How to Become an Impactful Business Coach

how to become a business coach

As a business coach, you can assist entrepreneurs and small business owners to achieve greater success.

However, it requires more than just a passion for helping others; it calls for specialized knowledge, skills, and credentials to effectively guide individuals in the business world.

Read on to learn how to become an impactful business coach, from getting trained to building your network.

What Does a Business Coach Do?

Think of a business coach as a personal trainer for professionals and companies. 

They provide valuable support and accountability to help entrepreneurs, small business owners, and executives optimize their operations and achieve their goals.

Here are some common tasks that a business coach helps clients with:

  • Setting clear goals for businesses that align with their vision
  • Creating action plans outlining the steps needed to achieve those goals
  • Analyzing performance with key performance indicators (KPIs) and providing regular feedback on progress
  • Improving skills in clients, such as leadership or public speaking

Many business coaches also offer specialized services based on their industry expertise or unique skill set. For example, they may specifically operate as:

Should You Become a Business Coach?

Before you take the plunge, here are some important questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I enjoy working with people and guiding them toward success?
  • Am I an effective communicator who can clearly explain complex concepts to others?
  • Can I remain patient and empathetic when dealing with challenging situations or difficult personalities?

If you answered yes to all these questions, that’s a great start.

But business coaching isn’t easy, so let’s explore what else you may need to maintain a successful career in this field.

Passion for Business

As a business coach, your role will involve delving into different aspects of running a company, such as marketing strategies and financial management. 

Having a genuine passion for this field can make learning about these areas more enjoyable.

Let’s take Mike Shreeve from Peaceful Profits as an example. Mike is deeply passionate about finding simple solutions to complex business problems, and it shines through his emails.

how to become a business coach

He often ties the lessons in his emails to a personal story that shows he has lived them. Mike and his team are fantastic business coaches because they love what they do.

Relevant Experience

Previous experience working with or running businesses can significantly benefit your coaching practice. 

This firsthand knowledge enables you to empathize with your client’s challenges on a deeper level and provide practical advice based on real-world situations. 

It adds credibility to your coaching approach and allows you to share valuable insights from your experiences.

Strong Communication Skills

Communication is crucial as a business coach. You need to convey complex concepts effectively in a way that resonates with entrepreneurs. 

For example, some businesses depend on highly complex business models that involve the following:

  • Several pricing plans
  • Distribution agreements
  • Copyright and patents
  • Legal considerations

Breaking down such intricate details helps your clients understand and apply the knowledge you provide. For instance, how do you help a client file for patents when that client doesn’t understand how patents work in the first place?

This is why communication is vital in facilitating business growth and success.

A Desire for Continuous Learning

The business world is constantly evolving, so it’s vital to stay abreast of these changes through ongoing learning. This allows you to remain current, adapt to new trends, and provide relevant coaching to your clients. 

Plus, continuous learning opens up personal growth opportunities, such as expanding your knowledge, enhancing your skills, and keeping you engaged in your coaching practice. 

The focus of your learning will depend on your business coaching niche, but some essential examples include:

  • Industry insights
  • Marketing strategies, tactics, and tools
  • Analytic tools and insights

A mindset of lifelong learning ensures your coaching remains effective and valuable over time. 

Networking Skills

A robust network of professionals you can connect with for advice, resources, and referrals is highly valuable. 

Building this network requires time and effort, but ultimately, it pays off. It provides you with a pool of valuable connections that can benefit both you and your clients.

Your network can also offer collaboration opportunities, enhancing your coaching practice and allowing you to provide even better guidance to your clients.

Willingness to Invest in Yourself

Becoming a certified business coach requires an investment in training programs or courses.

These investments serve multiple purposes. Not only do they help establish credibility with potential clients, but they also enhance your abilities and broaden your knowledge.

How to Become a Business Coach

1. Pick a Niche

Evaluate your skills and experience in the specific areas of expertise you can bring to your clients. 

Maybe you have a knack for developing killer marketing strategies, a solid understanding of financial planning, or a talent for nurturing leadership skills. 

Reflecting on your work history and professional accomplishments can help you showcase your credibility and build trust with potential clients.

This will help you choose a specific coaching niche instead of targeting all types of business owners with your services.

For example, coach and CEO Caleigh Grant Bell at All Things Podcasting helps business owners leverage podcasts to increase their reach and revenue.

All Things Podcasting

2. Research Different Coaching Models

Familiarize yourself with different coaching models before deciding which aligns best with your values and goals as a coach. 

