Chapter 4 Becoming a Life Coach - Part II
Answering Frequently Asked Questions
This chapter will explore your frequently asked questions about how to become a life coach. Although the process may seem intimidating this section should alay any fears that you may have and allow you to proceed forward without doubts.
Should I Choose a Coaching Niche or become a Generalist Coach?
Whether you are a generalist or a niche coach is entirely up to you. Both have their own advantages which we discuss below.
Benefits of Choosing a Coaching Niche
- Target marketing materials to a specific niche
- Get very focused in your skills and ability to help a narrow grow of people
- Develop a deep understanding of this group and their needs
- Get results faster and with more efficacy than a generalist coach
- Charge higher coaching fees due to your expertise and abilities
- Many people these days will suggest that you become a “niche” coach as it’s difficult for clients to understand exactly what you can help them and how your process works with if you work with “everyone on everything”.
Benefits of Being a Generalist Life Coach
- There are more people you can help with your services
- The potential market for your services is much larger
- Sometimes clients will come to you for one thing but really need help with another, a generalist coach can handle this switch
- You are able to transition through various issues with your client rather than having to refer them out to a different coach who specializes in that issue
- Clients prefer to develop a relationship with one coach and stick with them rather than having many different coaches for different niches
- Generalist coaching is a niche unto itself which you can market that way
- You can focus on different things with different clients and are less likely to get bored
Deciding Your Niche
If you decide to pursue niche coaching finding your niche is much easier than it would appear to be. There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help develop your niche. First of all, you should ask yourself what niche you have personal and professional experience in. If you’re a divorced single mother who has helped many friends through their own divorces this may be a natural niche for you. Just like if you’re an ex-corporate tax attorney you may be able to create a niche focused on that. You also want to ask yourself what would really interest you. Don’t focus your coaching on something that would bore you or that you really dislike! Otherwise you’ll never develop a successful coaching practice.
Next, you should do some research into the niche which you’ve chosen. Find out who else is coaching in that niche and what their business looks like. Discover if there is sufficient demand for your coaching services and if there is no demand then you may be better off finding another niche. However, you also don’t want to enter a niche that has too many coaches already as this market will be saturated and there will be little room for a beginning coach to flourish. The ideal is if there is a niche that has some demand but not too many established coaches. While you’re doing your research begin to explore what your competitors are charging for their coaching so that you can get a good idea of appropriate prices for your own coaching.
Should I be Full-Time or Part-Time? Should I Start My Own Coaching Business or Work For Someone Else?
Part of this depends on whether or not you’re going to coach in an established coaching business or if you’ll open your own business yourself. When you coach in an established business it may be easier to find clients, you don’t have to worry about the “business” part of things, and you can gain some confidence before going solo if you wish. Additionally, there is more of an opportunity to start coaching full time when you go into an established business since they will already have an established reputation and you won’t have to work so hard to get your first few clients.
However, if you decide to go into coaching on your own right off the bat there are also benefits to this as well. Starting your own business means that you’ll have the freedom to work when and where you want. You can set your own hours and potentially work from anywhere in the world. And you can eventually earn more money with your own business since you’re not splitting your coaching fees with the business owner. However, starting your own business can be a slow process. And so if you decide to start your own coaching business you should consider starting part-time or have a good cushion of savings to fall back on while you build your business. It’s important to consider that the more time you give to your coaching business the faster it will build. So it can be an even slower process if you begin part-time. Additionally, if you decide to start part-time you can discover what it’s like to be a coach without fully investing yourself, just in case you’re not 100% sure that you want to be a coach yet.
Do I Need to Get Licensed?
Coaching is an unregulated profession in the United States, so you do not need a license to become and practice as a life coach. However, you may need to explore licensing requirements in other parts of the world if you choose to practice elsewhere.
Do I Need My Own Place To Coach?
Coaching can be done over the phone, video conferencing, or face-to-face at an office, in your client’s home, or in public spaces. You do not need a coaching premise if you’re only going to provide your services virtually on the phone and online. If you wish to do face-to-face sessions you need to consider whether renting a space if cost effective or if you would do better with using a public space, going to your client’s home, or your own home for sessions. However, some people consider it unprofessional not to have a specific space for sessions outside of the home. But ultimately it’s up to you. The main concern is to make the office look professional and relaxing to your clients. To have comfortable furniture and avoid noise and the ability for others outside of the session to hear what’s going on in the session.
Should I Coach In Person Or Over The Phone?
Coaching can be done in any way you choose. There is no one right way to offer coaching sessions. This is more of a matter of preference rather than a requirement. Many clients prefer online or phone coaching because of the convenience and ease of scheduling and getting to the appointments. Plus it allows them to be in the comfort of their own space during the coaching session. Plus, doing coaching over the phone or online saves you from having to worry about renting out a coaching space. However, many coaches prefer being able to read body language in a face-to-face session. Again, the decision is ultimately yours and is based upon what you’re comfortable with.
