6 Common Mistakes New Life Coaches Make and How to Avoid Them

Are you making these rookie errors? Here's how not to fall into the traps that catch out a lot of new coaches.

Let me confess that when I started, I fell into the trap of the six common mistakes life coaches make.

Back when I started my training as a coach, I had no clue how I was going to 'make' it. Truth be told, I was very unclear about what I would be able to achieve.

I knew I wanted to make a difference and help people but when it came to how to make a living and run a business as a coach, things were as clear as mud.

Hundreds of coaching hours, tons of coaching sessions and many, many clients later, I was finally able to grasp what it takes to become a successful coach and run a successful coaching business.

I achieved this through the use of three key principles:
1.) Invested in coaching education: you can either educate yourself and get ahead of the curve rather than taking the slow trial and error approach.
2.) Learned to say yes and work out how, rather than waiting for the 'perfect' moment to happen because guess what? It never does!
3.) Associated with people who were already ahead of me. This saved a huge amount of time and effort because I could just tap into their expertise they spent years accumulating. That gave me faster results.


Share your story

Your story is what makes you, you.

As a coach, you’ll have many opportunities to share insights and advice from your personal life. Each one of us brings unique personal experiences that can make a huge difference during a coaching session.

Many new coaches make the mistake of filling their bio with credentials and qualifications. Although helpful, it does nothing to connect with your future client.

Touting your own greatness and accomplishments usually means you’re putting your coaching systems, products, and service on the pedestal. This alienates your client and it doesn’t give them the confidence to replicate your success.

Instead, be human and show your own vulnerabilities. It’s OK to emphasise what you’ve learned along your life path and show them how they can replicate it too.

Not Specialising Or Finding a Niche

Find your Niche

Life Coaching has become hugely crowded and anyone can call themselves a life coach. Although it widely opens up the channel for passionate people who want to make a difference, it also has its repercussions – for starters, how do you differentiate between two life coaches?

It’s simple – if you’re in it half-heartedly, tinkering with the idea of coaching on the side, between your busy job, family and social life, then maybe, maybethis won’t affect you.

But if you’re someone who wants to coach full-time, even though you cannot at present, you have those plans for your future, then this is for you.

Niche-ing (as marketers like to call it) or specialisation is finding what makes you different from the coach next-door.

You’ve probably heard of the formula to find a niche – it usually goes something like this:

I help [your demographic] who are [struggling with something] to find [a solution to their problem] so that [gain a benefit]” 

Example: I help new entrepreneurs who are juggling multiple clients in their business to find the balance and manage their time so they can attract a lot of income without the burnout.

The good news? Your niche is usually in front of you – it's your own story.

For example, if you’re a relationship coach who went through an abusive relationship and overcame the hardships, you can speak about your experience and carve a niche out of it.

Not Starting Out in the Field As Soon As You Can

Not Starting Out in the Field As Soon As You Can

This can sound counter-intuitive to #2 but it’s not. Let me explain...

When I completed my coaching intake weekend, I was ready to take the world by storm. I was ready to coach new clients and change lives.

I didn’t “wait” until I submitted my papers and gained a certification. I dived straight in.

Nothing (and that’s nothing at all) should paralyse you from going out and coaching people– whether it’s paid or pro bono. As you’re starting out, your biggest weapon is to gain coaching hours. No amount of theory can replace that.

And if you’re still unsure of a niche, that’s OK. Sometimes, a niche finds you before you can find it.

The point? Don't wait until you’ve gotten the business cards printed, the website ready or your niche decided. The ducks will line up when you “do the do”.

Not Managing the Fixer in You

Respect your client’s perspective and their map of the world

Let’s face it – as a coach, you’re not “responsible” for anything your client does or achieves.

That means if they achieve a breakthrough, they are responsible for it, not you. If they fail to work on their goals you set together, it’s still their responsibility.

Give your clients the gift of 100% responsibility because that empowers them to realise change happens within.

By the same account, you’re not “fixing” them. There is nothing to be fixed. Once you relinquish the need to control sessions and become free of taking responsibility of their actions, you won’t feel the need to fix anyone.

New coaches make this mistake – they try way too hard to “make things right” in their client’s life. This is a classic example of how a new coach unintentionally disrespects a client’s perspective and their map of the world.

Coaching does not mean fixing. It means empowering. There’s a difference. You can’t fix anyone, unless they decide to change. Even then, you can only be a facilitator – not the cause – of change.

Coaching Un-coachable Clients

Coaching Un-coachable Clients

Not everyone is ready for coaching.

At times, you’ll have to dismiss a client (and vice versa) because you’re either not a great match for them, or they are better off going for counselling or therapy.

Some clients, though, are simply non-coachable. Usually, your intuition will warn you – so don’t ignore it like I did.

A few years ago a man named Simon called me to arrange a coaching session. He wanted to boost his income and seemed very determined to do so. After the first phone call, he sent me a bunch of emails about his bio and life history (which was totally unnecessary at that point, but he insisted and I played along).

The problem became obvious during the first session – Simon was a control freak. He had already set up an agenda of sorts for the session. As the session progressed, I found that Simon wasn’t open to any new perspectives and ideas I bounced off him.

He also knew a bit about coaching and tried to “dodge” the questions, making it a game of “I win, you lose”. In coaching, you're not to be judgemental of a client’s old habit, so I decided to brush my intuition aside and agreed to do a second session. Same story repeated – and guess what happened when I gave him stern feedback? Simon lost it and felt threatened that he was losing control.

I had to fire him because he wasn’t ready for coaching yet.

Not Connecting with Other Coaches

Connect with Other Coaches

Personally speaking, being connected with a community of like-minded, driven, passionate people has probably made the most difference for me.

I still am connected to such communities where coaches support each other, share new industry knowledge, refer clients and give genuine feedback. It's been a great journey so far.

If you're not a part of a community yet, I'm really curious why not? It's the simple yet most effective descision you'll ever make on your coaching journey. If you're still looking for the perfect match, I totally understand.

Come along, hang out with us at The Coaching Institute's community page and tell us what you think. (Warning: We're super-passionate about coaching and don't do "beige"!)

There you go – 6 common mistakes that new coaches are most likely to make. Now that you know this, don’t be one of them!

What are your thoughts about coaching mistakes? Let us know your own experience in the comments!


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