What Is Life Coaching?
Life coaching can help to empower and supports people as they chase dreams, navigate transitions, deal with losses, or otherwise engage in everyday personal and professional life. A life coaching business employs skilled listeners who use various skills to help people meet their objectives. Through a process that generally includes discovery, planning, addressing issues, and celebrating accomplishments, life coaches strive to help clients gain clarity, confidence, awareness, and perseverance.
How Do I Start a Life Coaching Business?
First things first. . . .
- One of the things you’ll initially need to do is determine what kind of a life coach you want to be. Do you want to provide your services to everyone and anyone? Or do you want to specialize your coaching in an area of life such as relationships, career, transition, or loss? Determining who you want to reach and how will help you refine your target market and direct your methodology.
- Another thing you’ll need to do is consider and design your coaching methodology. You’ll need to determine what tools, practices, and bodies of work you want to use to coach your clients. Do you want to use theories from psychology? Spiritual practices from Buddhism? Meditative or movement practices from yoga? When you’re considering your methodology, consider your existing skills and knowledge, the skills and knowledge you plan to gain, and how you can reach a variety of types of clients (consider including logic-based exercises, tools for working with emotions, and visual or tactile tools in addition to cerebral ones, for example). Also take some time to write your own theories, philosophies, and ideas and organize them into a basic curriculum that you can use to guide your clients and respond to their needs.
- You’ll also need to find potential clients and designate a location to see them. If you’re seeing them online, you’ll need to set up the appropriate technology, and if you’re seeing them in person, you’ll need to set up a comfortable space. We provide some information on how to set up your online and physical space below.
- Finally, you’ll need to register your business with the state and get a federal Employer Identification Number (tax ID). Your Secretary of State can inform you of any other registration requirements given your business structure and location.*
Do I Need Life Coach Insurance?*
In most cases, there is no regulatory body that requires life coaches to have insurance. However, many life coaches secure insurance on their own volition or because it is a requirement in their state (check with your Secretary of State to see if that is the case for you). In many cases, life coaching insurance provides general liability, professional liability, sexual or emotional abuse liability, or product liability. The type of insurance you should secure depends upon your business structure, the types of services you provide, and your personal preferences. Be sure to do thorough research as you consider policies.
These are just some of the many organizations through which you might secure life coaching insurance. You might also check with your professional organization, the insurance company you use for your car or home, and other companies that specialize in professional insurance.
What Professional Organizations Could Support Me As a Life Coach?
There are numerous professional organizations that life coaches might join to gain access to resources and networks. Most of them give life coaches access to professional development, formal training and mentorship, and networks of other coaches. Some of them also offer additional resources. Some professional organizations for coaches include:
The International Coach Federation, which gives life coaches access to training, business support, credentialing, and more. Their credentialing programs enable life coaches to become Associated Certified Coaches, Professional Certified Coaches, or Master Certified Coaches.
The International Association of Coaching, which gives life coaches access to training and certification programs in a certain body of work—the IAC Masteries. It enables life coaches to network with and learn from one another.
The American Coaching Association, which connects life coaches with people who want coaching. It also guides life coaches to professional resources and networks.
The International Association of Professional Coaches, which gives life coaches access to directories of coaches and access to training materials and certification programs for more alternative methods of coaching (utilizing holistic health practices, for example).
These are just some of the many professional organizations that provide life coaching resources to members.
How Might I Advertise My Life Coach Business?
There may be numerous ways to advertise your life coaching business. Here are just a few
- You can speak publicly at networking events, service organizations, or other places that welcome public speakers. Depending on whether you’re offering professional or personal life coaching, you might also arrange to speak publicly at corporate events or private gatherings amongst friends. You can speak about your services, how they produce results, and why it’s important to have a coach.
- You can post fliers and brochures at places where your customers shop, workout, or otherwise go about their lives. Create fliers and brochures that succinctly capture what you do and are perhaps specific to where you post them. You might tie your services to working out, eating healthy, or earning an education if you’re advertising your services at gyms and yoga studios, health food stores, or college campuses, for example.
- You can tell people what you do. It’s that simple. Anytime you engage with someone is an opportunity to listen for whether or not they might need your services. You can offer them a snippet by way of support and then, if it seems appropriate, tell them about your services. We don’t mean to say that every interaction should serve as an advertisement, but just that you can listen for—in any conversation—whether or not your services would actually offer something important to the person in front of you.
These are just some of the many ways you might advertise your life coaching business.
