Starting your own coaching practice

You enjoy helping people and want to do so as an independent coach. Read here what to look out for when starting your own coaching practice. Think about attracting clients and terms and conditions. And if you want to join one of the professional associations for coaches.

Anyone starting their own business needs to learn about administration, taxes, and insurance. You also need to register your company with KVK. In this article, you will read about topics that are specifically relevant for starting a coaching business.

Number of coaches increasing

The number of coaches in the Netherlands is increasing. In 2023, there were around 109,000. That is 2.5 times more than in 2013. Mark van Vugt, professor at VU University in Amsterdam is not surprised by this increase. Speaking to a national Dutch newspaper he said, “Society, with the huge amount of choice, information, and incentives, is becoming more and more complex. So many people are paying for support.”

No diploma needed

Coaching is not a protected profession. Anyone who wants to help people with burnout complaints or nutrition, for example, can open a coaching practice. Even without a diploma. Do you want to take out professional liability insurance? Then insurers sometimes require a diploma. If you choose a training course, check whether it is recognised. If a course is approved, you know your diploma has value.

You want your clients to know that they are in good hands. So, show on your website which courses you have taken. And do you have a quality mark, such as EIA (in Dutch)? This quality mark is isued by the professional organisation for coaches NOBCO. Mention the quality mark on your website as well. Proof of your quality will help you help convince people to choose you as their coach.

Advantages of professional organisations

  1. You work according to a code of ethics. That means working in a transparent and professional manner. 
  2. You meet the entry criteria (in Dutch) of one of the professional organisations. This shows that you regularly attend training courses and learn from other coaches.
  3. You can be found on the professional organisation's website. 

Finding clients

How do you stand out among all those coaches? By choosing one discipline, for example. Make clear what you support your clients in. For instance, career, lifestyle, or managing their finances. You can also stand out with a special approach to coaching, such as coaching in nature or with the help of animals.

Dare to choose a certain type of client. Stress & Burnout coach Susan Neijens did just that. "In the beginning, I wanted to help everyone. Then my offer became too broad. So, I chose to stay close to myself and what I can do in terms of target group and topics."

Target group research

Research the needs of your target audience. If you know what clients find important, you can offer a way of coaching that suits them.


One way to get clients is to join a well-known franchise formula. As a franchisee, you use an existing way of working, trade name, and brand in return for payment. You usually sign a contract for 5 years. You then get the space to build your own business under the franchisor's name. Franchising is best known in the retail and hospitality sectors, but coaches also start as franchisees.

Prevent false self-employment

Familiarise yourself with the DBA Act (The Employment Relationships  Deregulation Act). The goal of this Act is to give freelancers and clients clarity about their employment relationship. Are you an employee or an entrepreneur?

If you have individuals as clients, it is usually clear that you are an entrepreneur. But if a company or organisation is your client, then it is sometimes less clear. Especially if the assignment is for a longer period. Together with your client, assess whether you are an entrepreneur and record this in a model agreement. Professional organisation NOBCO has drafted a model agreement especially for coaches (in Dutch).

No professional secrecy, but confidentiality

Coaches do not have a duty of professional secrecy, like psychologists or lawyers. But clients do expect what they tell you to remain confidential. Lay down how you handle this confidentiality, for example in general terms and conditions. These set out the rules and agreements that apply to coaching. You inform clients about your conditions in the appointment confirmation or order confirmation.

Associations for coaches

Professional organisations defend the interests of coaches. You can also contact them for general conditions, codes of conduct, or insurance, for example. Affiliation is not compulsory. Some professional associations for coaches are:

SBI code for KVK registration

When you register your company with KVK, you describe your business activities. KVK links this description to the most appropriate SBI codes. Coaching usually falls under sector code 85599. If you do consultancy work in addition to coaching, this could be code 70221. Do you combine coaching with other activities? Then determine what your main activity is. That way, you will be registered under the correct code and branch.

General information for starters

In addition to the above topics, as a starting coach you also need to: