What crosses your mind when you hear the word ‘coaching’? For many, the term is still synonymous with sports coaching — how the world is in awe of coaches like Alex Ferguson (football coach), John Wright (cricket coach), Eddie Jones (rugby coach), etc. But, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. Although it was a common practice to associate coaching with sports originally, since the 80s and the 90s, coaching as a profession has evolved, spread its wings and has branched out in different directions.
With the foundation of International Coach Federation (ICF) in 1995, we got sets of established standards, competencies, accreditation of both coaches and training courses for coaches. These standards, competencies and accreditations played a major role in clarifying the prerequisites to become a coach. Hence, professional coaching witnessed a rapid growth in the early 2000.
If we are to talk about the present-day scenario of coaching, a recent ICF report conducted by PWC indicates that the global coaching industry recorded a market value exceeding $2.4 billion in the year 2019. A global LinkedIn search for “coaches” conducted in April 2020 sees around 6,280,000 results. We can, thus, assume that coaching as a profession has come a long way since its early inception.
Coaching could be rewarding personally (in terms of job satisfaction) and professionally (in terms of your financial benefits) and aspiring coaches may find the above numbers quite intriguing. Hence, you may wish to learn more about what is coaching or, most importantly, what it is not and how to become a coach before you take the final plunge. With this blog post, we hope to guide you on how to become a coach and help set your expectations on the right track.
What coaching is and what it is not
Coaching is a process wherein the coach works in collaboration with clients in raising the latter’s self-awareness and unlocking their full potential, professionally or personally. Coaches are instrumental in the latter’s personal and professional growth, upgrading their performance and, finally, helping them reach their desired goals and objectives.
Now that you know what “coaching” is, you might as well get a fair amount of idea about what it is not. As Venkat Raghavan G (Executive Coach and Founder, Simply Coach) has rightly said “coaches are not Google maps”. There are a lot of other things which they are not—coaches are different from mentors, therapists, counsellors, consultants and trainers. As a coach, you are not expected to:
- Provide your client with all the answers in a plate
- Come up with an instant fix to your client’s problems
- Be an all-in-one solution provider
- Be a friend
- Work by the book
- Be older than your client
Types of coaching
Could you possibly be working together with one client who is an entrepreneur to figure out business inefficiencies and at the same time help another client get over a very personal emotional trauma? Sounds like too much on your plate, right? Also, clients tend to look for coaches who are specialised in dealing with specific issues rather than seeking someone who’s a “jack of all trades and master of none”. That is why coaches choose their “coaching niche”.
Some coaching niches include:
- Life coaching : Life coaching helps people deal with life’s problems and attain gratification
- Health and Wellness coaching : Health and wellness coaching deals with both the physical and emotional wellbeing of people
- Leadership and executive coaching : Leadership and executive coaching help corporate leaders reach their targets and boost company growth & culture
- Business coaching : Business coaching helps entrepreneurs realise their full potential and reach their goals
- Career coaching : Career coaching helps people accelerate their career graph
Want to learn more about the different types of coaching niches?We dive deep to give you all the information you need here.
Is coaching the right profession for you?
Coaching could be right up your alley if your answers to the following questions are in the affirmative:
a. Do you have a calling for helping others?
Does helping others give you happiness? Then coaching could be your cup of tea. In coaching, clients occupy the centre stage and coaches are there only to facilitate their growth. Being a coach is to derive gratification in helping the client attain fulfilment. According to Ram Gopalan, executive & leadership coach & Head of Product at Simply.Coach, “As a coach, you never have your own agenda. It is all about the person in front of you. Their hopes, dreams and aspirations. You simply play the role of a catalyst in the transformation journey for your client… and this makes coaching as a profession a very special one.”
b. Are you ready to invest in yourself?
Before you think of investing in a coaching business, consider investing in yourself first. Becoming a coach involves arming yourself with credentials and certificates, investing in a successful mentor and constantly upskilling as a coach.
c. Are you pumped up enough to take on all the efforts associated with the profession?
Nothing comes for free and nothing can be achieved overnight. When you start your coaching business, you aren’t just a coach. There are a number of other ancillaries to be taken care of such as attracting clients, creating contracts and invoices, maintaining records, coming up with resources and reading materials, etc. All these might seem overwhelming in the beginning but it is only a matter of time till you get the hang of it. Alternately, you may outsource the administrative part of your job to a reliable platform such as Simply.Coach.
d. Are you a good listener?
When you coach, you don’t serve your client with the solution to their problems on a plate. Instead, you listen to them, ask them relevant questions and, in the process, guide them to come up with a solution on their own.
Four steps to becoming a coach
Coaching is an unregulated industry and it is often assumed that anyone and everyone who wishes to become a coach can become one. However much it stands true on paper, the reality is different. Let’s talk about the basics of how to become a coach:
1. Acquire credentials from a reputed board
When it comes to the educational qualifications of a coach, there are no cast-iron requirements. However, coach-specific credentials and certificates are what set you apart from other new coaches.
Acquiring credentials from reputed boards such as ICF and EMCC, should give you a good jump-start as a professional coach. These credentials are professional coaching certificates that have world-wide acceptance in the coaching industry and act as proof that you have legitimate training. Such globally recognised coaching credentials can help you attract prospective clients and make you part of the self-regulatory group of coaches who are considered as the cream of the industry.
