Become a coach: Pursue your true calling

Are you living up to your true potential? If you have helped a close friend achieve their dreams, and you did it naturally, you might have what it takes to become a coach.

Every day I am humbled to read many stories online from people who have landed their dream careers, some even after retirement! Some stories I have listed here but you will find several such messages on my Facebook page. So who are these people, you ask?

Well, these are people like you and me who felt that they had the drive to take their business to the next level.

I believe your story has the potential to be just as inspiring when you look back on your journey.

But if you are just starting out and wondering if coaching is your calling, read on.

First, you may consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is your career stuck at a plateau leaving you wondering if you can switch gears this late?
  • Are you thinking about taking up coaching as a full-time career option?
  • Are you a ready listener and able to offer constructive observation or criticism?
  • Do people naturally gravitate towards you seeking advice, knowing that you can offer a listening ear without getting involved?
  • Most importantly, do you leave these people feeling empowered after they have had a chat with you?

If you have answered with a truthful yes to most of these questions, you have some of the traits that make great coaches and you should consider becoming one.

Find out what it means to take up coaching as a profitable occupation and how I can help you in your journey.

Are coaches naturally born leaders?

What kind of leader are you? Just as there are different styles of leadership, there are different types of coaches.

Coaches come from different backgrounds with varied skill sets and it is important to select a type of coach based on exact requirements. Think of it this way: just as you have different specialist doctors for specific ailments, so too with coaches. Some of the popular coaching types are personal (career, finance, health, life coach, personal and relationship coaches), religious, wealth, business (sports, executive). And within these wider categories exist niches such as life coach, motivational coach etc.

But the truth is the task of a coach is not always to be the leader but to empower his/her client to lead. Hence what your coaching style will be is entirely dependent on your personality, interest, skills and opportunities. The most commonly referred model for coaching is the GROW model, which is a simple method for goal setting and problem solving, developed in the United Kingdom and used extensively in the 1980-90 period.

The type of coaching requirement (whether personal, religious or business) will obviously hold sway when it comes to your coaching style but by large these are the top traits of every good coach:

  1. Empathetic listening skills: New coaches have said that the most challenging task in their first few years of coaching was to listen but never get involved. Great coaches take their client’s challenges seriously but without judgement. And they provide just enough support to help their client climb the biggest mountains. A coach asks the right questions and then encourages the client to come up with the suitable answer.

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Knowledge: This is both about self awareness as well as an understanding of the client’s challenges, and involves sector familiarity, hence the trend of so many sportspersons turning coaches once their active career as a player has ended. A good coach is able to understand the “why” behind a client’s struggle and guide the client towards “how” to overcome the challenge.

But the coach also has to be aware of his own limitations, coaching styles and be equipped with the latest education and resources to provide optimum support to his clients. At present, with the market being unregulated, this is even more important if you are starting up your coaching practice. Clients can quickly distinguish the value you bring to their lives/businesses and are more willing to pay extra for a result-oriented, knowledgeable coach.

  1. Passion and determination: If you are not able to overcome the challenges of your own life, how will you encourage and empower others to look beyond their struggles and try to overcome them?

The challenges coaches face range from personal (building a relationship of trust with clients) to professional: working in an unregulated market has its own challenges. Coaches need to establish the value they bring to organisations amid tight deadlines, strict budgets and an organisational structure that does not often have room for them to showcase the impact of their work. Only a few organisations measure human impact and value within their measurement metrics annually. Similarly, on a sports field the value of a coach is often determined by something that is beyond their control: winning or losing on the field.

What this means is a higher degree of commitment and sheer grit for new coaches and the ability to stay committed towards practising and preaching positive psychology while seeking to make an impact on clients. The challenges notwithstanding, the joys from a successful career in coaching are immense. And this is evident from the sheer numbers of coaches in the market.

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Is there a market for your set of skills?

Yes, there certainly is.

Are you wondering if you should take up coaching as a full-time career option? Is it profitable enough to help you quit your day job?

Here are some facts to help you assess market reality.

Last year, The International Coach Federation revealed that there were 53,300 coaches, up from 47,500 part-time and full-time coaches worldwide in 2011. Out of which 33% operate in the United States — means which 17,500 coaches. The United States estimated market value for personal coaching to be $955 million in 2015 and $1.02 billion in 2016, up from $707 million in 2011.

The same body estimated that coaches have an average annual income ranging from $27,100 to $73,100. Some specialty coaches can even make over $100,000.

But the good news is this: the market is far from saturated. With an increasing number of organisations waking up to the benefits of executive coaching, the need for qualified, trained and reputable coaches is on the rise and that is just one sector we are talking about. Whether you look at sports, religion, personal or business coaching, increased awareness is driving interest and could very easily lead to massive gains for good coaches in the market.

This photo has some deep meaning for me, it may look like I’m lost in the woodes but I have a connection with the compass in my hand. See I come from a rough family, they don’t always do what is moral or right. But I try to be different. so I’m always trying to find the right way to go, hence the compass.
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Is finding a niche area crucial for your business?

The answer is yes!

So what kind of a coach should you be?

Finding your niche will really determine the success or failure of your business and you do need to spend some time deciding on this. You may have already read a previous blog about my experience of how understanding my niche audience led to a 6-figure coaching business here. Yes, there was an initial period of loss and uncertainty for me. Since then, I have always recommended that those who want to become coaches do some introspection, market research and business analysis to figure out their niche as soon as possible.

