10 Key Qualities You Need to BE - to HAVE a Successful Coaching Business

People Starting Race on Track

In this *UPDATED in 2019* article we explore qualities you need to make a good living as a coach...

We all know the Be-Do-Have coaching truism. You need to BE who you are, so you can DO (act) in alignment with who you are - and HAVE what you truly want. Read on to see who I believe you need to BE to have a 6-figure business. And while you're reading, perhaps you'll ponder which of these traits you already have, and which you might need to grow...

There are plenty of resources out there to help you run and grow your coaching business; articles, ebooks, courses you can attend in person and online courses you can do from the comfort of your own home. But there are some things they won't teach you - and that's who you need to BE to succeed. This is what I've tried to sum up below, because in the last 10 years of growing a 6 figure business, I learned a lot - the hard way... And I'd love to share it with you!

How to Have a Successful Coaching Business - You Need to BE:


This, for me, is the number one trait you need to succeed. As you learn to run and grow your own business there will be many successes - and when you have a success it's easy to keep going. But (unless you're very lucky indeed) it's overcoming the inevitable difficulties and setbacks that you'll need lots of determination and perseverance for.


Yes, you NEED to be a marketer. I don't care how hard you find it, how distasteful it might seem at first - without learning to market yourself - no-one is going to know you're there. And, more importantly, no-one is going to care!

Unless you pay someone to do your marketing for you, you must learn enough about marketing to effectively market yourself. Marketing is only "bad" when people are dishonest/trick others. That's not you!

"Marketing is simply deciding 1)WHO you want to help (your target market), 2) understanding their problems and goals AND 3) learning where they hang out so that you can 4) go there and tell them who you are, what you offer and how you can help them. Finally marketing is 5) doing this in a way that your target market notices you - and understands what you're saying!"  Emma-Louise Elsey


So many choices, so little time. As a business owner, you'll be making choices all day long - big and small. Like which business offers to accept, how much is enough to pay for a website or logo, which tasks to work on next, what your priorities are.

You'll also need to learn when to "stop flogging a dead horse". It's a horrible expression, but there will be some tasks and goals where, despite the effort and hours you've already put in, you'll need to stop and move onto something else more profitable. It will take discernment (and learning from your mistakes along the way) to look at these tasks and decide whether you should persevere or let go and move on.

4) YOU:

Running your own business, especially a coaching business is a difficult "Hero's Journey". The hero's journey is about the universal human life journey to discover who you are - and be that person in the world.

When you start coaching, you usually pick the kind of coach you want to be, who you coach and make the best guess as to what this should be. But as time goes by - and if you want to be really successful - you'll embrace who you are and bring that into your coaching practice. This will change or deepen the type of coaching you do.

And if you're willing to bring YOU into your coaching as you learn about yourself, to be vulnerable and try things, to use your unique learnings and experience IN your business, you'll find your success grows accordingly (and sometimes exponentially!).


For a while you'll try to do everything yourself. And at the beginning where you're trying to save money, that's probably a good thing. You'll find out what you're good at and what you're not good at, what you enjoy doing and what you don't.

Then you'll reach a point where you realise you're not getting the important stuff done (the actions that need YOU to do them) like following up with enquiries, creating that product, program or workshop.

To succeed, you'll need to recognize you simply don't have enough time to do everything. You'll need to delegate what you're not good at/the repetitive stuff that requires less skill - so that you can focus on what's really important.


Can you let go of your security blanket? There are countless ways you need to be brave when running your own business. Here I'm talking about how we all use some activities as a way to avoid the more challenging tasks we should be doing to grow our businesses.

Are you fiddling around on email, social media, or "wasting" time doing something you enjoy - but that isn't making you money? You need to learn to let go of tasks that don't serve you. (Learn more about your unique time-wasters with The Urgent Important Matrix).

If you're not actually making money DOING coaching, you should be PLANNING how you can make money. And you should be taking ACTION towards something which makes you money or working on your MARKETING. If you're doing something else, some kind of "security blanket" activity that stops you from stepping up, you need to be brave and STOP! Which leads me into:


Yes, you need to get over your money issues. Wanting to make money is nothing to be embarrassed, guilty or ashamed of. The purpose of running a business is to make money.

