Our global story: An interview with ActionCOACH Founder, Brad Sugars

Brad Sugars ActionCOACH

How ActionCOACH went global

“I’m a business coach,” says Brad Sugars. “I started in business in my teenage years. By my early twenties, it had got much more sophisticated. I’ve been teaching business, mostly from a stage but I have also written 16 books on the subject. I teach on business, sales, marketing, management, leadership, systemisation. All of the different areas of business which help someone become a great entrepreneur.”


How do you describe the venture now headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada?

“ActionCOACH is the original business coaching company,” Sugars says. “We started business coaching in 1993, spread across the world. Now, we are in 73 countries helping owners grow their businesses. Working with C-level executives, we coach them on how to grow their business by growing themselves and their team. We do group programmes and one-on-one programmes; we operate at all sorts of different levels.”

“Now we have offices in 73 countries and we will do hundreds of millions in revenue this year. But it’s not really about our size, our culture is more about the size of our clients, who keep growing and adding new jobs. Each year we add tens of thousands of jobs around the world and that’s what excites us.”

Where did it all start?

“We started in August 1993, so it will soon be our 25th birthday,” Sugars says. “The company was launched from a spare bedroom; like most people starting out, I couldn’t afford an office. At the time I was doing seminars for people and they were asking me how could I help them? I couldn’t really consult with them all, so I started this thing called coaching where I talked to them once a week and helped them out.”

What made you start franchising?

“I didn’t have the time to help people. We began to franchise when we spread into Asia. It was hard to manage the business there with employees, so we turned to a franchising operation and have never looked back.”

Franchising, he explains, became an important option for three reasons. Number one was the need for local ownership. “Like an accounting firm or a legal firm wants partners at a local level, that’s what we really needed. The second reason was because we were expanding internationally and it made sense to have local ownership but most importantly, to have the right people on the ground. We weren’t getting the caliber of people we needed as employees, because the industry was so young. The third reason is that franchising brings capital and skills to the table as you grow the business”

Our Franchise Story: An interview with ActionCOACH UK Co-Founder, Ian Christelow

Personal financial success is not the only motivation that drives Ian Christelow, the master franchisor for ActionCOACH in the UK.

Certainly it is one of them, as with any entrepreneur. His underlying commitment to see the 3000 businesses supported by ActionCOACH coaches has at its heart his memories of a period of deep family difficulties, when his father’s business failed.

The reason behind his journey

When he was just a child, the advertising agency his father had founded went under, the memory of which has stuck with Christelow to this day. “Because he didn’t have access to business coaching, he lost his business and we really suffered as a family,” he says. “He lost his job, all of his money and he nearly lost his wife.” For this reason, Christelow, now master licensee of ActionCOACH UK, the business coaching franchise, has dedicated his life to helping other business owners avoid the same fate. “For me, it’s personal,” he says.

He understands the feeling of business failure, and passionately cares about helping businesses grow and succeed. By recognising and addressing skills gaps.

That in very simple terms is what ActionCOACH does, and with great success.

Rollercoaster career

Not least, the model that Ian bought into following what he refers to as his formative rollercoaster business development when he experienced six months boredom in mainstream banking, ten years growing business models, and six months travelling to experience real life, has in itself created nearly 200 successful businesses under the ActionCOACH franchise banner.

The franchise has in fact been so successful that it won ‘The Best Franchise Awards in 2016, and was referred to in Elite Franchise Magazine as ‘franchise owners are flocking to ActionCOACH thick and fast’.

Ian refers to three key components that have underpinned the position that ActionCOACH now has as one of the most in demand and fastest growing franchises:
  • People. By their very nature those who invest in an ActionCOACH franchise are successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Quite simply they have to be as those businesses that look to ActionCOACH to support them with their growth demand nothing less. This means rigorous vetting of coaches, but as a result also some of the most successful franchisee owners on the market.
  • Model. Any successful franchise relies on an established proven model. What makes ActionCOACH special though is that the model not only creates value for the franchise owners, but also for the businesses that they work with, and so much so that if the coached businesses fail to grow, then they pay no fees. With such a brand promise, it is no surprise that the growth in businesses reaching out for Action Coaches is so great.
  • Vision. It is hard to imagine a more inspirational global franchise leader than Brad Sugars. A hugely successful businessman himself, his vision and enthusiasm underpins the whole ActionCOACH family, from the individual country master franchisees like Ian, right through to those delivering world leading coaching on a daily basis.

Ian’s determination is for the UK franchise to be at the forefront of the global ActionCOACH brand. With an ambitious target of 1000 coaches supporting 10,000 businesses by 2020 the opportunities for aspiring Coaches are boundless.