If you enjoy offering people guidance, like the idea of starting a business, and want to do meaningful work, you may be thinking about becoming a life coach.
As a career counselor, I help people discern what career is right for them through an in-depth, hands-on process that considers the kind of contribution they want to make, the strengths they want to use, and the income and lifestyle they want. I’ve had several clients make the well-informed decision that life coaching is the right path for them. It can be a wonderful career choice.
But I’ve also had an online business for over 10 years, and I’ve seen a lot of life coaches come and go.
Here are some things to consider as you decide if becoming a life coach is right for you.
Should I Become a Life Coach?
I have three big questions for anyone considering becoming a coach:
1. Is becoming a life coach ideal for you in terms of WHY you want to work, WHAT you’re good at, and HOW you work best?
2. Have you spoken to any coaches about what the career is actually like? Pretty websites are not always an indication of financial success or career satisfaction.
3. Are you interested in spending more time on the business building, marketing, and administration aspects than on actual coaching? Tolerating these things is not enough; you have to really enjoy them or hire someone to do them for you. If you don’t find the business parts rewarding, then no, I do not think you will be content as a coach. You might look for employment options that allow you to use your coaching skills but do not require the entrepreneurial demands of being an online coach. Be real with yourself about this.
Here are the most common questions I’ve gotten about becoming a life coach:
1 | Should I Get Certified as a Life Coach?
You don’t have to, but it’s a good idea.
Because coaching is an unregulated industry, you’re not required to be have a certification in order to market yourself as a coach. Most clients won’t care or ask about certification; they care if you can help them get the results they want.
But you do have a tremendous responsibility to your clients, so certification or at least some coaching training is the responsible move for most coaches-to-be, even if they have natural talents. Training will not only help you develop the skills you need, but it will also build your confidence as a coach.
(Tip: If you’re thinking of becoming a certified life coach, scope out the websites of graduate of the programs you’re considering to see if they look professional, effective, and “with it.”)
2 | Isn’t the Life Coaching Market Saturated?
It is certainly harder to establish yourself now than it was a few years ago, but I don’t think the market is saturated. Coaching has become more mainstream, so more people are actively looking for a coach, which is great news.
3 | But I Don’t Have a Thing Yet…
Then stop until you do. If you can’t communicate the value of what you do beyond cliches, then it’s likely that you’ll waste time and money spinning your wheels.
Ten years ago, life coaches could say that they would help people get “unstuck,” and that was good enough to get clients. Today, there are more established coaches, vague language doesn’t compel people to invest, and it’s hard to get any traction without having a clear message that articulates the value of the results you help people get.
You need a THING. A specialty. A point of view. A solution to a problem that is better, or at least different from what is already offered.
If you’re thinking of becoming a life coach but are struggling to move beyond rookie language like:
- I hold space for people
- I’m here to help you live your truth
- I guide clients to their authentic selves
- I can help women live their best lives
- I help others own their awesome
- I’ll help you have a life you love
…then do not pass go, do not collect $200. Get specific on how you help people before you proceed.
And pssst…if you see a life coach using generic language that like, they are probably either:
A. Well established and can get away with it because they already have a reputation, audience, and list
B. New and still finding their footing
4 | How Much Money Can I Expect to Make When Starting Out as a Life Coach?
Anytime you start a business, you don’t really know what to expect. I recommend you plan for a crossfade period between what you’re doing know and being able to fully support yourself with coaching. This may take you several years. Your path will look like your path, so don’t get too hung up on comparing your timeline with someone else’s.
Plan to have another source of income until you can comfortably support yourself with coaching. People don’t like to hear this because it feels like they’re a failure until they’re making the big bucks solely from coaching. But this is how you plan to succeed. Take care of yourself. You will not build a thriving business supporting other people if you’re living in panic and deprivation.
5 | How Do I Get My First Clients?
Any way you can. I recommend starting with the One Problem, One Person, One Solution approach that I teach my clients, whether that means online or in your neighborhood. In other words, identify one person you’d love to help, one problem that they have, and one solution that you can offer to fix their problem. Keep it simple and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with all the amazing things you can offer to help every person imaginable.
6 | How Can I Build a Steady Client Base?
Marketing, social proof, blah, blah, blah. You can read about that in a million places.
I think the real question here is, “How can I build a steady income?”
One-on-one coaching is great, but it can only take you so far. Once you’ve picked up on a problem and created a solution that is dynamite, the easiest way to stabilize your income is to make that solution available to more people with less of your hands-on involvement. Think classes, ebooks, online programs, etc.
You can read about how I developed my signature program here.
7 | What If I’m Not Sure If I Want to Be a Life Coach?
I can offer the perspective of someone who has been a career coach for over a decade: if you’re thinking about becoming a life coach but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, take the time to figure out your next career move before you get a life coaching certificate or start a life coaching business.
I’ve worked with many clients over the years, especially empathic and creative women, who’ve poured their time, money, and hearts into something like life coaching certification, yoga teacher training, or a photography course in the hopes that it would lead to a new and fulfilling career for them. Those things can provide a meaningful path forward, but you really want to be certain that all aspects of that career are right for you before you move forward with training or establishing a business.
If you need help making an intentional career choice, I can help.