Parents of special needs children work tirelessly to ensure their children lead happy and fulfilling lives. They scour the world, often looking for education and support that just isn’t there. A Special Needs Coach offers life coaching services to children and young adults with developmental disabilities. They impact these children’s lives, focusing on each individual’s needs, whether it be academic, career, or relationship-building. Many also work with parents of special needs children in order to help them better understand their child’s disability and to work through the parenting challenges.
Learn how to start your own Special Needs Coaching Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a special needs coaching business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Special Needs Coaching Business
- Form your Special Needs Coaching Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Special Needs Coaching Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Special Needs Coaching Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Special Needs Coaching Business
- Get Special Needs Coaching Business Insurance
- Define your Special Needs Coaching Business Brand
- Create your Special Needs Coaching Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your special needs coaching business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Special Needs Coaching Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a special needs coaching business?
Starting a Special Needs Coaching business is a fairly low-cost venture. To reduce overhead expenses, many entrepreneurs forego renting an office space. Meetings are held at the client’s home and administrative duties are handled from a home office.
Start-up expenses include the following:
- Reliable transportation
- Liability insurance
A website would also prove beneficial for those seeking thought leader status in this industry. Websites should be simple, yet informative in nature.
What are the ongoing expenses for a special needs coaching business?
Like the startup expenses, ongoing expenses in this industry are fairly low. Overhead costs include continuing education, transportation, Internet, insurance, and marketing. Coaches who opt to hire employees will also face payroll expenses, as well as the added expenses that come with opening a brick-and-mortar office.
Who is the target market?
Because this is a specialized field, your target demographic is limited to individuals with special needs and their family members. This is often a tight-knit community, which will, ultimately, simplify your marketing efforts.
How does a special needs coaching business make money?
A Special Needs Coaching business generates revenue by charging clients for their services. Fees are generally billed by the hour and, depending upon the client, can sometimes be forwarded directly to the client’s insurance company.
How much can you charge customers?
Fees are often set based on experience and education. Most coaches charge an hourly rate of $75-$200.
How much profit can a special needs coaching business make?
The average profit realized for this industry is $59,100. Each additional coach that represents the business will contribute to an increase in annual profit.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Special Needs Coaches can increase annual profits by offering online coaching meetings or through guest spots at speaking conventions. Many have also found success hosting seminars or classes. Classes could include both online and in-person sessions and cover a variety of topics.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your special needs coaching business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a special needs coaching business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Special Needs Coaching businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership.
Informed Consent Agreement
It is recommended to provide clients with informed consent agreements to decrease legal liability and encourage transparency.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Special Needs Coaching Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Special Needs Coaching Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a special needs coaching business
Fortunately, the special needs community is very tightly knit community, - each member supports each other and passes on relevant information. Therefore, you most effective marketing tool will be word-of-mouth. To boost incentive, offer current clients one free session for each referral.
When working to build your reputation within the community, consider volunteering at a local school, coaching a team sport for children with disabilities, or hosting a fundraising event. It’s important to remember that many parents are fulling immersed in assisting their children overcome their challenges. Your involvement will build trust and nurture these evolving relationships. Additionally, many have found success posting on online forums, specific to the community in which they reside.
How to keep customers coming back
A Special Needs Coaching business must differentiate itself from the competition through consistent education and keeping up with the latest trends. To achieve this level of expertise, it is recommended that you specialize on one need at a time. Additional specialities can be added, as you begin to garner a reputation within the community.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
Special Needs Coaching is a very challenging, yet rewarding career. This business pursuit is best suited for the individual who enjoys working with children, helping them gain confidence and happiness through positive motivation, as they work to reach their full potential.
Since many clients will be school-age with working parents, business owners’ calendars must be flexible. Evenings and weekends should be left open to accommodate the client’s busy schedule.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a special needs coaching business?
Special Needs Coaches spend a majority of their time meeting with clients. Meetings are held a minimum of two to four times per month, based on the clients’ individual schedules. Pre-meeting planning is often required, and post-meeting notes should be recorded. Travel time included, an hour-long session could require more than two hours of the business owner’s time.
When not engaged with clients, Special Needs Coaches spend their time marketing their business and building on their own skills and knowledge.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful special needs coaching business?
While there are no specific requirements for becoming a Special Needs Coach, those pursuing this career path would benefit from having an understanding of the disabilities they are working with. Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification would prove beneficial, as would DIR training through the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders.
In addition, real-world experience working with children and adults with disabilities is recommended. This could be on a volunteer basis or as a teacher’s assistant at a local school that specializes in educating students with communication disorders, autism, and/or other learning disabilities.
Regardless of education and experience, Special Needs Coaches must possess confidence and enthusiasm, balanced with patience and calmness. This combination is best suited for working with children with special needs.
What is the growth potential for a special needs coaching business?
One in nine children are now born with autism, ensuring an overwhelming demand for Special Needs Coaches. Given the personal nature of this field, however, the business owner is central to the organization’s brand. A reputation is build within this tightly-knit community, somewhat limiting the growth potential of a Special Needs Coaching business.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a special needs coaching business?
Leaders offer the following advice when starting out in this fairly young industry:
- When possible, invest in client organization tools. This will help minimize time spent on administrative tasks.
- In the beginning, focus on one specialization. Be specific about who you work with and what goals you would like to help them reach. You can build on your experience and education as time goes on, or expand your business to include additional therapists.
- When speaking with parents and children, speak in layman’s terms. Your “coaching language” could prove frustrating and intimidating.
- Try to find a mentor in your chosen field.
How and when to build a team
Special Needs Coaching businesses can be run by one individual or as a collective entity. If your vision includes employees, consider building a team of individuals with independent skills and expertise. If you strength is not in marketing, accounting, or administrative work, consider enlisting the help of professionals in each field.