Setting up and running your coaching practice

{Szabo, 2010. In Passmore (Ed.), Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Guide (2nd Ed.)}


How aligned are I and my coaching practice;

have I covered all key elements of running my business;

what areas do I need to develop and how do I move forward;

what actions do I take with what benefits and for what reason?

In the early stages of running my business, I focus on day-to-day aspects;

once I am operational, my thinking does focus on core business responsibilities upon which I have formulated all essential best practices.

My long-term vision and objective, as well as strategy plan and implementation and other processes, are in service of strengthening the core and building the essentials.

Planning for success:

Take care of the whole business, and run all aspects effectively and consistently.

What do I want my business to look like?

What stages are the different parts of my business at?

What do I need to do to take my business to the next level?

Why do I want my business to grow?

Which areas of my business need to develop; who needs to do that; when does it need to be done; how will it happen?

My Coaching Practice Structure

Setting up my practice: company format; registration, management, liability; data protection; insurance; protection; assessing the business; resources; planning. 

Myself: balance; time management; my environment; support; working on my own, for others, with others; personal strengths, skills, CPD; membership of a professional body. 

My operations: systems, administration; client files; feedback; technology. 

My sales and marketing: marketing plan; positioning; marketing message; marketing instruments. 

My finances: forecasting; support; cashbook, systems; invoicing; bank accounts; reporting and tax implications; balance sheet; VAT. 

Setting Up a Coaching Practice

Company structure: which trading form you choose will dictate the tax you pay, the management information systems you keep, and how you protect your assets. Seek advice.

Data protection: Information on clients, etc.

Insurance: professional indemnity insurance; employer liability insurance; what do you need?

Protection: Trademarks; Logo; Copyright

Assessing the business: Talk to other coaches who run their own coaching practices:

What is the most important thing you have learned since starting a business?

What would have been useful to know before starting in this field?

What would you do differently if you were to start all over again?

In gathering views, I aim to answer these questions for myself:

What should I have in each structure category?

What do I currently have?

What is missing in each area; skill, service, process, technology?

What resources do I need to close the gap?

What support do I need?

I plan to manage gaps in my strengths; this is my key to success.

Resourcing: Areas that I do not engage in myself, I use the expertise of others to take on these roles. I decide what I am able and interested in doing; clarify specifically what I want another individual to do, decide what format I want the information in, research a good professional locally, decide who to use, get quotes and meet to contract; this way I buy the resources necessary so that I can focus on what I need to do and want to do.

What: e.g., effective financial management of the business. 

Why: to be aware of the financial position to make astute business decisions and be free to focus on my core business responsibilities. 

Who: someone who has expertise in this area. 

When: weekly.

How: carry out identified actions, and follow a process whereby receipts and invoices will be passed over and presented back in the agreed management information format.

Planning: I plan effectively, set goals and strategies for each area, take relevant action, and hold myself accountable; I am clear about the key outcomes I want. I know my drivers, my values, and the benefits of goals and plans for me and my business.

My Operations: Key day-to-day functions of the business

Systems and administration processes: From initial client contact through to the end of client contracts, I provide consistent service to meet and suit my own and my customers’ requirements; I use my management information system, which includes these elements:

Preparation Phase: details of initial contact with the client including payment terms; session preparation; first strategy session or presentation: setting expectations, coaching, contracting, confidentiality.

Session: preparation; delivery; client notes; payment record; setting future sessions.

Follow-up Phase: record keeping; filing; logging feedback; post-session response to the client; session tracking; financial tracking; continuous evaluation and improvement.

Client files: A checklist and file for each client to record: client details; contract; client notes; dates of client meetings; payments made; the number of sessions; brief summary details of each session.

Supporting processes: checklists; next steps within the client engagement process; process outline – what I need to do, by when; simple, useful notes to help guide my journey.

A: Actual, factual information the client shares and is relevant to record.

C: Coaching considerations, further research I need to do, ideas I have.

T: Tasks I agree with the client to undertake after the coaching session, fieldwork, etc.

Feedback: Obtain feedback from the client to help: monitor the effectiveness of the coaching; draw attention to areas of development for me as a coach; emphasize areas that still need to be addressed within the coaching engagement. Collect information with questionnaires.

Technology: Computer, back-up; organize files methodically; automate routine.

