Business coaching is a bit of an unknown industry. Because it’s unknown, there’s a lot of confusion about what a business coach actually does and even more confusion about how much a business coach charges. We’ve got articles about both of those things in our learning centre. You can check those out by clicking the highlighted text. Yet one question that is often asked, and rarely answered clearly is, what are the payment terms if I sign up for a business coaching programme?

The Payment Terms

Just like in most industries, the payment terms are different for every business coaching organisation. If you go and buy a gym membership, some of them want you to sign up for a full 12 months. Then there are others that are happy for you to join them on a rolling-monthly membership. Heck, there are even some that let you pay as you go.

We thought the most helpful thing that we could do was summarise what our payment terms are. We’ll also add in what other coaches might do so you can get an honest and transparent view.

Setting The Payment Up

At Action Coach Manchester our payment terms are straightforward. When a new member signs up, we consider them onboarded once they’ve had their discovery session (usually at our Action Members live day) and completed a GoCardless link. We then set the business owner up on our training portals, into our system and welcome them to the community through the WhatsApp group. Once GoCardless has been completed by the business owner, GoCardless then set up a standing order for the amount of the chosen programme.

The business owner then starts their journey and all of the products are available to them from the product ladder. In terms of payment, every month the business owner will receive an invoice that we set up to run automatically using Xero. When the invoice lands, the business owner doesn’t need to do anything, our financial software will just debit the account by the amount shown on the invoice a few days after the invoice has landed. Basically, it’s all automated, you don’t have to do anything once you’ve set up the link.

You’ll have your invoice that you can send off to your accountant (we’re VAT registered so you can claim any VAT back if you’re VAT registered too) and you’re good to go.

The Actual Payment Terms

At Action Coach Manchester our payment terms for business coaching state that you’ll pay at the start of the month, for the month coming up. So basically you pay upfront for the month we are moving into. When you set up your GoCardless link, it will take payment for the next 30 days and then repeat from that point onwards.

That tends to be a more common way of working on a coaching programme. There are coaches out there that will take payment at the end of the month although most coaches don’t advertise their prices online. If the prices aren’t online, it’s highly likely that their payment terms aren’t either. If your looking for a coach that specifically takes payment at the end of the month instead of at the start it may just mean that you need to take a little longer to do some research.

Something that is common in the business coaching industry is block payments. Some coaches run programmes that last a certain amount of time (like a 12-week programme for instance). If that’s the case, they usually take the payment upfront in one. The great thing about the block programmes is that they are often advertised online and prices are a little easier to find.

How long will I be tied in?

This varies again with each business coaching company. At Action Coach, we ask for one month’s notice. For other coaching organisations, you might be committed for a minimum period (say 3 or 6 months), which isn’t always a bad thing. A tie-in can make sure that the business owner stays committed.  And in different business coaching companies, you pay upfront for a block of sessions as mentioned earlier.

All of these different versions have pros and cons. Being tied in for a minimum period can be really helpful to make sure that the business owner gives the programme enough time to get results (this isn’t an overnight fix after all). Block payments can be useful to help with cash flow. And the 30-day notice can be great because it leaves your destiny in your own hands.

None of them are right or wrong, or better than the other. It just depends on what’s right for you.

What if I want to cancel?

If you’ve paid for a block of sessions and want to cancel, most (not all) coaches will keep the change. After all, they were clear about what you were signing up for from the start. If you are on a minimum period, the same rule would usually apply unless you had unusual circumstances. If you want to cancel on a 30-day notice like we have at Action Coach Manchester, all you have to do is pop us an email or give us a call and we can take care of everything for you on our side.

Alternatively, you can cancel a standing order with companies like GoCardless yourself but in most cases (not all) that means popping down to the local bank which can be a bit of a pain.

In regards to our payment terms at Action Coach, everything is set up for ease. We run off an automated system for both invoicing and collecting payments. That means that you don’t have to do anything other than send your invoice to your accountant or bookkeeper and we don’t have to employ people to chase our outstanding invoices. Happy days.

Do different coaches have different payment terms?

Yes, there’s not really a set way in the business coaching industry when it comes to payment terms. Because most of the business coaches out there are self-employed, they basically make the rules. It can be tricky (although not impossible) to find payment terms and prices online. So if the payment terms are the main factor for you when it comes to deciding on the right coach, you might need to make a few phone calls or book sessions with multiple coaches to get a feel for the marketplace.

What if I change my mind and decide I don’t want a coach anymore?

That depends on what the payment terms were when you signed up. If you joined a programme including a block of sessions, the chances are you’ll lose your money if you are only a few weeks in. The same would be true if you’d signed up for a programme with a minimum time commitment.

But do you know what? Most people get into the business coaching industry because they are good honest people that want to help. So if you do want to leave the programme because you can’t afford it or because you’ve got an unusual circumstance, just chat with the coach and see if you can come to some kind of agreement.

Can I just pay you a commission on the results I get?

It’s very rare that you’d find a coach that agrees to this. The reason why? If you don’t do your goals the coach would never get paid. They might have given you great advice, helped you tremendously and followed a great coaching framework. But if you don’t get up and take action on the goals, there’s not much that they can do about it.

Also, some business owners don’t join coaching just to get a financial return on investment. We’ve had plenty of members join us because they want to get their time back. Or maybe they really need help with their team. Some have even joined us stating they want a “better quality of life”. Some of those things are impossible to measure, how would you decide how much commission to pay?


So there you have it. As a general rule of thumb, most coaches take payment up front and don’t have much of a tie-in period. But if you’re joining a workshop, paying for block sessions or joining a group that has a minimum tie-in, just make sure you are happy and comfortable before going ahead.

More often than not, there are more important things to consider when making a decision on which business coach to sign up with. Whether you like the coach or not is important. So is their experience and what products and services they offer. But if the payment terms are important to you, ask the question and you’ll probably make the right decision.