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Most people wondering how to start a life coaching business feel a mix of excitement and worry.
Starting a new business that fulfills a passion and makes a difference is exciting. But they are also worried about how to start a life coaching business that can succeed financially.
Read this post if you’re considering a career in life coaching but are worried about earning a living. More specifically, if you invest the time and money into training, will it pay off?
Starting a life coaching business, like any business, requires a specific skill set. That’s what coach certification is all about. Once they have the requisite coaching skills, most new life coaches want to launch their own business that includes life coaching services and perhaps other products, such as courses or public speaking engagements.
But can it be done? Or better, can you do it? Will you actually make a nice living as a life coach or even scale up large enough to retire early and live out your days poolside, margarita in hand?
Or, will you crash and burn, having invested in training only to discover that you wasted several months of your life and had your hopes dashed on the jagged rocks of reality?
Being successful as a life coach isn’t all that hard if you treat it like a business.
The 8 Biggest Mistakes New Coaches Make When Starting a Life Coaching Business and How to Avoid Them:
1. Trying to Coach Everyone
One of the most common mistakes brand-new life coaches make is trying to coach everyone, as opposed to targeting people with a specific problem or goal.
This doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing to want to help anyone who comes your way. But we’re talking about professional coaching services here. Trying to offer your paid life coaching services to everyone you meet is a bad idea.
When you’re first starting out, it can be extremely intimidating trying to get your name out there. Finding your first client can seem nearly impossible. Finding your second can seem just as hard. It can be tempting to try and convince just about anyone to become your client. Tempting but not wise.
On the other hand, narrowing down your audience seems limiting. However, by trying to reach everyone, you can end up shooting yourself in the foot.
If you’re a life coach to all, then you’re a life coach to none. Most people who hire a life coach don’t hire one just because they’re a life coach. They hire a life coach because these professionals offer a specific life coaching service in a specific niche.
For example, if you were a mid-level manager, would you be more inclined to hire a general life coach or an executive life coach who specializes in mid-level management?
Moreover, if you had confidence issues as a mid-level manager, wouldn’t it make even more sense to hire a coach who has a coaching program for managers who lack confidence and want to increase it?
It’s not much different than any service provider. Italian food is better at an Italian restaurant than at a cafeteria. Specialization is what makes you a better coach because you’ve spent more time perfecting your specialty.
2. Treating Life Coaching as a Business
As you consider how to start a life coaching business, you’re not just adding a side hobby. You’re building a business. Yet, time and time again, many life coaches get certified, learn the ropes, and then forget they’re trying to run a real business. Many people make the mistake of starting a life coaching business, relying only on building one skill—life coaching.
What many life coaches don’t realize is that they also need other skills to run a successful life coaching business. Learning how to operate a real business is just as important as learning the technical craft of life coaching.
The E-Myth, written by successful small business consultant Michael E. Gerber, talks about the majority of self-employed people who start their own business because they’re great at certain technical skills—writing, web design, accounting, construction, or even life coaching.
According to Gerber, what these people forget that in order to be a successful business owner, you must also become skilled in operating a business.
Life Coaching is NO DIFFERENT than any other business when it comes to the day-to-day admin activities. The difference is that you’ll get to do what you love most of the time. And, the more you do the other parts of it, the more clients will come in, and the more you get to more of what you love.
3. Assuming Clients Will Come
Clients will not be pounding at your door. At least not in the beginning. That’s just a fact.
Many people get their life coaching training, receive their business license, and then wait at home for the phone to ring. However, getting clients isn’t as easy as having a business line or even making a website.
The phrase “if you build it, they will come,” isn’t very accurate in the business world. You can put your intention out into the universe as much as you like, but you will still need to put yourself out there too!
You need to take the initiative to get clients. You need to be intentionally be making connections and putting in the networking and marketing work to build up a solid client base.
4. Spending Too Much Time Planning, Not Doing
There’s a lot to do when preparing to launch your coaching business. However, one of the biggest mistakes most new life coaches make is over-preparing. They try to get everything perfectly set up, with all the supplies, and all the education. It can be easy to keep “doing” stuff without being productive or advancing your business.
The most common “I’m not ready yet” excuse is feeling like you need a bit more education. Just one more seminar. Just one more course. Just one more book. Then I’ll be ready.
However, if you have the proper education, you could technically start picking up clients without all the extras. Yes, you should have all of these things, but they aren’t all necessities to begin coaching. But, they’re often used as excuses to delay actually pitching potential life coaching clients.
