The #1 Mistake Most Health Coaches Make



Number One BIGGEST Mistake?  It’s Planning.  Number Two is giving up too early.

It is so exciting that we are starting to see some health coaches really start to make some good income in their business. They’re moving forward and seeing success.  At the same time, there are a lot of health coaches throwing in the towel. They’re giving up all their hopes and dreams and walking away from any chance they had of making a real difference in the world.  It’s heartbreaking and unnecessary.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone and because Health Coaching is a new career field, sometimes, that’s the only viable choice.  Getting clients is important and it takes time.  When it takes more time than we anticipated, our faith in what we’re doing starts to falter and that can spell trouble.

Many health coaches graduate and jump out into the business world spending time and money on things for their business without having a real business plan.  THAT’s a mistake.  In business, you can’t afford to close your eyes to things that aren’t working.  If you do, it almost always spells big trouble.  In business, you must constantly evaluate and re-evaluate what is and isn’t working for you.

Considerations BEFORE Starting a Business

According to the Small Business Administration, these are the questions you must have answers to before starting your business.  Do you have answers to these questions yet?  If not, go back and answer them honestly and apply them to your coaching business.



  1. Why am I starting a business?
  2. What kind of business do I want?
  3. Who is my ideal customer?
  4. What products or services will my business provide?
  5. Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
  6. What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
  7. Where will my business be located?
  8. How many employees will I need?
  9. What types of vendors do I need?
  10. How much money do I need to get started?
  11. Will I need to get a loan?
  12. How soon will it take before my products or services are available?
  13. How long do I have until I start making a profit?
  14. Who is my competition?
  15. How will I price my product compared to my competition?
  16. How will I set up the legal structure of my business?
  17. What taxes do I need to pay?
  18. What kind of insurance do I need?
  19. How will I manage my business?
  20. How will I advertise my business?

#5  Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?

Many health coaches do not have a realistic idea of the cost of starting a new business.  Setting up a realistic budget and timeline for profits is imperative in starting a successful business.

Setting a budget helps you to determine if your goals for profit are realistic and keep you on the right path.  A budget helps you to foresee cash flow and put you in a better position to anticipate income to plan for purchases and cutbacks.  A real budget can even tell you the best time to vacation.  A good budget will prevent you from pouring money into a business without expectation of return on investment.  It can help you to spend money on expenses to grow your business rather than costs that don’t pay back.

A budget needs to be looked at monthly and not just at startup. You can plan better if you know that you’re getting a good return on your investment.

Cathy Sykora

Cathy Sykora

Founder, The Health Coach Group

Cathy helps health coaches build and maintain successful businesses that improve the lives of others.
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shutterstock_391891351Setting a Budget

  • Use a spreadsheet, either paper and pencil or Microsoft Office Excel.  Set up a column for each month and list the expense categories (ex. wages, sub-contractor, VA, office supplies, phone, professional fees, etc.) in the far right row.  Insert the numbers in the corresponding columns.
  • Add in your expected income
  • Subtract the expenses from the income


The Myths and Truths

It Takes YEARS to Show a Profit

You can google this on the internet and find a billion different answers.  Sometimes it takes a long time and many failures and other times, you walk right into profits.

Starting out, most health coaches should go for enough cash flow that the coach can sustain a minimal standard of living as quickly as possible without the need to look for outside income.  It can take a lot longer to reach the point where you can draw a decent salary plus leave money in the business to grow and show a profit.

If you want to acquire financing, you’ll want to keep from drawing any more income than you have to and leave money in the business as profit.

Online business requires time and patience.  You must follow the steps to build your list and then, you must continuously and consistently nurture your audience.  Many coaches get started but don’t stay consistent.  It takes time and just like anything in business, there are ups and downs.  You can’t stop.  This type of activity rarely pays your bills quickly.  Keep up your other income sources while you do this – or plan to go for a while without profits.  Once you have your list, you’re in much better shape, and can let go of the one-on-one coaching sessions if you like.

Realistically, a health coach could show a profit on the first day of business.  If you reach out to old college classmates and get a response, you might charge them a retainer of $2500 for a package of coaching time, and you’ve not had to wait months and months.

It’s tough to generalize and the time it takes to profit depends on your business model.  There isn’t a right or wrong, as long as you realize this and plan for it.

