Become a Life Coach | The Industry Secrets You Need to Know

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So you want to become a life coach? It’s a marvelous opportunity as long you understand certain industry secrets that most life coach trainees haven’t realized yet.

You might as well become familiar the industry side of life coaching, right? After all, if this becomes your career….

Otherwise, the opportunity might just be detrimental to your health, your pocket book and your dreams of the good life.

Regardless of where you get trained or how, when you ‘get’ what’s really going on, you’ll make better decisions for your career and ultimately become one of the “good guys” in the life coaching world.

This post is long, so we’ve broken it down into sections.

Section I: The Ancient ‘Opportunity’ Metaphor Applied to Becoming a Life Coach
Section II: Why Should you Trust Me Anyway?
Section II: Perils of Becoming a Life Coach in an Unregulated Industry
Section III: Bogus Life Coaching Organizations: How to Spot Them

Each section contains subsections and blah blah….let’s just get on with it.

First, let’s put this whole issue to become a life coach in context with a classic Greek metaphor.

Life Coaching Opportunities: A Classic Metaphor

In Greek mythology, Sirens were beautiful but dangerous creatures that lured sailors to their doom, causing ships to crash and sink.

Sailing by the island, the ship’s crew would hear beautiful music and singing – and long to be part of the festivities. This desire to participate in the good life led the ships to approach and run aground on a reef that lay hidden along the shore.

The term siren’s song, therefore, refers to a call that is hard to resist but that, if heeded, leads to disaster.

Leonardo da Vinci held a more sinister opinion of sirens. He said, “The siren sings so sweetly that she lulls the mariners to sleep; then she climbs upon the ships and kills the sleeping mariners.”

If you’ve felt the call to become a life coach, then you’re starting down an exciting and rewarding path. A successful life coaching practice is indeed part of a wonderful lifestyle.

However, you must be sure that your coaching mission is not forming in response to a siren’s call. That won’t end well.

You have to ask yourself, “Why do I want to be a life coach?” Is it only because you’ve heard the call of the siren or is it because you genuinely have a desire to teach people some valuable skills and lessons?

There are all kinds of life coaching gurus and authors out there. Some of these coaches specialize in particular areas of life such as sexual health, making money, developing a positive mindset and so many others.

What life niche are you particularly skilled in?

As much as you may want to help people, even that isn’t enough. You have to actually know what you’re talking about and you have to be able to give people valuable advice that they can apply to their own lives.

A lot of novices fail at becoming life coaches because they have unrealistic expectations. They think they can make a lot of money by simply giving people advice. Unfortunately, the business is not that black and white.

You need to be made aware of the challenges and obstacles you’ll be facing so that you don’t fall into the traps that could set you back and cause you to fail.

This book was written to help people specifically like you who want to pave a path to success for themselves. Once you become knowledgeable about the industry, then you’ll know whether or not life coaching is right for you.

Chapter 1 – Life Coaching is an Unregulated Industry

You may be wondering why you need to be warned about certain things within the life coaching industry. The average person would likely think there are laws which regulate this industry. Unfortunately, there are no regulations set in place for this industry yet.

In the United States, life coaching is an unregulated industry. This means that no government body licenses or monitors life coaches. There are no government standards for education or competency. No rules of practice. No special regulations or oversight whatsoever.

This means that anyone, at any time and for any reason, can simply decide one day that they want to become a life coach and then go become one. There are no licenses or legal boundaries they’ll have to worry about either. They can just hang out a shingle and begin to practice life coaching.

Do you want to call yourself a life coach and begin to help people? Presto! You can legally do that anytime, regardless of your qualifications.

Isn’t that amazing? It is certainly easier to become a life coach then it would be to become a psychologist or psychiatrist. These are mental health professions that take six to eight years of post-secondary education. And even after all that, you still need to get licensed and certified before you can start treating people.

Why go through all that heartache when you can just call yourself a life coach and treat other people’s mental conditions that way?

Let’s contrast the highly regulated mental health industry with the freedom that being a life coach gives you. Aspiring mental health counselors must:

• Obtain a master’s degree from an accredited university (Growing Self).

