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How to Start a Health Coach Business


By Victoria P. Davis, NBC-HWC, CPT and AFPA Advanced Health Coaching Intensive Faculty Member

Setting up a health coaching business is like embarking on a grand adventure filled with excitement and trepidation. As a board-certified health coach (though this wasn’t always the case), I’ve traversed this path myself, transitioning from practitioner to mentor with the guidance of expert coaches who helped shape my journey and philosophy. 

Starting as a health coach for a non-profit organization, then going out on my own as a health coach, and now running a department for a global digital fitness and well-being app, I’ve learned firsthand the intricacies of coaching, navigating the complexities of client care, and managing a business. 

As you navigate starting a health coaching business, you will likely have questions, doubts, and a desire for guidance. You might be wondering… 

  • How do I build a thriving practice from the ground up?  
  • What strategies will set me apart in a crowded market?  
  • How am I going to get clients?  
  • What can I do beyond working 1:1 with clients?  
  • How can I balance the demands of entrepreneurship with genuine care for my client’s well-being? 

I too have worked through these questions and more during my career, so I’m excited to provide some helpful advice for working through them and establishing a thriving health coaching business. 

Setting up a successful health coaching business requires careful planning and execution. So, I’ve outlined eight important steps to help you set up your health coaching business with success. Let’s get into it! 

8 Steps to Setting Up Your Health Coaching Business 

Step 1: Define Your Niche Market 

Step 2: Obtain Certification 

Step 3: Clarify Your Goals and Vision for Your Life 

Step 4: Automate What You Can with Systems 

Step 5: Establish Legal Protection and Become Legitimate 

Step 6: Set Your Prices in the Interest of the Client and Coach 

Step 7: Seek Out Collaboration Opportunities and Alternative Streams of Income 

Step 8: Accept Change and Let It Drive You Forward 

Step 1: Define Your Niche Market 

After working as a corporate health coach and learning to develop programming, my sister and I branched out independently and specialized in health coaching for endurance and plant-based athletes

We focused on this niche because they were like us—we could relate! A significant partnership soon followed with Jabz Boxing (called Jabz Boxing Fitness for Women at the time), where we developed group challenges for all members nationwide and offered our health coaching services to interested clients. 
 
The more you niche down and focus on who you can help, the more people will want to work with you. 
 
Here are some examples of defining your target audience: 
 
If you want to coach clients directly: 

  • “I help new mothers struggling to regain their pre-pregnancy health levels.”  
  • “I help endurance athletes stay on track in every area of their life so they can face the mental challenge of each race and finish well.” 

If you want to work with businesses or existing health coaches: 

  • “I help aspiring or existing health coaches get clear on their niche and provide them with the tools to be successful in the long run.”  
  • “I work with businesses to develop and implement well-being strategies that make sense for their culture and employee demographic while helping employees develop consistent, life-changing, healthy habits.” 

Key Takeaway: 

  • Don’t be afraid to niche down. Narrowing your potential client base feels counterintuitive, but it will fuel a thriving health coaching business where you get to work with people you care about. 

Step 2: Obtain Certification 

Getting clear on who I helped as a coach forced me to narrow my focus and attracted more clients. However, I still needed more tools to better serve people. 

Before obtaining my credentials, I leaned heavily on my entrepreneurial upbringing. My father taught me to “fall forward” and learn on the fly.  When I started health coaching in 2015 for a large non-profit organization that supported dozens of corporate wellness programs, I did not realize the importance of certification for health coaches. 

I was a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist but knew little about health coaching or health coaching certification. I was ignorant about the power of transformative tools like motivational interviewing and behavior change theory

It wasn’t until I discovered there were National Board Certification Approved Courses for Health Coaches under the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) that I felt I had found what was missing. 

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in health coaching, I advise enrolling in and getting certified through an NBHWC-approved health coach training program, like AFPA’s Certified Master Health Coach Program

By doing so, you will discover whether or not you want to sit for the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching exam. Passing the exam earns you the esteemed title of National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach and demonstrates the highest level of training and ability in the field of health coaching. 

Whether you pursue a board certification or not, obtaining a legitimate health coaching certification in today’s world is a must. When I first started my career in health coaching, companies overlooked me because of my lack of credentials, even with all my experience. When I finally landed a gig, I wasn’t paid as much as others with quality certifications. Moving forward, I committed to creating a health coaching business that worked for me and would allow me to truly help others by working out of my passions and areas of strength. 

