Got a particular prowess that other people want? Launch a coaching business with these six tips.

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Coaches are popping up all over, and with good reason. People need help.

Freelancers and consultants are starting up specialized coaching businesses — not to be confused with certified executive, leadership and life coaches — in everything from public speaking and personal branding to writing and rituals.

Coaches develop an ongoing relationship with their clients, instructing, guiding, course-correcting and encouraging. Here’s how to strategically launch your coaching business.

Do your research. “Step one should be identifying exactly who you serve and your value proposition. What makes you stand out from all the other coaching services out there?” says Lora Poepping, president of Plum Coaching & Consulting, a job-search coaching firm. Studying the market and the competition will help you shape your offering, set a fee structure and focus on potential clients.

Take on free clients. “Taking on beta clients is absolutely necessary,” says Emily Mitchell, a Seattle-based ritual coach who creates personalized rituals to help clients manifest their goals. “Test out your technique with these first clients and learn about your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur and coach at the same time.” Plus, nothing beats word of mouth, and beta testers will be your best sales tool.

Make a template. Think about the intake forms you fill out every time you go for an annual checkup. Make your own much-less-annoying form to capture clients’ basic information. Ask about their goals, if they have a timetable or deadline, their experience, etc. And then draft your own guidelines, being clear about how you work, length of sessions and payment policies. No matter how obvious a detail seems, write it down.

Be flexible. While developing a general system is a great starting point, if you’re too rigid in your approach, you might not be best serving your client. Suzanne Morrison, author of “Yoga Bitch” and a writing coach, advises tailoring your coaching to the client’s needs. “Some writers need help at the sentence level, others don’t have a handle on structure. Some don’t have publishing ambitions, while others are looking at the Big Six publishing houses,” Morrison says. While they all need the same basic help, there will be different considerations based on their strengths and goals, she says.

 Jennifer Worick, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs
Jennifer Worick, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs

Don’t undervalue your services. This is where that market research comes in handy. After sussing out the competition’s pricing, you’ll have a good idea of the going rate for similar coaching services. That said, do not undervalue your worth and lowball your fee. You are bringing years — maybe decades — of experience to the table, and that has enormous value.

Bring the encouragement. When you think about coaches in the traditional sense, they encourage and cheer you on, except for maybe that football coach in “Varsity Blues.” Don’t forget this important piece of your work. Julia Freeland, a coach who helps parents relaunch their careers through her business, REvolveYOU, can’t emphasize this enough: “Aim to make your clients the hero of their own story.”

Ready to be the hero of your coaching business?

Jennifer Worick is a veteran freelancer/contractor, publishing consultant and New York Times bestselling author. Email her at