• Pass state licensing board exams

• Complete an internship (conduct 1000 hours of supervised, unpaid counseling sessions)

• Cooperate with state licensing boards, staying up to date with regulations

• Complete continuing education requirements annually

• Abide by all rules and regulations or risk losing your license, litigation, fines or jail.

Okay, so you probably get that it’s a lot harder to become a mental health counselor then it would be to become a life coach. But let’s look at it from a patient (or client) point of view.

Below are all the benefits that a person will get if they go to a mental counselor rather than a life coach:

• A qualified professional who can prescribe or recommend a specific medication that you may need to help with your mental state.

• A very minimal risk of fraud or abuse by the practitioner.

• The practitioner is guaranteed to be knowledgeable about the problems you’re facing.

Now let’s take a look at the benefits of going to a life coach instead of a mental health counselor.

• Life coaches typically specialize in treating one specific problem or area of your life rather than all the problems in general.

The costs associated with the services of a mental health counselor or life coach are actually pretty similar.

A mental health counselor will typically charge $150 per 60-minute session. A life coach will usually have a bigger more expensive package that could be 4 weeks of counseling for $1,000, or something similar to that.

So think about this: Would you feel comfortable selling coaching packages for $1,000 without any training or certifications? More importantly, do you think your customers would feel comfortable paying that much to somebody who doesn’t have any accredited certification?

On the other hand, mental health counselors with these certifications don’t really have a high rate of success when it comes to helping their patients.

Personally, I think the current types of education and regulation in the mental health industry breed mediocre practitioners in general, but that’s another story. The only good thing about going to them is the safeguards and regulation in place to avoid getting scammed.

With the lack of regulation in the life coaching industry, there come opportunists who want to take advantage of unsuspecting coaches and clients. Since anyone can be a coach for any reason, the coaching industry is an easy target for scams.

Anyone who labels themselves as a life coach is technically qualified to coach other people that want to become coaches themselves. Once this happens, it will create a chain of unqualified coaches who train other people with their poor knowledge of mental health.

This is where you, the aspiring coach, need to become both concerned and skeptical. Just because someone calls themselves a life coach doesn’t mean you have to take their advice at face value. In fact, you may not need any advice at all.

It all depends on how you define the word need. Legally, you do not need any training or credentialing to call yourself a life coach and begin charging people for your time (Growing Self).

What it really comes down to are your ethics. A great life coach is one who is passionate and knowledgeable about what they’re doing.

If you don’t think your knowledge is worth selling then don’t sell it. Because if you do, then all you’ll be concerned about is the business aspect of it and not the educational aspect. Then you will be doomed to failure.

Practically speaking, you do need some kind of training in the beginning so it is advisable that you affiliate yourself with a professional credentialing body. That way you will have more self-confidence when you start out.

Chapter 2 – Bogus Life Coaching Organizations

There is no doubt that life coaching is a growing industry. But anytime an industry grows, you can expect the scammers and con artists to take advantage of it.

It can be hard to tell an honest life coaching organization from a bogus one because there are no governmental regulations overseeing their business practices. This leaves it up to the amateurs to screen these organizations themselves.

The best way to screen the organizations you come across is to look for certain “red flags” that will indicate whether or not they are legitimate.

Red Flag: Credentialing bodies that imply or claim to be “the proper accreditation” for life coaches.

In the mental health field, the authoritative body in the United States is the government run licensing board in the state you live. If you want to practice counseling, you must apply and qualify for a counseling license.

In life coaching, there is no government licensing board to provide oversight. There are many private institutions that offer standards for coaches as well as private credentials. While these may be considered professional credentials, they are not necessary to practice legally.

Therefore, if any credentialing body claims or implies that you need membership in their organization to be a legal, valid, or ‘proper’ life coach, then you are being manipulated.

An honest company will never make it sound like you need their services in order to legally become a life coach. But what they should emphasize is that using their services will give you the knowledge and confidence necessary to become a successful life coach. That would be a more honest way for an organization to advertise their services.

So should you join a coaching credentialing body? I recommend you do because it will not only give you more confidence as a life coach, but it will give your clients more confidence in you once they see your credentials hanging on the wall in your office.

The real benefits of becoming a member of a professional credentialing body include further training and education, networking, marketing advantages and so forth.

Just don’t be manipulated into joining any organization (for which there is usually a membership fee). Make sure you research the organization first and see if they are legitimate.

