How to become a self-employed life coach: the 10-step plan

How to become a life coach

If you love helping others and thinking outside the box, you should consider a job as a life coach. While you might think life coaching is only popular on TV, it’s actually a rewarding and varied career helping people reach their goals – and it’s easier to get started than you think.

So if you think you’re up to the challenge, we’ve identified the 10 areas you should consider before becoming a self-employed life coach.

  1. What does a life coach do?
  2. Benefits of being a self-employed life coach
  3. Decide on your niche
  4. Life coach certification: do I need it?
  5. Life coach qualifications
  6. Life coach salary
  7. How much does it cost to set up a life coaching business?
  8. Setting up as self-employed
  9. Life coach insurance
  10. Marketing your life coaching business

How to start a life coaching business

1. What does a life coach do?

Another name for a life coach could be ‘professional problem solver’. As a life coach, you’re dedicated to helping your clients face the problems in their lives and get to the place they want to be.

Someone could hire you as a life coach for a variety of reasons. They may need help breaking bad habits like smoking or procrastination or want to find ways to improve their social life. Your clients may even need your guidance in a professional setting, such as dealing with job dissatisfaction or struggles with creativity.

Life coach responsibilities

You can work as a life coach both virtually or face-to-face but your duties will remain the same. Your clients have most likely identified areas of dissatisfaction in their lives but feel they need your help to get past them. This means you’ll need good listening and problem solving abilities, as well as people skills and communication.

Life coaches help their clients stay motivated in order to overcome their struggles – a skill you’ll need regardless of being a life coach if you plan to run your own business. You’ll also be responsible for basic administrative tasks in order to keep records of your clients and their achievements.

You may be hired by just one person or business on a contract basis. But more commonly, you’ll work with a range of clients and be paid an hourly rate. This means that you’ll need to be good at time management and have strong organisational skills.

Lifecoach vs therapist

Some people confuse life coaches with therapists but the roles are actually quite different. Therapists are qualified mental health professionals who have extensive training in the area. While a life coach could help a client struggling with anxiety, for example, they’re not fully qualified to help clients deal with past trauma.

2. Benefits of being a self-employed life coach

As with many self-employed professions, being a freelance life coach means you’ll have more control over your working life. Life coaches can work anywhere from 16 to 37 hours a week – and you’ll also have control over what you charge, as well as the clients you take on. We’ll touch more on setting your life coach salary and how to become self-employed further in the article.

3. Decide on your niche

As life coaches often move into the profession from other areas, you may already have a specialism or interest. This could come from previous industry or life experience – or just be something you’re interested in.

Some of the areas you can focus on as a life coach include:

  • addiction and sobriety
  • career and leadership skills
  • creativity
  • dating and relationships
  • finances
  • general life skills
  • health and fitness
  • mental health
  • sports
  • spirituality

4. Life coach certification: do I need it?

Unlike other some other professions, life coaching isn’t regulated in the UK. This means that anyone can be a life coach if they believe they have the necessary skills to help people. The most important part of working as a life coach is educating yourself on what you need to help others.

5. Life coach qualifications

While life coaches don’t need a formal qualification, having a good subject knowledge will no doubt help to advance your career and build reputation.

A good route to a life coaching job is a university degree or certificate in coaching. These are sometimes focused on a particular area, such as sports coaching, but can be more general – allowing you to apply them to your specialism. One of these routes is with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which offers a range of courses that can be applied to life coaching.

If you have a particular area of life coaching you’re passionate about, you can design your own training programme. A more general degree in something such as business combined with a postgraduate degree in coaching could be a good way to build a bespoke education tailored to your goals. The same goes for sports, nutrition, and health.

6. Life coach salary

What you charge as a life coach will depend on your experience. When you first start out, you can charge from £40 an hour – whereas experienced life coaches may charge more than £100 for a session.

Many people are part-time life coaches and offer sessions around other commitments. This is a great way to supplement your salary – especially if working in a related field to your work as a life coach.

7. How much does it cost to set up a life coaching business?

Your life coaching business can be as big or small as you like. You can even work remotely from home, which can be a great way to cut down on costs. Depending on your contract, you may even be able to work from within the organisations that you’re working with. For example, if a business has hired you to help with leadership coaching.

There’s also the option to set up your own office space for clients to visit. Whether you buy or rent this space, you’ll need to account for this in your budget.

8. Setting up as self-employed

Once you’ve made the decision to work for yourself, you need to make sure you’re fully set up as self-employed. Though you don’t need to register with any life coach directory, you’ll need to let HMRC know that you’re self-employed.

As a self-employed life coach, the best option for you is probably to register as a sole trader. This means that you’ll pay your tax through Self Assessment and pay Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions.

9. Life coach insurance

As a life coach, you’ll know better than anyone that sometimes unexpected problems appear – that’s why getting insurance for your business is so important. As a life coach offering advice and guidance to clients, the most important insurance cover will be professional indemnity insurance. This protects you from mistakes you make which may cost your client money.

Depending on your specific type of life coaching, you may also benefit from public liability insurance, office equipment insurance, or even legal expenses insurance. Simply Business offers a range of life coach insurance tailored to your specialism in a single policy.

10. Marketing your life coaching business

You’ll most likely be marketing your business to people who’ve already decided they want a life coach. While you can join online directories to advertise your services, you can also use digital marketing to your advantage.

A business website or social media profile is a great way to get your name out there. You can use SEO to make sure you’re mentioning the right terms that will match you to potential clients looking for the same things. If you’re new to digital marketing and don’t know where to start, AI can be a good tool for learning the basics.

Are you thinking about starting your own life coaching business? Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

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Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business specialising in side hustles – as well as all things freelance, social media, and ecommerce. She’s been writing professionally for nine years. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world.

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