Let's start with some basic assumptions: (yes, we all know the danger of assuming…) Let's assume the following: you have experience in the areas on which you plan to focus your coaching business; you finished ICF-approved coach training; you have decided to spend time and money to build a business. Given these preliminary steps, we will explore Planning, Persistence, and Follow-through. For now, let's focus on the planning.
While this may sound basic, it deserves serious attention. Like any new business there are many legal considerations. Experts for providing information on this are http://www.sba.gov/ and http://www.score.org/, so here we address the basics.
Prior to "opening your doors," consider how you will legally hold the business. More common options I hear discussed include a ‘DBA' or Doing Business As, a Sole Proprietor or Partnership License, and incorporating either as an S Corp or an LLC. Each state has different rules and there are pros and cons to your options. While this sounds intimidating, it is often easier than it seems. For example, I found that where I live for $135 and an hour online I could easily incorporate as an LLC.
Next look at the services you will purchase, barter, or choose to handle yourself. In my company, I started with insurance. Most have heard of liability insurance; consider also Professional Liability which is based on information you provide and services. Is health insurance or workers comp needed? Do you want an umbrella policy? After purchasing insurance, I looked at legal services. Do you want someone to review your agreements or contracts? Do you want a business attorney to provide advice? Another big one for me was an accountant; I considered the pros and cons of spending the money on an expert versus my time if I did the work.
With behind the scenes things covered, look at the logistics. Are you planning to work from home or will you have an office space? What are your needs for technology - a computer, phone, etc.? Consider your operations budget. Create a plan for filing, responding to phone calls and emails, and general office work.
Now focus: what is your business truly about? Write a mission or a vision statement. (The steps to do this are in the blog post Write a Mission Statement for Your Coaching Business.) A mission statement lets people know your purpose. It provides you with focus. A mission statement is a tool for decision making because you consider how options fit your purpose.
Those who received their coaching certification through an ICF-approved coach training program will have a Code of Ethics and Core Values to which you subscribe. If not, visit the ICF website and read the Code of Ethics then explore how you can adopt them within ICF guidelines. These are guidelines for you and your business, plus a foundation for your relationship with clients.
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