Some popular methods include: 

  • GROW (Goal-Reality-Options-Will) 
  • CLEAR (Contract-Listen-Explore-Action-Review) 
  • OSKAR (Outcome-Scaling-Know-How-Actions-Review)
OSKAR coaching model

Image Source:

Each model has a unique framework and emphasis. By researching these models, you can better understand their principles and decide which aligns best with your values and coaching goals.

3. Get Trained

To improve your credibility in the industry, enroll in an accredited training program that offers certification upon completion

Many organizations provide online courses tailored specifically for aspiring business coaches, such as those offered by the International Coach Federation (ICF)

These programs typically cover topics such as: 

  • Effective communication techniques
  • Goal-setting strategies
  • Ethical guidelines for coaching practices

Note: Certification is not required but highly recommended unless you have extensive experience helping others with their businesses. 

4. Build Your Coaching Toolkit

A successful business coach needs various tools and resources to support their clients effectively. 

This toolkit may include a range of resources, including: 

  • Assessments: They help clients gain insights into their strengths, areas for improvement, and challenges they may face.
  • Worksheets: Valuable tools for setting goals, tracking progress, and brainstorming ideas. 
  • Templates: Useful in creating action plans, developing marketing strategies, or crafting financial projections.

In addition to these tangible resources, it’s worth exploring technology platforms that simplify your coaching practice.

For example, Paperbell offers an all-in-one platform for coaches to create beautiful coaching packages, schedule appointments, manage payments, automate messaging, and more.

5. Develop Your Personal Brand

As you start your journey as a business coach, it’s crucial to develop a strong brand that sets you apart from your competition and attracts new clients. 

Your brand should showcase your expertise, values, and unique approach to coaching.

Create a professional website showing your services, testimonials from past clients, and relevant blog content that demonstrates your expertise in business coaching topics.

Let’s look at Sage Polaris, who helps her clients with copywriting and business systems. One look at her website shows her brand and personality shine through.

Sage Polaris

6. Network With Other Professionals

Building relationships with other professionals can be invaluable when starting as a business coach. 

It opens doors to valuable connections, potential referral partners, and mentors who can provide support and guidance as you build your coaching practice.

Attend networking events or join online forums, communities, and social media groups where professionals gather to discuss business and coaching-related topics. 

One great example of an online forum is Facebook Groups. You’ll find hundreds of groups for business owners. 

But you can also look through Reddit to find niche communities, like R/smallbusiness:


Networking is about selling your services and building relationships based on support and trust.

Who knows, the people you meet could become excellent referral partners down the road.

7. Offer Free Initial Consultations

Attract new clients and demonstrate your skills as a business coach by offering a few free consultations.

These discovery sessions allow prospective clients to experience the value of working with you before making a financial commitment.

During these consultations, it’s important to strike a balance between providing value and establishing the need for ongoing coaching. 

Be mindful not to give away too much in these initial meetings. Instead, focus on identifying areas where the prospective client may need assistance and explaining how partnering together can benefit them in the long run.

How to Get Certified as a Business Coach

Becoming a certified business coach can open doors and give your clients confidence that they’re working with a trained and accredited professional. 

1. Research Certification Programs

Look for business coaching certifications accredited by reputable organizations such as: 

These bodies ensure that their affiliated programs meet high standards of quality. By choosing a certification program from an accredited organization, you can have confidence in the credibility and value of the training you will receive. 

2. Choose an Appropriate Program

Make an informed decision and enroll in a certification program that best suits your needs as you start your journey to being a certified business coach.

To choose an appropriate certification program for becoming a business coach, consider the following factors:

  • Goals: Select a program that aligns with your specific coaching goals and niche.
  • Experience level: Choose a program that matches your current experience level and offers growth opportunities.
  • Learning style: Determine whether you prefer self-paced online courses or interactive in-person workshops.
  • Cost and duration: Evaluate the financial investment and time commitment required for the program.
  • Format and accessibility: Decide between online courses or live workshops based on your preferences and availability.
  • Prerequisites: Check if there are any requirements or qualifications for enrollment.
  • Course content: Search for courses covering goal-setting techniques, communication strategies, and performance analysis methods.

3. Complete the Required Training Hours

Once enrolled, you must complete the required training hours to qualify for accreditation exams or assessments. 

Attaining the necessary hours for accreditation may involve various activities, such as attending lectures, virtual learning experiences, seminars, and tutorials with experienced mentors. 

