What is life coaching?
It’s motivating people to change something in their lives so they can experience greater joy and less pain. It can be in any area of a person’s life, and different areas of life overlap and influence each other. A relationship problem can affect finances, and vice versa. A health problem can affect a career issue, and vice versa.
So, probably he first thing to consider once you’ve decided to become a coach is:
“Do you want to be a general life coach, or do you want to specialize in one area?”
The main areas of a person’s life are:
· Personal Development
· Spiritual Development
If you have experience in one area of life where you solved a problem that many others have, then you might want to specialize in that area. For example, if you taught yourself some ways to get through a divorce amiably, you could coach others on how to do that. Or, if you developed a technique for recovering faster from cancer treatments, you may want to share that with others.
Or you may have training in a specific area. For example, you took a training in how to help someone change their diet by using specific techniques you are now certified to teach. Then you may want to use a specific title for your coaching, such as “Massey Method Coach.”
But if you want to coach a person in all areas of their life, then you may want to call yourself a “General Life Coach,” a “Personal Growth,” or a “Personal Development” coach.
No matter what you choose, your job as a life coach is to motivate people to take action to change their lives for the better. You do that with methods, processes, accountability and inspiration to do the work. The problem is that most people want change, but they don’t want to do the work. So they hire a life coach to help them stay motivated while they do the hard work.
In fact, about 90% of people pay for life coaching just to hold them accountable. But they also want you to be an expert in the area they are working on. So it’s important for you to get proper training.
Notice I didn’t say get “certified.” There are many certification programs for life coaching. But there are also courses that aren’t for certification but may be helpful. So just be aware of that.
What’s important is that you get the necessary training, so you know how to deliver life coaching to clients. And, if it’s a certification program, that will just add to your credibility. Or you may be someone who has had a lot of experience in coaching already, and that in itself may be enough credentials.
Most people won’t ask for your credentials, but if you have them, it’s good to display them on your website and in your email signature.
Launching Your Coaching Business
Starting any kind of business can be fulfilling, but it also can involve hard work, difficulties and challenges. Having an awareness of where the obstacles in the road lie in a life coaching business, gives you an advantage. So I’ll share some basic information you need to know when launching.
There are several components that need to be in place in order to start and run a life coaching business:
1. An entrepreneur mindset
2. A coaching process/program to offer
3. Basic bookkeeping skills
4. Business systems
5. Tools for running a business online
Let’s dive a little deeper into each one of these.
1-Mindset is half the battle.
When starting any kind of business, you need to have an entrepreneurial mindset. That means making decisions based on statistics and not on emotions. It definitely means doing income-producing activities such as, market research to determine the needs of your audience, rather than only doing easier and more fun activities.
Most of the entrepreneurs I’ve met who are not having the kind of success that they desire, have a problem with their mindset. I can sense it when I hear them talk about their business. Unfortunately, they aren’t aware of their mindset, so they don’t know that it’s the problem. Before their finances improve and their business thrives, their attitude toward business needs to improve.
Mindset is something quite intangible. You can’t just say, “Oh, you’re spending too much money; that’s your problem.” Or “Your conversion rate isn’t high enough to justify your advertising expenses.” Those are tangible problems. Mindset is illusive, and harder to pinpoint.
One way to discover if your mindset is aligned with your business is to try to uncover any hidden beliefs that are holding you back. Beliefs that don’t support your desires are the main culprits that can keep you stuck in an undesirable situation. But beliefs are just thought patterns that are habitual. This is good news because habits can be changed. The best way to change a belief is to substitute a new one that’s more in alignment with your desires.
Just like being in any long-term relationship, as an entrepreneur, all of your issues will come up and need to be dealt with. One common issue is your relationship with money… how much you think you deserve, how much you can ask for, how much you can keep, and how you treat money in your personal life.
Another major issue that comes up is lack of self-confidence. The best way to handle this is to coach 10-20 people. It doesn’t matter if it’s a practice session or a 6-month program. You will learn a lot from your first coaching clients and it will also give you the potential for referrals, more confidence, and possible revenue.
A third issue that can come up is in how you handle stress. Do you stay calm and strong when a client is venting on a stressful experience, or do you get caught up in their drama? Do you leave the office and your business behind you at the end of the day and relax with family/friends, or do you tend to “take your business with you” and think and strategize too much on your off time?
