How to Begin Your Career as a Life Coach
“a person employed to help people attain their goals in life.”
A life coach is someone who takes you from where you are today to where you want to want to be. Fulfilment can be elusive. Coaches help people change their perception of what is possible and find their way towards more full, fulfilling or successful lives.
Life coaches help people to overcome obstacles and become better versions of themselves – helping reinforce positive behaviour and encouraging objective analysis of their client’s position and goals. Above all, life coaches bring clarity to their clients’ lives, helping them see their path forward from new perspectives and encouraging them to undertake actionable plans to improve themselves.
Being a life coach is all about empowering people and helping them stick to their goals. It’s not about instruction, or laying down the law but knowing the right questions to ask to help people uncover their own answers. This all sounds like something you might expect from a wise old hermit living on top of a mountain – but in fact, life coaching is not that esoteric.
What does it mean to be a life coach?
On a practical level, life coaches spend their time learning, communicating and (inevitably) trying to find new clients. If you like people, have a real drive to help others, are patient and personable, then life coaching could be a career for you to consider. Be aware though, that despite the astronomical sums big business and high wealth individuals pay for coaching, being a life coach may not be a route to riches. The life coaching business has two bottom lines – helping people – and your cash flow. Focus too much on one over the other, and the business could be in trouble.
Often we have limiting, self-sabotaging beliefs that get in the way of what we want to achieve. Life coaches help their clients break through these obstacles and build their confidence to help expand what they see as possible for them. Coaches help their clients develop and maintain motivation and determination to improve themselves, that in turn lead to empowerment and self-belief.
That’s a whole lot of “buzz”-sounding words in one sentence – but the meaning of these words really is what life coaches strive to achieve for their clients.
Coaches are non-judgemental and learn to ask the right questions to draw out what clients want to achieve. They don’t look to the past – but focus on the client’s situation today.
Coaches coach because they genuinely care – they want to help. But as much as you want to help – be aware that coaching can be taxing on the coach. Clients need a desire to change and change often isn’t a comfortable process! You will be dealing with people who are struggling to make their lives better and more fulfilling – sometimes this can be a frustrating process. You clients may fail to achieve what they want, they may have setbacks. But your purpose is to help them through these situations. You cannot improve everything in someone’s life, all at once.
How to become a life coach
Becoming a life coach is a big decision! Luckily the best way to start out doesn’t require a huge amount of investment – what is does take is time to learn and build your reputation.
Put your own house in order
Do people come to you for help? If they have a challenge, they seek you out for advice and help. Change yourself, first of all, to make you this person. You need to practice what you preach first and foremost and have the confidence yourself to help people find their’s. Constant learning is your friend. As you learn you will master different skills and be able to better help the people you coach.
Choose a niche
If there’s one piece of advice you need to take on board when getting into life coaching – it’s this: find a niche. There are thousands of life coaches competing for clients with you – and all of them have a background and approach that targets a particular set of clients. Trying to be everything to everyone is impossible – so choose a subject or method of coaching to focus on. Not only will it give you a more manageable field to become an expert in, it will help direct the right kind of clients to you.
Here are a few example life coach niches:
- Love and relationships
- Career change and advancement
- Becoming a better leader
- Running your own business
- Self-care and getting back on track
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Creativity and developing your skills
- Managing your emotions
- Parenting & family life
- Health & fitness
- Managing money & spending
- Seeking purpose & fulfilment
- Spiritual development
Do you need qualifications or certifications to be a life coach?
This is a classic “No, but…”. Anyone with the right drive, attitude and experience in their niche can set out to be a life coach – but to give your clients confidence they will need some proof of your abilities. There are two ways to achieve this – certifications and results.
Of these, results are by far the most important. If you can showcase a long list of clients who have been helped by your work, and who are willing to speak or give testimonials on your behalf, you probably have the best ‘qualification’ available. But some clients (especially in professional business-level coaching) may look for accreditation in a coach too. There are certifications available, including neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), which can be a great way of giving you more tools to help you with coaching. Certifications are also likely to bolster your knowledge and skill set – forming part of the ongoing learning process that being a life coach entails.
Where to start with life coaching
Free content and advice
As I mentioned above – the first thing you need is to start getting some results. This will help you learn and give you the testimonials you need to start building your brand.
A good way to begin is by working for free for a short, predetermined time – give first, and you will receive. You don’t want to be at this stage for long, but unless you are lucky enough to find people willing to pay for your services immediately it is a good way to begin. Especially if you’ve never coached before, getting this experience under your belt is essential.
Be upfront with your free clients that this is a service you will be charging for in the future, that you want a testimonial in exchange for your services – and ideally give a date when the free period ends to set their expectations. This will avoid any unpleasant conversations down the line (when they’re supposed to be writing you a glowing testimonial!).
Don’t overwhelm yourself!
It can be tempting to think that getting as many clients as possible is the ultimate goal of being a life coach. And certainly, when you are starting out with 0 clients – this is an infallible truth! But be wary of spreading yourself too thin. You need to be able to devote care and attention to all of your clients – and if you find yourself rushing from call to call or meeting to meeting, it can mean one of two things. It may mean business is good right now but you are in a busy period. Or it may mean you need to think about stopping taking on new clients, and raising your prices so that you can devote more time and focus to your clients, without having to constantly feel like you need new business.
One-on-one coaching is the bread and butter of most life coaches, offering a highly personalised coaching experience. It is time-consuming for the coach, and determining your price point and pricing structure is going to require both research and experimentation based on your success.
There are several ways you can conduct one-on-one coaching sessions – you may wish to offer your clients several or a mixture of these options.
Face-to-face life coaching
Some clients (and coaches) prefer face to face sessions. Be aware that if you are meeting people in person it is a good idea to take out public liability insurance. The flip side is, because of the personal touch you may be able to charge higher rates for your services.
Telephone life coaching
Telephone sessions let you coach at times and places convenient for your client, and can be it easier to keep in touch. Just be aware that being ‘always on’ may be expected if you don’t set boundaries with your clients.
Online life coaching
Sessions via webchat allow you to utilise online surveys and monitoring tools effectively, share documents and links, and let clients with smartphones catch up with you anytime, anywhere.
Secure income with monthly packages
Selling individual sessions may be the way you get started, but it is not a secure way of getting a steady income. Your clients, like any customer, are more likely to re-evaluate their spending if there isn’t a plan in place for them to follow that involves several sessions.
By creating a structured program of sessions, with a firm time-period, you can ensure your clients are happy with the costs of coaching them before going ahead. A monthly package, including meetings, coaching sessions, resources and email/chat correspondence may be both the best way to support your client and support your cash flow.
Scaling with Group Coaching
While coaching one-on-one is the most traditional kind of life coaching, group sessions are ways to get more people in touch with your services – and often at a lower price for them.
What you need to start – your own action plan!
The big question we haven’t covered in depth here is – money.
Planning your business requires some forethought – but it is really, really worth it. Luckily for you, life coaching is quite a simple business to plan! Begin by researching the costs your business will incur. Professional indemnity insurance is a must-have, and as discussed above public liability insurance is a good move if you are meeting your clients face-to-face. Will you need to travel? Get a phone contract? Buy software? Undergo training or certification? Each of these has a financial consequence and should be part of your financial plan for your new business.
Planning your prices, and the number of clients you will require to make a living at these prices is the next task. Experiment with price points and do some research into your local and online competition to find out what the going rate is – this may vary from niche to niche so it is worth spending some time on.
Armed with this information you can create a business forecast for free using Brixx. Your business is not only going to improve your life and livelihood but those of your clients’ too – so ensuring it makes financial sense is really important.
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