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The Ultimate Guide To Professional Coaching

How To Effectively Make Professional Coaching A Sustainable And Fulfilling Career

The Ultimate Guide To Professional Coaching

Have you ever heard of professional coaches? These are the people who work behind the scenes to help their clients achieve professional and personal success. And yes, it's a very lucrative business if you have what it takes to become a coach.

Professional coaching has been around for ages!

The Ultimate Guide To Professional Coaching

Think of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle — three of the most famous thinkers of Ancient Greece, whose mentorship has ruled the hand of kings and shaped much of modern science!

And today, we have coaches like Tony Robbins, Lisa Nichols, and Rich Litvin who are making a tremendous impact on the lives and careers of their clients.

Master coaches Tony Robbins, Lisa Nichols, Rich Litvin

Or take The Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden! A motivational figure on the court sidelines during his time at UCLA, he had a unique way of inspiring his players with a simple, calm approach to success.

And yes, you can be a professional coach too!

As a professional coach, you get the best of both worlds — a fulfilling career and an opportunity to change lives for the better.

But how do I go about making coaching a career?

Can I even sustain a fruitful coaching business?

What kind of skills or certifications would I need to be recognized as a professional coach?

If you've been pondering these questions, then you have come to the right place!

This guide is your ticket to understand the nitty-gritty of professional coaching and how you can build a sustainable and fulfilling career out of it.

In this guide, you will:

  • Learn what Professional Coaching is
  • Understand the steps to become a Professional Coach
  • Learn how to set up your Professional Coaching business

Ready to find your footing as a professional coach? Read on!

What Exactly Is A 'Professional Coach'?

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential."

Professional coaches look at things objectively and push their clients to do their personal best. They bring in organization and discipline, and with a little bit of hard work, they enable their clients to reach new heights.

Remember Cinderella? With a fairy godmother's help, she went on to become queen!
Like fairy godmothers, professional coaches work their magic in real life.

Take the case of America's first female African-American news anchor in Nashville, who eventually created a talk show that would become the highest-rated television program of its kind in history.

She became a household name and created a legacy as an American Talk Show host, news anchor, television producer, actress, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist, in a career that spanned over 40 years.

That's right; she is none other than THE Oprah Winfrey.

Even she credits her success to her life coach, Martha Beck - now heralded as "one of the best life coaches in America."

But, you don't have to be a big name to be a professional coach. All you need is the perseverance and determination to elevate your client to reach new heights and the grit to do whatever it takes to help them get there.

Your role is to show them a path based on what they share with you.

Oprah Winfrey
professional coaching action step

Take some time to reflect on the following questions:

  • What would you bring to the table as a professional coach?
  • How can you help your clients achieve new heights?
  • What value would you deliver as a professional coach?
  • What are your goals from a career as a professional coach?

What Does It Take to Be A Professional Coach?

As an industry, professional coaching has grown tremendously. And seeing hyper-successful coaches all around you could be a little daunting if you are just starting out. So, let's first address some questions that you may have...

  • Do I need to be a celebrity to be a professional coach?

Not really! Anyone can be a professional coach. As human beings, all of us live through unique experiences giving us something to learn from each other.

As a professional coach, that's the first and foremost thing you will do — leverage your experiences and skills to help others achieve their goals! The assumption is once you are known, you will be able to make an impact. But the truth is that when you start making an impact, that’s how you get known!

  • Do I need a degree or certification to be a professional coach?

You don't necessarily need a coaching certification, but having one can tremendously boost your credibility. A certification will also help you understand your niche and give you tools to navigate your business and clients to success.

  • Do I need massive investments to build my brand as a professional coach?

Not at all! What you need is to deliver value and impact the lives of a few people, and the word will spread on its own.

Check out our guide to Personal Branding For Coaches to learn more about how you can build your own brand and grow your business.

  • Shouldn't I have to be more successful than my clients for them to trust me?

Your clients are not paying you to be better than them; they pay you for the results you can drive with them. You don't need to be more successful than them.

You need to have a different understanding of the world. You need to be willing to ask tough questions. You need to be willing to challenge them. You need to be willing to help them get the results they want.

Well, if it's not celeb status or money, then what is the
secret sauce to success as a professional coach?

6 Elements That'll Define Your Success

As A Professional Coach

Professional Coaching Elements
What Does It Take to Be A Professional Coach?
Understand what coaching is

You need to be clear that coaching is not just about the subject matter. It's about:

  • Learn what Professional Coaching is
  • Understand the steps to become a Professional Coach
  • Learn how to set up your Professional Coaching business

But most importantly, coaching is about transformation.

What Does It Take to Be A Professional Coach?
Play to your strengths

As a professional coach, you need to understand yourself. What are you good at? How can you bring your strengths into play to drive the best results for your clients?

Remember, a coach can only take a client as deep as they’ve gone, so it’s important to practice self-coaching and know yourself well to be able to provide the same level of transformation for your clients.

What Does It Take to Be A Professional Coach?
Create a fantastic coaching methodology

A coaching methodology is a fundamental, proven system that you could use to consistently create lasting changes for your clients. A solid, structured coaching methodology that continues to evolve is the secret to creating the kind of high-level, positive, lasting transformation that so many coaches dream of. The world's greatest coaches work with a carefully crafted, effective coaching methodology. It's the secret behind their success.