My Financial Management

6 S’: system, submissions, support, separate, sorted, security.

My Sales and Marketing

Marketing has the strategic objective to have your clients, customers, prospects, referral sources, and other stakeholders think of you first, often, and well.

If your clients think of you first, often, and well, they will happily frequent your business, buy more of your services, do this regularly over some time – aka loyalty – and be your best advocate for new business.

Prospects will give you the first chance at their business.

Referral sources will talk about you often and with conviction.

The marketing plan: Start with an objective; clear objectives provide clear direction and focus to channel your time, energy, and money with potentially rewarding and profitable consequences. Your marketing plan is really a series of questions to ask yourself.

My goals and objectives: where am I going?

My target audience: who am I going after?

My offering: what are the benefits of my offering that meet the needs of my target audience?

My positioning: what makes my offering different from the competition?

My competition: who am I up against, and what are they saying in the marketplace?

Marketing message: what is the core message of everything I do and say?

Branding: what is my (commercial or marketplace) identity ~ personality?

Marketing instruments: what instruments will I use to reach my target audience?

Marketing calendar: when am I going to launch the prioritized marketing instruments?

Marketing budget: how much will I invest in attracting and retaining my clients?

Positioning: Be relevant, compelling, and memorable so they think of you first, often, and well. Be focused, target a niche, and become an expert.

Make yourself 100% relevant to your ideal client.

Be unique – different from everyone else; credible – easy to prove; defendable – no one else can easily lay claim to your positioning; sustainable – it will work today, next month, and next year.

My marketing message: Focus on them, the things of interest to them, not me.

Initially, I focus on the prospect and not on me and my coaching; I offer value outside my product or service, something important to them. I do not talk about my coaching, experience, and skills but provide information of value to them.

Marketing instruments: Be selective; pick a few that will best market your practice and provide the best return on investment; assess marketing continuously; continue to invest in instruments that perform well, even invest more; some you may need to tweak, some poor performers you may need to stop and replace with other marketing activities that provide better yields.

Consider employing a marketing coach or consultant; work to identify the elements that could take you to the next level, from the name of your business, the methods you could use to deliver your service, the branding, website content, stationery, marketing message, instruments and calendar, public relations, sales training and sales presentation, through to the growth plan.

Develop a plan and then take focused and consistent action by implementing the plan according to the agreed timescales. Monitor your progress, and see what actions achieve results.

Using appropriate marketing instruments, distinguish yourself from the competition and communicate a compelling and relevant message to your target audience.

Execution starts with a plan and is maintained by regular action and review.

Sales: Nurture your clients and develop positive relationships on an ongoing basis. Leverage existing clients or past contacts from another business. Use an active and intentional referral plan as one efficient and effective marketing instrument.


I want to run and manage my coaching practice effectively regularly.

Who do I need to be, and what do I need to do?

Identify what other areas I need to balance this with; decide what is important to me, what is essential to keep, and what areas I might need to let go of.

I aspire to be professional, authentic, and true to myself and my values; my mindset, the brand identity I am presenting in appearance, and written and verbal communications.

I know my limitations; I take a stand for what I believe in.

Balance: To raise commitment: identify personal and professional benefits of achieving it.

What are my other roles and commitments: parent, partner, work commitments, hobbies and interests, projects, spiritual needs, health, and social?

What are the benefits of being involved in these areas?

How does being involved contribute to my vision?

What gives me the highest return?

Why do I need all these areas in my life?

Which areas aren’t aligned with my personal and professional values, and are ones I can let go of?

Who needs to do what; who do I need to tell?

When will I do that?

How do I balance the running of my practice with everything else?

What process do I need to set up to ensure I am doing everything I want and need to?

Time management: How do you prefer to work; what works best for you: scheduling or having flexibility; having set days or putting things in your diary as and when; do you need to build in ‘me’ time; what is the first thing that slips when you are busy; do you keep organized under pressure?

Develop an intentional plan that takes these factors into account. 

Get coaching in areas you need to develop, overcome obstacles, and enable yourself to move forward and realize your and your company’s potentials.

Working environment: If you work from home, have a separate working space and set working hours. Adapt your environment to maximize your potentials.

Support: Assess what support you need: meeting other coaches face to face for networking and learning from other coaches in seminars, professional forums, and events; there is no need to work in isolation if you do not want to. Identify outcome.

Working with others: consider copyright ownership.

Personal strengths: learn and develop yourself; be proactive; CPD.

Professional body: it can guide your practice through a code of ethics.