I remember being dressed in a suit and heels, fresh from a meeting with the mayor, when I was introduced to a person who had become a business coach. She shook my hand, sat down in our conference room, and surveyed the professionals who all had decades of experience.

My CEO had hired her to motivate and inspire us to do even better than we were already doing. Her tasks were to help us work better together as a team, to overcome problems, and determine new, more efficient ways of reaching our goals. She gave us personality quizzes, facilitated role-playing, and offered time-saving tips that everyone could use.

Later, I ended up working for another business coach, whose clientele were top decision-makers in blue-collar industries. It didn’t take long to see how truly valuable an outside, expert perspective was for shifting the attitudes and internal culture of even well-established companies.

Business coaching isn’t new, but it can feel like a big career change — even for people with a long history of success in specific industries. To become a business coach, you must be focused, confident, and have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

This guide is designed to help you better understand what it takes to become a business coach and earn business coaching clients who will appreciate your value. Below, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is a business coach?
  • Do you need a degree to become a business coach?
  • How can you find clients as a business coach?
  • How can networking help you to find clients?
  • How can you brand yourself as a business coach?

The first step is to believe in your abilities. The next step is to keep reading.

What is a business coach?

A business coach is someone with the necessary experience to guide company leaders on a consulting basis. Coaches help people determine the mission and vision needed to succeed in business and then facilitate the steps it takes to reach those goals.

Some business coaches work holistically with a company, while others work one-on-one with C-level executives. Regardless of the scope, this professional offers a valuable third-party perspective that can help business owners recognize necessary changes and growth to build their company to the next level.

Other coaches also overlap business and personal advice. Sometimes, what’s holding a business owner back from reaching professional goals is rooted in personal issues that must be addressed first.

Coaches must be observant, flexible, and have the right attitude for holding people accountable for what they want to achieve.

Do you need a degree to become a business coach?

The more experience and education you have, the more attractive you’ll be to a business owner looking for consulting. Think about it. If your business coaching clients all have MBAs and you only have a high school diploma, they may not respect you in the way you deserve.

That’s why business coaches should have at least an undergraduate degree, as well as many years of experience in business. You need to be able to talk the same language as your clients so you can help them reach whatever goals they set for themselves.

What qualifications do you need to become a business coach?

Before I started consulting, I confided in another coach that I felt unqualified because I hadn’t completed specific management training or leadership development courses. She laughed at my imposter syndrome. I had experience in everything I wanted to focus on. And she was right — you don’t need letters behind your name to become a business coach.

What you do need, besides a strong knowledge of the industry in which you wish to consult, is a planned process for getting someone from Point A to Point B. This can come either from experience, your own insights, or a dedicated program that lays out a proven program for coaches.

How can you find clients as a business coach?

There’s a saying that’s applicable here: When the teacher is ready, the students will come. But you can’t just sit and wait. You must work to market yourself so that your clients know what you have to offer. This is how you get consulting leads.

The most important thing to have is a mobile-responsive website that includes your personal and professional background, CV, an outline of your program, a pricing guide, and an easy way to contact you. All your outreach efforts will point to your website, so you need to include high-quality pictures of yourself and, eventually, testimonials from satisfied clients.

Then, work your network. Update your LinkedIn profile and share regular blog posts that give good advice for the people you’d like to work with. It may seem counterintuitive to provide free information to those that you want to turn into clients, but that’s how it works.

You should also post those blogs on your website and include SEO-friendly keywords so your future clients can find you when they search for business coaches for their industry or region.

How can networking help you to find clients?

Networking is an excellent way to let as many people as possible know about your services as you become a business coach. But here’s the thing: Coaching isn’t really like politics. You don’t want to network with every single professional. You want to focus on your niche.

The more targeted you are with identifying your ideal clients, the easier it will be for you to land more business coaching jobs. It’ll also be easier to actually make a difference. Hone in, not only on the industry but also on the type of person you want to work with.

Target your ideal client in all your communications, including descriptions of your services on your website. This will make networking and finding new clients easier.

While chambers of commerce luncheons and happy hour networking groups are a good start, you should also spend time networking online. Look for virtual networking groups and join webinars that could be interesting to potential clients. Be active in groups on social media and schedule calls and coffees with anyone and everyone.

With the right attitude, tenacity, and a willingness to consistently grow your skillset, you’ll land consulting clients fast and soon become a business coach who is sought after by top executives.

How can you brand yourself as a business coach?

When working with clients, the first question I ask them is: What makes you first, better, or different? You should ask this of yourself as well. You need to have a deep understanding of what sets you apart from other business coaches, so you can be clear when you work to land new clients.

In essence, you’re creating a brand for yourself — much like how Nike has the “swoosh” and tells you to “Just do it.” You know what that company is all about and your prospective clients need to have that clarity about you, too.

Create a logo for your coaching business. Use colors and images that resonate with who you are as a professional and a human. Make sure your values are front and center. From there, you can get active on social media, update your services on listing sites, and flesh out your digital presence.

Need more advice on how to become a business coach?

To make sure you’re covering your bases, check out Constant Contact’s The Download. It’s a free guide that helps consultants stand out.