What Kind of Coach Should You Become? Let's Find Out!
One of the first things most new coaches want to figure out is how to turn your coaching skills into a viable business. And for many, that means choosing an area of specialization. But with so many possible directions to take, how do you narrow in on the path that’s right for you?
It helps to first understand your options!
As a new coach, you’re entering into the life coaching industry at a time of unprecedented growth. According to the Global Wellness Institute’s most recent study, the wellness economy is currently valued at $4.5 trillion, and projected to reach nearly $7 trillion by 2025.
There are ten sectors in the wellness economy, and coaching fits into every single one of them! This spells a whole lot of opportunity for life coaches. The trick, of course, lies in figuring out where your particular interests and skills intersect with consumer demand. So let's take a look at those broad categories as a starting point.
Wellness Economy Sectors:
- Personal Care, Beauty & Anti-Aging
- Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss
- Wellness Tourism
- Fitness & Mind-Body
- Traditional & Complementary Medicine
- Wellness Real Estate
- Preventive & Personalized Medicine and Public Health
- Workplace Wellness
- Spa Economy
- Thermal /Mineral Springs
All ten wellness sectors are dynamic, interconnected, and linked to the wellness economy as a whole. They are all components of a “wellness ecosystem” that nurtures lifestyles of wellbeing and longevity. According to the GWI:
“In the face of longer lifespans, rising chronic disease, stress, and unhappiness, consumers are re-examining their lives and focusing attention on what makes them well – particularly the places and ways in which they live, work, and travel. The wellness economy reflects those shifting priorities, alongside a growing recognition of the critical impact of physical and social environments on our health and wellbeing.” - Global Wellness Institute
You do not have to be an expert in every single one of these areas, nor must you limit yourself to working within just one sector of the wellness market.
As a life coach, you can specialize.
Off the top of your head, how many coaching niches can you think of that might fall within each of the above categories? If you'd like to see a list of possibilities, check out our guide: 20 Hottest Life Coaching Niches.
It’s OK if you don’t yet have a clue about what YOUR coaching niche could be, beyond a vague sense that "Argh, I need to have one!" If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by this topic, go ahead and take a deep breath. We’re here to break it down, step by step.
WHO do you want to serve?
On its face this can feel like a fairly generic question, and one that you’ve likely encountered already. But it's critical, so don’t skip doing the hard work of really answering it.
“I enjoy helping people, and am qualified to coach anybody on anything!” might be true, but it isn’t a business strategy! If your aim is to build a viable, profitable life coaching business, niching is one way to set yourself apart.
It's also not the ONLY way... which means that it's also OK to remain a generalist coach if that's what feels right. So even if you're not completely sold on this "nich thing," you'll still benefit from walking through the exercises that follow.
Taking the time to get crystal clear about WHO you want to serve will have a big impact on your coaching business. If you’re not sure who those folks are yet, here’s a few questions to get the juices flowing.
- Why did you get into life coaching in the first place?
- What attracted you to this field?
- Do you have particular business or life experiences that shaped or defined you? Are you inspired to support people going through similar terrain?
Examine all the factors that called you onto this path. Where are you hoping to make a bigger impact? Are there particular coaching clients that ignited your passions and made you excited to work with them?
Make a list as long as you like, with more than one type of ideal client if that’s true for you. This is the brainstorming part. A sample list might look like:
- Single mothers longing for more balance in work and life
- Women going through a divorce
- People returning to the dating scene after a divorce
- Teenage girls in the process of developing their identity and self confidence
If you’re new to the coaching field and haven’t worked with many clients yet, that’s OK! Part of the process of finding your niche is trying things out.
“If I can tell you one thing, it’s that your coaching style is going to be unique to you. No matter how many books you read, podcasts you listen to, or additional certifications that you get. That’s the point. So then what am I saying? Coach anyone, and everyone. This is how you find your style.” - Al Ramos, Lumia Coaching graduate
It’s perfectly fine to offer life coaching services without having a specialty or coaching niche. To get more experience working across a variety of topics, consider offering pro bono or reduced fee sessions if that will help you get more practice and exposure to a range of coaching topics.
Think of this stage as a vital part of your coaching apprenticeship! Many new life coaches try on a few different niches in the early days of building their business. And even for experienced life coach practitioners, their focus continues to evolve throughout their career.
Ultimately, we find what we’re most skilled and passionate about not by thinking about it, but by doing it.
WHY do you want to support these people?
Take a look at the list you just came up with and ask yourself: Why these people? For each distinct group, write down what it is about their circumstances that calls you in that direction as a life coach.
