coaching business model blog post

Choosing the right business model for your coaching business

As a new coach, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is choosing the right business model for your coaching practice. Heads up: Most coaches skip this step, only to realize later that they don’t have a viable way to make money, so be sure to think through this business decision early on!

Your coaching business model will determine what you offer, how you structure your services, what you charge, and ultimately, how your business will run.

In this post, you’ll learn about the various types of coaching business models, the coaching business model I recommend for new coaches, and how to choose a business model that’s best for you.

What is a coaching business model?

Before we even get into the types of business models for coaches, let’s talk about what a “business model” really means.

I like the simple definition provided by Strategzyer which is: A business model is nothing other than a representation of how an organization makes (or intends to make) money. 

After all, coaching is a skill in and of itself. It’s how you PACKAGE the coaching services that matter. For example, coaching can be delivered as part of a 1:1 package, a group offering, or a course. 

That’s why, when you start your coaching business, the first thing you want to do is to start thinking of your business model. How will YOU make money as a coach?

When you design your business model for your coaching practice, you’re basically planning out how you’ll make money.

This means you’ll want to consider who you’re serving, how you want to serve them, how to price and how to market them. You’ll also want to understand your revenue streams and your revenue projections.

Understanding the different types of coaching business models

Before you choose a business model, you’ll want to understand the various types of coaching business models that are most commonly seen in the market. Here’s a summary of each. 

One-on-one coaching model 

One-on-one coaching involves working with individual clients on a personalized basis, providing tailored guidance and support. 

This business model is great, especially if you’re just starting out as a coach. One on one coaching is a great way to get your feet wet and start making money. The one-on-one business model is often the easiest to put together at the start, and doesn’t require much in terms of tech resources, marketing resources, or a large audience.

If choose to use a one-on-one coaching business model, you’ll want to create coaching packages that fit the needs of your ideal clients. You might create one main signature offer or even two or three packages, each with a specific need and goal in mind.

Examples of one-on-one business model:

  • A Career Reset 3 month package that’s customized for women getting back into the workforce after time off.
  • My 4 month signature Holistic Business Accelerator offering for new coaches and healers.
  • A 6 month relationship coaching package designed for newly engaged couples.

One-to-few coaching model

Group coaching (a one:few business model) involves working with a small group of clients simultaneously, providing a more cost-effective option while still delivering valuable insights and accountability. These often fall into two categories: small group coaching programs and masterminds.

Small group coaching programs

A small group coaching program typically involves a coach working with a small number of individuals focusing on specific topics or skills. The small group allows for personalized attention and support to each member, with structured sessions and goals. 

Mastermind coaching programs

A mastermind group is a group of peers who come together to support each other in achieving their goals. While there may be a facilitator or leader, the emphasis is on collaboration and collective wisdom. Masterminds often involve brainstorming, sharing experiences, and holding each other accountable. 

Examples of One-to-Few Offers:

  • A health coach has a small group coaching program of 5 individuals focused on improving nutrition in 6 weeks.
  • A business mastermind brings together a select few business owners to collaborate, share insights, and support each other’s growth over the course of 6 months
  • Workshops, events, or retreats designed for a small audience to provide in-depth knowledge and interaction.

One-to-many coaching model

Once you’ve built up an audience and been in business for a while, you might expand into a one-to-many coaching business model.

One to many offerings include things like online courses, memberships, and digital products. These are services or products that don’t have a cap on the number of people who can sign up at any given time.

This business model is great when you’ve solidified your offering and client base and you’re focused on scaling your business. 

Examples of One-to-Many Offers:

  • An online course on a specific area of expertise or for a specific segment of your audience (i.e., Show up and Shine is a course on visibility for introverts, empaths, and HSPs)
  • A membership program that offers support on a common topic for your ideal audience 
  • Digital products like PDF guides or workshops that offer valuable insights and strategies at a lower price point 

Other coaching business models

There are alternative revenue streams that coaches may add on to the ones above.

Speaking or Writing: Many coaches want to be public speakers, authors or thought leaders in their field. In this case, your revenue streams may also include your public speaking fees or sales from your book.

In-Person and Online Events: Many coaches love the idea of running live retreats, summits, or other events. In that case, your retreats or live events could be another revenue stream for your coaching business model.

Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is another revenue stream coaches often use in their business model. Affiliate marketing involves promoting other companies’ products or services and earning a commission for every sale or lead generated through your referral.

The best online coaching business model 

The best business models evolve to contain a mix of all the above categories. In a full offering suite, you can have a high priced one-on-one offer, a small group coaching program and/or a course on a specific topic of interest to your ideal clients, as well as a low priced digital product.

Here’s what that coaching business model looks like:

coaching product pyramid

The best business model for new coaches

If you’re just starting out, I recommend focusing on two specific parts of the coaching business model pyramid, which are starred above.  

1. Create a lead magnet or freebie that serves your target audience and allows you to grow your email list while you build your business. (Read this post for lead magnet ideas.)

2. Create a 1:1 signature coaching package based on what you do best for your ideal clients. Spend time, do the research and create an irresistible offer that makes it easy for ideal clients to say yes.

One-on-one coaching is often the fastest way to make money and start serving clients. It’s easier to find one person to pay you $3k versus 10 people to pay you $300 or 100 people to pay you $30.

This is simply because when you’re just starting out, you’re unlikely to have a large audience of potential clients.

Of course, there are always objections to the rule. If you’re just starting out, but you already have a large audience of your ideal clients on social media, you might be able to go straight to a group offering or a course.

Once you “max out” your 1:1 clients, meaning you’ve hit your ideal # of clients or ideal # of hours you want to coach, it’s time to scale and start thinking about a group program, a course, or a digital product offering.

Want more help designing your suite of offerings? Let’s chat!

Factors to consider when choosing a coaching business model

Now that you have an understanding of the different coaching business models, it’s time to consider what’s best for you. Here are some tips on making the decision: 

Consider your personal strengths and preferences. Are you more comfortable working one-on-one with clients, or do you love coaching in groups? As I mentioned, I usually recommend starting with 1:1. There are always exceptions. I’ve had clients who excelled at coaching groups and started with small group coaching. I’ve also had clients who only do 1:1 and have chosen not to move to groups. Think about which business model aligns best with your strengths.

Next, consider your target market. What is your coaching niche and who are your ideal coaching clients? For example, are they individuals seeking personalized support or are they organizations looking for leadership coaching? Understanding your target market’s preferences and needs will help you tailor your business model to attract and serve them effectively.

Consider your price point and accessibility. It’s true that you can’t serve everyone. But you want to make sure that you are affordable to your target market, or that you offer multiple options in a range of prices for your target demographic. The way to do this is through market research — researching both the demographic of your ideal clients and the pricing of competitors in your space.

Consider your own resources. Evaluate your desired income, the time you want to spend working, and your pricing structure. If you decide you want to make $100k, but you only want to coach 10 hours a week, and you want to price your 1:1 services at $100… the math isn’t mathing. This is where doing some revenue modeling and projections can help you make the decision.

Choosing the right business model is a key step in building your coaching business

By now, it’s clear how important it is to consider your options and choose the best coaching business model for your business.

Your coaching business model isn’t JUST what you offer. It’s also who you offer it to, how you package and price it, and where you offer it.

It’s a lot to think about as a new coach, especially if you don’t have a business or marketing background! That’s where I come in.

I help coaches, healers, and wellness entrepreneurs start and grow sustainable businesses aligned with their strengths. If you want support defining your coaching business model, your offering suite, your messaging and your marketing, let’s chat!

Your first step is to submit an application.