An easy way to research a potential organization is to simply search their name through the Google search engine. And after you type in their name, add the word “review” after it and then hit enter.

The search results that come up should give you links to multiple pages where people have reviewed the services of the organization. This alone can give you a pretty good idea as to whether or not you should invest your time and money with them.

But just to save you a little bit of that time, here are a few examples of professional credentialing bodies in the life coaching field:

• International Coach Federation

• International Association of Professional Life Coaches

Signing up with these organizations requires you to go through core competency training before a certification will be awarded to you. This is one of the main reasons why these are reputable organizations.

These organizations make you earn your credentials. Plus, they are internationally recognized organizations so any certifications you get from them will be admired by your clients.

Red Flag: Coach training institutes that are willing to certify you cheaply, quickly and easily.

Because you don’t actually need any education or training to become a life coach, the door is open for any shyster to create a life coach training and certify people as coaches.

Most bogus coach training institutes and organizations are probably not going to bother offering you any kind of training. If they do, it will be some mediocre piece of information that you could download for free off the internet.

So what you need to be wary of is any coach training organization that offers you a quick easy way to become a life coach.

You may have noticed life coach training websites that offer to certify coaches in a matter of hours. Here are some of the advertisements you could expect to see from these shysters:

• “Life coach certification! Only $69!”

• “Get your coaching credential in one weekend!”

• “Six figure income as a life coach! Be on the road to success in under a week!”

Out of these three claims, the one you should be most concerned about is the one that promises you a six figure income as a life coach.

No legitimate organization is going to tell people that they’ll be able to make six figures within one week.

After all, if their methods of life coaching were that profitable then why would they waste their time teaching them to people? They would just be out making that money themselves rather than selling “advice” on how to make it.

Now, I’m not saying you won’t be able to make six figures from life coaching. What I am saying is that it is probably going to take you a lot longer than a week, especially when you are first starting out.

The ability to profit greatly from life coaching depends on the individual. Again, if you are just in this to make money then you are going to fail.

You have to genuinely want to help people change their lives and you have to be able to give them advice that will help them do that. Otherwise, people will catch on quickly that you are just out for the money and then they won’t want your services anymore.

The money will come eventually after you have proven yourself to be a knowledgeable life coach. Reputation is everything in this business. That is why you should learn from a training organization that has a reputation for being knowledgeable.

You may think it would be better to have the government just screen these life coaches for you. But really, do you want the government involved in everything that you do.

I certainly don’t want the government swooping in to regulate life coaching. That would set the industry up for disaster, killing the creativity and opportunity that currently exists.

You just need to know that developing coaching skill is not an overnight process. It’s not necessarily cheap to get quality training either. In fact, a professional training institute will charge hundreds of dollars, if not more, to train people.

Don’t let the costs of training scare you away, though. As long as you know you are paying a reputable organization, the investment you make into the training will pay off greatly in the end.

All the rules of common sense apply here. You’ll only develop the skills to become a life coach if you make an effort to learn them.

• If I was just starting out today and I was looking for life coach training, I’d do the following:

• Seek out training institutions that have some form of accreditation, not because they are more legal, but because they’ve been reviewed and approved by a standard-setting third party.

• Make sure the staff and trainers are accessible during business hours. I would also make sure they are able to respond to any after-hours communication.

• Interview one of the trainers or ask for a coaching session. This puts the trainer in a position to demonstrate his or her skills. This is important.

• Ensure there is ongoing support after the certification process is finished.

• Verify there is a community of students and graduates with which to interact, for support and networking opportunities.

Red Flag: Gurus that charge exorbitant fees for mediocre training. (or any self-proclaimed Guru, really)

So you want a certification from a well-known personal development guru? If you’re looking for high-quality training that is in-depth and your guru offers it, then go for it. You’ll pay a premium, but it might be worth it.

More often than not, however, people spend oodles of money to be inspired by their gurus. Unfortunately, they don’t pick up as much “how-to” knowledge as they need to actually practice life coaching. They buy the sizzle of the guru name but never get the steak.

Bogus gurus typically sell their services in a way that makes people want to purchase more than what was originally offered. This is known as “upselling.”

