When most people think of a coaching model they think of a cute acronym like SMART goals.
This is especially true if they attended a coaching certification program in which “coaching model” referred to a sort of coaching map you use to guide your clients through the process of your coaching.
While this type of coaching model is important, it’s not what we’re going to be talking about in this article.
Those kinds of coaching models are very personal to each coach and require you to do some digging to see what works for you and your audience. Which acronym you use also doesn’t affect how much money you make. Instead, in this article we’re going to be talking about coaching business models. So when we refer to “coaching models” just know that we’re referring to structures within a business that lead to potential revenue.
Business Models Explained
Investopedia defines a business model as the plan implemented by a company to generate revenue and make a profit from operations.
This term has become a bit of a buzzword and as such it’s definition has become a little convoluted in recent years.
The term business model actually dates back to the earliest days of business and it simply refers to how a business makes money. For instance, a retail store makes money by selling clothes to customers who need it.
In the case of a coaching business, the basic model looks like making money by offering coaching services to people who need it - that’s it!
For example, a business coach offers services to individuals who need to overcome some blocks in order to run their businesses.
A health coach may offer coaching to an individual who is having difficulty losing weight.
A relationship coach may offer services to individuals or couples who are experiencing difficulty in their relationships.
An executive coach may offer services to busy executives running Fortune 500 companies.
It’s important to note that the model in this case doesn’t refer to what kind of coach you are (that’s actually referred to as a niche); instead it refers to what you offer in exchange for money.
When it comes to coaching models there are a few people gravitate toward depending on what stage of the business they are in and whether or not it aligns with their values.
Some people do a combination of all of the above and it works out for them. Others stick to the ones they enjoy and are most in alignment with their values.
As for which one makes the most money, there’s potential to make a lot of money in all of these examples, but they all come with their advantages and disadvantages.
We’ll address each of these models individually, but first we need to address alignment and evolution of the coach and their business.
Choosing a Coaching Model Based on Alignment and Evolution
Before diving into each model individually it’s important to note that you are not bound to any particular coaching model in your business.
Often times the ones that makes the most money is the one that works best for you and an individual.
You can also change your model later as you change, learn, grow and gain more experience in terms of what works and what doesn’t for your coaching practice.
For instance, in the beginning you may love doing private one-on-one coaching but over time realize that you are feeling drained and need to find ways to implement scalability into your coaching model.
The opposite could also happen. Maybe you begin by coaching groups but then realize you are much better at coaching on an individual level.
This doesn’t happen to everybody, but don’t be surprised if you change your opinion about your model as you gain more experience.
As such, don’t make the assumption that once you choose a model you are stuck with it forever.
The reality is we’re always learning, growing and tweaking as coaches and business owners.
Coaching Model #1: Private Coaching
This is usually where most people begin their coaching practice.
If you’ve undergone formal coach training then it’s likely that you were required to do some one-on-one coaching for credit hours.
It’s also the easiest place to begin because it doesn’t necessarily require you to create an entire coaching class with modules like you would in a group setting.
By starting off with private coaching you also start to notice the patterns your clients are dealing with, and as such can use that to experiment with other forms of coaching models like group coaching or offering products.
Private coaching can be extremely lucrative because your brain and your time are the most expensive things you have. As such, private coaching is typically seen as the high-end service a coach offers.
Additionally, it’s typically (though not always) easier to sell one high priced product to one person than to sell a lower priced product to several people.
However, there are some cons to private coaching.
The main con is that it isn’t scalable. Since you’re operating on a one-to-one model you’re income is limited by your time.
If you aren’t booked up with private clients and actually coaching them then you aren’t really making any money.
You’re also extremely limited as to the amount of clients you can take on (we’re not machines).
Lastly, private coaching may not be a good coaching model for individuals who thrive in groups.
For example, extroverts may be better at group coaching because their strengths lie in crowds and not necessarily one on one interaction.
Coaching Model #2: Group Coaching
The natural progression for many coaches is to move from offering private coaching to offering group coaching.
Group coaching is more scalable because it’s a one to many coaching model, meaning you are helping multiple people at once.
If done correctly this can help you make more money without burning out as some experience in private coaching.
There are a couple of ways you can conduct group coaching at different price points to meet the needs of your audience:
- Long-term group coaching: This is usually a series of sessions done in group form.
- Intensive group coaching: When most people do “intensive” coaching they usually refer to a one or two-day workshop where several people participate.
- Short Online Workshop: Sometimes you can do short one-off coaching sessions online depending on what your market is asking you for. For example, they may be asking you to address a topic which can be taken care of in 90 minutes versus a four-week long group coaching course.
Of course, this model works if you thrive in groups and enjoy teaching on a larger scale.
Not everyone does, in which case they may do a better job coaching if they stick to a private model.
You also have to keep in mind that with this model you actually have to sell and close the deal with more people.
This may be more difficult to do in the beginning stages, which is why many people opt to begin with private coaching.
Coaching Model #3: Selling Products
This model is attractive because it’s extremely scalable and offers the coach a form of passive income.
In other words, the work is done up front and then it can continue making you money for as long as you wish.
Additionally, you’re not trading your time for money with this model like you are with private or group coaching.
For example, you write a book or create an on-demand course once and then offer it up for sale for as long as you wish.
This allows you to reach many more people because a book or on-demand course isn’t going to cost a person nearly as much money as signing up for private coaching.
Of course, the downside to this is you would have to sell several products in order to pay your bills each month.
Additionally, the selling and marketing never really ends. Once you create a product you have to constantly let people know it actually exists.
Despite this, it’s still a model worth considering as your business grows and expands simply because it’s so scalable.
Coaching Model #4: Online Coaching
The rise of the internet has made it much easier to start a coaching business with low overhead.
There’s no need to lease on office space if you’re taking all your coaching calls online.
Additionally, using an online coaching model allows you to expand far beyond your local area for clients.
This is typically a matter of personal preference that can be dictated by what’s going on in your life.
For example, self-proclaimed financial therapist and coach Bari Tessler decided to make her entire practice online-only after the birth of her child so she wouldn’t have to sacrifice any time with him.
Coaching Model #5: In-Person Coaching
Some coaches still prefer to do coaching in person. As such they opt for meeting clients at their offices or homes.
This may also look like doing live events or retreats depending on how far the coach wants to go.
This is a good option if you thrive around other people and would like to add a more personal touch to your coaching.
It’s also a great model if you hate dealing with technology and prefer to stay within your local community.
Many would claim that you’re limiting yourself by sticking to your local community, but it actually comes with several advantages including low-cost ways to advertise and less perceived competition.
Some coaches even make more money by scaling down and going local than by trying to reach many people online.
Again, this depends on your personal preference, how you thrive as a coach and how you can be of the utmost service to your market.
The Final Piece of the Puzzle
As we’ve already seen, which coaching model makes the most money depends on several factors that have more to do with your personal preference, your values and your market than it does on the actual model itself.
For this reason you may find that several coaches either implement all of these models or change and evolve over time.
The more experience you can in your practice the more you’ll be able to tell which model works best for you and your clients.
The last piece of this puzzle is to ask your market.
As we’ve mentioned before, you shouldn’t do anything without asking for feedback from your market.
This is how you create products and services that they not only want to buy, but also make a lasting impression and help them on their own journey.