One thing that happens when running a life coaching business is that you find you must adapt and evolve with it. Things happen that force you to either change something in your business or change something in yourself in order to move forward. And it’s helpful to know how to keep a positive attitude.
2-Your Life Coaching Program
Besides developing the right mind-set, you need to develop a program to offer clients. It may be the process you developed when you solved the problem that you now can help others with. It may be a method that you got training on. Or it could be a combination of the two.
Planning out your program in advance is necessary in order to have something concrete to offer in enrollment conversations (discovery calls). And you need to plan out what results your clients can expect to have from your program.
Here are some steps to consider:
· How long your program will last? One-to-one coaching programs range from a few weeks to a year or more, depending on the depth of the information and the outcome clients will achieve.
· What steps does the client need to go through to achieve the desired results?
· What tools will need to be included in your program?
· How will you connect with your clients, and when and where will the contact happen? Will you deliver via phone calls, zoom calls or email support?
The bottom line here is:
What will make your clients feel supported, without causing you to burnout?
Pricing your services
Perhaps the most difficult decision to make when it comes to your private coaching program is pricing your services. That may take market research.
Beginning life coaches might charge as little as $97/month, while top business coaches can easily command $40,000, $50,000 or even $100,000 per year. Where will your program fit? It depends on a variety of factors:
· Your experience level
Once your coaching program is planned out and priced, you will be ready to market yourself.
Every business owner needs to know how to determine whether they can stay in business, i.e., if they are making a profit. Life coaches are no exception. That’s where basic bookkeeping skills come in. Keep track of both expenses and income on a spreadsheet, or (I suggest) in a simple software program such as, Quicken . Quicken is inexpensive and is all you need for a small business.
Then you need to keep accurate records and track where your money is going and how much you are actually earning. Income always starts slowly, and you may have more expenses than income at first. But there are so many low-cost or even free tools available that you should be able to keep operating costs to a minimum.
4-Tools for running a business online
The Internet has opened up a “world” of opportunity for life coaches. You can coach anyone anywhere in the world. But that means knowing how to use online tools to market and run your business. Fortunately, there are many helpful tools, resources, and software to make your business life easier. Earlier, I mentioned having a bookkeeping tool.
Here are 5 other essential ones:
d) Delivery Platform
Some coaches have asked me if they need a website. You don’t necessarily need a website—I have members in my life coaching association who don’t, and they have other ways of getting clients—but it does look more professional to have a website. A simple one is a WordPress site. You’ll need to get a domain name for it and a hosting service. You can start out with a one-page site that just has information about what you do, and your contact info.
There are a number of tools associated with a website. For example, if you want to track how many people come to your site, you can install Google Analytics. There are also a number of WordPress plug-ins that make the operation of your site more efficient. Your webmaster will know what you need.
You’ll also need a way for clients to book appointments with you. Don’t get caught in the “email tag” game! Get a scheduler with a link that you can send to any client or prospect. Basic free tools include Calendy, Setmore, and Squareup.
If you are running an online business, and are sending traffic to your website through your marketing, not everyone who comes to your site will be ready to hire you. So, you need a way to stay in touch with those people. An easy way is with an autoresponder, such as MailChimp or AWeber. It’s a tool that sends out emails automatically to people who sign up on your website. You write up the emails once, and they go out without any more work on your part. Usually, you’ll need to offer some kind of “freebie” (or “lead magnet”) to get people to sign up for your emails.
If you have materials such as PDFs, templates, checklists, or recordings, you’ll need a way to deliver them to your clients. For documents, it can be as simple as using Google Docs. You upload the document and give the link to your clients. But if you want something fancier, you can use a platform such as Teachable, LearnDash, Kajabi, or OptimizePress Member. Using one of these software programs ensures that your materials are only available to people you designate (password-protected).
You will also need some coaching documents such as a client agreement, client feedback form, Wheel of Life chart, intake session form, invoice form, client action sheet, and client info form. There may be others that you’ll need depending on your topic.
You will need to set up several systems so your business runs smoothly.
