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Wendy Buckingham / Creator, Life Coaching Professionally
Are you thinking of starting a life coaching business as an independent coach? This guide will point you in the right direction to create an efficient and pleasant work environment. It will also give you some some basic information on fees, systems and legal protections you should put in place. .
FYI: I may receive commissions at no cost to you. Please see my affiliate disclosure for more.
How you set up your coaching space may depend on how you deliver your coaching. Do you prefer face to face interaction, or an online coaching business using Skype or Zoom to connect with your clients. Maybe, as so many are now doing, you offer a mixture so you can serve the different needs of clients.
Whichever way you decide to meet with your clients you will need the same basic furniture and equipment.
For face to face coaching at home or in a rented office, you have to think about how you can craft a space that is comfortable for you and private and welcoming for your clients.
You can read about setting up a life coaching office for coaches working from home and what you need to get started.
As with any business your coaching practice needs systems to keep track of prospective clients, client sessions, coaching session times, payments, expenses and so on.
Your business setup:
One of the first things you have to decide on is whether you are going to set yourself up as a sole trader or a limited liability company or whatever structures are available in your country. Your accountant may be the best person to advise you what would work best for your particular circumstances.
Payments: How are you going to get paid? There are lots of options to research to find the one that suite you best such as Paypal and Stripe, Wise (previously Transferwise), or even direct deposit. Wise is excellent if you are planning on an international client base as it allows you to open an account in any currency you choose without huge fees.
There are several software program systems specifically written for coaches which allow them to take payments and keep track of clients. They can be pricey and their format may not suit the particular records you want to keep. However, many offer a free trial period so you can try before you buy.
To be honest, until you reach a point where you really feel overwhelmed with keeping track, or if you are on a tight budget, keeping clients records and payments on simple spread sheets and folders (physical or online) may be sufficient.
I have written a lot more about being paid internationally and avoiding hidden expenses on my Life Coaching Fees page.
Maybe you are confident about what you can charge. Maybe not! There are more words written about setting fees than almost any other aspect of starting a coaching business - apart from how to get clients.
It is important to get it right if you are going to attract your ideal coaching client, whether that be in life, executive or corporate coaching.
find some useful pointers to help you get it right in Life Coaching Fees.
You also need a system for getting out there in the coaching marketplace and getting known both face to face and online. Marketing your coaching need not be expensive and there are many strategies including networking, clever business cards, writing articles and giving presentations as well as many social media options that can raise your profile with prospective clients.
If, like many new coaches, you struggle to congruently and engagingly writing and/or talking about what you do as a coach, do visit Marketing from Within. My colleague Cindy Schulson offers some great free tools and trainings including a free downloadable branding template.
I can also recommend her group mentor program for coaches and consultants.
I've had the feedback from visitors to this site that it has really helped them in those early days of identifying their coaching niche and getting the right coaching message out in the marketplace to attract clients.
The Corona Virus has made many coaches, who haven’t done so before, transition to using phone or online platforms to coach their clients. It can be a challenge if you’ve only ever coached face to face but the information and tips in Online Life Coaching will make it a lot easier.
I found remote coaching by phone or Skype, (which I've done for years) just as effective as face to face for the majority of clients, though there will always be those who are reluctant and need convincing.
So do check out the benefits of phone and online coaching coaching for you, and to convince the client, with tips for mastering the technology and also looking good on line.
As with any business your coaching practice should be set up so you have protection from the eventuality of legal action. Things like agreements, disclaimers, copyright protection and even a refund policy are critically important.
Lisa Fraley, (who incidentally, is also a certified life coach) has made her niche helping coaches with all those legal issues you need to put in place to keep your business and income safe and secure.
Here you can get some free advice and explore the much needed legal tools to protect your business
Some providers of coaching services want you to have insurance to protect themselves against anything you might do in their name, which I think is quite reasonable.
But for coaches working on their own behalf, not giving advice or combining coaching with therapy, personally I don't think it is a "must have" if you have legal agreements, contracts and disclaimers in place.
Life Coaching is unlike therapy or alternative medicine where advice is given. I've asked the question on coaching forums many times - has any life coach ever had to use their insurance when a client has sued them - and to date never got a yes. The few cases I have heard of were because the coach had strayed well outside the boundaries of coaching.
So whilst taking our insurance may give you peace of mind you have to work out whether you really need it.
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