The fact that you're in a helping profession is irrelevant. Doctors and nurses get paid. Everyone has bills to pay.

No guilt! No shame or embarrassment! Instead go ahead and ask for that sale - and be proud that YOUR business makes money helping others!


As long as you run your own business, there will ALWAYS be more to do than time allows. So you MUST learn to prioritise and focus, to decide which actions are most important - and do those first. But until you know WHAT you're aiming towards, what you want, how can you prioritise and focus?

FIRST set goals for your business starting with longer term goals, then medium and short-term goals that get you there. THEN, review your goals regularly. Are they still relevant? Are your actions and short-term goals taking you there?

Know what you want, and be willing to reprioritise as many times as it takes to be successful. If you need to, hire a business coach to help you with this because without focus on your goals, your business will go nowhere, fast!


...a lot of new things. As I said earlier, when you start your business you'll be doing everything yourself - purchasing, marketing, sales, invoicing, finances, HR (of yourself!) as well as the coaching itself. You're the CEO, Finance Director, Operations Manager, Secretary and every other role needed to make your business work.

Not only will you learn to do these roles, but you'll also be learning new skills, new ways of thinking and new ways of being. It's exciting AND it's a big challenge.

Half the "battle" of creating a successful business is simply being willing to learn everything you need to!


Last but not least, when you run your own business there is NO ROOM FOR SHRINKING VIOLETS. You have a ton to learn - new knowledge to gain, skills to develop, goals to set, money to ask for, personal development opportunities galore. They all mean getting out of your comfort zone, and the more you do it, the easier it gets.

But if you decide to stay safe, you're holding yourself back from the successful coaching career you deserve.

OK, so I thought of another one - often the best answers come out at the end!


Call it trusting your gut, following your intuition or heart, but I found the more I do this, the more successful I am. These days when my gut tells me something. I listen. Period. I don't necessarily act - but I listen and then make a balanced decision.

Use your head AND your heart - and trust your self!


No-one said it was going to be easy. Many people don't "finish the course" and that's absolutely OK!

If you have a family to feed, a life to live, if you're finding it too hard - maybe running your own coaching business isn't for you. Sometimes it takes the greatest courage of all to quit.

And for those of you who do stick it out, you'll never be the same again. You'll be invincible!

Optional Homework:

Using the Free Action Brainstorming Worksheet, brainstorm and write down what you need to start, stop, continue doing, do more of and do less of - to achieve success in your business.

So, let me know what you think. Did I miss anything? After reading this, where do you need to make a shift in how you ARE in your coaching business?

You may also like these articles about Running Your Own Coaching Business:


  1. Amelia Barnes

    Great article. Feel renewed as I read it. Perseverance being determined is certainly the number one quality that it takes to be successful. to keep on even on the days when I don't feel like it. - It's easy on the days when I do. building momentum is so critical in silencing those fear voices.

    • Emma-Louise

      So glad you found this article helpful! Perseverance/determination SO necessary - and believing in YOU! Thanks for commenting! Warmly, Emma-Louise

  2. Sandra Hill

    I see this was written in 2014 but the words ring true still in 2017. Excellent information for those of us who are new at entrepreneurship and the business of coaching..not a coaching practice. Thank you for clearing the " landmines".

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Sandra, thank-you for your kind words - and for taking the time to comment! Sadly we see many coaches who don't realise that once a coach, we are also an entrepreneur. That involves a lot of hard work and persistence, and self-growth too - it's a real journey! So glad you like this article 🙂 Warmly, Emma-Louise

  3. Jeffrey Reid

    Before going to tell anything, I just want to say that the coaching is an integral part of leadership in the organization. By enhancing the potentiality, competence, and talents anybody can flourish at the professional. Here, in this context, I would like to say that you need to be conscious of the key rules including- 1)Listen with inquisitiveness, 2)Bluff what you actually hear, 3)Reflect with exactness or by paraphrasing, summarizing, and questioning, 4)Provide the response for the enhancement etc, to become highly successful in your coaching vocation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.