How Could I Set Up My Office for My Life Coaching Business?
Many life coaches prefer to see clients in person. If you’re one of those people, you’ll need to create a clean, welcoming space in which to see clients. Here are some ideas of how to create your life coaching office
- Provide clients a comfortable place to sit or stretch out (such as a couch). Give yourself a chair that enables you to face and work with them directly.
- Provide a hard surface (such as a coffee table) for jotting down notes or writing down goals and plans.
- Have extra paper and writing utensils for your clients in case they don’t have them.
- Provide tissues—and lots of them. Put them within your client’s reach in case he or she needs them.
- Offer bottles of water or juice.
- Provide a variety of lighting schemes. Have an overhead light, a lamp, and shades that close, for example. Sometimes you’ll want a bright atmosphere; sometimes you’ll want for it to be darker. Give yourself options to keep your clients comfortable.
- Keep your space clutter-free. Many clients will be working on goals, clearing obstacles, and dealing with challenges. Give them space to think of nothing but the tasks at hand.
- Keep a file of handouts. Many clients will forget what you said. Give them key information on handouts so they can track and use what they learn.
These are just some of the many things you can do to create a comfortable office for your coaching business.
How Could My Company Provide Online Life Coaching?
Given today’s technology, providing online coaching is certainly feasible if not a given. Online tools such as zoom, Facetime, Skype, and other services enable you to speak to your clients face-to-face. Free long distance, inexpensive international calling, and applications like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger make having longer voice-to-voice conversations affordable and accessible. These and other technologies also make between-session check-ins quick and easy.**
Should you choose to invest in an online practice, you could also design your website or online platform to help facilitate online coaching. You could design online quizzes, check-in tools, libraries, and other resources that clients can access simply by visiting your website and signing in. You could also use your website and digital technology to facilitate group coaching and special workshops. These are just some of the many options for providing online life coaching.
What Skills Should I Look for in Hiring a Life Coach Staff?
Life coaches are not necessarily psychiatrists or counselors, and they may not have official education in life coaching. What they do have, however, is a fine-tuned set of skills that hopefully make them effective. Some things to look for when hiring additional life coaches for your practice are:
- Are they skilled listeners? They pay close attention to what their clients say and can even hear what their clients aren’t saying. They hear, for example, a client’s commitment to workability when she complains about how disorganized her husband is, or a client’s devotion to connection when he expresses his fear of losing someone. Life coaches listen closely to their clients with the intention of knowing and understanding their commitments, desires, and passions.
- Are they good at asking questions? Life coaches dig in. They ask clarifying questions that help them understand their clients’ goals and objectives. Through asking great questions, they often help clients arrive at their own answers. Also, life coaches are genuinely curious and interested.
- Are they compassionate? Life coaches do not judge. Or, if they do, they keep it to themselves and then let it go. Life coaches honor and care for their clients during tough, confusing, or volatile times. They have compassion for their clients’ experiences without feeling sorry for them, belittling them, or shaming them.
- Are they trustworthy? Life coaches respect confidentiality and don’t gossip. They treat their clients with respect in person and behind their backs.
- Are they wise? Life coaches live life and learn lessons. They are often self-reflective and self-aware. They too go through the washing machine of life, and they bring their hard-earned wisdom to the table. They don’t however, imagine that their clients’ lives are just like their own. They use their own experiences to harness wisdom, but they let their clients arrive at their own wisdom through discussion, exercises, and practices.
- Are they organized? While life coaches improvise—that is, respond to clients’ needs as they arise—they also plan and organize. They often have well-designed curricula, tools, and exercises that they know will make a difference. They often keep notes and files on clients such that they are attuned to their clients’ lives and objectives even after some time has passed.
These are just some of the many qualities and skills you should look for when hiring life coaches for your practice.
How Do I Design a Life Coach Business Plan?
Designed well, a business plan could help you develop and grow your business and define your role as a life coach consultant.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers advice on how to build a business plan.
For a coaching practice, you might pay particular attention to describing your services, planning how to cater to your target market, and outlining your intentions for expanding your services and reach. For example, you might focus your attention on developing a plan to expand your services to include writing books, facilitating workshops, or speaking publically. You might also develop a plan to cultivate your name brand and what distinguishes you from competitors. Finally, you might devote significant attention to outlining what actions you’ll take to present your services to your target market.
**This information is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal or accounting advisors before you act, or fail to act, upon this information.
**None of these companies are owned, operated by, endorsed by or affiliated with EducationDynamics, LLC.