Building a Successful Life Coaching Business

I have been self employed for 40 years, of which 20 years has been spent running my life coaching business Hart Life Coaching. I have owned a recruitment business, a  couple of typing services, a bookkeeping business, a manufacturing business, a financial planning business and a magazine, all of which I started by myself with just an idea, and quite a few with no money. I sold most of those businesses for a profit and had one business failure. What I’ve learnt from those businesses has helped me to become more trusting, resilient, creative, resourceful and courageous. And even though marketing has changed dramatically since I first started in business the fundamentals are still the same.

Ask for help or guidance

Long ago I established the habit of asking for help and guidance from other people and the Universe. Before life coaching was ever heard of as a career I started two businesses, built them up then sold them. I chose to return to working in the corporate world and discovered that I hated it. I wanted to be self employed again but the problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to do and like most people I had become accustomed to the security of a regular income. I asked the Universe for guidance and it took me awhile to receive the answer because at that time I was focused on the problem. Once I got my focus back on track I was contacted by a man that I had applied for a position with twelve months earlier. He had been trying to contact me for 6 months but was never able to get through to me. I believe that was because I was so focused on what I hated about my job that I actually blocked this opportunity. The position he offered me was to head a women’s financial planning business and it matched everything on my wish list, except that I wouldn’t be self employed. I decided to go for it. Six months later I had the opportunity to take over that business as my own.

When you ask you need to be open to receiving. And when you receive answers you need to have the courage to act upon them.

You may think what does that have to do with life coaching? I loved my financial planning business but eventually I got bored but what I learnt along the way, and the media profile I built for myself during that time made it easy for me to move into life coaching when that career opportunity came along.

You need to have a product or service that people want

Before you even start you need to know if there is a market for what you have to offer. You can find out by conducting a simple survey, asking friends, acquaintances and most importantly your target market if they would use such a product or service. When I was interviewed for the financial planning role I was asked to establish if there was a market for a business that focused on women’s needs. I went out and surveyed 100 women. The results of that survey helped me get that job because I established what the needs of my market were.

Be innovative and courageous, and act as if you expect to succeed

You need to know who your target market is. Some of the life coaches that I train often say how much they want to earn. but they often don’t know who their target market is. You need to know who wants your product or service and what this market is willing to pay. Knowing your target market means you don’t waste time and money on marketing by targeting the wrong people.

Ask yourself where you would find these people? What would appeal to them? If you are not sure experiment by offering your services for free to this segment of the market before spending any money.

Feel good about what you offer

To get people to pay you for your product or service you need to feel good about what you have to offer people. When I first took over the financial planning business as my own, I rented an office in the heart of the central business district that was cheap and unattractive. I felt bad about the office because it clearly said I wasn’t very successful. I would have been better off to move outside of the city and get a better looking office for a lower rent which I eventually did. Not surprisingly when I did this my business  improved significantly.

When building a life coaching practice you need to feel good about yourself as a life coach.

You need to be the coach that you would go to 

And the only way to get to this point is to ensure that the training you undertake will provide you with the tools you need, then you practice, practice, practice. I wasn’t a great coach when I began, but I loved it and I made the commitment to work for nothing if I had to. That commitment to myself helped me to develop my skills and build a business. Be prepared to work for nothing at first. That’s the type of commitment you need to succeed.

Tell people you are in business

What surprises me is how many people don’t want anyone to know they are in business. This fear of what other people may think of them prevents them from achieving their goal. You need to be able to tell people clearly and succinctly what you do. This is all about believing in yourself. You have to back yourself. Be proud of what you do.

Focus on what you want not the obstacles in front of you

This is so important. It’s easy to get caught up in concerns about ‘not having enough money’ to promote your business, or a lack of time. As I said before I blocked the opportunity to work in financial planning because I was so focused on the frustration of my job at that time. Create a daily routine that enables you to focus on what is most important to you.

Take action

Until recent years I never had a marketing plan, yet my businesses grew and that’s because I have always used the law of attraction. You need to remember that you can visualise, affirm, use vision boards, keep yourself motivated but you have to act whenever an opportunity presents itself otherwise nothing will change. Action comes first – feeling confident follows.

Commit to your dream

What do you need to do, or have happen, for you to commit to your dream? One of my book readers took on a second job so that she could pay for coaching (from one of the coaches I trained). She then went onto to establish a very successful business for herself. If you are promoting a business such as coaching, you should be prepared to pay for coaching yourself to get you to where you want to be. After all if you won’t pay for the service you offer why should anyone pay you?

