Setting up as a life coach can look deceptively simple. Get certified, then start booking clients. That’s how it works, right?
It’s not quite that simple, but oh that it were!
If you want to build a sustainable career in this field, it takes time, elbow-grease, patience, an open mind, and a certain amount of personal vulnerability. There’s wisdom in recognizing that not everybody is equipped to become a coach, in the same way that we’re not all meant to be architects or teachers.
But how do you know if this is the right calling for you?
At JRNI Coaching, our team talks with aspiring coaches every day. Here’s what we encourage each of them to consider. Ask yourself:
1. Are you truly passionate about life coaching?
People enroll in our life coach training program for a variety of reasons. Many come with the clear intention to build a career in coaching. But not all plan to “go pro”. For some, coach training is for their own personal development - in essence, education in becoming a “better human”. What we learn here ultimately helps us to become better friends, parents, coworkers, and community members. Others want to apply these skills to roles they may already be playing - as advisors, human resource specialists, therapists, personal trainers, and career mentors.
Wanting to pursue life coach training is one thing. Being passionate about becoming a life coach is another. So ask yourself: what are you aspiring toward? Are you interested in coaching because you love to make an impact in people’s lives? As a way to define your own schedule and work from wherever, whenever you want? Because it looks like easy money?
There are no right or wrong answers. What’s most important is that you understand your own motivations, and are clear that this is the right next step toward creating the life you really want.
2. Is now the right time to become a life coach?
We often say that there’s “never a right time” -- if you wait until conditions are perfect, you’ll never begin. People often use timing as a means of procrastination, putting off their hopes, goals and dreams for some far off future time.
If you’re ready to make the leap, then there’s a few things to consider, as coach training is an educational investment in YOU. Do you have significant family responsibilities that aren’t flexible? Deadlines or passion projects you’re already hard at work on? Are you currently processing a major personal loss or trauma? Any major health concerns that might prevent you from putting in extra hours to study and attend to your coursework?
We all live complex lives, and none of these considerations are necessarily barriers. The important thing to understand is simply this: getting started as a life coach will take time and effort.
It’s worth the leap, and many of our students tell us that they wish they’d started sooner and not let fear keep them grounded.
3. What is your definition of coaching?
When you spell out what coaching means to you at an early stage, it helps provide more clarity around what you’re hoping to achieve. It will influence what you look for in a training program, as well as the coaching methods and techniques you most want to learn.
There are many flavors of coaching: executive, career transitions, health and wellness, sexuality, interpersonal relationships, parenting, spirituality, sobriety coaching and much more! What do your skills, interests, expertise, and passion lend themselves most toward? Are there coaches out there who are doing what you want to do? If so, what can you learn from what they are up to?
Your answer to this question will probably change with time and experience. That’s OK. What’s important right now is simply to know where you’re starting from.
4. Do you have the financial cushion to launch a coaching business?
This is a big one, and something that can easily get glossed over in the excitement of a new venture. Finances can be a sensitive topic for many people. But we need to talk about the money! This is, after all, a professional venture for most of us.
Building a coaching business from the ground up is not easy. For many new coaches, it’s a side hustle in tandem with their normal 9-5. This may continue for several years as they work to build up a client base.
If you’re looking to become a coach so you can kiss your current job goodbye, it’s smart to assess your financial situation first. When you complete your training, will you be in a position to dedicate yourself full time to launching a coaching business? Or is it more likely to be a “slow burn”, alongside another gig that helps to pay the bills as you gain momentum? Both are viable pathways. It helps to have a realistic picture from the outset of your own situation, and to manage your expectations around what approach is likely to work best for you.
It's completely possible to become a full time coach with a full time coaching income, many of our graduates have made that leap -- but it may take time!
5. What is your vision for your life five years from now?
When you imagine your best possible future, where do you see yourself in five years? How about ten? Do you picture yourself as a coach? What does a typical day in your business look like? How about an average week? Do you imagine yourself running your own business, or putting your coaching skills to work within a larger company?
Getting from where you are today to where you’d like to be in the future often requires a series of small, steady steps. There will be times when it may not feel like you’ve moved forward much at all. And then suddenly, there’s a giant leap. Holding a clear vision that includes as much detail as possible is often what helps us stay the course during the “mushy middle” of the change process. Take the time to imagine your desired future state. Write it down. Then take concrete, steady action toward achieving it.
6. Are you ready to be an entrepreneur?
Unless you intend to work for a company that feeds coaching clients directly to you, opening a coaching practice also means becoming an entrepreneur. A solopreneur, in fact. Is this something you’re ready to do?
Do you have a business background, or will this be new territory for you? How about marketing, budget forecasting, business licensing, taxes, and liability? Learning how to be an effective coach is one set of skills. Figuring out how to advertise your services and run a profitable business is quite another!
Some coaching programs will address all of these areas as part of your training, but you can expect that what you learn from them will be just the tip of the iceberg. As you consider your “coaching lifestyle”, make sure you factor in time and resources to attend to the very real business of running a business.
At JRNI, we offer business development classes, essential sales skills and a host of marketing assistance. We know it's hard to go it alone, and we offer up the support of our entire community as you build your business.
7. Do you have an emotional support system in place?
Becoming a life coach will change you.
Your clients aren’t the only ones on a journey of self discovery -- you will be too. Every step of the way, from training to active practice. After graduating more than 1,000 coaches through our certification program, we can say this with certainty!
This work opens you up in ways you might never have imagined. It has the potential to introduce you to aspects of yourself you didn’t know were there. Trust us when we say this is a good thing. It will help you become a better coach, and make a deeper impact in the lives of your clients.
Any odyssey into self-discovery calls for solid emotional support. In the same way that a coach is there for their clients, you’ll want someone there for you. We advise our students at JRNI to build durable support systems, and to connect with people they trust before deep-diving into a coaching certification program. You may not come out as the same “you” on the other side. It’s helpful to have at least one safe and supportive person in your life to serve as a sounding board and be there for the ride.
At JRNI, we built in lifelong support from other coaches who have been through our program, and the community is the strongest aspect of who we are and what we do. Surround yourself with other coaches who "get it".
8. What’s your “WHY”?
Why do you want to become a coach? What is it about coaching that draws you in? What difference do you hope to make - for yourself, and for others? How does the coaching profession feed your dreams, and express your personal values?
Sometimes, our judgement gets cloudy when we get caught up in the excitement of doing something new. If making a lot of money or having a job that offers a flexible schedule is your main goal, coaching might actually be a grind for you. This work is rooted in a sense of personal mission, passion, and empathy for others. This isn’t to say coaches don’t want or deserve to succeed financially. We do! But if that’s your main objective, we’re pretty sure there are more direct pathways to exorbitant wealth.
So before you sign up for a coaching program, ask yourself this question as many times as you need to. What’s your why? Why do you want to become a coach?
EXTRA CREDIT: Have you been coached?
This may seem like an obvious one, but it isn’t.
Many people who enter coaching programs have never sat on the other side of the table. They’ve never felt what it’s actually like to be “the client”. Don’t wait until your student practicum to get a taste of what it’s really like! If coaching is something you might want to do professionally, it’s worth your time and money to see how it works in real life first.
When you get coached for a sustained period, or by several different people, you widen your perspective. It also exposes you to the diversity of approaches, styles, and techniques that are out there. This simple experience can enhance your understanding of what coaching truly is, and will allow you to absorb the lessons in your coach training program at an even deeper level.
Not sure where to start? Book a free discovery call with one of our coaches to feel what it’s like to get coached You can check out our directory of JRNI certified coaches here.