I frequently receive calls and emails from folks who are interested in becoming a professional leadership and/or life coach. They hope to connect with me and others in the industry to learn about what it is, how to get started, and any lessons from my experience.
Over the years I’ve compiled the following questions and considerations to support their exploration about joining the wonderful world of coaching.
WHY YOU, WHY NOW?
A common reason people offer is that they want “to help others.” This is a beautiful intention and yet becoming an impactful and successful coach requires a bit more connection with the values and sense of purpose that will be fulfilled by choosing this path.
I often encourage people to partner with a coach of their own to gain a deeper understanding of how they want to contribute to the world, how they are currently doing so, the gaps, and any other considerations before concluding that coaching is the right path for them. Additionally, partnering with a coach will provide you with the experience and perspective as a client – allowing you to truly understand the impact of coaching.
The path towards becoming a skilled professional coach requires significant inner and outer resources – time, energy, money. For example, coach training and certification can cost $15,000 or more and take up to 3 years or more to complete. It also requires an intentional commitment to training, practice, mentorship, and cultivating inner presence/awareness. While coaching is still considered a nascent industry, there are standards of rigor and competency that reputable coaches adhere to.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION?
Many are surprised to learn that much of the time spent by independent coaches is actually on running the business: Establishing and maintaining operational systems, building relationships, developing content and resources, professional development, and on business development.
Given this, it is critical to genuinely explore your interest in becoming an entrepreneur. And more importantly, it’s worth considering your interest in doing so while also becoming a coach (most coaching programs do not offer business training as part of their curriculum so you will need to identify other resources for your learning and growth in this area). Ultimately, building a sustainable coaching practice requires you to also run a sustainable business. Of course, you don’t have to do it all alone. But you will need to become clear about what is needed to run your business and then find the most effective and efficient way to make it happen.
Through your exploration you may find that you are not interested in becoming an entrepreneur. If this is the case, there are other ways to coach without it. Here are a few options:
Serving as an internal coach with your current or a new organization.
Joining a coaching organization or platform that provides coaching services to individuals and organizations. Coaches are matched with clients in exchange for a referral fee or hourly rate.
Incorporate coaching approaches (powerful inquiry, active listening, intentional partnership design, and more) into your current work as a leader while maintaining your current role within the organization.
To be of true service to others requires that we are first in service to ourselves. Finding the right balance between coaching and entrepreneurship will support your sense of fulfillment and increase the chances of building a thriving coaching practice.
HOW WILL YOU KNOW?
It might be appealing to reach out to a million coaches to learn more about your options and help you make your decision. And while there is tremendous value in connecting with others who have walked this path before, I suggest you do some research on your own to learn a bit more for yourself.
You might consider contacting coach training programs and/or attending their informational sessions, reviewing research about industry trends from the International Coach Federation (ICF), connect with your local ICF chapter, read books about coaching/the coach approach, etc.
This research, in addition to partnering with your own coach, will help you clarify what you really need to know to make the decision about becoming a coach. With this informed understanding in hand you can then reach out to coaches in the industry and ask specific questions to support your process.
As you can imagine, most coaches are busy – coaching clients and running their business. Any amount of time they spend outside of these core functions is time that they are not working on revenue-generating activity. Consider taking time to do pre-work and developing clear questions as a way to respect their time away from their work.
A BIT ABOUT MY JOURNEY…
I decided to embark on the professional coach training path after a deeply transformational experience with a coach during a period of professional turmoil. My experience as a client changed how I wanted to lead and grow as a person. I did my research, I spoke to training programs, I met with alumni of the program I was considering, I took out a loan, and began the process. While I graduated from the program in nine months, I didn’t ultimately become fully credentialed at the level to which I was trained for another three years.
Building the business required (and continues to require) countless introductory meetings, exploratory sessions, and proposals. It requires managing finances, developing a sound business plan, developing content, managing marketing and outreach…and the list goes on.
And I love it all! Of course there are some parts that I love more than others. Over the years I have found partners and support structures to keep the “doing” part of the business as easeful as possible. This allows me to really lean into the “being” part of coaching. I am able to fully live into my values and life’s purpose – serving as a partner to heart-centered changemakers.
So, why you and why now? What is your vision? How will you know which is the right path? Who or what can support you?