Here are the ones I recommend:
a) Content Creation system
b) Lead generation system
c) Social media marketing system
d) Sales conversion system
e) Onboarding clients system
f) Client retention system
g) Follow-up system
Content Creation system
The first system you will need to set up is content creation for your business. That means creating valuable content that educates people, tells them what you do, and how to hire you. As you market your business, you will always be creating content. This includes content in your branding, your blogs, your website pages, and your email campaigns, and it all supports lead generation. You will always be creating content to keep your name in front of the people in your audience.
Lead generation system
How will you find prospects to talk to about your services? That’s what we call “lead generation.” Leads are potential clients who are attracted to your content. So you need to have a system for attracting them.
There will be people who are attracted to your content and consume it, but aren’t ready to hire you yet. And if you don’t have a system for staying in touch with them until they are ready, you’re leaving money on the table. That’s where your autoresponder comes in—you can use it to build a list of leads that you can keep in touch with.
It’s helpful to have a gift of some kind to offer potential leads, so they get on your list. Called a “freebie” or “lead magnet”, this is a small piece of content that your audience wants and needs so much that they are willing to give you their email address, knowing that you will be sending them more content.
The lead magnet leads them to an email series that you have on your autoresponder. These emails educate your leads more about the problem they face and how you can help them solve it. Your autoresponder email series leads to an enrollment conversation, a free consultation or “discovery call,” where you enroll them into your coaching program.
This system also may include using ads to re-target people who clicked on your links to encourage them to connect with you.
Social media marketing system
A necessary part of lead generation is marketing on social media. It’s a whole system in itself! You will need to make social media posts, which include content and graphics, to distribute to the platforms you are using. Part of this system involves having a regular time for engaging with people on social media who are potential clients. You will have to do more market research to find out where to find your ideal leads on social media.
This system can also include advertising on various platforms. Each one is different, and, to stay organized, you should focus on one platform at a time, so you can get a steady stream of leads from it before you start working on another one. Also, there are ways to automate your social media marketing.
Sales conversion system
Once you get a lead into a free sales conversation, you need to have a set of steps to take them through to see if they are right for your program or service.
Here is a sample conversation formula:
a) Warm Up Questions – icebreakers
b) Setting Expectations – your agenda for the call
c) Making the Promise – what they will get out of the call
d) Qualifying Questions – their ability to invest
e) Personal Questions – their reason for consulting with you
f) Offer – your solution
g) Close – your call-to-action
h) Technical Questions/Objection handling – help them make a decision
There are many courses available on sales conversation techniques and formulas. Know that salesmanship is an acquired skill that anyone can learn.
Onboarding clients system
Once you have enrolled a new client, there needs to be a procedure or onboarding process that they go through. This can include a welcome letter or welcome package, registration on your delivery platform, getting their personal information, or filling out a questionnaire.
Client retention system
It’s a lot easier to reenroll a current client than to find a new client, so it’s a good idea to have a client retention system. Current clients have already been sold once and they know and trust you. So it doesn’t take as much work to convince them to buy again. Part of this system is how you treat your clients while they are working with you. The other part is keeping in touch with them after their program is over and introducing them to the next step or another program. This can be done through an email series or phone calls.
One more system a life coach needs is for following up with people. There are 4 follow-up series that you need to create:
a) People opting in for your “lead magnet
b) Prospects you meet on social media platforms
c) Current clients who are in one of your programs
d) Past clients who need the next step
The thing to keep in mind is that people are more likely to buy from you if you follow up with them regularly with courteous, helpful, non-pushy contact via email or phone calls.
Becoming a life coach can be as exciting as it is formidable! And as a life coach you may run into some unique challenges. But there are ways to deal with it. We discussed what life coaching is and the 5 steps that need to be in place in order to launch a coaching business.
There are other things you can do too. You can hire a coach to help you. You can take extra trainings. And you can become a member of a life coach association, such as the International Association of Professional Life Coaches®. Membership will give you visibility, credibility, and business and marketing training. Visit the website to see if it’s a good fit for you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannette Koczela, Founder of the International Association of Professional Life Coaches®, provides business and marketing resources, tools, and training to life coaches, so that they can run their business more profitably. Download the free “Essential Coach Kickstart Business Guide” HERE, and get weekly tips, strategies, and guidance on how to create a thriving coaching business.
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