only one type of person and their unique problem. Some possible topics include:
- Meal planning
- Stress management
- Goal setting
- Reducing cravings for sweets
A signature system is preferable to individual programs. There’s no toiling to keep track of who’s in which program and how each of them is progressing. Instead, it’s a solitary program that becomes your business.
You can sell a signature program again and again. After you’ve laid the foundation, the program can virtually run on autopilot.
When choosing your program’s length, keep in mind people generally go for weekly programs, rather than 90-day programs. But if you do provide a 90-day program, you can offer clients the option to participate for another 90 days. This angle could boost your enrollment rate.
You’ll want to think about how to present your signature program. Will it be in person? Via Skype? Online? A combination? All these options work because you’re not legally obligated to see clients in person. You’ll also have a longer geographical reach if you go digital.
Next, you’ll want to decide how many sessions to provide each month. Some coaches offer two monthly sessions so clients have the time to implement what they’ve learned. Other coaches give weekly or bi-monthly sessions. Remember to gear these to whatever works best for the client.
Now you’re ready to structure your program. You can organize it into lessons, such as:
Word of caution: Make sure your materials don’t contain words such as “cure,” “diagnose” or “prescribe.” Legally, only medical professionals can use these terms.
For more information about creating a health coaching program, check out our detailed guide on How To Create A Health Coaching Program.
Step 7: Set Up Your Website
About 81 percent of Americans go online every day. [source] In other words, your health coaching business must have a website (these days, people expect businesses to have them). If not, you’ll raise eyebrows about your professionalism and credibility.
A website is great for sales because it’s open 24/7/365. It’s also an excellent means of building a prospective customer list via email.
Now, setting up a website involves several steps and it starts with the following:
- Register a domain name – A domain name is what gives a website its unique address (e.g., EverythingHealthCoach.com). Our domain registrar of choice is Namecheap for its ease of use and affordability.
- Sign up with a web hosting company – Websites rent space or are hosted on computers called servers. Without a web host, your site can’t go live to the world. We recommend SiteGround for web hosting because they’re super reliable and affordable.
- Install WordPress on your website – WordPress is the most popular website-creation tool. With WordPress, no coding or design experience is necessary to create a professional website. Keep in mind the distinction between WordPress.com, which gives WordPress ownership of your website and WordPress.org, which gives you ownership of your site (we recommend the latter).
- Select and customize a WordPress theme – A WordPress theme is what gives a website its particular “look,” such as its colors, typography, and column spacing. Premium themes are preferable to free ones because they’re usually better built and offer better support. It’s also important to choose a theme that’s mobile-responsive, meaning it looks good on any mobile screen using any browser. The Health Coach theme hits all these points, not to mention it’s attractive and highly customizable.
- Start customizing your website – This means everything from choosing WordPress plugins best suited to your website, getting a professional logo designed, and setting up your foundational pages, such as your About page and Services page.
For more information about creating a health coaching website, check out our detailed guide on How To Create A Health Coaching Website.
Or you could opt for an awesome custom-made website by our favorite web design service for health coaches.
Step 8: Find Your First Clients
Snagging your first clients can be frustrating and confusing. You have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to do with them once you get them, but how do you get them in the first place? You have to lay the groundwork to bring clients on board. Here’s how:
The health coaching space continues to grow dramatically, making it more difficult to distinguish yourself from competitors. But by drilling your business down to a niche, a highly specialized area of the health coaching industry, you can set yourself apart.
Regularly Conduct Workshops
Workshops are powerful tools for landing clients because they’re highly personal. Your audience will have a much easier time bonding with you because you’d be face-to-face with them. If your workshops are free of charge, you’ll draw even more potential clients. There are many places to conduct workshops, including:
- Yoga studios
- Holistic grocery stores
Form a Joint Venture
A joint venture is a strategic union of two or more complementary organizations where each company retains its identity (e.g., joining your health coaching practice with the local sporting goods store, etc.)
A joint venture can help you create a strong presence in your market and you’ll have an easier time acquiring leads, growing your list, and snagging new clients as a result.
Ask for Client Referrals
Gandhi (and perhaps your parents) said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” While these wise words may have originally referenced a higher power, they’re just as relevant to winning clients.
You can get referrals by:
- Posting articles on social media and your website
- Attending networking functions
- Introducing yourself at local wellness businesses
You can offer a referral fee for every new client people help bring onboard.
For more information about finding your first clients, check out our detailed guide on How To Get Clients As A Health Coach.
Step 9: Incorporate Health Coaching Software Into Your Business
Booking, bill-paying, client management, and invoicing can send you headlong into overwhelm. The solution? Health coaching software. This type of software consolidates repetitive administrative tasks in one place and helps you project a professional image.
