According to the International Coaching Federation, the coaching industry has grown exponentially in the last twenty years, with an average yearly growth rate of 6.7%. The myths and noise around what it takes to build a thriving coaching business have also grown. In this article, I debunk three prominent myths I have observed within the coaching industry and experienced personally and offer a more viable alternative for each one. In the coaching community of Being Profile® practitioners I work with, we have seen that these myths can drastically hold coaches back from achieving their objectives, sometimes even for years. They can also cost a new coach dearly as they try to get their coaching business off the ground and build it up for success.
MYTH #1: I need more qualifications!
Coaches are widely known for being easily lured by the next shiny program that claims will position them and give them enough knowledge and qualifications to set themselves up for success as a ‘respectable’ coach. I’ve even heard coaches say they won’t charge clients until they have completed a certain number of pro-bono sessions to fulfil their certification. I know of some who have offered up to 50 hours of pro-bono coaching! By the time they receive their next certification, many lack the funds to run a viable business due to a lack of income.
If your goal is to build an authentic and thriving coaching business, enrolling in a proven coaching program is more effective than gaining more qualifications. After this, what matters most is identifying the clients you want to serve (your ‘ideal clients’) and taking the time and care to hone in on their needs. It’s important to dig deep to uncover their critical pain points to ensure your coaching serves them well. Listen and ask questions with curiosity and humility when conversing with potential clients so you can start understanding what they need as opposed to just what they want. Focus on learning about them before trying to coach them. This will allow you to articulate the value you can add to them from their perspective. In most cases, qualifications or fancy certifications are the least of their concern.
Effective coaching is founded upon trust and strong relationships, not on qualifications and certifications. Start with those people you understand and who will feel comfortable with you because they will enable you to validate your offering. Growth will happen organically once you apply your coaching with people with whom you have established a relationship, enabling you to create genuine case studies and authentic success stories that will impact future referrals and your reputation.
MYTH #2 You need to have your own unique models.
Many people choose to transition into a coaching career after gaining experience in another profession. It is not uncommon for career transitioners to want to translate their wealth of professional experience into unique models to make an impact and stand out from the competition. The risk is wasting time and money to turn ideas into beautiful graphics and models that do not necessarily have the foundation and rigour to become effective models for coaching human beings.
The more authentic approach is to build your coaching business on frameworks and models that have substance and are based on research that has solid foundations. In my case, I use the Being FrameworkTM, an ontological methodology created by Ashkan Tashvir based on the studies of philosophers, high performers, entrepreneurs and many others to understand the complexity of human beings within the scope of effectiveness, leadership and performance. I acknowledge and respect the exhaustive studies underpinning my approach to supporting other human beings to transform.
MYTH #3 I need to fit the mould of a coach.
Many coaches start their business by focusing on their branding, photo shoots, tag lines and website, believing they need to look professional and ‘polished’ before they can go out and do business. Until they have that ready, they don’t feel they can launch their business and engage clients. For starters, this can become very expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, the need to look perfect and fit the mould of a coach also puts them at risk of ‘paralysis’ before they even start speaking to their potential clients and demonstrating their value to them. You can check out this article for more on the downsides of perfectionism.
Focus on finding out how you can ‘be in the top 1%’. Start by asking yourself, “How does the unique combination of my life experiences to date authentically add up to me being a well-matched coach for someone?” The answer will lead you to discover who your ideal client is. Once you start engaging authentically with your ideal client, potential clients who fit that description will resonate with you because of who you are to them. Being authentic in this way doesn’t require you to have a fancy website or look like the other coaches online. You need to be YOU for that client who has been waiting to connect with someone who can serve them effectively.
From an abundance perspective, there is a group of people out there that you can add disproportionate value to right now just by honouring the unique combination of experiences that have made you who you are. So ask yourself, “Who can I serve that places me in the top 1% of coaches who can make a difference to those people?”
The myths I have outlined and debunked in this article about what it takes to build a thriving coaching business are three of many in this rapidly growing industry. You may have thought of several more while reading this article. If so, please leave them in the comments section as I would love to know your thoughts. What I have found will drive a thriving coaching business is setting up an economically viable model that genuinely serves a burning pain in the market. Your coaching business should also be an expression of your authentic self and make a real difference to people so they will want to exchange their money for the value you deliver. Achieving this combination is deeply rewarding, but it can be hard to get there, especially with all the noise and myths circulating. I hope this article has given you food for thought and supports you in finding an effective pathway forward in your coaching and business journey.