Interested in becoming a coach? I’m sure you’ve heard of life coaches, relationship coaches and many other kinds of coaches. It’s an exploding profession with an amazing upside and it may be a perfect fit for you. Coaching, however, does have its downsides.
I’ve been coaching for more than a decade and I’ve also mentored many who are interested in pursuing coaching as a profession. Here are some of the most common questions I get from those interested in becoming a coach:
What is coaching?
At the most basic level, coaching is about supporting a client in creating the life they most want to live, whether it’s personally or professionally. But in reality, it’s far more than that. It’s really about creating a space in which the client discovers and dissolves the self-sabotaging beliefs, blocks or behaviors that are keeping them stuck. So coaching is really about helping people become more self-aware. And most coaches report that when this happens, it’s the most gratifying part of the profession.
What kind of coach should I be?
There are all kinds of coaching niches: relationship coaching, health and wellness coaching, life coaching, business coaching, to name only a few. When choosing a niche, you can simply pick the one that interests you most, but the most successful coaches say they didn’t choose a niche, it chose them. That’s certainly true in my case.
I’m a relationship coach because for years my love life was an absolute mess. But I faced my issues and overcame them and now I’m in a great relationship. Most great coaches have a similar story. They choose a niche based on personal experience.
When choosing a niche, ask yourself, what have I struggled with and yet overcome? A coach’s credibility is highest when it’s based on personal experience more than professional education.
What qualities do I need to be a coach?
Research indicates that you’d make a good coach if you have the following qualities:
- You are a personal growth and development “junkie”
- You are empathetic and good at building rapport
- You listen without judgment or agenda
- You are compassionate but willing to challenge
- You encourage action and accountability
- You practice what you preach (this is the most important quality)
What is the best part about being a coach?
Coaches express a wide variety of reasons for loving their job, the most prominent being:
- The ability to make a deep and lasting impact on another human being’s life. It’s far and away the best part of coaching. To witness a change in a person’s life, and to know you’ve been a catalyst for their success or growth is incredibly fulfilling.
- Coaches usually work for themselves. This gives them total control over their clientele, the amount they work and even when they work.
- You can coach in a full or part-time way. In other words, coaching doesn’t have to be your sole source of income. You don’t have to take a big career or financial risk to become a coach.
- Every client and every session is different. There is nothing routine or boring about coaching.
- Expenses are extremely low. Coaching by phone or Skype eliminates the need for an office and other “normal” business expenses. Coaching is almost pure profit.
- Most good coaches don’t do it for the money, but coaching is a very lucrative profession, one that easily generates a six-figure income.
What is the worst part about being a coach?
Coaching is an awesome career but it does have its challenges. Here is a list of realities you need to face if you’re considering becoming a coach:
- Coaches work with people. It’s a people intensive business and sometimes people are very difficult to work with. (I’ll just leave it at that 🙂
- Coaches are entrepreneurs. You need two very different, but essential, skills sets: the ability to coach and the ability to run a business. Being passionate about coaching won’t cut it. Coaches fail because they lack business sense. As an entrepreneur, you do your own marketing and you find your own clients. No one delivers them to your front door. It’s on you to build your business.
- Coaches ride the financial roller coaster. Yes, coaching can be a lucrative business but there is no set salary that you can count on. If you don’t have clients, you don’t get paid. And you’re responsible for all your expenses and benefits too.
- Coaches lack quality training. Most training programs do an adequate job of training you on how to work with your clients, but they do a miserable job of training you on how to get clients and build your business. Your success, to a large degree, is going to depend on the training program you choose, which bring us to the next important question.
How do I evaluate and choose a coach-training program?
This is where the rubber meets the road. Make a mistake here and your practice will never get off the ground. And make no mistake about it—you do need a training program, both to improve your coaching skills and to learn how to build your practice. So here are a number of critical questions to ask when evaluating coach-training programs:
- How long is the program?
Do not even think of participating in a program that is less than one year in length. There is no way you can be adequately prepared to work with people and run your business in a 4 or 6-month program. No way.
- How many people are in the program?
Bigger is not better. You need individual attention and mentoring to be a successful coach. If a program has more than 20 people in it (or God forbid it has hundreds!) you will not get the training you need. Look for a small, intimate, high-touch training program.