As you begin to acquire clients, you may want to consider investing in health coaching software to help run your business more efficiently. It can assist you with the following tasks:
- Video consultations
- Scheduling appointments
- Creating documents
- Reporting and tracking
The majority of clients are tech-savvy and will expect you to run your business using this software. It’s also crucial for keeping up with the competition.
Coaches Console is our favorite health coaching software. Designed with the budding health coach in mind, Coaches Console is an all-in-one solution featuring:
- Billing and invoicing
- Client management
- Progress tracking
If you’re unsure of how to use the program, Coaches Console includes a chock-full of easy-to-understand training videos. Their crackerjack support team can provide further help with any and all issues, no matter how small they may seem.
For more information about Coaches Console, check out our detailed Coaches Console review.
Now, if you’d like a solution that’s easier on your wallet, Practice Better is a good alternative to Coaches Console. It includes all-in-one business essentials to start and grow your business, and comes with many great features, such as:
- Recording and timestamping sessions
- Video conference
- Notifications and messages
- Automated appointment reminders
Practice Better is easily customizable and intuitive. Its extensive, informative videos will smoothly walk you through tasks, such as sharing documents with clients and completing forms from your inbox.
For more information about Practice Better, check out our detailed Practice Better review.
To learn about more health coaching software programs, check out our detailed guide on the 8 Best Online Health Coach Software Solutions.
Step 10: Outsource Time-Consuming Tasks
As your business grows, so will your workload. That’s not a bad thing, but you’ll likely find it hard to manage on your own. At this point, you can turn to a virtual assistant (VA) for help.
A virtual assistant is a contractor who provides support services from a remote location. Some virtual assistants are generalists and some specialize in specific tasks and niches, including health coaching.
Virtual assistants can relieve you in many ways, such as:
- Bookkeeping – Take care of bank and credit card reconciliation, balance sheet management, data entry, and cash flow maintenance.
- Calendar management – Make sure you’re where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be.
- Email management – Answer emails on your behalf.
- File management – Label, organize, and categorize Dropbox and Google Drive files.
- Phone calls – Save you precious time by answering and returning your calls.
- Scheduling – Coordinate multi-participant online meetings and conference calls.
- SEO – Position and market content on your website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter to drive traffic.
- Travel arrangement – Take the hassle out of booking flights and hotels.
- Web development – Handle website coding and customization.
We recommend OnlineJobs.ph as the best platform for finding a great virtual assistant. OnlineJobs.ph is a Filipino job board packed with more than 500,000 résumés. It boasts a detailed filtering system that can whittle down skill level, skills required, desired salary, and dates when résumés are posted. Important details such as command of English, IQ, and descriptions of skill sets are included, as well.
For more information about outsourcing tasks, check out our detailed guide on Hiring A Virtual Assistant For Health Coaches.
Step 11: Protect Your Business with Health Coaching Insurance
The health coaching field is just as susceptible to lawsuits as any other. That’s why it’s important to insure your health coaching business, especially once you have a roster of clients. Health coaching insurance safeguards your finances and protects your reputation.
There are certain legally sensitive topics coaches need to be aware of. For example, you’re strictly prohibited to say anything that implies you’re a medical professional (you can say “recommend,” but not “prescribe”). Without insurance, your practice becomes vulnerable to these and other types of liabilities.
There are several types of insurance available to health coaches, including the following:
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance safeguards your business’ physical assets, such as:
- Your building or office
- Furniture and equipment
- Loss of business income
General Liability Insurance
This type of insurance can protect you from claims, including:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability
- Medical payments
Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance
E&O insurance is so important that without it, some clients may not even work with you. This type of insurance safeguards your practice against claims of negligent acts. E&O lawsuits are some of the most expensive, so it should be given special attention. E&O insurance covers the following claims:
- You made mistakes or omissions
- You didn’t honor contractual promises
- You provided negligent professional services
We recommend Alternative Balance as exceptional insurance for health coaches. Alternative Balance is a well-established insurance company that has specifically served health coaches and other wellness professionals for over 20 years. It has an outstanding reputation, garnering an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. [source]
Alternative Balance’s coverages include:
- Bodily and property claims against you
- Damage related to your products
- Medical expenses
- Personal and advertising injury (e.g., slander and plagiarism)
- Premises damage
For more information about health coach insurance, check out our article: Do Health Coaches Need Insurance?
Step 12: Start to Diversify Your Business
Let’s say you have 10 coaching clients. Suddenly, three drop out of the picture. What now? If those clients are your only income stream, you’re out of luck. It’s important to diversify your income sources to stay afloat during dry spells.
Here are some options for pulling in additional revenue:
Write/Sell an eBook
Generally self-published, eBooks allow your clients to simply download them from your website 24/7/365. All the revenue goes directly to you and you get to set the price.