Using powerful coaching tools and techniques, you can craft your own unique methodology to take your clients into the profound experience of transformation.

Get a hold of these coaching tools in The Book of Coaching. If you'd like to learn more about creating a highly-successful coaching methodology, check out the Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Coaching Methodology right here!

What Does It Take to Be A Professional Coach?
Create a fantastic coaching methodology

Creating a coaching methodology is great, but is it getting the results your clients desire?

Testing is super important to be certain that your methodology works in every situation. Test it for:

  • Size – how many people does it work for?
  • Diversity – does it work with diverse groups of people?
  • Varied outcomes – does it deliver outcomes within the spectrum of possibilities that you expected?
What Does It Take to Be A Professional Coach?
Learn and evolve continuously

As a professional coach, you need to be able to learn and evolve continuously. Tap into networks of people who don't think exactly as you do. Apply new ideas and concepts and, based on feedback, keep improving your approach. Also, if you can, get certified!

What Does It Take to Be A Professional Coach?
Get the right certification

While there is no formal coaching certification required, it can certainly be a huge advantage in the professional industry. Being trained to become a coach will not only give you credibility in the industry but will help build your professional network.

It can also give an instant confidence boost to your clients that you know what you're dealing with and that you've been trained to do this professionally! Seventy-seven percent of coach practitioners agree that clients expect them to be certified or credentialed, according to a 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study.

take action section

Let’s put everything we’ve learned in this chapter into practice! Here are some activities you can start doing

1. List down your strengths that can help you on your journey to become a professional coach.

2. Go through the resources given in this chapter and define a coaching methodology.

3. Test your coaching methodology and record results using the template below.

Coaching Methodology

Test with Individuals

Test with Diverse Groups

Expected Results

Recorded Results

Methodology 1


Methodology 2


Methodology 3


Methodology 4


4. Has there been a life event that made you get up, take stock, and turn it around? If yes, what did it teach you?

5 Steps To Setting Up Your Professional Coaching Business

Now that you are armed with the mindset and skills required to be a professional coach, it's time to set up your business.

5 Steps To Setting Up Your Professional Coaching Business
  • Step 1: 
    Identify your coaching niche and find your ideal clients

It's easy to get distracted as a new business owner. Everything looks lucrative and often doable. But the most important thing as a professional coach is to find your niche.

What resonates most with your skills and experience? What gives you a sense of happiness and fulfillment? What are people willing to pay for?

Here are some of the more popular coaching niches. See if any of these resonates with you:

  • Leadership Coaching – Have experience working in various leadership roles? Then, helping others improve their leadership skills might be the right coaching niche for you. Check out the ultimate guide to leadership coaching!
  • Relationship coaching – Relationship coaching is all about helping people find and/or nurture better relationships in their lives, whether it’s with a partner, a family member, or friendships. And if you're that shoulder to cry on for the people in your life, then this will be a great opportunity for you! Check out the ultimate guide to relationship coaching!
  • Business Coaching – If you have experience running a start-up or a business, or you enjoy working with businesses and helping them grow, this could be the niche for you! Check out the ultimate guide to business coaching!
  • Life Coaching – Life coaches help people grow into their highest potential as human beings. A great life coach can quickly and skillfully create an environment that lets the client see their blind spots — the beliefs, fears, doubts holding them back — and helps them overcome internal and external barriers towards happiness and fulfillment. Check out the ultimate guide to life coaching!
  • Executive Coaching – Have you worked in a corporate executive role before? You can use your experience and business acumen to help executives improve in their roles. Check out the ultimate guide to executive coaching!
  • Spiritual Coaching – Have you always been the most intuitive person in your friend circle? Do people turn to you for matters of the soul? Your journey as a spiritual coach could begin here! Check out the ultimate guide to spiritual coaching!
  • Step 2: 
    Identify your engagement model

As a professional coach, you'll have your own preference for how you engage with your clients.

Are you someone who likes working one-on-one with each person? Or do you prefer taking group sessions, where everyone works and grows together as a team? Would you like to set up online classes that your clients can take at their own leisure?

Let's go through some pros and cons for each!

1. Individual Coaching

Individual coaching typically happens in fixed blocks of time. The only participants are the coach and the client, and the coaching program is customized to the client's needs. It can be done online or in person.

one-on-one coaching
2. Group Coaching

Group coaching sessions involve coaching groups of individuals together in specific time slots. There is a lot of room for people to motivate each other as they work with you to achieve their goals! They can happen in person or online!

group coaching

To learn more about group coaching, check out the ultimate guide to group coaching right here.

3. Online Coaching

You can pre-record your lessons and enable clients to access and use them anytime, anywhere!

You can pre-record your lessons and enable clients to access and use them anytime, anywhere!

online coaching

You can also choose to use multiple engagement methods at the same time!

  • Step 3: 
    Know your coaching packages and pricing

You might be excited to take your offering to market, but don't do that without this essential step. If you are unprepared, a question like, "What are the packages you offer?" would leave you floundering. Not a great thing for conversions!