How Do I Set Fees?
It’s best to set fees at a very reasonable level at the beginning of your coaching career since it will be hard to attract clients if you don’t have a reputation and you are charging high prices. However, charging too little is also not advised because this can result in people undervaluing your services.
The exact nature of your coaching services:
Niche coaches are able to charge more for their services than generalist coaches. And business and executive coaches are able to charge the highest prices. Generally you can get an idea of what to charge by looking at others in your focus area and taking their experience into account since more experienced coaches can charge higher fees.
The client’s paying capacity:
Your clients need to have the capacity to pay your coaching fees, otherwise no one will hire you. If you intend to work with people fresh out of college you probably cannot charge fees as high as someone who is working with individuals in mid-life.
The duration of coaching:
How long your coaching sessions are will determine your prices as well. Sessions range from 30 minutes to 4 hours long (which is called an “intensive”). And they can be anywhere from once a week to once every few months. How often and how long each session is will determine how much you can charge. An easy way to figure this out is to determine what a fair “hourly” wage is and the multiply that by the length and number of sessions you will offer.
Coaching prices vary widely from $40 an hour up to $3000 an hour for the most elite coaches. But most coaches charge somewhere in the range of $150 an hour. But when you are just starting out in your coaching practice it’s better to charge more reasonable rates.
What Do I Need To Get My Business Up And Running?
There are a number of factors to consider when you are first starting out in coaching. Consider each of the following points before you begin to coach to start your practice on the right foot.
1. Company formation:
It’s important to form an LLC in order to keep your personal assets safe from being sued. This way your business and personal assets are separate. Even if your business is part time. And a tax ID number will help establish when your business started if you ever need to apply for a loan.
2. Computer, Internet, and printer:
A computer and access to the internet is essential to run your own coaching business. These tools will be relied on the most heavily in your business from doing your marketing to keeping track of client notes and fees. It may also be necessary to get a printer. However, there are many places where you can print these days if you do not have one. And more and more of business is becoming electronic only.
A telephone is important and it can be essential to keep your business and personal phones separate. Start your business by getting your own business phone number. If you don’t wish to get a hard line then you can get a new phone number through Skype for your business.
4. Voice message service
It’s important to have a way for your clients to be able to leave you messages so that you don’t miss out on any new business. Having an answering machine or voicemail system set up is an essential piece of setting up your business.
A website is an important investment as many people look online to find coaches and do not trust coaches who do not have an online presence. Plus, you can reach clients across the globe with a website that you cannot do if you only operate offline. You can put all the information about your services, fees, credentials, and philosophy on your website so that it’s easily accessible by your clients. Plus, a website helps clients determine whether you are a valid and credible coach.
Auto-responders are an adjunct to an email program that sends automatic responses to your emails when you want them sent. A good auto-responder can help you manage your clients and schedule your emails to go out to all of your clients in advance. With an auto-responder you’ll be able to communicate and build relationships more effectively.
7. Modes of payment
You’ll need to set up a way for your clients to pay your fees. The easier it is for them to pay the more likely you are to get paid. There are many online systems that will take credit cares, PayPal, and even accept bank account information for direct withdrawals. You can set up an account with many of these businesses for free. But most take fees out of what you earn. Be sure to do your research first.
Home business insurance can help to protect you, your home, and your business from theft, being sued, sickness, and jury service. Also consider getting professional liability insurance to cover you in case you get sued.
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of your business as it is how you get clients. Marketing is the most essential tool in getting you hired and in establishing your credibility in your clients eyes. There is no way to do business without marketing. If you dislike the idea of marketing then you may want to hire a coach or an assistant who can help you with marketing until you get more comfortable with the idea.
It’s important to know where you stand in terms of your finances and bookkeeping can help you with that. You can either hire an accountant or invest in bookkeeping software to keep track of your finances. Also keep in mind that you will need to keep good track of your finances for tax time and may need to hire an accountant to do your taxes.
11. Naming your business:
It’s important to think carefully about the name of your business. Most coaches use their own name for their business. Whereas other coaches will come up with a clever overarching name for their business because they’re not comfortable using their own name. Regardless of the route you take be sure that you think about this carefully as it’s very difficult to change to a new business name once your business is established.
How Do I Market My Business?
Since marketing is the number one most important factor in your business it’s important to recognize that there are a variety of different ways to attract business through marketing. The main idea is to make yourself visible and set up a reputation for your business so that you’re know. Visibility is especially important in the crowded marketplace so that you’re differentiating yourself from your competition.
1. Advertise in local media:
Consider advertising with local television, radio, newspaper, newsletter, or bulletin boards. This will also help you raise your visibility in your area so that more people will know who you are and what you do.
