What they don’t tell you in coaching school? Is that “life coaching” is a really, really hard sell.
article by Diane Shawe M.Ed
I know some excellent life coaches – they’ve written best-selling books, they’ve got 75k+ likes on Facebook, they’ve done everything right, business-wise – they have more of a reach than I will ever have in my business – and they still struggle to get clients. They are still living month to month. And they have to hustle every day to find new ways to make coaching a viable business.
Why? Because they are generalied “life coaches”. And life coaching isn’t something that people really “get”. Here are 10 Definitions of Coaching
- “Unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them” (Whitmore 2003)
- “A collaborative, solution focused, result-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and person growth of the coachee” (Grant 1999, basic definition also referred to by the Association for Coaching, 2005).
- “A professional partnership between a qualified coach and an individual or team that support the achievement of extra-ordinary results, based on goals set by the individual or team “(ICF, 2005)
- “The art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another” (Downey, 2003)
- “Coaching is directly concenred with the immediate improvement of performance and development of skills by a form of tutoring or instruction” (Parsloe, 1995).
- “Coaching psychology is for enhancing well-being and performance in personal life and work domains underpinned by models of coaching grounded in established adult and child learning or psychological approaches” (Special Group of Coaching Psychologists, part of the British Psychological Society)
- “Coaching is about developing a person’s skills and knowledge so that their job performance improves, hopefully leading to the achievement of organisational objectives. It targets high performance and improvement at work, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s private life. It usually lasts for a short period and focuses on specific skills and goals.” (CIPD 2009)
- “Psychological skills and methods are employed in a one-on-one relationship to help someone become a more effective manager or leader. These skills are typically applied to a specific present-moment work-related issues….in a way that enable this client to incorporate them into his or her permanent management or leadership repertoire” (Peltier 2010)
- [Co-active] coaching is “a powerful alliance designed to forward and enhance a life-long process of human learning, effectiveness and fulfilment” Whitworth et al (2007)
- “Coaching is about enabling individuals to make conscious decisions and empowering them to become leaders in their own lives” (Wise 2010 – sorry couldn’t help sneaking one in myself!).
So after reviewing the definitions, which one would you say best sums up your offering? The truth is that people will be coming to you because of YOU and what you have accomplished. Your story is important. Your skills and expertise are just as important. And while coaching isn’t about telling people what to do – sometimes people will need guidance, advice, and hand holding. And you are 100% allowed to be their coach, their mentor, their teacher, and advisor.
You might be veering away from what you learned in coaching school, but in order to stand out from the crowd it will help you fast-track your business success by playing to your strengths and personality and the need of your specific and targeted client base.
So I am going to call out the elephant in the room: The majority of coaches who are killing it in business are doing one of several things:
1. They coach and/or mentor other coaches
2. They coach specialist clients (sports, personalities, celebrities)
3. They coach executives within large companies.
Unfortunately many small businesses who would really like to have a coach cannot commit the resources, this is why most coaches are also starving.
Here’s what you can do to make the life coaching business easier on yourself:
- Get specific about who you work with and what problem you solve for them.
- Drop the jargon STAT of what other coaches have achieved
- Stop doing open ended, ongoing coaching. It’s hard to sell and doesn’t get you known for anything.
- Learn the common mistakes people make in creating packages, and then don’t make them.
- Create ONE specific package for a specific market (based on your unique expertise) and get really, really good at it.
- Build a solid client base, and THEN you can expand.
- Create a blog and don’t be afraid to give away step by step advice, it will get you known.
- And in the meantime, keep your day job.
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