Can I lose money on business coaching?

We get it, it’s one of the biggest fears people have about joining a business coaching programme. So we thought we’d answer the question as honestly as possible so that you can make an informed decision on whether you’d like to work with a business coach.

So can you lose money on business coaching?

The short answer is yes.

Throughout this article, we’ll explain how you can lose money on a business coaching programme so that you don’t make these mistakes if you decide to work with a business coach.


Can I lose money on business coaching?

Can I lose money on business coaching?

Why do people lose money on business coaching?

There are 2 main areas that cause people to lose money on a business coaching programme.

1. If the coach messes up

2. If you mess up

A coach and the person being coached (the coachee) have to work in a spirit of harmony. If both of them are working together and playing the part they are supposed to play in the coaching relationship they can achieve incredible results.

How do coaches mess it up?

There are a few things a coach can do to really mess up.

The first is if their skill or knowledge is poor. So make sure when you’re deciding to work with a coach they are skilled and knowledgeable.

They can also mess up by not following a clear framework. A business coaching framework often looks similar within different organisations. The first thing in the framework and the first thing to get clear on is “the north star.”

The North Star

The north star is the big goal or dream that you are trying to achieve. Not having clarity on this means that the business owner is just turning up and putting out fires. Doing that without any direction or forward movement is exhausting. The north star gives us something to aim at. The business coach is likely messing up if they don’t help you get clarity on the north star.

The Plan

The next part of the framework is having a plan to get you to your north star. As the old saying goes, the plan is less important than planning. But what is important is that you’re regularly thinking about how you can reach the north star. Some people think that just turning up and working hard is helping them get there. Let me tell you, it isn’t. You have to work directly on the plan and work directly on the north star. If a coach isn’t doing this, they could be messing up and it might stop you from getting a return on investment.


Once you’re clear on your north star and you have a plan, all you have to do now is stay focused. That means working on your plan directly and taking direct steps towards your north star. In almost every business there is a ton of distraction. The job of the coach is to keep the coachee focused when distractions pop up. Sometimes that means dealing with the distraction quickly so that we can get back to the north star. Other times it means making the decision to bypass the distraction and stay focused instead.


If you are working directly on the north star, one thing that could stop you is a lack of knowledge in the area that you need to grow. For example, if your north star is to double your business and you plan on doing that with great marketing, you’re going to need to know a thing or two about marketing right? A great coach will ensure that all the coachees are learning and educating themselves. Not just on any random topic, but on a topic that is directly helping them move towards the north star. A coach is really messing up if the business owners they are working with aren’t learning and educating themselves.


If the business owner is clear on their biggest goal or north star, they have a plan, they are staying focused and working on the plan, as well as getting a ton of education, all the coach has to do now is hold them accountable. We all work harder and do better when we’re accountable to someone. That’s no different in business. A great coach will hold you accountable, and challenge you when you miss goals or even miss sessions. They’ll push you to do more than you would have done without them. But if a coach isn’t doing that, they are messing up. That can mean you don’t get a return on investment, so having the coach hold you accountable is critical.

Ultimately a coach can mess up and cause you to lose money on business coaching by not sticking to the framework. The general framework looks something like this:

Get clear on the north star, make a plan to get there, stick to the plan, get some education that’s relevant to the north star, be persistent and keep going when things get tough.

How can YOU mess it up?

You can mess up your own coaching programme in a few different ways. Let’s take a look at them here.

Not letting the coach help you

First, we have those that don’t let the coach help them. I know what you’re thinking, why pay a coach and then not let them help? And the answer is, I don’t know why someone would do that, but it happens. It could be ego, it could be distraction, it could be a lack of discipline. But whatever it is, it can stop you from getting a return on investment. So the first piece of advice is “be coachable”. Be ready to learn and absorb like a sponge.

Not turning up

The second thing that you can do to lose money on a business coaching programme is not turn up. There’s no way a coach can help you if you don’t turn up to the sessions. Lots of business owners can prioritise working IN the business over a coaching session. The crazy thing is, the working in the business task that they perform usually makes them little or no money, especially in the long run. Whereas the strategies learnt in a coaching session can often make business owners lots of money. So the second piece of advice is to turn up to all of your available coaching sessions.

