Because Life Coaching is entirely unregulated, any Life Coach can set up a business and do pretty much what they want (within the law) with impunity.
However, that doesn’t mean they should, and here are 10 things that are pretty much a no-no for any Life Coach who wants to be credible and also run a thriving business.
I’d love to get your take in the comments after on whether you agree or disagree or even if you can add to the 10 I listed.
1. Coach Family or Friends
You cannot do it!
And that isn’t just an ethical call.
You literally cannot do it effectively no matter what you think or even if the family member or friend tells you you were amazing afterward
I don’t care if you are brand new and practicing, or seasoned and just helping out, DON’T.
Life coaching relies on the coach being totally impartial and without any agenda other than the clients. That literally isn’t possible with people we know.
It doesn’t matter how hard you try and park your presuppositions and agenda of what is right or wrong, your unconscious mind won’t let you.
This is possibly the biggest cardinal sin for any coach this side of cajoling clients into coaching when they don’t need it and maybe murdering clients with a blunt farming instrument.
2. Treat Life Coaching As A Hobby
Some Life Coaches do this unconsciously and some do it intentionally, and both undermine the credibility of the coaching industry.
If you want to make a business out of Life Coaching and delivering win/win situations then you had better learn the business aspects of running a Life Coaching practice as well as how to coach effectively, otherwise you’re screwed.
If you want to be a coach as a hobby, take up jigsaws or crochet instead.
Life Coaching is a skill and as such requires hours of practice, reading, researching, learning etc.
It’s not offering advice to your friend Veronica who should ‘obviously’ leave her dick of a husband for forgetting to put the toilet seat down for the 3rd consecutive time!
People coming to you with problems on a regular basis at work or socially speaking doesn’t mean you’re a Life Coach.
It may mean you are suitable to become a Life Coach, but that isn’t the same thing.
Coaches can and do shape peoples lives and that’s not to be taken lightly.
3 Refuse To Shut Up
Do you know why we ask questions as Life Coaches?
Yep, it’s because we want to get the client thinking differently and to then elicit answers.
It is NOT because we want to look clever by then answering the question ourselves.
When you ask a question, STFU.
I don’t care how uncomfortable the silence is, still STFU.
Leonardo DiCaprio said in The Wolf of Wall Street, “He who talks first loses’.
He was talking about sales and there is a strong element of truth to that even if I don’t like to think of sales as a zero sum game with winners and losers.
So let’s change it somewhat to make it more coach friendly, shall we?
If you ask a question and answer before your client has had the chance to, or as they are still thinking, you lose.
Oh and by the way, so does the client because they hired a poor coach who doesn’t know when to STFU.
4. Ignore Ongoing Learning
I have been a Life Coach for the best part of a decade and I’m still learning on the job.
It’s a practice and as such we should be constantly looking to improve and fine tune our craft.
A few years ago I mentored a young coach and at the end of the process had this conversation (and I’m not embellishing for effect either).
Me: I think you’re well on your way.Client:
Yeh, thanks a lot.Me: I’ll e-mail you a list of books you can read that will help with your ongoing development
Client: Nah it’s ok, I think I’ve read enough books
Me: (stunned silence)
Unfortunately he still appears to be coaching.
Even more unfortunately he’s very good at marketing so probably has a steady stream of clients who have no clue that the last time he read a book on coaching Twitter didn’t even exist.
5. Offer Unsolicited Advice
I often give advice to clients, especially other Life Coaches who hire me because that is why they have hired me.
However, unless our clients ask for advice or hire us in more of a mentoring capacity then we’re not paid to give advice and in many ways it’s the antithesis of good coaching.
I often stress to clients that I’m not suggesting they follow one path or another, merely giving them food for thought.
The moment you convince yourself you know what is right for a client and that’s where you are going to guide them, is the moment you have failed both your client and yourself.
If you really, really want to give advice, ask for permission and explain it’s only an opinion.
6. Copy What Other Life Coaches Do
95% of Life Coaches earn less than $10k per year, yet I see so many coaches replicating what other coaches are doing without stopping to think why.
They join every Social Media platform, they imitate their websites, they try to remain happy go lucky 24/7 and they price their services based upon what seems like the ‘going rate’.
Join the Social Media platforms that you like and give the opportunity to talk directly to your audience (more in a moment).
Don’t even look at other coaches websites (the vast majority are awful – mine included to an extent, which is why it’s relaunching very soon) because your website is about YOU and what YOU can offer your potential clients.
More in a second on the happy go lucky approach, but prior to then, ignore what other coaches charge. I know coaches who’s bare minimum is $150k, yes that’s $150,000 per client.
And I know others that will coach for $50 per hour.