2. Free initial life coaching session:
Offering a free initial coaching session is an excellent way to help people really get a feel for you and how you work. It’s basically letting people “try before they buy” and helps people to be confident in their work with you and that you’ll get along. Although this may be daunting to a newbie it’s also a great way to get initial testimonials about your work so that you can demonstrate to other people how reliable and effective you are.
Networking is probably one of the most important aspects of marketing. Develop a network of contacts so that people are aware of what you do and can refer others who may benefit from your services to you. Network at local business meetings, workshops, events, and even online. Networking can also help you grow as a coach because it hones your communication skills and your confidence. Plus it allows you to get really comfortable talking to other people about what you do and the services you offer.
4. Talks and workshops:
Talks and workshops can be an excellent way to get the word out about what you do and how you do it. Giving a talk at a local meeting will help expose you, your personality, and your business to other people who might want to hire you. Make sure any talks or workshops that you give provide your potential clients with tremendous value. Give them all of your best stuff for free so that they become raving fans even before they’ve started coaching with you! Plus, when you provide your audience with value you increase your credibility as a coach and improve the ability of your potential clients to trust you and that you can provide what you say you can do.
5. Website and blogging:
Writing a blog about personal development on your website can be a huge marketing tool. When people are able to read what you’re about and to read how you think about things it builds credibility, trust, and increases your visibility to people who may not know what you do. Create a specific “blog” tab on your website to highlight your writings about personal development and life coaching. And the more interactive you make it the more people will come back for more!
6. Article writing:
Article writing has many of the benefits of blogging, but you expand your audience because you’re exposing your ideas and your methods to a broader base of people. Make sure you make your articles conversational so that people comment on them and come back for more! This will also help you draw in clients who are just being exposed to life coaching and you specifically!
7. Social media marketing:
Social media marketing can help people get a broader audience to see them and pay attention to their message. This is one of the best tools for increasing visibility and credibility. The best strategy is to start with one or two social networks and focus on building a tribe there so that you aren’t too overwhelmed trying to do everything at once. Sites such as Facebok, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer an excellent place to get yourself noticed and get your voice heard. The more people are exposed to you and your message the more likely they are to buy what you’re selling! If you’re unsure of how to use social media to promote your business there are many free trainings out there that will take you through, step-by-step, how to do this.
8. Business cards:
Some people do not use business cards anymore, especially those coaches that do all of their business online. However, business cards can be a very effective, if conventional, way to build trust and business if you’re doing a lot of networking and talks offline. Carry a few cards around you at all times to give out to interested parties and be sure to have them at events and workshops.
Referrals are a great way to get new clients. These are customers that come from the recommendation of your pervious clients, contacts, and fellow coaches. Don’t be shy to ask your clients, contacts, and fellow coaches to recommend you to their friends. And consider running a reward program where you give a reward to whomever referred you new business.
10. Get your business listed in coach directories:
There are a number of online and offline coaching directories where you can get your services listed. These can provide a good deal of credibility and visibility for you and your business.
11. Join a professional association for life coaches:
Membership in a professional coach association can help increase your credibility, increase your referrals, help you with professional development, and provide free marketing in their membership directory.
How Long Before I Make A Profit In My Business?
This is a tricky question and it really depends on the amount of work you’re willing to put in. Those who put a lot of work into their coaching practice can dependably find more clients and create more business than those who don’t. The more energy, time, and focus you put into your business at the beginning the more profits you’ll see! The crucial element is to be strategic and focused in your efforts. Don’t spend money on advertising without thinking about it first. In fact, sometimes when we don’t have financial resources we can really come through and make a bigger impact because we have nothing to lose and the only thing we have to invest is our time and energy! So be smart about your marketing efforts and natural in your interactions with clients.
The Right Time to Start Coaching
There is no one right time to start coaching. This is a completely unique and self-determined thing. You can start to coach as soon as you pass the certification associated with this course. You’ll have picked up almost everything you need in this course to succeed and you’ll be able to launch your business with ease and get your coaching practice up and running!
However, it is advisable to do a few confidence boosting exercises before you get started to get some practice working with clients. Offer sessions for free or see if you can do mock sessions with family to get more experience.
Another thing you can do is go and get life coaching yourself. This will help you really understand what it’s like to be a client in life coaching. But will also give you reasonable expectations about what you need to do to be successful as a life coach. See if life coaching makes a difference in your confidence level and see what difference it makes.
Chapter Review Questions
- What’s the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a generalist verses niche coach?
- How do you set coaching fees?
Multiple Choice Questions
1. Which of the following is true?
- Coaching can only be accomplished in person.
- You need a license to be a life coach in the US.
- You don’t need your own office to be a life coach.
- Life coaches should not pursue life coaching for confidence.
2. A website is one of the most important tools in marketing yourself