For instance, a life coach who focuses on advising business people has many areas to consider. Think of a marketing coach who helps clients target their ideal customers and channels with the right promotions, branding, messaging, and sales campaigns. Or leadership coaches who help people become better leaders by honing their talents and bringing out the best in others.
What’s the Difference Between a Life Coach and Therapist?
Being a life coach is different from being a therapist, which involves extensive training to become licensed mental health professionals. Although there is training and certifications available to be recognized as a life coach, these certifications are not legally required. The goal of a life coach is helping others discuss their fears, concerns, and aspirations so they can find their strengths and passions.
While there are similarities between life coaches and being a mentor, life coaches provide guidance to their clients on their goals to help them reach their full potential. Mentors share their knowledge and experience to help someone develop and grow. Both professions are about using one’s expertise to help others achieve their objectives, but mentoring is usually a long-term relationship that’s development driven while coaching is a short-term arrangement that’s performance driven.
Whatever type of life coach you decide to become, you need to demonstrate that you’re qualified to help them in your chosen area of expertise.
What You Need to Know to Be a Life Coach
Unlike therapists, who must have advanced degrees, becoming a life coach doesn’t require any formal training – life coaching certifications are available. Life coaches in Canada are not required to be licensed.
If you choose to pursue life coach certification, you can expect educational content coupled with in-person life coaching practice to help you acquire the skills necessary to coach people not just in theory, but also in practice.
People skills are just as important as experience when becoming a life coach. Your ability to communicate effectively is critical, and any life coaching you do should impart to your clients how to communicate better. Similarly, your self-awareness helps your clients better understand their behaviours, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and roles in meeting their personal or professional goals. Helping them build awareness and provide them with a roadmap to go forward means you have exemplary listening skills.
All these are essential regardless of the area of life coaching you opt to pursue, but excelling at these is not a substitute for developing relevant knowledge. For example, if you’ve never worked in the business world, you’re not going to make a great sales or marketing coach.
Even if you don’t have formal life coaching certification, you need to have some expertise in the area you’re going to help others with, whether it’s formal education or a demonstrable track record of working in the field. You also need business savvy to promote yourself and build a profitable life coaching practice. Demonstrating knowledge and expertise to potential clients differentiates yourself and builds trust.
Life Coaching as a Business Endeavour
Being a life coach means being a small business owner. Therefore, you need to understand how to manage, grow, and sustain a profitable business, including managing your business’s cash flow effectively, deciding what marketing activities to pursue, and developing a communication style that suits your practice.
You can deliver your coaching services through individual or group sessions or provide motivational speeches to clients at their offices or conferences. You can also host seminars, webinars, and offline or online workshops. You can also create courses or offer corporate training services. But no matter what path or subject area you pursue, you need to think like a business. That means understanding how to market yourself, acquire customers, charge for your services, and keep your clients happy.
There is a financial investment involved. Even if you don’t spend too much money on an office, you’ll need a space to work at home with connectivity, a computer, and a desk. In addition, you’ll need to spend time and money promoting yourself to land new business through targeted advertising, email marketing, social media, referrals, leveraging your existing network of contacts, and making investments to deliver your coaching content and programs. Understanding the cost of doing business is essential to adequately price your services and make a good living as a life coach.
How to Protect Yourself as a Life Coach
The cost of doing business includes sidestepping potential pitfalls. Because there are no certification requirements to be a life coach – anyone can be one – you must be careful when trying to help in areas that require a licensed professional. That is especially true in the mental health and financial arenas.
Even if you stay in your lane, you’re only human, so you need to protect yourself if you make a mistake. Insurance for life coaches provides coverage for different types of coaching and a broad range of risks including third-party claims and lawsuits that can be wildly expensive. It also covers your business activities across Canada, so you can serve clients in any province or territory.