This scenario is more common than you would expect. Coaches spend a lot of time on developing their offer — and they should. But they forget one vital component before making a proposal that will seal the deal — the coaching package. Don't go into the conversation unprepared.

Know your coaching packages; know your prices inside out.

Price is a discussion where most new coaches hold back. They are not confident in their offer and capabilities, they don't know their own worth, and they have no idea how to price the intangible!

You need to respect and value the time and effort you put in as a coach while also making it affordable for your ideal clients.

Here are three things to consider when you're creating your pricing:

TIME: How much of your own time are you investing?

SKILLS: Are you charging a fee that suits your expertise and skill in the field?

BENCHMARK: How much are other coaches in the field charging?

Watch this video for 4 pricing strategies you can use to define your coaching prices in a way that feels right for you.

  • Step 4: 
    Enroll Clients

You can have hundreds of conversations with interested prospects, but if they don't convert, it's a waste of your time. To improve conversion rates, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Qualify your clients – Are the people you are talking to really interested in your offering? Have you put them through some sort of qualifying criteria? Will they be able to afford your offering?

2. Understand what is your client’s desire – One key thing you need to understand is that selling is the process of motivation. And that people don't buy needs, they buy desires. Most of the time, your clients will make the decision to work with you based on their desires.

3. Have power-packed enrollment conversations – When you enter the enrollment conversation, do so with confidence. Know your offer inside out. Be clear, concise, and knowledgeable about their challenges and dreams. Never guarantee anything you can't go through with. Clients appreciate honesty. Let your enthusiasm shine through! Show prospective clients that you are passionate and excited about being able to work with them

4. Keep those prospects warm – Stay in touch with any potential client who has reached out to you. The more you engage with them, the more likely they are to turn into a client. Write those follow-up emails!

  • Step 5: 
    Build Your Brand

As you start building your coaching business, you need to start focusing on building a brand for yourself. We don't mean excessive investments to build a brand presence, but consistent messaging across channels your clients frequent.

While word of mouth remains a strong motivator for new clients to join you, it's a good idea to start building an online presence. You can do it by:

1. Starting a social media handle – choose your channel – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, or any of the several options available today and share interesting, insightful content with your audience that leaves them wanting more. Focus on one channel at a time.

2. Creating a blog page – Blogging is your way to get the benefits of SEO and show up when people search for certain keywords. A well-written blog also showcases your expertise and builds an engaged audience who'll be willing to sign up for more.

3. Getting on podcasts – Podcasts are one of the most popular ways people consume content today. Either start your own or get featured on other popular podcasts and talk about topics that would interest your ideal client. Don't forget to talk about the value you offer!

4. Sending a good old email – Email marketing continues to have the best click-through rates. So, offer lead magnets (free content) to collect prospect emails and then nurture them through a sustained email marketing campaign.

To know more about how you can use social media effectively, check out our guide to Social Media for Coaches. And if you're wondering what kind of content creation to begin with, check out this handy guidebook to content creation.

While you work on your personal brand, keep these in mind:

1. Build your authentic identity. Who are you? How do you add value to your clients' lives?

2. Always state what makes you different from other coaches in the industry. You don't want to be just another face in the crowd.

3. Showcase client testimonials. They speak for your coaching skills and show people that you are the real deal.

take action

Let’s put everything we’ve learned in this chapter into practice! Here are some activities you can start doing

1. Define your Ideal Client Avatar. What kind of individual would you like to work with?

2. Figure out which engagement model works best for your offerings and why.

Your offering

Engagement model (1–1, group, online, multiple)

Why this works best


3. Think about how you want to price your offering. Knowing what a sustainable income for you is will help you meet this goal.

  1. 1
    What is your current "head above water" monthly income goal? i.e., the amount that allows you to pay the bills and get by, but with not much left over for fun extras like having dinner out on a regular basis.
  2. 2
    What is a comfortable monthly income goal for you? i.e., the income that allows you to easily pay the bills and have some cash leftover for little luxuries like a great vacation a few times a year.
  3. 3
    What is your out-of-this-world-awesome monthly income goal? i.e., your stretch goal where you never have to worry about money, and there's more than enough left over for living the life of your dreams, and this could include luxury vacations, a great home by the beach, etc.

4. Building a personal brand could get challenging. That's why it's good to be crystal clear on why you want to cultivate a personal brand, so you can stay motivated and consistent — no matter what.

Answer the following questions to help you create a clear view of why you want and need a personal brand as a coach and what direction to take with it:

  • What do you love about being a coach?
  • Why do you want to reach more people with your personal brand?
  • What makes you different from any other coach in your coaching niche or area of expertise?

Taking The First Step To Be A Professional Coach

Now you know what it means to be a professional coach, what it takes to build a successful career as one, and the elements you need to get started.

So why not put in the work and actually launch your coaching business as a professional coach?

Catalyze Massive Client Breakthroughs, Regardless Of Your Coaching Experience

A practical, 100-page manual featuring the most powerful questions world-class coaches use to catalyze deep and lasting a-ha moments and transformations in their clients.

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