Key Takeaways: 

Your Guide to Becoming a Board Certified Health Coach

Learn How to Set Yourself Apart as a Board-Certified Health Coach

Step 3: Clarify Your Goals and Vision for Your Life 

 
If you take away nothing else from this blog, today, take this with you—the most important thing you can and should do when setting up a health coaching business is to assess your lifestyle and ensure you set up your business or side hustle to fit your way of life.  
 
Think about the following: 

  • How will this impact my family life? 
  • What are my boundaries? Think about availability, ways clients can contact you, etc. What time of day or days of the week work best to be available for me? Do I want to work part-time or full-time? 
  • Where and how will I offer coaching? In-person, virtually, telephonically, or a hybrid? 
  • Will I coach individuals, couples, or groups? 

Please try to answer these questions as part of a basic business plan. The last thing you want to do is burn out by trying to always help everyone. The best thing you can do in this preliminary process is to go slow, be mindful, and prioritize your own health.  
 
After being in the coaching space for nearly a decade, I’ve found that I am much better suited to strategic, development, and educator roles. Even though I do not spend as much time as a 1:1 health coach, I use my experience, knowledge, and skill set to educate and train current and future health coaches.  

Key Takeaway:  

  • Identify your current or desired lifestyle and use that to help you set up your business.  

Step 4: Automate What You Can with Systems 

The more things you can automate, the less time you will spend on administrative tasks. If you need help with these tasks or technology, hire someone to set them up. There are likely health coaches in your network who have these skills and may be willing to help you. Alternatively, you can hire support using Fiverr or Upwork. 

Here are some examples of automation I use in my coaching business to simplify my life and save time: 

  • A live online calendar that potential or existing clients can use to book time with me. 
  • A digital intake form and other templates that notify me when someone completes it, which then links to my calendar to schedule a discovery call or session. 
  • A payment processor, usually attached to the scheduling software. 
  • A digital version of my coaching agreement that all clients receive automatically after they commit. 

Key Takeaway: 

  • Automation is your friend! 

Step 5: Establish Legal Protection and Become Legitimate 

Having legally reviewed agreements is crucial! Please don’t skip this step. It ensures clear responsibilities and could save you a lot of money, especially when submitting taxes. 

If you need help figuring out where to start, you could use a service like LegalZoom. They can also help advise you on the type of business to set up and how to do it legally. 

 If you work for yourself, you’ll want to get liability insurance. It will not only protect you, but it will also give your business further credibility. 

 Finally, be mindful of confidentiality—for you and your clients. The more boundaries you can establish upfront, the better. 

 Beyond protecting your client’s information, be mindful of how much personal information you share about yourself and how much direct contact a client can have with you outside of sessions.  
 
For example, I only provide my clients with my work cell phone number and email address, not my personal contact information. I’ve also kept sessions solely online by using calendar software tied to Zoom for virtual meetings. 

Key Takeaway: 

  • Taking legal steps and setting up boundaries for you and your client protects everyone involved and will set you up for long-term success! 

Step 6: Set Your Prices in the Interest of the Client and Coach 

Setting your fees for your own business goes hand in hand with creating your coaching agreement. The more precise you are on this, the more confident your clients will be in your coaching abilities, and it will set their minds at ease with where their money is going. 
 
My top tips for pricing your coaching packages:  

Decide on pricing that works for you and clarify it to clients. To price appropriately, think beyond the coaching sessions themselves. Look at how many hours go into each client and decide on a fee from there. I’ve found the most success with setting up a one-time fee (usually higher) and having a separate program fee broken down by month. Research to find out the latest industry average, consider your experience, and set your rates accordingly. 
 
You don’t want to undercharge for fear of losing clients, but you also don’t want to charge an unrealistic rate.  

Personal tip: I always create an avatar of my ideal client, which helps me better identify their spending habits and budget. 

I also always offer a free 15-20-minute discovery call so clients can explore the idea of coaching without being locked in. It allows you, as a coach, to see if the potential client is a fit for you! Just because someone will pay you does NOT mean they are a fit for your program. The last thing you want is to try to coach someone who isn’t a fit for you to work with. It’s also a massive disservice to them. Don’t be afraid to kindly refer them to someone else! You must stay true to yourself, and a referral is a great way to help another coach. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Determine an hourly rate based on industry standards and your level of expertise to ensure fair compensation for your services.  
  • Offer package deals for multiple sessions to incentivize clients to commit and provide more predictability with your income!  
  • Not every potential client is a fit, and that’s okay. Know your worth, your ideal client, and don’t be afraid to refer out! In fact, those referrals can also direct clients your way. 