Sell an Online E-course
E-courses are pre-recorded courses taken online instead of in-person. Online courses are a fertile market, with the number of students taking at least one e-course growing by over 350,000 between 2016 and 2017. [source]
Sell Advertising Space on Your Website
Advertising can be a stable source of passive income to the tune of thousands of dollars. Two ways to sell advertising on your website are:
- Cost-Per-Click Ads – CPC ads are the most common ads displayed on websites. All you do is place a Cost-Per-Click ad on your site and whenever a visitor clicks on one, you automatically generate income. Ezoic is the platform we use for these types of ads.
- Sell space directly – This method requires a bit of negotiating with the buyer. While selling space directly can be challenging, it may be the most lucrative. You get to set your own prices, and you may even get repeat business from advertisers.
Promote Products and Services as an Affiliate on Your Website
With affiliate marketing, you earn commissions by promoting other people’s products on your site (i.e., a part of the profit from each sale). Affiliate marketing can be a great passive income source. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, this highly acclaimed course will show you how.
Become a Freelance Writer for Other Health and Wellness Blogs
Freelance writing or guest blogging means writing a post, publishing it on someone else’s blog and getting paid for your contribution. Besides earning money, you’ll also position yourself as an expert, pull traffic to your site, and build up your brand.
If you plan to start a health coaching business, it can be easy to spin into confusion and frustration. Can you do it? Do you even want to do it? Follow our suggestions above and you’ll be able to answer both questions with a resounding YES!
So, what are your thoughts about starting a health coaching business? Leave your questions and comments below!
This is one of the best business blog posts I have ever read, period. Currently I’m running a blog that helps people get good at badminton (that’s my actual blog name, haha) and found your post to be super relevant.
I want to eventually be able to take the blog forward into actual badminton coaching. To be better than my competition, I need to offer more value. I was actually thinking about things like building mental strength and strong bodies to pair with badminton technique and look what I found, a full blog post detailing the steps to become a health coach.
After reading this post, my path is now clearer and I want to get started with step 1 right away. I’m considering the Health Coach Institute program, but first I have a few questions. Is there an advantage to taking both the Health Coach Institute program and the ACE Fitness Health Coach program? Also, are there university degrees that would help out in this field as well?
Hi Kevin, I would not advise taking both programs. It’s best to stick to one course as they have different methodologies and structures that may conflict with one another. Plus, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. As far as university degrees in health coaching, Duke University is one to look at. Hope that helps!
What a wealth of information you have provided here. I have been a holistic life coach for the past four years and thought I was well versed in setting up my business, but you have offered some much needed advice and information.
I am based in Ireland and regulations are different but some of the legal matters you have discussed are of the utmost importance. Thank you for providing this info and I wish you well for the future.
Glad you found it helpful Liam 🙂
Awesome outline to help any aspiring health coach get started in their own business journey. I would say the toughest part is creating the business plan, but once one is over that hurdle they’ll have a clearly defined path to complete the next steps in starting their business. If you get the plan down, you can easily identify how to build your brand, which niche and target audience you serve, and the types of programs you offer. The great thing today is that there are dozens of different niches and audiences to fall into.
I wish I had come across this article last year when I was seriously contemplating starting a home life coaching business. I guess health is part of life, but I was going to focus on helping people get the most out of their lives and live what a good friend of mine always says, “their best life.”
As a Christian, my whole focus has always been in helping other people. While researching the life coach business, I did talk with a representative from Health Coach Institute about their program. It is still something I am looking into, I just have to get the money together for the tuition. I am so glad I found your article, because it really goes so in-depth about the process. Thanks so much.
Glad you found it helpful Babsie!
Since I realized I wanted to be self-employed, I am willing to make every sacrifice that needs to be made in order to grow my business. Coaching is one of the rising sought after skills and you have laid out the necessary steps to take very well.
I might not be a health coach but it helps a great deal to know that most professional health coaches are certified and therefore knows what he/she is talking about. These tips are great and may apply to any other type of coaching business, as solving a problem is the main point to focus on. Thanks for this great article!
Thank you for this comprehensive guide! I have a friend who’s been trying to set up her health coach business and I’m pretty sure she’ll be happy to read all of this.
She’s already done a lot of the steps you mention, but there are definitely some things in here that she’ll benefit from.
I also really like your recommendations, I’m going to bookmark that page for myself as there are quite a few helpful things for anyone building an online business.
Thanks for chiming in Petra!
I returned to your website to ask something that I hesitate asking to my trainer in Udemy because I know he will reply with a biased answer favoring the enrollment in the courses they offer. I was recently scouting for a certification course offered in Udemy that provides students who have finished the course with a certificate. I wanted a certificate to display on my planned website for health coaching but as I struggle finding the right course, I wonder if, is it really needed for a health coaching business online? With your experience with your own health coaching business, did your clients asked for your certificate?
Hi Gomer, no, it’s not necessary, but having and displaying a certificate can certainly help with your credibility, which, in turn, can lead to more clients. Hope that helps!