If you have been searching the internet for something, you will usually end up with a life coach site popping up in your results at some point. Life Coaching has evolved over the years and continues to change and grow – but what is life coaching, how do you choose a life coach, and what should you be aware of?
Life Coaching Past:
Life Coaching really emerged, noticeably, about 10 years ago. Most life coaching was advertised as Executive Coaching or Leadership Coaching and they were usually hired by corporations for staff or individual training. With the onset of in-house corporate training teams, the need for Executive Coaches diminished and many sought other areas to continue coaching in. Since then, there are now life coaches that coach in every area of life you can think of and then some. Many life coaches specialize in one or two main life areas but many still coach in multiple life areas. Originally, life coaches were people who had some kind of previous work experience before going into coaching. Most Executive Coaches came out of the corporate business world and as an Executive Coach or Leadership Coach, were able to make great incomes. Many of these past Executive Coaches also have become Client Attraction or Marketing Coaches in today’s climate and their services are provided to corporations still but mostly to small or solo businesses or individuals.
Life Coaching Now:
Now life coaching is common, Life Coach easy to find and is for businesses and individuals and can be called just about anything. Today, there are many life coach training schools but there are huge disparities between the qualities of education students receive from school to school. In fact, there are no required educational standards that a life coach school must follow/provide and there is no regulation of the life coach industry. Anyone can call themselves a Life Coach and open a practice – buyer beware becomes a very serious phrase to remember. There are now a couple of professional organizations, such as the International Coaching Federation, which as a professional membership organization, is working diligently to establish coaching standards, life coach school standards and looking at types of regulations that could benefit the industry and consumers.
There are now between 10,000 and 20,000 life coaches that are providing services to customers. There are an increasing number of people pursuing becoming a life coach. Many people want to help others but many think they can earn a tremendous amount of money while being able to work at home in their pjs, part-time. If only it was that easy. Today’s world of having a web based business and all it entails has become very complicated and it isn’t as cheap in start-up costs either. Most life coaches are earning much less than $20,000 a year because they don’t have enough clients. Many coaches fail because you have to be a person who can structure their own time while working from home. When you work in a business, it provides structure that you work within. At home, there is no structure except what a person creates and it is all too easy to not be structured. Marketing has become a huge part of daily life for life coaches, much more than ever before and many have taken marketing to an incredible level of hard selling. Those ‘coaches’ providing marketing or small business start-up coaching have created a huge income based industry but it has also gained tremendous competition over the last few years.
Niche Is In:
Niche in life coaching is the current theme – this means that a life coach ‘specializes’ in one or a few areas only. There are many life coaches though who still would be considered general life coaches and offer a much broader range of coaching services. The market is pushing life coaches to have specific niche’s quite hard and explain that the public prefers ‘specialists’ and are willing to pay more for them. It is rather like the medical profession, you have generalists, generalists with a smaller focus, specialists with a broad focus and specialists with very specific focus topics. So, everyone entering coaching is told to have a niche; it could be life coaching, client attraction, marketing, public relations, Christian, organization, health, financial and many, many more areas that ‘coaching’ is being offered in.
Throughout my research, I was totally amazed at how few life coaches will post their prices but also, and perhaps even more importantly, they do not post their educational or work experience! I don’t know about you, but I’m not really interested in sharing my dreams and goals with someone unless they are qualified and that means having work, life and educational experience in their ‘niche’ or coaching areas. I’ve asked many other coaches, and some of them are very well known and successful, and been told that education and experience are not important! So, I guess from that, if someone worked at the local animal shelter and didn’t graduate from high school, they are just as well qualified to provide life coaching services as everyone else. NOT in my book. We check out loads of information before we buy a car, before we choose a doctor, and even before we purchase a mattress. Why wouldn’t it mean something about what education and work/life experiences a life coach has? So, buyer beware!
Marketing and using psychology to sell whether on the web or in ‘real’ life, is something every business uses. Unfortunately, the web is unregulated and you cannot check things out and be secure that the information you get is honest and truthful. There is no Consumer Reports or Better Business Bureau for the Internet. The science of selling is intense and is geared at: getting visitors to give e-mail address for a ‘free’ gift so they have you in the mailing data base; use words and colors to attract you and make you ‘trust’ them, offer free material to read and low priced items and then you’ll receive e-mails about tele-seminars, videos, guest speakers, and high cost products/memberships/mentorships and mastermind groups. Many coaches are genuine but how do you tell the difference without making many painful, expensive and time consuming mistakes. Also read the fine print, many web businesses do not have guarantees or refunds available. Look for coaches who belong to national organizations, who post their credentials (experience and education), and did they graduate from a life coaching or coaching program or school? You can’t trust testimonials often, due to a business may have provided services to hundreds but you will only see the few who wrote glowing testimonials, a site that has ratings on it is great but can be doctored, asking to speak to a former client is the best method of checking out a particular coach business, even many former clients is better. I hope there will be some type of review system devised someday, as in your community word gets around quickly about a company, but on the internet you don’t have that check and balance system available. So, buyer beware!