Originally published in December 2018, this blog has been updated by Team Lumia to include additional resources.
The 3 Biggest Mistakes New Coaches Make (And How to Avoid Them)
by John Kim
Everyone who feels called to become a life coach and get their coaching certification gets excited when they finally are ready to hang up their shingle and get started. But from what I’ve observed, many coaches burn out or end up getting in their own way before they even get their practices off the ground.
Here's a few things I've learned over the last decade working as a coach and helping thousands of others begin to find their way. Read on to find out what the biggest mistakes many coaches make when they start out.
1. Comparing yourself to other coaches
You decided to become a life coach because you were inspired by other coaches and what they've built online. Or maybe it was your experience with your own coach who helped you through a major transition in your life.
Maybe you thought, I want to do this for others too. And you should if you have the passion for it and believe in the value of life coaching.
But this means you likely already have ideas of what a life coach looks like. I mean how can you not with so many life coaches flooding the internet these days? So how do you not compare yourself to other coaches?
First, let's talk about why it's important you don't.
They say that comparison is the thief of joy. I believe that as well.
What makes a life coach powerful and truly stand out is her own uniqueness. This includes her story, her why. The way she sees the world and shows up in it (this includes social media). Her approach, life coaching techniques, and concepts in the way she practices. The essence of who she really is.
If you compare yourself to other coaches, you will not be able to showcase any of the above. Instead, you will be copying and frantically trying to imitate someone who isn't anything like you.
But now is the time to stop. Here's the danger in doing so: you will water yourself down. Which will make you lukewarm and generic. Basically invisible. Your own story is powerful and has a long reach, if you let it out.
Wondering how to do this in practical terms? Check out these eight tips for sharing your story with confidence in our guide: The Right Way to Let Your Story Lead Your Life Coaching Practice.
2. Obsessing over your social media following
I understand it's just media now. It's not just for social - it's imperative for business. Especially if you want to build an online practice. But if you're only concerned with your following and size of your audience, your story and your message will suffer. Your message and your passion and your output is what will create your following. Not your obsession with it.
Instead of dwelling on how small your following is when you’re just getting started, focus on the value you are giving.
Are you just reblogging other people's quotes and videos? Or are you creating your own images and videos, sharing your story and revelations, and doing it in a way that's unique and honest to you. Because that's what's going to make you stand out from all the rest.
Ask yourself: What value am I giving to my audience?
It doesn't matter if you have 10 followers or 100,000. You need to give them value. Also, is it a cut and paste job? Or is it fresh and honest, and lines up with your story?
This is where all your energy should be going. Not on worrying about how small your following is and how long it will take to get more. That's a slippery tunnel. There's no end to it. Focus on what is within your control -- which is giving and sharing, authentically and consistently.
For ideas around how to do this authentically, you might like: Utilizing Social Media in Your Life Coach Career.
3. Trying to get clients instead of practicing your craft
If you focus solely on getting clients, and that doesn't happen in the time you anticipated (which it usually doesn't), you may get discouraged and stop. Don’t.
Many think all they need to do to become a life coach is take a life coaching course, announce it on social media, and BAM they have a life coaching practice. Okay, let's say that actually happens. Suddenly you have paying clients. Would you have the confidence to do the work and help them make the changes necessary to change their lives?
To become a licensed therapist, I had to do 3,000 hours of practice. I'm not saying that's what you need to do. I think that's way too much. Many talented and good people give up, burn out, and we lose a lot of passionate people who truly want to help others.
But there is a reason why the hours are a requirement. It gets you to practice your craft. Make mistakes. Fall down. Get back up. Build confidence. Come up with your own language and ways in. Learn to ride the bike. If not, there's a high chance you won't have the confidence it requires to truly coach someone in whatever they need coaching.
If you only focus on getting clients instead of focusing on practicing, your clients won't come back. They'll smell your fear and ambivalence and desperation.
For strategies on how to get the word out so you can serve more people, tune into the podcast How To Build A Word of Mouth Coaching Practice.
Life coaching is a craft and like any craft, requires tons of practice.
If you stop comparing yourself to other coaches, stop focusing on the size of your following, and stop putting pressure on yourself to get clients, and instead be uniquely you, focus on the potency of your content and output, as well as consistency, and practicing your craft, you will slowly start to build your life coaching practice.
These things don't happen overnight and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you a quick fix that won't last long term. Keep your focus on the long term and let me know how it goes.
Ready to Be A Coach?
The other big mistake that people make is trying to do it alone, without the proper training or support. If you're considering becoming a life coach and want to do it right, I encourage you to check out our Life Coach Training Program. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, community support, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.