Additionally, new coaches get caught up in something as simple as their business name. We see this often in our coach marketing training class that’s included with our NLP-Integrated Life Coach Training. Life Coaching students will put off getting their website started for months because they aren’t sure if they should use their own name or a coaching concept for their business name.
Honestly, people don’t come to you because of your name. Just make a decision and get going. It will not make a difference in the long run.
Don’t delay. Start reaching out to clients as soon as you can. The quicker you begin practicing your coaching skills with real clients, the sooner your business will take off.
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5. Pitching Clients The Wrong Way
One of the biggest fears that most new life coaches have is sounding “salesy.” They don’t want to come across as a salesperson.
In fact, most new self-employed service business owners dread selling more than anything else. Yet, selling your services is how you will get clients. If you want to avoid sounding salesy, then you need to avoid making the wrong pitch.
Many new life coaches will try to talk up their different coaching packages rather than offering a valuable solution to someone’s problem. This is a big mistake. Nobody wakes up one day thinking, “Geez, I don’t have much going on in my life and I would just love to buy a 12-month life coaching program.”
People aren’t thinking about getting a life coach. But they are thinking about getting help to solve a problem. Instead of talking up your nice coaching packages, seek to find out what your prospect’s problems are. Begin to understand what issues they’re dealing with and then seek ways in which you can solve those issues. If you want your life coaching business to take off, you’ll need to focus on helping people by solving their problems.
In your pitch, instead of getting stuck on what your coaching package is, think about your prospect. What problems do they have? What are the goals that they aren’t reaching right now? Ask them about their challenges.
Clients want change. You need to be able to adjust your pitch so you’re offering them a transformative solution. When your prospect can clearly see that you’ll help solve their problem, they’ll end up becoming your client. Price isn’t an issue when someone understands that you’ll be giving them a new life.
6. Not Getting Coached
Just because you are a coach doesn’t mean you don’t need a coach. You still have problems you are working through and need help navigating.
If you’re going to begin pitching clients, you’re probably going to get asked at some point, “So do you have a coach?” Make sure you can answer that question with a positive, “Yes.”
Not only does it show that you’re serious about growth, but it also reinforces your pitch. Think about the sleazy salesman who goes door to door selling a new health supplement that rejuvenates the body, but he doesn’t use the product himself.
The right coach training will provide a way to be coached by other students. Often your relationships with other students will continue on after your training. Barter coaching with another coach is a free way to get coached and practice coaching. Who doesn’t love that?
Plus, when you have your own coach, you’ll also be able to develop yourself much faster. Not only will their guidance allow you to reach your own goals, but it will give you perspective into the lives of your own clients. This will help you serve them better since it gives you a chance to be on the other side of the table.
7. Not Sharing Their Story
As a life coach, you’ll be working with people who are so determined to reach their goals that they’re willing to let someone into their life to help them get there. They will see you as their guide, looking to you for advice, counsel, wisdom, and support along the journey. But, this doesn’t mean you should only talk about them.
There will be times when the best support you can give your clients is your own personal story. This may include times when you’ve struggled, maybe in a similar situation to them. Or perhaps a major mistake you made in your life.
You may be tempted to think that sharing your flaws or errors will lower your credibility in their eyes. But, this is actually one of the greatest ways to not only build credibility but give them the strength and motivation they need to continue on.
Your story will allow you to connect with your client in a way that allows them to see that their goals are actually attainable. Yes, part of coaching includes sharing your successes. But what’s even more powerful is when you can be vulnerable with your clients, sharing the journey.
8. They’re Too Nice
Most life coaches start a life coaching business because they feel a strong sense of empathy for their fellow humans. This is often a life coach’s biggest strength. However, it can also be their biggest weakness.
It feels good to tell people when they’re doing well. In fact, much of your job as a life coach will be to encourage and support your client, especially in moments of stress or when they’re struggling. A good coach will get excited with their clients when they reach certain milestones.
But if you want to be a great coach, you’ll have to stop being too nice.
Sometimes it means getting out of the box with your client by saying what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. You need to be able to challenge your clients. Challenge their assumptions. Challenging them helps them understand themselves better.
Much of coaching consists of asking questions to understand your client better. You can do this by asking the “why” and “how” questions. In NLP, we call this Meta Model Challenging. We challenge the client’s distorted, deleted, and generalized statements to help them get more specific with their thinking and beliefs. It opens up possibilities and solutions.
If you just “focus on the positive”, you’ll get average results. But when you’re able to walk your clients through areas of their life where they’re struggling, calling them to higher ground, that’s when you’ll go from so-so to great.