I firmly believe that business success has very little to do with marketing. It’s about how you feel about you and your skills. Work on yourself. Know your market and give them what they want. Practise. Practise. Practise. Coach for nothing so people know you are in business. Commit to your dream and act as if you have no doubt.

When You Discover Your Calling You Never Have to Work Again

A growing trend globally is for people in their late sixties and seventies to be a vital part of the work force. While this is a bonus when you love what you do, imagine having to spend an extra 5 – 20 years doing a job you don’t like just for money.

Most of us have fantasised at some stage about winning the lottery but fantasies are usually a way of escaping from a reality that doesn’t fulfil us. To never work again is a fantasy for many, but it doesn’t have to be.  The key is to do what you love.

I consider myself fortunate to have had many careers that I have enjoyed but it wasn’t until I started life coaching, nearly 20 years ago now, that I found my calling.  A calling is something that you don’t need to retire from because it doesn’t feel like work. Some of us find our calling through our work, while others find it through volunteer or leisure activities. However, I’ve found that the more you go in search of your calling the harder it seems to be to find and that’s often because it’s often something we don’t expect.

We find our calling when we share our gifts. Gifts, in this context, are commonly thought of as skills or attributes, but a more accurate way to discover your gifts is to focus on what you love doing. I love meeting people from all walks of life, helping them to be happy, and working out what motivates them. I also love sharing what I learn. If we were to translate those loves into gifts they are optimism, resourcefulness, curiosity, love of learning, and my willingness to do whatever I need to do to be the best me I can be. The skills, which I have developed over time, evolved from doing what I love.

It’s so easy to waste so much time and energy trying to work out how to do what we want to do, and worrying about whether we are making the right choice, when what serves us best is simply doing things we love.

A woman who trained as a life coach with me loved life coaching but was concerned about how to build a full time business, she also felt a little lost working on her own all the time. I suggested that she continue working with clients and allocate some time to volunteer work. I suggested she choose a cause that she was passionate about. She did this and within a short period of time a paying role arose in that organisation which enabled her to use her life coaching skills and all her gifts.

Sharyna Sharman knew she wanted to help people but as a country girl used to spending her days in paddocks with horses, she didn’t want to do spend all her time in an office, so she combined coaching with equine therapy to assist people to build confidence and leadership skills.

The Universe knows exactly what you want and there is a role that is perfectly suited to the lifestyle you want to live just waiting for you,and you claim it by doing what you love, as much as you are able to, right now.

It is very easy to get caught up in all the reasons why you can’t have what you want and one of the biggest excuses that people make is ‘I don’t have time’. To live a life where you never work again you need to make time because doing what you love energises you, it changes everything in your life, whereas working for a living drains you.

You have unique gifts to share, isn’t it time you found out what those were and started being true to yourself?

Life Coaching as a Career

When the recession started in America, people lost their homes and consumer confidence plummeted, yet one industry according to Ibis World increased its market share during that time and that is life coaching. Even as the economy picked up this industry continued to grow. Yet, even though life coaching is a growing industry and some coaches are doing very well from it, there will always be some coaches who struggle to get their business started, and that’s not because of a lack of opportunities, it has more to do with their own habits and beliefs.

Whenever we do something new you we step outside our comfort zone and it is always scary at first, even for me. When I first started life coaching I often thought to myself, What do I do next? But I also knew that I had more knowledge on life coaching than my clients so I kept moving forward. My clients made progress, they were happy with the coaching, and that encouraged me to keep going. If someone had commented that they didn’t like what I was doing, which fortunately they didn’t, I would have asked them how they would like to be coached, or how I could do it better.

I am a bit obsessive about practise but this single habit has been a major contributor to my success as a coach and in business. When I wanted to be a public speaker I would stand in front of a mirror and give a speech. I would record it and listen to it over and over again. Yes, I cringed at what I was hearing most of the time, but moving through being bad enabled me to speak in front of hundreds and sometimes thousands of people. When I first became a financial planner I sat up in bed for an hour each night reading prospectuses from different investment companies.

If you never allow yourself to move through your fears you won’t gain confidence. I always tell my students to practise, practise, practise. Some coaches feel confident after eight clients, for another person it may be 15 – 20 clients. One of the keys to being a good life coach is to practise on volunteers until you feel as if you know what you are doing because you will never make much money from something you feel you are bad at. Fear will always get in the way.

