From Practice to Profit

Finding Your First Paying Clients as a New Coach

By Phil Askew 💡

My name is Phil Askew, and since 2009, I’ve been mentoring coaches to define their niche, build their personal brand, and create thriving businesses. In this article, I’ll share some strategies to help you find your first paying clients as a new coach and overcome any initial hurdles.

So You’re a New Coach

Perhaps you’re still in training, working with practice clients for free or at low rates.

  • This is excellent for gaining practice, experience, and those crucial coaching hours.

As you continue to learn new tools, techniques, and approaches, it’s vital to coach as many people as possible. This diverse experience will help you understand what it’s like to work with different individuals and issues.

As one of my coach trainers aptly said during my certification: “If it moves, coach it!”

Transforming Your Coaching into a Viable Business

So, how do you develop this into a viable business? You need clients who are willing to pay your rates.

For many new coaches, this can feel daunting. Questions like who to approach and where to find potential clients may come up. In this article, we’ll explore practical steps to help you navigate this transition.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful coaching business.

Three Ideas to Get You Off the Starting Blocks

1. Highlight the Transformative Outcomes of Your Coaching

  • Many new coaches make the mistake of selling the coaching itself rather than the results it delivers. While we, as coaches, understand the profound benefits of the process, potential clients may not fully grasp what coaching involves or why they should invest in it. Focus on marketing the specific, significant outcomes your clients can expect to achieve through your coaching.
  • Start by shifting your perspective. Identify the group of people you are most passionate about serving and pinpoint their most pressing problems or pain points.

Understanding these areas highlights where your coaching is needed most. By focusing on these factors, you can clearly communicate the benefits of your services, making them essential rather than optional or simply “nice to have.”

2. Don’t Wait for ‘One Day When’

  • Since becoming certified in 2009, I’ve mentored many coaches, and a common theme is, “I’ll start sharing on social media and telling people what I do when I’m 100% sure of myself.”

Can you see the issue with this? If we listen to that inner critic, we’ll never post or share our perspective, and we’ll remain hidden indefinitely.

  • This means potential clients can’t find us (and thus continue to struggle), and we don’t get paid. This benefits no one.

Start sharing value-driven content on your platform of choice. By value-driven, I mean offering a perspective that provides relief or a solution (I recommend LinkedIn, where people go to learn, connect, and find solutions). This builds relationships and gets you noticed. It’s like sowing seeds—eventually, they will bear fruit.

This isn’t about looking good or convincing people; it’s about building trust by giving your personal brand a face and a voice. The right clients will notice and reach out.

3. Offer a Taste, Don’t Try to Convince

Coaching is an incredible process, but explaining how it works can be confusing, leaving coaches tangled in knots!

  • Instead, schedule ‘taster’ or sample sessions for those who show interest. Ask them to bring a current challenge they’d like clarity on. Coach them to gain new perspectives and watch their faces light up as they see the possibilities.

According to a 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study, 86% of clients reported a positive return on investment from coaching. This 30-minute session will do more for your coaching credibility (and your potential client’s outlook) than even the best social media post. By offering a tangible experience, you demonstrate the real value of your coaching, making it easier for potential clients to understand and appreciate the benefits.

Whether you’re training to become a leadership coach, business coach, or executive coach, ACT Leaderships International Coaching Federation accredited Leadership Coach Certification program in partnership with Brown University represents the standard for leadership and performance coaching. The comprehensive programs are designed to cater to diverse learning preferences with options for online, hybrid, and in-person formats across multiple time zones. Our curriculum includes ICF Level 1 and Level 2 certifications, ensuring that you receive the highest quality of coach training available. Join our global community of coaches and take the next step in your professional journey with ACT.

ACT is an internationally recognized coaching, leadership development and consulting company known for its commitment to leadership and performance coaching, valuing its long term partnerships with Brown University, the intelligence communities and its loyal and devoted diverse community.