Becoming A Coach

Too Many Life Coaches? The Data Says Otherwise.

Don't let the fear of a saturated market stop you from becoming a coach. Take it as a signal of demand and potential for opportunity.

You have the drive, you have the passion and excitement – and yet, there’s the lingering fear. Are there already too many life coaches? How will I stand out? Does the world need what I have to offer?

While it may seem like there’s a lot of life coaches in the world every time you open up Instagram or do a Google Search, don’t let that intimidate you. Rather than pointing to an oversaturated market, it’s actually a strong indicator that there’s demand for coaching services. And according to economic trends in the wellness industry, that demand is on the rise.

Professions expand when there is a clear need for the services offered. Coaching has been developing as a profession for decades, and is just now emerging as both an essential skill and offering. In fact, coaching is one of the only professional occupations where you don’t need an advanced degree, and where the skills you’ve learned already in your career can be of use to you.

Nothing dispels fear like facts, so let’s examine what the data tells us. According to the 2023 ICF Global Coaching Study: there are 109,200 ICF certified coaches worldwide and 34,200 in North America. This number is steadily growing.*

That seems like a big number, but let’s put it in perspective! In the United States, here’s how many people are currently work in a sampling of other important fields:

We don’t hear people saying that we have “too many” of any of those professions. And yet, people say the field is oversaturated with only 34,000 coaches?

We think not.

Now here’s the real kicker: in 2022, active coach practitioners generated an income of $4.564 billion (USD) from coaching.* 

That’s a lot of revenue being generated by around a hundred thousand people. Rather than feel intimidated by “the number of coaches already out there”, It’s time to embrace those growing numbers as a sign of opportunity and expansion.

Are There Enough Clients to Go Around?

How many clients are out there if you’re a coach? Thousands!

As an example, let’s run the numbers for a coach in the United States. 

The ICF found in a recent study that there are 34,200 certified coaches in North America, so that’s the number we’ll be working with here.* 

Right now, there’s roughly 258 million adults over the age of 18 who live in the United States. That means for every single life coach, there’s 7,543 possible clients. Assuming at least half of those folks aren’t interested in coaching or aren’t in your niche – that’s still thousands of possible clients out there! 

But how many clients do most coaches need in order to run a sustainable business? In 2022, the average active coach practitioner had 12.2 clients.* (Some coaches have many more, while others have less.)

If we pull the lens back even further, here’s what you’ll see. There are over seven billion people on this planet, each with unique goals, dreams and desires. That’s an almost infinite number of possible clients and coaching niches to explore!

Want some tangible ideas on how to start reaching those people? Check out these resource blogs: 

As A Coach, What You Offer Is Unique

No two life coaches are the same. Every single coach brings their own story, life experiences, style and expertise to the table. 

Your uniqueness is your asset. You offer a perspective that no one else can. While there may be thousands of coaches out there, there is no one quite like you.

Just as every coach is unique, so too is every client. What works for one individual might not work for another. Different people resonate with different coaching styles. Your unique approach could be exactly what someone out there is looking for.

More Coaches (And More Choices!) Drives Excellence

While the total number of coaches out there might seem to be a barrier, it's actually an opportunity. More coaches for people to pick from encourages excellence, growth, innovation, and continuous learning across the coaching industry as a whole. 

The fact that you’re NOT the only circus in town will encourage you over the course of your career to refine your coaching techniques, deepen your knowledge, and strive to offer the best service possible. 

Opportunities for Collaboration and Growth

A large number of other coaches out there in the world means there's ample opportunity for collaboration too! The networking and partnership possibilities are endless. Rather than viewing other coaches as competition, it’s in your interest to see them as potential allies with whom you can share resources, referrals, and knowledge. 

Form a referral circle to share client leads. Create a podcast with another coach. Offer your services in a package together. There’s plenty of ways to collaborate and reach new audiences if you keep your eyes and ears open to trying new things.

For even more ideas, check out the blog 6 Ways a Strong Network Can Grow Your Coaching Business.

Online Connectivity Means More Clients

In today’s market, you’re not just limited to the people in your local area. While some coaches prefer to build a business offline, it can help tremendously to have some form of online presence. Especially if you work within a specific coaching niche that people around the world might be searching for assistance with.

With the rise of digital platforms, your potential client base is not restricted to your geographical location. You can coach anyone from anywhere, thus opening a world of opportunities. This digital expanse means the market is far from saturated – the clients that are meant to find you will find you, as long as you’re “findable”!

Room for More Specialization and Niching

If you’re still concerned that there are “too many” coaches, it might be that you’re thinking about coaching as a monolith. The fact is, coaching is made up of many subcategories, areas of specialization, and niches. 

If you’re concerned about making your mark in the world of coaching, specialization and specificity can make all the difference in a crowded marketplace.

Find your area of expertise, your passion, the group of people you most want to help, and focus your efforts there. Make sure your branding and offerings appeal to the people you want to reach – your people.

The more specific you are and the louder you are about your specialty, the more likely people are to find you when they need exactly what you have to offer. For example, if someone is searching for a gender identity and acceptance coach – and that’s what you offer – then make sure they are able to find you so they can hire you.

More Resources:
Blog: Uncover Your Coaching Niche Using The WHY Exercise

Podcast: Coaching Niches That Smash The Status Quo

Blog: How to Choose the Best Life Coaching Niche For You

Don't let the fear of saturation hold you back from your dream of becoming a life coach. 

Yes, there are many life coaches out there, but they’re not YOU and they don’t have the same specific mix of what-makes-you-special that you do. There are countless individuals needing guidance and support to navigate life's challenges. Your unique voice, your particular approach, is almost certainly exactly what someone is looking for.

As you can see, the perception of saturation and the reality of what’s going on in the world of coaching are very different. (Plus, when’s the last time you heard the average person complaining about how they’ve gotten too good at hitting their goals and achieving big things on their own? Hasn’t happened yet!)

You can either be defeated by imaginary problems and barriers, or you can take a deep breath and embrace the challenge. Use it to fuel your ambition, refine your skills, level up and find your unique coaching niche. This world is vast, and the opportunities for life coaches are limitless if we get past our own blinders, fears and limiting self beliefs. 

It’s time to take your own, individual, utterly-you unique place in the field of life coaches. After all, your future clients await!

(*Info taken from the 2020 and 2023 ICF Global Coaching Study)

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