6 Shifts to Go from a Hobby to a Coaching Business

Every day I meet talented, brilliant individuals who love to coach, but haven’t generated enough paying clients. I’ve discovered something interesting — only some truly want to have a business. Without that driving desire to build something that’s all yours through your own decisive action and creativity, a thriving coaching business is just a “someday” dream.

What about you? Are you 100% committed and amply motivated to have a successful coaching business? Do you want it enough to do what it takes? If the answer is no, that’s okay. And now that you know that, you can either summon commitment and motivation, or accept that this isn’t the right path for you at this time. There’s no shame in that.

The truth is, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It’s a scenario that requires that you work on your growing edge, continuously learn, refine and innovate, with a bit of coasting here and there. If YOU truly want a thriving coaching business but aren’t there yet and don’t know why, check out these 6 signals that you might be operating more as a hobbyist and make the shift.

Do you get discouraged and stuck easily?

super woman in business

Everyone gets discouraged and stuck sometimes, but if it happens whenever you make a mistake, hear “no”, or are challenged by a learning curve…

MAKE THIS SHIFT: Summon courage to help you on this journey. Courage comes before confidence and you have this inside of you. Chogyam Trungpa, author of Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior said that courage is not being afraid of who you are. You are inherently valuable. Be willing to make lots of mistakes without judgment, hear no, and be on steep learning curves. It’s an integral part of building a successful business.

Do you really KNOW who you’re serving?

To connect and build trust with your future clients, you need to understand them and know what they ultimately want. If you’re trying to sell coaching rather than helping a unique group of people get where they want to go with your coaching, you’re missing the mark.

MAKE THIS SHIFT: Target a viable niche market and become their champion. STOP performing and start connecting. That’s how you stand out in the crowd, become well known and in high demand for your services.

Have you done the math?

A sure sign of a hobbyist is someone who always shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. Having a business means planning your work and working your plan. If you want to earn 6 figures this year, how will you accomplish that?

MAKE THIS SHIFT: “Do the math” to understand what you want to earn, and therefore what you will offer, how you’ll price it and how many clients you need to earn what you want. Then create and complete an action plan to make that happen.

Is your business a last priority?

There are times when everyone must put their work aside for something more important. But if your business gets last priority most of the time, you don’t have a business. Think of it this way, when you work for someone else for a paycheck, you show up unless you have a really good reason not to. It should be the same with your business.

MAKE THIS SHIFT: Set office hours and hold them as sacred. Then hold yourself accountable for getting stuff done that will bring you a steady stream of clients and income. If you need help to do this, invest in a business mentor.

Have you set up your business?

You know your business is more of a hobby if you haven’t set up a business checking account and set up systems to track your income and expenses at least quarterly.

MAKE THE SHIFT: Review how you’re business is fairing each month with patience and determination to improve it. Put attention into bringing your income in line with  — and then well beyond — your expenses. That’s profit. What else can you do to legitimize your business and take it seriously?

Do you have good daily business habits?

Are you not sure what to do each day to build your business? Are you producing things that never reach your target audience? High payoff actions are the building blocks. Those are the actions that make you squirm a little bit, such as calling a prospect and inviting them to a consult, calling a center of influence to build a mutually beneficial relationship, networking where your target audience hangs out, taking bold actions to build your list and promote your services.

MAKE THIS SHIFT:  Take a least 3 high payoff actions first thing every day when you get to your office. Do the easy stuff only after you’ve done the things that will bring you closer to clients and income. Have a set of strategies that get you in front of your target audience that you do continuously.


As coaches we know this… transformation happens from the inside out. Your thriving coaching business needs your courage, belief and actions behind it.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear how this lands with you and what other signs you’ve noticed that a business is being treated as a hobby and how to shift it. I want to help you make this shift and thrive!

  • Kim

    Great stuff Rhonda, thanks for posting it!

    • Thanks for reading it. Would love to know what landed with you Kim and any other thoughts you might have about this topic.

      • Lnzbop

        I especially liked the reminder to know what we want to achieve first…I’ve felt myself floundering and unmotivated because of looking at the “big picture” but not clearing defining my business plan, therefore feeling a lack of direction. You’ll given some clear specific steps to follow that I will put into action. Thank you!

        • The tortoise way is best – slow and steady wins the race. And, focus only on the current step, then go to one small step ahead. ; ‘ )

  • Rhonda K

    Thanks Rhonda. Good stuff. I’m working on identifying my “Ideal Client”, I believe that is the key for me to pull this all together and move forward. I am not treating this like a business, but , I just finished texting a friend who thinks it’s anal that I’m not constantly available to do frivolous things with her. I explained my boundaries and that I don’t have to apologize for having a purpose, goals and discipline. It felt good, and I know it gave validity to the fact that this is more than a hobby. Yippee!

    • If you had a job, your friend wouldn’t dare expect you to be available during work hours. Having a business is truly the same. Good for you for setting boundaries, Rhonda!

      •  Not only do friends do that.  I think as solopreneurs many of us do that to ourselves and don’t even set up hours and boundaries to stick to.
        I know I don’t.   Hm, having and keeping to a schedule has often felt synonymous with “trapped” to me. Suddenly I see how schedules can be about self-respect and holding space.  Thanks!

        • I know what you mean, Miche. What if you have office hours but decide in a conscious way whether to come in later or end earlier based on how you feel in your body and how well you’re completing. This is what I do. I make sure everything is forward moving and if I get it done, I go play!

  • Beth S.


    You have really given us an excellent list of questions to keep ourselves aligned with our purpose.  It is hard being a solopreneur to stay on track and know what the steps will move us closer to our goal.  These really hit home in a simple straightforward manner.  I see where my strong points are and where I need to beef up my commitment and get the work done.  For me, getting clear about who my clients is and my process gave me a surge of energy to move forward.  
    I will print this list out and refer to it often to keep myself on track to having a business instead of a hobby.  Thank you for giving me a simple guideline to keep me focused!

    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Beth! That you’ve chosen a viable target audience to serve is a huge and crucial step. Congrats! Who are you targeting and what is the tangible outcome they are seeking most right now?

  • Ellen

    I used to have this laundry list of daily tasks and always wondered why I didn’t get them done. As you point out just a few “have to do today” items make it so much saner and doable. And yes, I can actually start checking something off…..as long as I keep my inbox closed 🙂 Thanks of a great post!

    • Exactly, Ellen! I like to leave time at the end of my business day to list at least 3 high payoff actions for the next day. Then I find that after completing those I have energy for more. If you’re doing HPAs first thing every day, you’ll find yourself in a great place with more clients and income at the end of each month.

  • MaryAnne

    Thanks for writing these, Rhonda. I like the idea of making mistakes and not judging. That’s a great place to start. Doing the math and being organized around priorities are the other places you point out that remind me of better ways to create my business. Thank you so much!

    • Fantastic, MaryAnne. If you consistently prioritize your biz, do the math to make a plan and work the plan, your business will “grow up”!

  • I find so many coaches who come to me for help are still treating what they do as a hobby. The key I learned was to talk solutions and think like a marketer not a coach.
    We must be marketing to those who want a solution.

    Rocker Life Coach 

  • Rhonda, interesting how most of your examples of high payoff actions involve connecting with others.

    Mine are generally about writing or moving my book forward, probably because my work as a whole is more oriented towards writing.

    I like the idea of three HPAs per day–think I’ll look more towards mixing in more networking and communications steps.


    • If you want to get clients, getting into a rhythm of connecting with people in your target audience will keep you in current and future clients! But if you’re selling your writing for fees, that’s definitely a high payoff action too.