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The Dark Side of Life Coaching

Updated: Jun 9

You want to be a life coach. You want to do that because you want to help others, and/or you want to pay it forward and offer what you benefited from because of another coach.

The dark side of life coaching

A problem comes when you decide that you need to learn the business of coaching. You sign on with a "name" coach who teaches would-be coaches how to be coaches. They make all kinds of promises and come-on claims about how much money you can make. They'll give you a "prestigious" certification that they make sound like it's exclusive (when in fact they'd sell it to dead cats if they could). They might even tell you how they'll be able to generate business for you because of their brand.

You eagerly sign up, start going through the coursework, and find that what was advertised is not what you're receiving. In some cases, you may even find out you've signed up for a scam or something that's trending in that direction.

There are legitimate certification organizations out there. Likewise, there are legitimate "coach in a box" companies that help you get your practice off on the right foot.

Then there are those that exist to separate you from your hard-earned nest egg. When the venture doesn't work out for you, it's all your fault because you should have done this or that. It's 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 anything they've done. A recent 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘠𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 article tells a few horror stories.

Before you become obligated to any coach-the-coach outfit, it's vital that you understand the implications of their economics. Just about all of them, from what I can tell, have the economics of a franchisor. Franchisors make their money by selling the "how-to" and usually a territory for a fixed, upfront fee, and then they take a portion of a franchisee's revenue for the term of the franchise agreement.

Your ultimate success, however, comes from profit, not revenue. From a purely economic point of view, the incentives between franchisors and their franchisees are misaligned. Franchisors, great or nefarious, get paid regardless of whether you're making money in your franchise.

It's the same with most of these coach-the-coach organizations. They get paid whether you are successful or not. Their incentives are to sell their products and certifications. They are not incentivized based on the success of their clients. That means you.

Their incentive is to sell as much product as possible. Again, the economics themselves don't make them unethical, but those incentives should keep you alert.

Before you eagerly sign that agreement, do your homework. It's your money and your right to ask questions. Talk to the successful coaches who are in the system you're interested in, and not just the names they give you. Talk to the ones that failed, too.

You might save yourself much grief. 


The Generosity Mindset book

Are you frustrated by your pricing? Need help articulating your value? Do you need a better way to identify and close your best-fit clients? Do you want to restore the joy you used to have for your business? I may be able to help you.

I’m John Ray, a business consultant and coach, author, and podcaster. John Ray advises solopreneurs and small professional services firms on their two most frustrating problems: pricing and business development. I’m passionate about how changes in mindset, positioning, and pricing change the trajectory of a business and the lifestyle choices of a business owner. My clients are professionals who are selling their expertise, such as consultants, coaches, attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners. Click here to learn more or contact me directly.

I’m the author of the national bestselling book, The Generosity Mindset: A Journey to Business Success by Raising Your Confidence, Value, and Prices. The book covers topics like value and adopting a mindset of value, pricing your services more effectively, proposals, and essential elements of growing your business. The book is available at all major physical and online book retailers.


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