Step 7: Seek Out Collaboration Opportunities and Alternative Streams of Income 

 
No matter your experience level as a health and wellness coach, look for collaboration opportunities. The more you work with fellow coaches and similar professionals to learn from and support them, the more word of mouth your business will get—it’s a win-win!  
 
If you’re struggling to get your first clients or don’t know where to start, I highly recommend finding a health coaching mentor who can guide you. 

Beyond attending conferences and events for networking, try partnering with local business owners and getting to know one another. Find out what types of clients they work with, what they’re passionate about, and how they help people. Instead of simply pitching your health coaching services to them, talk about ways it can be mutually beneficial and see if you can work out a way to support clients together. 

Don’t forget to explore other ways to bring in income —you might just find your sweet spot! 

Local businesses often look for speakers to come to share their expertise on a topic during lunch hours. Explore ways you can turn your knowledge into consulting or contractual relationships with corporations or small businesses versus direct to clients.  

For example, collaborating with local women’s gyms allowed me to develop group challenges that combined my areas of expertise and created organic referrals that helped me get contracts with more gyms and private clients.  

As I mentioned earlier, it took me years of private client or one-on-one coaching to discover the best ways to use my experience as a health coach. If you find one-on-one coaching isn’t where you want to be, there are dozens of other ways to utilize your training, expertise, and passion. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • There are a multitude of ways to make money as a health coach. It’s okay to explore several paths! 
  • Don’t be afraid to network and collaborate with others in your field. 

Step 8: Accept Change and Let It Drive You Forward 

No matter what happens in your personal health coaching practice, side hustle, career, or industry, if this is what you want to do for a living, learn how to live well with change. The more you can stay open and flexible to change without giving up, the more successful you will be!  
 
Let me remind you why… 

I started as a clueless, entry-level bilingual health coach with hourly pay and minimal benefits, driving all over Arizona. The incredible life changes people made kept me going. 

After a few years, the non-profit promoted me to Account Manager, where I trained new health coaches in developing and delivering corporate wellness coaching. On the side, I started partnering with local women’s gyms and gained my first private clients. Things were going well! 
 
But then, I got burned out. I was ready to do something else after coaching close to 10,000 individuals and always traveling. I moved across the country, gave up my job, and lost my local relationships, but I kept some clients virtually. The pandemic came soon after. 
 
I had to learn to pivot.  
 
I found online coaching gigs and contract work, and even though I wasn’t sure about private coaching as a career, I decided to find an approved NBC-HWC prep course to become board-certified. It was a scary leap, but I went for it. 

 
Fast forward to today.  

Because I kept moving forward, I now teach the Advanced Health Coaching Inventive Live Course (an NBC-HWC Prep Course) through AFPA. I also run a Department at Sworkit Health, where I use my health coaching skills daily but in a new way. I do it all from home so I can be with my family. 
 
I’m sharing my story with you so that you can see the reality of the journey. Don’t give up—you never know what doors will open if you pursue what you’re truly passionate about!  

Conclusion 

Setting up a health coaching business is a rewarding journey that requires careful planning and execution. By obtaining certification, clarifying your goals, defining your niche, and establishing efficient administrative systems, you can lay the groundwork for a successful practice. Leveraging your unique expertise and experiences, exploring different pricing and marketing strategies, and investing in continuous learning and development are critical to thriving in this dynamic field. With dedication, perseverance, and a client-centered approach, you can build a thriving health coaching business that makes a meaningful impact on the lives of others. 

Author Bio 

Victoria DavisVictoria Davis

Victoria P. Davis, NBC-HWC, CPT 

Victoria has a decade of experience in corporate health coaching, fitness, wellness content development, and presenting in the health, fitness, and wellness communities. She received the “Health Coach of the Year” Award in 2018 from The Wellness Council of Arizona and was featured in AZ Central’s “Who’s Next in Health and Fitness.” Victoria’s journey of thriving with Tourette Syndrome and scoliosis fueled her mission to help others with similar stories. Victoria serves as the head of Client Success at Sworkit, a global digital fitness and movement solution, and channels her passion for helping people find enjoyable daily movement. 



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