Take the weekly actions that move you toward your north star

At our 90-day planning events, we’ll work on a quarterly project that moves you towards your north star. Once you have the project, we’ll break it down into chunks. Those chunks will make up your weekly actions. If you complete the weekly actions that move you towards the project completion and your north star, the chances are your business will grow really well. So if you miss the weekly actions and don’t work on them, the chances are you will lose money. At the very least, you’re leaving money on the table.

Not learning

Your earning capacity is dictated by your learning capacity. If you aren’t learning the skills and gaining the knowledge needed to move towards your north star, you might lose money. The key thing here is that when you are learning, it’s relevant. There’s no point learning all about franchising if your current project is marketing. They are 2 completely different areas. So keep the learning relevant to your project and ultimate goal.

Investing in a programme that’s too expensive for you right now

You can do everything else right, have a goal, work towards it, take the action, get the learnings and still lose money if you are on a programme that you can’t afford. You’ll have a general gut feeling of what you can afford when you look through a coaches prices and memberships. But let’s say you had a business that does £250,000 a year in sales. If you joined the executive coaching programme at £9,995 + VAT PCM, you’d likely lose money.

At £250,000 a year, a premium membership at £395+VAT might be much better suited and help you grow without suffocating your cashflow.

When investing in a coaching programme, it has to be a sustainable investment, otherwise, you could go bankrupt quicker than the coach can help you make money.

Ideally, you want a programme that’s sustainable long-term, and that also causes a little pain. The pain helps with accountability and completing goals. Why? Because when people pay they pay attention.

Leave the programme too early

Business coaching isn’t an overnight fix. There’s no magic wand and it takes time for the strategies implemented to really create a financial gain. We wrote an article that you can see here on how long it takes to get results from a business coaching programme and generally speaking, if you leave a programme too early you could be making a loss on your coaching investment.

If the economy tanks

This is a little more extreme and much rarer than the other ways you could lose money on a business coaching programme. It is possible though so worth adding to the list. If the economy slides a little bit, you’ll be glad you’ve got a coach by your side to help you through. But if the economy goes into a meltdown (usually industry specific) as it did for hospitality during COVID, then you could lose money. Most coaches are good people and will do what they can to help you through. But ultimately, for hospitality and events, they legally weren’t allowed to operate in 2020, meaning their income dropped through the floor to virtually nothing overnight.

These kinds of events are usually once in a lifetime.

However, market corrections and recessions happen on average once a decade. In those instances, you’d want a coach by your side. The meltdown and industry closure happens very rarely and if it does, you’d probably still want a relationship with a coach to help you through it mentally.

All of those things above can cause you to lose money on coaching, and they are all things that are in your control.

Do coaches offer guarantees?

Here’s something that could just help give you a little reassurance. A great guarantee.

So do all coaches offer guarantees?

Some do, and some don’t.

Those that do come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them guarantee your happiness. Whilst others guarantee a return on investment. Every guarantee is different and I can’t say that one is right and another wrong. It’s just about what works for the coach and the person being coached.

At Action Coach Manchester we guarantee a return on investment. If you don’t make more than you paid us in the first 6 months, we’ll double the difference. The T’s and C’s are, you attend all the coaching sessions and complete all of your goals. It’s as simple as that.

To be fair, it would be difficult to guarantee results if the business owner didn’t turn up or do the actions, wouldn’t it?

How can the coach help me make money on business coaching?

Hopefully, this article has made it a little clearer.

The coach can help you make money on a business coaching programme by:

  • Moving you towards your north star
  • Helping you set a plan
  • Keeping you focused on the plan and the north star
  • Giving you education and regular sessions on finance, sales or marketing so that you continue to learn and be profitable.
  • Keep you on track
  • Stick to the framework
  • Hold you accountable

If a coach follows the list, they generally make you money. Just check out our clients that have grown since joining a business coaching programme here.

Can I still lose money on business coaching if I do those things?

Yes, you could but it’s unlikely.

You’d have to be in a really low profit or difficult industry, or have the economy absolutely tank (not just crash, but tank).

If you do those things and lose money on a coaching programme it’s likely because of the market conditions, and you’d still be much better off with a coach than you would have been in the same market conditions without one.

Now you can probably see, if you follow the steps suggested above, your coach follows a strong coaching framework and you stick with a coaching programme the chances are you’ll make a great return on investment.

If you have any questions or doubts, just drop us a message here or email us at: