Do Life Coaches Need a Business License to Practice?

So, you’ve decided to hop on the self-improvement train and choose a profession that lets you help others grow.

Good for you! 

Starting a coaching career is an exciting ride that will teach you a lot about people—as well as how to run a business.

Many new professionals in this field wonder if they need a license to start a life coaching business. Here’s everything you need to know to confidently get started in this industry.

Do Life Coaches Need a Business License? 

Unlike therapists, coaches don’t require a specific business license to practice legally.

The exception is, of course, if you decide to work as a mental health professional or lawyer besides coaching people.

If you stick to coaching, there are multiple ways to earn the needed expertise and qualifications in your chosen niche to help others on their personal development journey—and none are necessarily better than others.

However, working as a coach means running a business which does have some legal requirements.

First, you’ll need to register your practice as a legal business entity for tax purposes. For most life coaches, this will mean setting up a sole proprietorship business, such as running it as a solopreneur.

If you plan on expanding and hiring a team of employees, you’ll need to set up a Limited liability company (LLC).

Though not a requirement, it’s also worth hiring an accountant to keep your books in order and getting some business insurance to protect yourself from accidents and disputes in the future.

Do You Need a Certification for Life Coaching? 

Similar to a business license, certification isn’t a prerequisite to start coaching people legally. It’s a service coaches provide to individuals and teams as small business owners under their registered business.

On the other hand, becoming a certified life coach can earn valuable credentials and introduce you to fundamental competencies needed to deliver results to your clients.

Here are some pros and cons you can consider to decide whether coaching certification is a great investment for you.

The Pros of Getting Certified as a Coach

Certification can give life coaches the confidence and drive to build a solid clientele and make a significant impact with their services.

When it comes to life coaching, experience is everything. Getting certified is an investment in your knowledge and skills to support your career. It can be extremely valuable if you’re looking for specialized knowledge and further training, especially within a specific coaching niche.

Certification can also help you discover your blind spots, offer structured knowledge, and teach you professional coaching tools. Some programs also teach you business skills and strategies to build a stable clientele.

Earning credentials from a respected training organization adds credibility to your coaching brand. It proves you know the score regarding coaching models, techniques, and methodologies.

Researching institutes accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is a great place to start.

The Cons of Getting Certified as a Coach

To become a successful coach, you’ll need to pick up the necessary skills and knowledge somewhere—but getting certified isn’t the only way. You can also do so through dedicated practice, research, and smaller training programs.

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Coaching certification programs can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $10,000. That’s no small investment, especially if you’re just starting in your career.

[ Read: Life Coaching 101: Exactly How Much Does It Really Cost To Become A Life Coach? ]

Coaching schools like to share testimonials from their top students earning $100,000 a year, but that’s only a fraction of their graduates. There is currently no statistic proving that certification leads to higher earnings in the coaching industry.

So, becoming a certified life coach doesn’t make clients magically appear. Ultimately, your success will depend on whether you can deliver results and how well you market yourself.

How to Become a Life Coach Without Certification

You can still build a successful coaching business if getting certified isn’t in your cards. Here’s how.

Get Yourself a Coach or Mentor

While formal certification undoubtedly provides valuable skills and credibility, you can kick-start your coaching journey by seeking guidance from experienced mentors or coaches.

Look for individuals whose coaching style resonates with you and who have succeeded in the field. Their insights, advice, and support can help you navigate the nuances of coaching, refine your approach, and overcome obstacles.

Sign Clients

Building a client base is essential for any coach, certified or not. Leverage your existing network, social media platforms, and professional connections to promote your services and attract potential clients.

Offer introductory sessions or discounted rates for your first few clients to demonstrate your coaching prowess. Focus on delivering exceptional results and cultivating strong relationships with your clients to foster trust and encourage referrals, which can further expand your clientele.

Grow Your Business

Treat your coaching practice as a business from the outset. Invest time and effort into developing a robust marketing strategy, establishing a compelling brand identity, and creating a solid online presence through a professional website and social media channels.

Continuously hone your coaching skills, seek client feedback, and adapt your approach to meet their evolving needs. Embrace continuous learning and professional development opportunities to enhance your expertise and credibility, positioning yourself as a reputable and successful coach in your niche.

Run Your Coaching Business With Confidence

Running a business can take a lot out of you—especially if you’re completing a coaching certification program at the same time.

Paperbell can take admin work off your shoulders so you can focus on helping your clients.

It’s an all-in-one tool built specifically for coaches to handle their schedule, payments, contracts, and so on. Try Paperbell free to explore all features.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2020 and has since been updated for accuracy.

By Annamaria Nagy
Annamaria Nagy is a Brand Identity Coach and Copywriter. She's been writing for over 10 years about topics like personal development, coaching, and business. She was previously the Head of SEO at the leading transformational education company, Mindvalley.
March 12, 2024

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