Imagine just one person who is currently in each of the situations you identified. It doesn’t need to be a person you actually know, but it helps to at least imagine one individual rather than a lumpy “group.” If the subject matter is something you’ve personally been through, you can also just imagine yourself back at that time in your own life.
Be specific! Write down everything that comes to mind, from their struggles to their joys. Every little thing about their life and what they are going through can spark an idea or help move you in the right direction.
Want another tool that might help shake more of the details loose? Check out our resource: Choose Your Coaching Niche Using the Seven Stories Exercise.
“When it came time to explore my personal story and how it might relate to choosing a coaching niche, I asked myself 3 questions: 1) What matters most to me? 2) What do I want to talk about? 3) What do I want others to walk away with, after meeting with me?” - Graciela Moore, Lumia Coaching graduate
What are your personal goals?
Part of building a life coaching business involves being very clear about what you’re hoping to accomplish in the process. Is coaching a sideline, or are you hoping to turn it into a full time practice? Your approach may be different depending upon your circumstances and goals.
How much do you need to make to be viable - have you run the numbers?
- Will the rates you plan to charge as a life coach support your financial goals?
- Do you intend to focus on 1:1 coaching, or are you open to other modalities (group coaching, workshop facilitation, etc.)?
If you’d like some resources to help clarify your business plan and goals, check out: How to Diversify Your Income As A Life Coach.
Sometimes, new coaches are inclined to choose a coaching niche that appears lucrative. For example, business coaching often commands much higher rates, and can be attractive for that reason. Pragmatism is useful when building a business, but as a coach it’s important to ask yourself not only where your bank account is at, but what your heart wants to pursue as well.
Here’s what we know for sure: you’re unlikely to achieve your financial goals if you're trying to attract the wrong clients and there's just no synergy or spark. Choosing the wrong life coaching niche for you is like trying to eat spaghetti using only a knife: it's a good tool, it's just not the right tool for the job.
You want to be the right coach for the exact right kind of person, but you can't find them if you're busily delivering your message to the wrong clients. So, don’t just focus on answering the question: “What kind of life coach SHOULD I become?” Pay attention to what you WANT to become, and set your goals accordingly.
Can you achieve your goals in that coaching niche?
Okay, time to look at the list of folks you’ve chosen to work with, oftentimes called a “client avatar,'' and be honest with yourself: Are my rates aligned with the population I’d like to serve?
- If you plan to charge $300 per life coaching session, but your ideal client is a single working mom who’s rebuilding after divorce… is it a match?
- If you’re interested in working with executives, but are charging $75 per session, will they take you seriously in the marketplace?
If you are interested in offering services that seem beyond the budget of those you’d like to serve, consider:
- Is there an organization I could work with to reach these clients?
- Would an in-house coaching position be a better fit - one where an employer pays for the coaching rather than the client themselves? What are the pros/cons of that approach?
- Do I want to offer group programs to more people at a lower individual rate than 1:1 coaching to make my services more accessible?
There are MANY different ways to be a life coach. To explore the possibilities beyond 1:1 client sessions, take a look at: Careers in Life Coaching: Exploring Options and Opportunities.
Are you in this for the long haul?
Determining your coaching specialty and focus is not always a linear progression. For many life coaches, building a business from the ground up is not easy. Be ready for the possibility that things may not always work out as planned!
If you try out a coaching specialty or launch a program that doesn’t immediately take off, that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to make it. “Failure” is simply data. Many coaches experiment, stumble, and iterate along the way. Those that succeed are the ones that keep going after they stumble.
“More important than defining a niche and marketing yourself in the early days of your coaching journey, is learning to coach. Focus first on mastering the techniques that help your clients to deepen their learning and forward their movement toward their desired end state. While clients may reach out to you because of your coaching niche, winning and keeping clients comes with coaching mastery. If you give yourself permission to take the time you need to learn how to coach, your niche will still be there when you’re ready to launch your practice. Spoiler alert: you might discover it’s not what you thought it would be.” - Bonnie Stith, Lumia Coaching instructor
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a successful coaching practice. With grit, determination, and self-trust, it’s only a matter of time until you discover your unique style and focus as a coach.
Ready for Liftoff?
Grab your copy of our guide: 6 Steps To Start Coaching Today!
This free publication, written by Lumia Coaching co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, will give you the tools to discover your life coaching niche, find clients, and get started on your path to becoming a successful coach.
Plus, when you sign up -- we'll keep you up to date weekly with coaching techniques, and the occasional much-needed kick in the pants to keep you motivated on your coaching journey.
So, what're you waitin' for? Let's get started!
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