New Business Requires Investment

New businesses do require some investment.  The amount of investment depends on your business model.  If you are in a new building with inventory and staff, the initial cash requirements are much different than if you operate a small coaching business from your front bedroom.  Any online business will require the expenses of running a website, e-commerce, marketing resources and office expenses, regardless of where the business takes place.

Required – PASSION

Health Coaches are passionate. Love for your profession helps you get through some of the business challenges. If you end up doing something (out of fear or error), be ready to shift course.  Some coaches begin with a grand intention to change the world and end up selling bathroom cleaner or something else that they can’t stand doing.  As a health coach, you’re in a particularly good position to change the world and enjoy the entire process.

There are also enough different things you can do as a health coach with your talent and knowledge that a good idea can set you apart from the others.  This helps to make you stand out and gives you the added luxury of networking and sharing referrals with other coaches.

Most Health Coaches Fail

No one has numbers on that, so I can’t say true or false.  There are a lot of very successful health coaches with many different business models.  I see them and work with them daily.  Also, there are those who quit.

There are health coaches who come out of school and don’t get customers flocking to their doors and quit then.  There are coaches who are almost there (this is so sad to see).  They’ve put all the pieces in place, but they don’t stay with it when they don’t get automatic results.

Rather than focusing on the coaches who haven’t stuck it out long enough to get there, get a mentor and focus ways to succeed.

You Should Hire Out What You Don’t Want to Do

As an E-Myth fan, I will tell you, unless you are building yourself a job, you must delegate some of the work.  Decide what size of a company you want to have and make your decisions around that.

As an entrepreneur, you need to have a basic knowledge of everything in your business.  It’s real uncomfortable to find and trust good people and how will you know unless you have enough knowledge to hire the right people.

As a small business owner, it’s important that you not get buried in the mundane daily work.  I can’t tell you how many health coaches I see in tears and feeling like failures because they can’t do things that it takes many technical people years in school to learn.  Face it, there are some things you don’t need to do.  Tech work is one of them.  It can take a health coach weeks of frustration and tears – without a good outcome that it can take a qualified VA (virtual assistant) 20-60 minutes to do.

Okay…I’m Ready to Coach

Any coach who has graduated and sat at their desk waiting for business knows this doesn’t work.  It may get you a few clients at first, but you need a plan and a system to build your clientele.  In the beginning, actions are the key to your success.  After you have a few clients, it becomes easier, especially if you put in place a plan to encourage referrals and repeat business.

With an online business, it’s the same, only a little slower start.  The thing is, it can pay huge long-term dividends because of the reach the global market allows.  With an online business, it’s all a routine.  A system of steps put in place and maintained.

I’m Free!

One of the reasons I am an entrepreneur is that I wanted to stay home with my kids.  I didn’t want to send them to daycare, and I didn’t want to trust them to strangers.  I figured if I earned a couple of hundred dollars a month, it would help out and I could stay home.  I did get to do this, but, I hired a babysitter to come into the house and I missed some important events. For the most part, my family benefitted and I was much more flexible because of my business.

In the beginning, a business takes everything you have to make it go.  You ARE your boss, but, we also have the demands of customers, staff, and vendors.  You can’t pass off problems because they are ALL your problems.

After you have your business running smoothly and if you plan it correctly, this can be true.  I can turn off my boss hat and stay home and play with my visiting kids and grandkids for a couple of weeks, and my business is unaffected.  If I didn’t have a superb team in place, this wouldn’t be true.

Dear Health Coach

This is the main thing I want to tell you.  Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.  With the proper planning and knowledge, you can be a success.  You have the passion and the ability to do this.  It’s all a system and once you get that down and a plan in place, if you’re patient and consistent, it will happen for you.

Be ready to make mistakes.  It’s okay, that means you’re that much closer to success.  The secret is to learn to adjust and move on.

You should love what you do.  Once you start dreading your work or start feeling like you need to walk away, that means it’s time to make changes.  If you don’t look forward to your day, it’s a sign.

It will take time, but there are things you can do to speed it up if you want to.

Those of you who are doing well, whether it’s part-way or full-out, share it.  You have nothing to fear from other coaches.  We are in this together and we have a lot to offer each other.

One of the problems, many of the coaches who are making it happen don’t get onto social media as often as those who are getting started.  Reach out to each other and share.  Get into masterminds and groups and support each other.

You can do this.  The world needs you.






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