Coaching Ethics 101: Don’t Wait to Start Coaching

“I don’t know what my niche is.”

“I can’t start a coaching business until I get it all figured out.”

I hear such proclamations from new coaches often, particularly when they are in the middle of their first coaching training course. There seems so much to learn and so much more to get good at before you can legitimately call a professional coach. If you find yourself waiting in the starting gates, let me assure you:  There is no gun that will go off. You can really start coaching now.

Certainly, it is an important ethical criterion to have training, certifications, and credentials. However, coaching is not a regulated industry (yet). This means that there is technically nothing to hold you back and start getting clients and actually earning money. There are, in fact, many who call themselves “coach” who have little to no training or qualifications. This is not good, but it happens all too often.

The irony of becoming a professionally recognized coach is that you will need to present a log of your coaching hours to prove that you have “on the job” experience. To do that, you need to be coaching and not just learning. Coach, coach, coach. Don’t wait to start coaching.

With that said, let’s look at the basics for getting started from an ethical perspective:

  • Register your company name (trademark) with local government and national authorities.
  • Join a professional coaching organization like CCNI or ICF.
  • Find a mentor coach to help you navigate the new things you are experiencing.
  • Get as much training as you are comfortable with.
  • Formulate a fair coaching contract (aka agreement) which will clearly define your offering.

That’s it. That’s really all you need to get started. Of course, you will need to define yourself in the marketplace and have a good system in place for attracting new clients. Remember, people buy from whom they know, like, and trust.

One of the biggest questions I get is about pricing. I can tell you that the average life coach who is a member of CCNI charges about $150 per hour. Personally, I think that is a bit low, yet it is a good benchmark to begin with. If you are uncomfortable charging that much as a new coach, discount it. Tell your prospective client something like: “Well, the market value of my coaching is about $150. However, because I’m still in training I’ll offer it to you at a 50% (60%, 70%, 80%, 90%) discount.” This tells the clients a monetary value of what they are getting. It also reassures yourself that you are worth that, too. Additionally, when the client refers you to someone else, he will most likely quote the full and not the discounted price.

Get in gear. Get some clients. Get coaching.

About the Author:

Michael J. Marx, MBA, EdD, PCC, CPCC.  Michael is a Certified Professional Christian Coach with CCNI specializing in business coaching and corporate consultation. Dr. Marx currently serves as the leader of the ICF ‘Global Community of Practice on Ethics.’ He also serves on their Independent Review Board and on the Ethics Code Review Team. Additionally, he is a past-president of Christian Coaches Network International and the author of Ethics and Risk Management for Christian Coaches (2016).

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