2. Start small, slow and carefully
You may want to dip your toes first before you start deep diving. Taking it slow will give you ample time to get a good understanding of the craft of coaching. You cannot be a successful coach overnight. Years of experience and continuous honing of your skills are required to make a name for yourself. You may start by providing pro bono sessions or charge minimum remuneration from your clients. As you start dealing with more clients and gain confidence, you will overcome your self-doubt and also identify the kind of clients you prefer coaching. This, in turn, helps identify your area of interest.
3. Set up your business
If you feel you are past your initial jitters, you may consider setting up of your coaching business. While setting up your own coaching business, bear the following in mind:
- Take into account the start-up cost that includes office equipment and supplies, expenses incurred in creating your own website if any and other marketing expenses involved.
- Make sure you have the essentials in place, such as a laptop, a reliable internet connection. Also, having a personal coaching website makes sense as it serves as a platform where your clients can get in touch with you, book sessions, receive coaching materials, make payments, etc.
- Get your coaching business registered. This is particularly important for opening your business account and for tax related issues.
- Buy an appropriate business insurance policy that would cushion you against any financial losses incurred in the future.
Does the nitty-gritty of running a coaching business excite you?We have dealt with the topic of coaching business in detail here.
4. Set up a nominal price for your coaching services.
- Evaluate your contribution towards your client and the impact it has on your client. At the same time, ferret out what financial expectations you have against your time and services that would keep you going. Once both are determined, try and strike a balance.
- Fix a price depending on the coaching sessions—single session or multiple sessions, short series of sessions or a long-term arrangement.
- Research the existing market rates, ask around and then take into consideration factors such as credentials, years of experience, business exposure, etc. For starters, you may want to keep your services and price on a “table-de-hote” basis.
- Fix prices based on your credibility. If you have invested in acquiring credentials, certificates, etc, fix a price that’s worth your credibility.
- Concentrate on outcome and not on hours. Let ‘s talk about two different scenarios: 1) You have interacted with your clients for two hours on a weekly basis for around six months and yet they have a long way to go before they achieve the goal. 2) You have conducted an hour session once in every week for two months and you have successfully helped your clients improve their performance. Fixing a higher price for the second client would be an obvious thing to do.
Once the bare minimum of how to become a coach is taken care of, you can take it to the next level:
a. Identify your coaching niche
Selecting a coaching niche usually depends on your qualifications, expertise, professional exposure, your inclination towards a particular genre, etc. Identify what part of your experience puts you in a unique position to deal with client problems and of what kind. For example, if you are good at resolving conflict, life or relationship coaching could be the right choice for you. If you are an entrepreneur yourself, working with other entrepreneurs as a business coach could be a seamless choice for you.
b. Concentrate on your target audience/ clientele
In coaching, identifying the right clientele is very important. You might get tempted to enrol as many clients as possible irrespective of their requirements—more so when your business is still in its infancy—but that will fall flat eventually as the clients’ requirements may not match with what you have to offer. Thorough and proper research on your ideal client would be a good way to go about it, especially through channels such as professional networking sites.
c. Identify the coaching format that suits you
There are a lot of coaching formats available for you to choose from—personal coaching, group/team coaching, hybrid sessions, etc. Find out what suits you most. Try striking a balance between financial satisfaction and job satisfaction.
d. Make sure to formulate a proper marketing and sales strategy
In order to reach out to the maximum number of prospective clients, it is very important to reach out to as many at a time as possible and engage them on a regular basis. This is only possible with a proper marketing and sales strategy. A good way to reach out to prospective clients is via emails and social media channels, via content such as podcasts, vlogs, blogs, etc. However, this is not something a coach necessarily needs to learn from scratch. If you have the budget, you can hire experts to take care of the marketing for you and a platform that automates steps in the sales process, while you focus on coaching.
e. Continue honing your coaching skills
Learning is an ongoing process. Everything around us is constantly evolving and the field of coaching is no different. You can only up your game when you keep yourself updated all the time. Hence, it is very important to continue honing your coaching skills to remain relevant in the market. It is not just about how to become a coach, but also about how to become a successful one.
The long and short of it
Coaching, no doubt, can be a lucrative career. But money shouldn’t be the one and only reason that leads you to becoming a coach. It is the desire to guide others towards fulfilment that will help you emerge as a successful one. The American author, Timothy Gallwey, rightly put it as “coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”.
1. Is it necessary to obtain certification in coaching?
It is not mandatory to obtain a coaching certificate in order to practice as a professional coach. However, credentials and certificates help give you a jump-start in your career. It exposes you to rigorous training courses and also keeps you in check to abide by the competencies and guidelines to ensure your coaching skills are top-notch. Hence, you find yourself better equipped as a coach at the end of the certification program.
2. How are mentors different from coaches?
Both coaching and mentoring may seem the same on the surface, but they are not. Both have the same focus — the development of the client – but the difference is in the “how”. Coaching is majorly on-the-job performance-driven and evaluative while mentoring has a lot to do with the overall development of the mentee.