A few examples of popular certification courses include:

4. Gain Practical Experience

As you train, get some hands-on coaching experience to build confidence in your coaching skills. 

You can do this by working with clients or offering pro bono services to family members, friends, or local businesses.

Additionally, some coach training programs allow students to accumulate their coaching hours directly within the program, while others leave that responsibility to the student.

Practicing your coaching allows you to refine your coaching techniques, adapt to different needs, and see firsthand the impact you can make in your clients’ professional lives or businesses. 

Most certification programs require hands-on coaching practice under supervision before granting accreditation, usually at least 100 hours of client work, depending on the level you’re going for.

For example, if you want to get certified with the ICF, you can choose between three levels of certification:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC)
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC)
certified with the ICF

To get your ACC, you need only 100 hours of coaching experience, but you’ll need 500+ to get your PCC.

5. Pass Your Assessment

The certification exam or assessment is designed to validate your knowledge, skills, and ability to coach clients effectively. 

It’s a chance to demonstrate your understanding of coaching principles and showcase your competency as a business coach.

These assessments may include the following: 

  • Written exams
  • Oral evaluations
  • Case study analysis
  • Submission of recorded coaching sessions for review

For example, the ICF certification process requires coaches to submit a written exam and a performance evaluation.

6. Maintain Your Certification Through Continued Education

Your learning journey doesn’t stop here.

You must engage in continuing education activities to maintain your credentials and stay current.

That means participating in workshops, attending conferences, or pursuing additional coursework that expands your knowledge and skills as a business coach. 

These activities help you stay up-to-date with industry trends, strategies, and best practices while demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning. It could even mean getting a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.

Becoming a certified business coach is just the beginning. Cultivating knowledge, evolving, and adapting to the constantly changing business world is crucial for success.

How to Become a Business Coach without a Degree

You can help others achieve success as an effective business coach without a formal degree.

How? Through a combination of experience, skills, and continuous learning.

For example, you can learn valuable insights from experienced coaches. Attend workshops, conferences, webinars, or even listen to podcasts featuring successful coaches

By engaging in these events, you can learn about various coaching techniques, strategies, and best practices that are effective in helping businesses thrive.

Networking with industry professionals will also help you expand your knowledge base while building connections that may lead to future opportunities.

Also, building a solid online presence is crucial for establishing yourself as a business coach without a degree. 

Here are some critical steps to developing your online presence:

  • Create an informative website showcasing your services, certifications, testimonials from past clients, and blog posts sharing valuable insights on relevant topics in your niche.
  • Build out case studies showing specific examples of how you helped a past client reach their goals.

Becoming successful as a business coach without formal education takes time, but you can build a thriving business with persistence and dedication.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How to Start as a Business Coach?

To start as a business coach, gain experience in business management, acquire coaching certifications, and develop strong communication and leadership skills. Network with professionals, build a portfolio of success stories and consider offering free initial sessions to attract clients.

What Types of Clients Can I Expect to Work With as a Business Coach?

The specific types of clients you work with depend on your niche, expertise, and target market.

As a business coach, you can expect to work with:

  • Startup entrepreneurs
  • Small business owners
  • Executives
  • Professionals seeking career advancement
  • Large organizations

Your clients may seek guidance on various areas such as business planning, leadership development, and organizational performance.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Successful Business Coach?

No, having a degree is not required to be successful as a business coach. However, it may provide valuable knowledge and skills that could benefit your practice. 

Additionally, pursuing certification through organizations like the ICF can demonstrate your credibility and professionalism to potential clients.

What Are Some Popular Niches in Business Coaching? 

The popularity of business coaching niches varies depending on current trends and market demands. Here are a few that are popular:

  • Executive coaching: This niche focuses on coaching executives and high-level leaders to enhance their leadership skills, decision-making abilities, and overall performance.
  • Team coaching: Team coaches facilitate the development of high-performing teams, focusing on communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and optimizing team dynamics.
  • Brand coaching: Coaches in this niche help clients develop effective marketing strategies, build their brand presence, and enhance their positioning in the market.
  • Leadership coaching: This niche involves coaching individuals at various levels of leadership to strengthen their competencies, communication skills, and ability to inspire teams.

Scale Your Coaching Business 

Are you ready to level up your business coaching practice?

Paperbell helps you manage your clients with ease on an all-in-one client-management platform designed for coaches.

It handles your payments, contracts, and bookings, and keeps all your client information in one place. Try Paperbell for free today to explore all its features.

how to become a business coach

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2023 and has since been updated for accuracy.

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
June 24, 2024

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