I get a lot of "should I be a life coach?" questions from readers. Here's a round up of the most common questions I receive and my response to each.
If you're new here, here's the perspective I'm coming from: I consider myself a career coach, not a life coach, since I work on career-specific issues, but in practice I operate more like a life coach than a recruiter, consultant, or executive career advisor would. I've been in business for five years (as of 2016).
Here are the most common questions I've gotten:
SHOULD YOU BE 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.
SHOULD I GET CERTIFIED?
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.
If you're interested in top-notch training, I'm a proud affiliate for the Courageous Living Coach Certification. This program did not exist when I did my training, and if I could do over again, this is where I'd go, no contest. The program not only trains exceptional coaches, but also prepares them for the business aspects of running a successful coaching practice. This is very rare as many coaching programs give outdated marketing and business advice. (Tip: Scope out the websites of graduate of the programs you're considering to see if they look professional, effective, and "with it.")
ISN'T THE 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.
However, I don't think general "Stick with me and I'll make your life better" coaches have much chance of survival. There are bigger players, vague language doesn't compel people to invest, and it's hard to get any traction. 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. (Which is another reason I refer people to the Courageous Living Coaching Certification; it helps you develop your unique voice.)
BUT I DON'T HAVE A THING YET...
So you just have to get started anyway.
It takes time to find your thing, and you won't do it by sitting around theorizing by yourself. Your point of view will develop as you start working with real people. You'll learn what people need, what's already out there, and what needs aren't being met by what's already out there.
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN I EXPECT TO MAKE WHEN I'M 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.
HOW DO I GET MY FIRST CLIENTS?
Any way you can. I recommend starting with the One Problem, One Person, One Solution approach and offering it to people who could use it, whether that means online or in your neighborhood.
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.
DO YOU HAVE ANY RESOURCES YOU CAN RECOMMEND?
If you're looking for a training program, I highly recommend the Courageous Living Coach Certification. [affiliate link]
If you'd like a more DIY approach, Kate Swoboda's Coaching Blueprint [affiliate link] is an excellent resource. I bought it early on in my biz, and it was invaluable.