Every life coaching business is unique. But our challenges? Not so much.
When we get stuck with a client or feel overwhelmed by our everyday “business as usual,” we often blame ourselves. We feel like an impostor and we question whether we are really right for the job. After all, if we can’t keep it together, how can we help our clients do the same? (says our inner critique)
That’s when we forget something important: That coaches are humans too.
Whether you ask new or seasoned life coaches, chances are that they have all struggled with the same problems at some point — and probably still do from time to time. A life coaching business has its own set of challenges, such as dealing with difficult clients or marketing yourself as a professional.
In this article, we’ve gathered some evergreen advice that will help you enhance your life coaching business and let go of any roadblocks holding you back from growth.
Life Coaching Tips to Improve Your Practice
Listen to What’s Not Being Said
This is one of the golden rules of life coaching that helps you get out of the rut, in case you get stuck with a client’s progress. As humans, we’re brilliant at fooling ourselves — so much so, that we often fool our coaches too.
Pay attention to the “wiggle” that might show up when your client says one thing but really feels another way. It’s the perfect opportunity to throw in a follow-up question on the subject. Ask them what future would their current decision paint for them. Or simply ask them: How do you know?
More often than not, elaborating on the question will help them differentiate between their own truth and the one that they have picked up from someone else. The one that might not be serving them, so they can let it go.
Get Comfortable With Silence
When our client is quiet, it’s tempting to ask another question to stir the conversation forward. But moments of silence usually indicate that the wheels are turning in your client’s head, and they might be having an aha moment or reflecting on what you’ve just said. This is especially true if they seem like they’re just staring into space.
Give it some space and time so they can process what has been said. Perhaps, they’re going to come back to you with an important insight that neither of you had thought of before. Taking a moment of silence once in a while also creates more trust between you and your client: a safe space where they have permission to share their raw thoughts and feel confused.
Overcome The “I Don’t Know” Obstacle
“I don’t know” are perhaps the three most dreaded words your coachee can answer to your question. So where do we go from here?
A moment of silence is usually all you need in order to give space for your client to reflect further. If that doesn’t work, you can simply ask them, and what if you did know? Or, what do you reckon?
Another solution is to rephrase the question and ask it in a different way. Always aim for open-ended questions, especially when you’re trying to get your client unstuck. If their answer is short, or you sense that there’s more beneath the surface, you can help them with the simple follow up question, what else?
Life Coaching Tips for Dealing With Difficult Clients
Set Firm Boundaries
The earlier you set your ground rules in your coaching practice, the less likely that you need to deal with difficult clients. In order to avoid last minute cancellations, ask to be paid in advance and set a 24-hour cancellation policy. You can also determine a grace period for being late to sessions, to make sure your time is respected. These rules should, of course, go both ways so it’s a fair game.
You might also find that some clients message, call, or email you in between sessions. It won’t seem like a big deal to just get back to them quickly, but you’ll soon find yourself giving free coaching through chat and wasting a lot of time and energy.
If you do decide to be available for accountability or follow-up conversations between coaching sessions, set clear parameters for how this works, and make it a part of your packages. This way they’ll know how soon you’ll get back to them, what they can ask from you, and you’ll also make sure you’ll get fairly compensated for your time.
Once you set your ground rules, make sure you include them in your coaching contract and talk them through with your clients during your discovery session.
Is It Really About Them?
Before you dismiss the discomfort or the lack of progress you experience with a client as their negative behavior, have a reality-check with yourself.
Have you communicated your boundaries clearly when they hired you?
Are you triggered by something personal that bubbled up in you while working with this client?
Are you trying to control the direction of your coaching conversations at the cost of giving your clients what they really need?
These are probably the hardest questions to ask yourself as a coaching professional — but they are also the ones that will make you grow in your career the most. So be honest with yourself.
And if you find that you’ve done everything you could and things just don’t work out between you two, don’t hesitate to make the hard decision and…
Learn to Let Go
Being accommodating, to keep a client relationship that’s draining your energy, is never worth it. Ever. It’s going to affect your personal wellbeing and your work with other clients too, so it’s better not to let it drag on for too long.
Some potential reasons you would want to fire a client are:
- They keep trying to bargain a discount on your set prices
- They miss payments or repeatedly show up late and cancel last minute
- They exhibit narcissistic behavior, or they are disrespectful towards you
- They don’t put effort into working on themselves, or they simply aren’t coachable
- Either of you seem to be developing romantic feelings for the other one
If any of these are true for you, or you simply feel uncomfortable working with someone, it’s better for both of you if you end things. Yes, breaking up is never nice. But you can (and should) do it in a professional manner and tell them that they are no longer a fit for you.
Life Coaching Tips for Your Marketing
Start Building an Email List
Even though social media may seem like the easier, or more fun, way to engage your audience, an email list is an absolute must for coaches (albeit, quite overlooked). If one day algorithms change, or god forbid, you lose your social media account, your email list will always be your sureproof channel to reach out to your prospects.
An email newsletter always has higher visibility and conversion rate than social media posts, that get scrolled through most of the time. You can also divide your audience into sublists and communicate with them in a more personalized way, for example, calling them by their first name. There are plenty of easy-to-use email scheduling platforms out there that you only need to set up once and then make a part of your weekly business as usual.
Consistency Over Frequency
Managing your own marketing activities as a life coach can easily get too overwhelming. Keeping up with social media platforms, seeking out collaborations, networking in groups, growing your email list (oh and by the way, coaching people) is a LOT.
While all of these are excellent opportunities to bring in more business, you don’t have to do them at full speed, or all at the same time. Setting up a whole email campaign might seem daunting, but you can definitely squeeze in one newsletter a month to keep your list engaged. You won’t become an Instagram influencer in a day, but you can start with posting 3 times a week.
It’s better to start small and then build yourself up over time, than overcommitting and quitting when it gets too much. One thing is for sure: consistency always pays off in the long run.
Testimonials Are Your Most Valuable Assets
The best marketing is what other people say about you. Make sure you always ask your clients for a testimonial when their experience with you is still fresh (although there’s no shame in reaching out to former clients either).
If you’re just starting out, you can offer a few free sessions in order to collect testimonials for your business. Present them on your website, in your Instagram highlights, and on any other promotional material you’re sharing with prospects.
Life Coaching Tips for Managing Your Business
Document Your Processes
Even if you work solo, documenting your processes and key coaching materials in one place will help you optimize everything you do in the long run. Keep separate documents for your client onboarding flow, marketing plan, and any other systems you use as part of your business.
Outsource Everything But Coaching
It’s always tempting to save money by doing things yourself, but does it really help you earn more, or does it hold you back from scaling up? Even if you can only set ten percent of your revenue aside for outsourcing things that take up a lot of your time (or which you hate doing), it will create space for your business to grow and pay off big time.
If you’re on a tight budget, hiring an accountant should be the first thing you invest in as a coach. The next in line would be any kind of research for your business and repetitive tasks that don’t really require you to do them, personally.
Centralize Your Contracts, Bookings, and Billing
Paperbell can save lots of admin work and neatly keep all your contracts and client data in one place. Onboarding will be a breeze, as your clients will pay you before they book their first session, so you’ll never have to chase them for unsettled invoices.