For example, let’s say a guru sells a book to you about how to develop a positive mindset. Once you purchase that book, you’ll then receive emails or phone calls that will try to get you to purchase their “premium” educational service.

The marketers for the guru will tell you that you’ll need extra training beyond the book in order to be truly successful as a life coach. The price for the training will be thousands of dollars.

This is how these con artists truly make their money. They draw you in with an inexpensive book or program and then after you’ve purchased it, they’ll pressure you into spending a lot more money on a special training service.

In the end, the education you get from this premium service is worth nothing. The coaches you talk to will probably just reiterate the same information that you get from the book.

The only ones who will be making money are the coaches who sold you the generic information. So always be wary of upsells and only spend money when you are fully confident that you will get value for it.

Remember, there are no legally accepted or universal standards or life coach training, period. You should evaluate any training opportunity in terms of the skills that it will give you.

You should also look up testimonials and reviews of the opportunity. And if there are testimonials on the company’s website, don’t trust them. The real testimonials are the ones you’ll find on third-party websites that are not controlled by the company. That way you’ll know if they are legitimate or not.

The training offered by a company should include opportunities to practice being a life coach and the ability to watch demonstrations of coaching in action over time. After all, it takes time to develop the skills to become a life coach.

Red Flag: Coach marketing consultants that claim to make you rich.

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Do you know what it takes – and how long it takes – to really build a solid, sustainable and profitable life coaching business?

The truth: It’s just like any other business. It takes time to get established. You’ve got to be ready to spend at least a year building your business.

If you’re working at it part-time, great! It will, however, take you longer than a year. Don’t quit your day job to pursue some delusion that you’re going to create a six-figure business in 90 days.

It’s not going to happen. Don’t attempt it.

Now, all those coaching marketing gurus that are telling you how they struck it rich in coaching and built these amazing six and seven figure business virtually overnight?

They’re deceiving you. And it makes me sick. You’ll see things like:

• “Learn how I doubled my business in 30 days!”

• “Discover how you can build a six figure online coaching business this month!”

• “I made $56,000 last month in my spare time. Come see how I did it (and how you can too!)”

Barf.

And you know what? The people who put out this crap know better. They’re all pretty smart, charismatic, and successful, I’m sure. But what they lack is basic integrity.

This goes back to what I was saying before about ethics. Any con man can make a bundle of money by selling false promises and false hope. But is that really the person you want to be? Perhaps some people can live with themselves doing this, but I certainly could not. And I doubt that you could either.

All you need to understand is that it takes time to make money. That is why money shouldn’t be your number one motivator into becoming a life coach. If it is then you will fail.

Okay, so you may be wondering how you tell the truthful coaches from the dishonest coaches. I mean everyone tries to make their services sound great, at least a little bit. An honest guru is still going to be positive about their business and about what they are selling. You just have to be able to decipher the realistic positivity from the fictional positivity.

If they were telling the truth, their headlines might read more like:

“Learn how I doubled my business in 30 days! Actually, that upswing didn’t last, but if it had, my business really would have doubled. Anyway, come see how I created a temporary upswing so that I could write this headline suggesting my business “doubled!””

“Discover how you can build a six figure online coaching business this month! In theory, you could – if you already had a massive email list, and tons of web traffic and international exposure, such that you don’t need to start a coaching practice at all, but if you did, I can show you how! For everyone else who doesn’t have any traffic yet, no, this won’t even come close to working for you. Click here!”

“I made $56,000 last month in my spare time. Come see how I did it (and how you can too). Actually, I work about 90 hours per week and have a full staff, too. If you work as hard as I do over many years, you might get to the point where you make this kind of money, but there is a 99.99% chance that you never will. Click here!”

So what’s the moral of this story?

To become a life coach your must do much research and use common sense. If it looks to good to be true, it usually is!

If your desire is to become a life coach, realize it takes time. Do your research before committing.

Find a training center that matches your realistic needs.

Is it affordable? Does the teaching style meet your needs? Is the content interesting? Does the center have a good reputation? Do they offer ongoing support? Are they realistic about your results? Are they all hype or sincerely care about producing quality trainings?


life coachBecome a Life Coach

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About Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, founded iNLP Center in 2011. For information on coaching with Mike, please visit his coaching website AHA System.

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