- Who is the leader of the program and how involved are they?
First, be sure the leader of your program has built a successful coaching practice themselves. (No one can show you how to do something they haven’t done.) Second, look for a program where the leader directly mentors you and is consistently involved with you throughout the duration of the program. Do not choose a program where you’re trained by the leader’s staff.
- Is the program digital or personal?
Stay away from digitally-based programs where you work through modules by yourself. The best programs have very little, if any, of that. Look for a program that is high-touch, one with lots personal interaction with the leader and the other participants in the program. (Yes, the digital programs are cheaper, but you get what you pay for.)
- Is the program about your education or your evolution?
Most training programs focus on educating the coach on how to work with people and they often have a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all method for you to memorize. But the best programs focus on the coach’s personal evolution more than their professional education. Why? Because you can’t give what you don’t live. So choose a program that recognizes that the way you live your life is what attracts clients, not some method you’ve memorized.
- Does the program offer a blueprint on how to build your practice from the ground up?
Most programs focus on how to coach but don’t say much about how to build and grow your practice. Look for a program that gives you a blueprint, a step-by-step process of how to build your practice. It is very rare to find such a program because most coach training programs are run by academics, not by those who’ve built their own practice from the ground up.
- How much does the program cost?
You probably realize, based on what’s been said so far, that the best coaching programs are not cheap. The more personal the program is, the more expensive it’s going to be. (And you want personal. Don’t skimp here. This is your life. This is your career. Invest in yourself!) It’s important that you put your training in perspective. What would just one class during one semester at a university cost? Probably about the same as your entire coaching program! (My son is in college right now. Trust me. I’m right about this.)
So, what kind of price should you expect? Well, if the program is less than $3000 it’s a joke. And if it’s more than $10,000, the program’s leader is probably some famous guru and you’re being overcharged because of it. So if it’s a one-year program, which it should be, then look to invest anywhere between $4000-$7000. Based on your potential earnings as a coach, the right program is well worth it. This brings me to a very important question…
How much money can I earn as a coach?
You can earn anywhere from zero to a very satisfying six-figure annual income. What YOU can earn depends on a number of factors—your professional preparation is chief among them. If you don’t have business & sales education as part of your coach training program, you are really opening yourself up to a great deal of frustration and potentially business failure.
What is the chance I’ll be successful as a coach?
Let me be very direct with you: Clients don’t just fall out of trees. They won’t seek you out just because you announce that you’re a coach on Facebook. You have to market yourself effectively, establish yourself as an expert in your field and build your brand.
There is no excuse for not succeeding as a coach. There are millions of potential clients who need what you offer. It’s simply a matter of letting people know that you exist, building a relationship with them, and then growing your business from there. A solid coach-training program will lay the foundation and give you a blueprint for success. Follow the proven blueprint, and you should achieve success.
Is certification important?
Yes, and almost all training programs offer certification. It’s reassuring to a potential client to know that you’ve been formally trained and that somebody believes in you enough to endorse and recommend you. You should proudly display and declare that you are a certified coach on your website, in your bio and on your email signature line.
Is it important who certifies me?
From the client’s perspective, absolutely not. I’ve been coaching for 10 years and I’ve had more than 3000 clients, and only 3 times has a person asked me who certified me. It’s a non-issue to your potential clients. (Frankly, it’s only other coaches who will want to know who trained you.)
So, when choosing a coach-training and certification program, make sure it meets the criteria I’ve laid out in this piece because it’s not who trains you; it’s how well you’re trained.
Coaching could be a great career path for you, with great income potential. Most importantly, it could be the most rewarding work you ever do. I regularly receive notes from clients thanking me for how profoundly their lives have changed from our time together. In my opinion, there’s no better feeling in the world than that.
Because I want to create clarity in the world of coaching, I created a free 4-part video series that offers a closer look into the coaching profession so you can further see if this is something you may want to consider.
Roy Biancalana is a #1 best-selling author and a certified relationship coach. For the past 10 years, Roy’s mission has been supporting single people in the art of attracting and creating conscious, lasting relationships. He offers a complimentary 30-minute coaching session to anyone interested in working with him. You can learn more about him by visiting, www.coachingwithroy.com.