It’s a personal choice which is why I explain it in detail on the Coach the Life Coach course.
But it’s also a financial decision based upon what value you can deliver and what money you need to survive and thrive.
There’s 10’s of thousand of coaches out there and the last thing you want is to be is an amalgam of them all and sat in the middle of a very large pack where nobody can see you.
7. Pretend Life is Awesome 24/7
Life is pretty much awesome for a lot of time, but life also sucks at times.
I have a load of tax and dental bills to pay very soon, and to be honest that sucks.
On the flip side, the training for Coach the Life Coach staring on May 25th is almost full and that’s awesome.
People connect with REAL people.
Sure you can go for the aspirational route of attracting clients by pretending you are the one person on the planet who has nailed life and never thinks, “Oh fuck it, that sucks”, but it’s very tiring and inherently dishonest.
To do so you are wearing a perpetual mask. You’re inauthentic and you are less attractive to (most) clients who know life aint really like that.
Has anybody ever pulled this approach off?
Sure, and a handful of people spring to mind, but they are so few and far between that as a marketing strategy it’s right up there with buying some magic beans and advertising on Craigs List.
Note: I understand that some people are naturally happier than others. I’m not saying try to be more miserable if you’re one of them, just don’t pretend you’re something you aren’t or that everybody can be like that because science may have something to say about that.
8. Ask For Help (Like An Amateur)
Yesterday I got the following e-mail:
I’ve started a Personal Development Blog, called xxxxxx. It’s going to be simple personal development that people can integrate into their lives, on a wide range of topics. I would greatly appreciate if you could consider having a look around and maybe mention the name, or even a link?
Also if you’re up for it, I also plan to do some ‘Expert roundups’ on various subjects in the future, is this something you’d be happy for me to include you in? It would just be simple questions, or opinions on certain topics.
It would really help me out and I’m sure you know how challenging it can be when starting out. Hopefully you’ll genuinely like my content as well, it’s written to be the best I can produce.
Thanks so much.
I get up to a dozen requests for help in any given week and I don’t mind in the least.
However, here is my particular beef with this one and the reasons why I won’t help.
- He hasn’t even been arsed to address me by name which suggests it’s a blanket e-mail sent out to load of bloggers
- Even though I have no idea who this guy is, his immediate contact with me is to ask me to help him
- He wants a link from a GPR4. Well no shit, don’t we all? But me linking to him potentially weakens my link profile and gives him a huge bump. Would you stop a total stranger in the street and ask them to help you promote your business? If so, good luck and let me know how you get on.
- He uses the lame “’I’m sure you know how challenging it can be when starting out.” Yes, absolutely I do, but I also know that when I approached bigger bloggers in my early days I researched them, understood their needs and their readers needs and went in with something highly targeted. You did none of that, you just formatted a crap e-mail and sent it out to a lot of people
By all means ask for help. But be respectful and try and offer some value to the other person first if you want to be taken seriously.
9. Try To Do Everything
You maybe short of cash to begin with and think you can do everything and anything yourself to be successful.
NO YOU CAN’T!
You need help, and lots of it, and here’s some ways of attaining it
Joining an awesome course like Coach the Life Coach to improve your coaching and client attraction skills led by that super modest chap, Tim Brownson.
Hiring a business coach who can help you set up processes in place to maximize your online (and offline) efforts.
Joining a free support group populated by other Life Coaches who you can brain storm with, such as this one maybe.
Outsourcing things such as design, SEO, accounting and anything else you either don’t like or aren’t very good at. This can be a much cheaper option than you may imagine if you use services like oDesk and Elance.
Exchanging your services. This is the first site I have ever paid a penny on. The A Daring Adventure site that is due to change in May 2014 didn’t cost me a dime as I exchanged services and coached the designer.
Too many coaches forget that what they have is of value and there may be a designer, or bookkeeper, or business coach out there who would love Life Coaching but cannot afford it.
10. Use Social Media Without a Strategy
The importance of Social Media is growing literally by the day. It’s almost impossible to generate traffic to your site without using it effectively.
Using it effectively does not mean signing up for every single account available and then posting the occasional quote or link to your blog in the hope that you will build a huge loyal following and a steady stream of clients.
I am just trailing Facebook advertising because unless you are prepared to pay to use Facebook you’re probably wasting your time since the recent changes. You can read more here on why Facebook just effectively became a paid product.
Think about why you use which Social Media platforms and what you are trying to achieve, and then keep that in mind when you are using your precious time and avoid getting into a 2 hour debates on Facebook on why we should save baby seals with people you don’t even really know.
So come on, let’s get your take in the comments. Agree, disagree, would like to add some more no-no’s?
Image: Danger Do Not Enter’ Courtesy of Berni Andrew