I recently read an article here about how one can identify the niche area to work in. Some of my tips are:

  1. Identify your interests and passion: From personal experience, this is really crucial for your business to find its mark. If you are planning to ask your clients some difficult questions while consulting, begin this process by asking yourself some tough ones. What motivates you? And what type of coaching would be your signature style? Do people generally consult you for advice when it comes to their business or life or when they want to see the bigger picture and gain motivation? This could lead you to discover the sector you are most passionate about.
  2. Market research is key: What problems are customers in your niche facing? Is someone else offering solutions? If so, how are you going to differentiate yourself from the competition? If not, how will you put the word out about your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
  3. Analyse your business: Besides self introspection, it is also important to know your business and value in the market. I am not just talking about pricing but visibility, marketing and scaling your business for maximum profitability.

If you are still unsure or would like a second opinion, I would personally love to help. Start off by reading my blog specifically on this and then contact me at my online workshop so that yours may be the success story that the world is waiting to hear about.

Do you need to train to become a coach?

Do you need to ready yourself for the increased interest in the market for good coaches? I believe you should invest in yourself before asking others to invest in you.

Professional certification will equip you with tools/current best practices and help you be ready for the market as regulations are set up. Ultimately, clients will pay extra for quality and measurable results but as you go along you will be building a reputation for yourself with the clients who pay for your services now. In the long run, your references will come from your clients.

You can access my previous posts about how to build a profitable coaching business and access a free webinar here:

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Are coaches the same as mentors or psychiatrists?

No, they are not. Coaches, mentors and psychiatrists or counsellors bring very different skill set to the table.

Take the example of a health coach versus a therapist. The objective for both is the same but the learning they tap into and the process by which they achieve results is very different.

The health coach merely serves as an active listener, taps into his own expertise to find and ask the right questions that will allow a client to discover his own challenges, the root for his difficulties but also arrive at a solution by himself. On the other hand the therapist is a practitioner of medical sciences and uses mental health tools to analyze, diagnose and treat mental health disorders. One of the best explanations of the difference between coaches, psychologists and therapists I have found was on Quora.

And here is an image that highlights the difference:

Become a coach: Pursue your true calling become a coach

The difference between a coach and mentor in an executive or business setting is also interesting. A Forbes article tries to explain the difference between mentoring and coaching here. Although I do not agree with all of the differences charted, what I liked about the article is that it primarily focuses on the reader and what he/she needs at this particular stage of their careers or in life. That is my advice to new coaches too. When starting out, it is best to work within formal guidelines of coaching especially in a business setting but as a coach grows, he or she can don different hats according to their business requirements.

Should you quit your day job and become a coach?

However, does that mean that you should quit your day job right away? Well, the answer to that lies with you.

Treat coaching as you would do any other business/job switch and tread cautiously if you are just starting out. While there is a market for your skills, ensure that you have done the research and have the tools for a sustainable career path ahead, in order to pay for the bills in the coming months.

The first thing to do is take stock of your specific set of skills and figure out your target audience. Is there enough need in the market for you to continue to operate and build a profitable business?

Preparing mentally for a career jump requires you to have a business plan ready. There is an interesting and simple video that lists the way to draft a business plan here:

Although it is aimed at young entrepreneurs you can look it up to create any business plan. However, since your market is different, I have listed the top things to remember while drafting a business plan for your coaching business.

Does your business plan sound fool-proof?

  • Business overview: What type of coaching will you do? Will you be a one-man shop, or will you have partners or employees? What type of business will you choose to be – corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, etc. This will not only lay the foundation for your business but also give you a fair estimate of costs, profits, manpower needed etc.
  • Industry overview: I would extend this to not just your industry but also look at segments where your clients are. What are the top trends and challenges now and how is the industry shaping up in the near future? What technologies have benefited the industry you are in?
  • Vision statement: This is a future-oriented declaration of your practice’s purpose and aspirations. What long-term impact do you want your coaching business to have on individuals, the community, and the world? A good vision statement will keep you focussed on your business objectives and its long term planning.
  • Mission statement: This should be a one or two sentence section on why your business exists. The best mission statements are concise, clear, and memorable precisely because they clarify the “what” and “who” of the company.
  • Analysis of strengths/weaknesses: There are many variations of this, but drafting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is one of the most important aspects of your coaching business plan.
  • Target audience: Who do you want to coach? How large is your target market? What are the demographics? Do they have the income to afford your services and help you prosper? Will they provide references or help you win future clients?
  • Competition: Are there similar coaching types in your area? Is demand for your type of coaching on the rise? Conduct a thorough analysis of the competition, the fees charged, the potential to capture a larger segment of the market, and decide your USP before launching your coaching business full-time.
  • Marketing: What is the USP of your business? This section should be detailed and include ways to market your services, ways to measure and assess the effectiveness of various marketing strategies. Are clients able to find you as easily in the crowd?

According to a Forbes article, video is the future of media on the web and you need to understand the implications that this has on your business. Cisco predicts that, by 2020, 82% of consumer internet traffic will be video and total global internet traffic will increase at 22% per year, making internet traffic in 2020 95 times greater than it was in 2005.

Is your personality impacting your business?

Yes, it definitely can and will.

Since you are your best advocate, remaining optimistic as part of your lifestyle is bound to ensure positive returns for your business. But how do you remain positive in this difficult market?

Believe that you are doing the best you can for your business. I had drafted some practical advice for those seeking to turn their coaching practice into a profitable 6-figure business in an earlier blog. The truth is that good coaches need even better coaches and mentors in their corner. Take all the help you can because you will only be able to provide help when your cup is full for no one can pour from an empty cup.

Over the next couple of years, coaches will be using the scientific principles of positive psychology and mindfulness in coaching to help their clients create more positive, more productive, and more profitable workplaces, and also apply these principles to their own lives.

So what’s next?

Come check out my webinar and start your journey of becoming a coach with us. Know this for sure: the journey will be difficult but we will be supporting you throughout your new career and the returns are very rewarding, and I don’t mean just financially, even if I do say it myself.


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