Life coaches often say to me, ‘How can I coach a person on how to get married when I’m not married myself?’ or something similar. You can as long as you walk your talk. You don’t have to be perfect, or live a perfect life to be a good coach.

Make it Okay to Make Money

Now it may seem strange to some but some people won’t allow themselves to make money from doing something they consider to be spiritual, or helping others. Yet isn’t that what makes life meaningful?

There is nothing wrong with money and if you think there is you probably need to work with a life coach yourself as that is a major limiting belief.

If you have a problem with charging for your services then consider charging different fees for different people. You can also give some of your time away to people who can’t afford to pay. Just be careful to set a limit on what you give. Giving needs to be balanced with giving to yourself otherwise you could burn out and become a poor role model for your clients.

You Need to Allocate a Set Time to Work on Your Business

Most people are busy and work full time when they start their life coaching practice so if you wait until you have time to spend on your business you probably won’t do much. You need to allocate a specific time each week for letting people know you are in business. This could be as little as half an hour a day. That adds up to 15 hours a month, which is more than some people put in. If you can find more time than this, that is great.

There is someone out there looking for what you have to offer. Believe in yourself and make sure you let people know you are taking on coaching clients.


How Life Coaching Changes Lives

It was two weeks before Christmas when I received a phone call from Rebecca who said, “I have had two warnings at work and I am about to lose my job. I need life coaching to save my job and I have one week.”

Now as a coach I am confident about my abilities but I must admit this request felt like a tall order as I had no prior knowledge of Rebecca or her work situation. However, I love a challenge so I scheduled a coaching session and in one session was able to help her see what took her off track at work and what she needed to do to save her job.

Two months later Rebecca’s employer commented on the change in her and how well she was doing. Nearly three years later she is still in the same job and has coached other staff members, who found themselves in the same position, on how to turn their situation around. That’s the benefit of coaching.

A lot of people misunderstand what life coaching is and feel it is another form of counselling, or giving advice, it is neither. Although coaching is about finding a solution, this is often not the real goal. The real goal is supporting a client to view the world through different filters, when we do this a shift occurs that can change a person’s life.

When we focus on giving advice our intention is to get the client from “A” to “B”, and we don’t hear what people are really saying. Listening is such a great skill and I must admit it wasn’t one I had when I first started coaching. I came from an advisory background and I gave way too much advice in the early days. When we really listen, not only do people feel valued, we hear the clues they drop in their everyday conversation, about their limiting beliefs, rules or habits. These are what people need to become aware of, and in many instances change, if they want to create a more fulfilling life.

Another skill a good life coach has is the ability to ask questions. We know ourselves better than anyone else and we know the solution to our problems, the right questions bring solutions to our conscious awareness. A coach can also introduce a different alternative that a client may not have thought of themselves.

The Heart Process coaching model, which my school teaches, has three core elements that form the foundation of all the coaching we do.

Three elements of life coaching

  1. For change to occur there often needs to be a shift in perception. We listen for clues that indicate where a client has gone off track. Then through questioning we support clients to clear the obstacles that prevent them from being who they want to be and living the life they want to live.
  2. We teach life skills. Not all life coaching is about teaching life skills but without conscious knowledge of self and how to be the best person you can be it’s very easy to be influenced by the world around you. We show people how to become a centre of influence. Self knowledge enables us to expand our horizons, create harmony in our relationships and allow more into our lives.
  3. We support clients through the process of change by helping them create strategies to achieve their goal.

Whether you are a coach, or a person being coached, life coaching changes lives. In the 20 years since we started hearing about life coaching in the mainstream media it has become one of the world’s fastest growing industries and although the ICF say they expected to see a levelling off by now, it is not happening.

I urge you to consider coaching. Coaching can help you:

Feel safe. The great benefit of coaching is that you have a non-judgemental friend by your side who wants to see you succeed.

Feel heard. Many of us don’t feel heard and a life coach hears what you really say and can help you gain clarity as to what is most important.

Go further than you will go alone. It doesn’t matter if your goals are personal or professional it is proven that we achieve more when we have the support of a coach by our side.

Celebrate your successes. We need to acknowledge our successes and we need to celebrate them and that is something your coach will be more than happy to do with you.

Becoming a life coach is one of the best choices I have ever made because not only do I get to work with people who value my contribution, helping others keeps me on track in my own life.