Why Most Life Coaches Fail

Let me make one thing particularly clear because it’s very important.

This post is a very broad brush observation and there will be many, many exceptions.

You may very well fit into the that list of exceptions, so please do not take it personally if it doesn’t apply to you.

However, if it does apply to you, still don’t take it personally, because that’s a waste of energy.

Instead, use this post to reassess and see what you can do differently moving forward if you’re serious about a future in Life Coaching.

I Was Clueless

When I started coaching over a decade ago I struggled mightily.

I was spending thousands and thousands of dollars on ongoing training, but neglecting the fact I didn’t know how to get clients.

I just presumed if I built it (my website) they would come.

I did get some clients simply because there was very little competition back then and I was the only coach in my area.

However, I didn’t get enough and about two years after moving to the US I was staring down the barrel of a gun and seriously considering going back into sales.

In desperation I started to reach out and ask for help.

I e-mailed people, commented on their blogs, tried to build relationships, undertook a guest blogging campaign, studied online marketing and physically asked for help.

Rather unsurprisingly things started to improve and some great people bent over backwards to help me….just because I asked.

Of course some people ignored me.

Some were too busy (and that’s cool by the way, I know how many requests for help I get each week and I simply cannot accommodate them all) and some offered encouragement, but were unable to commit to any time.

Just a few however, were approachable, helpful and gave me their time, more often than not, for free.

Free Webinar For Life Coaches

I ran a free webinar this weekend and had about 6 people attend (there were some technical issues to begin with so it may have been a tad higher before I finally figured things out with the help of Go To Meeting tech support).

I invited every single person who has ever attended Coach the Life Coach training (about 80 people).

I invited every person who is a member of the Coach the Life Coach community (238 members) twice.

And I then invited every member of a LinkedIn Group I am a member of which consists of several thousand members.

Here’s the deal. The invites went out late and I realize that 1pm EST on a Sunday afternoon is not the most convenient time for many people – especially those with families etc.

I also know that a great percentage of people would not have been online to see the invites, or already had other plans.

If that’s you, then as I said in the intro, no worries and I hope I can give you more notice next time, or make it at a more convenient time.

A Pattern Of Ambivalence

But here’s the thing – this is now a pattern.

The second ever free webinar I would have run didn’t generate a single positive response when I e-mailed a load of people asking them if they would like to attend and what they would like me to talk about.

About 100 e-mails generated two responses from people apologizing they had made other plans.

So I canceled it.

I ran a free webinar about website conversion with Karl Staib a few weeks ago and less than half the people who registered actually bothered to make the call.

As I told the people on the call today.

I would have killed (or at least paid a lot of money) to have known 10 years ago what I know about Life Coaching and the Life Coaching industry today.

I was begging people for their time and input. People who had been there and done that.

I didn’t relish the prospect of wasting thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours doing the wrong thing if people could help me avoid that.

The whole purpose of Coach the Life Coach is to do just that.

I Want To Help You

Sure I want you to hire me or train with me, but if you can’t, fuck it, I still want to help you which is why I give away so much information for free.

But you have to want to help yourself!

You are in a BRUTALLY competitive industry and will only get more so.

You need as much help and support as you can get if you’re to succeed.

It’s easy to be cynical to about ‘free stuff’ especially webinars when so many are used to upsell, but I make a point of never doing that.

I FUCKING love my job, I FUCKING love helping people, especially coaches.

It’s what I’m on this earth for and if the language offends you sorry, but not really – get over it you’re a Life Coach and know that taking offense is a choice.

That webinar was an opportunity for you to pick my brains for free.

No Perceived Value?

Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I lowered the perceived value of the call by making it free and if I’d charged $47 more people would have attended.

An average client spends about $1,000 with me and I was saying, “Ok let’s have fun and I’ll do it for free because I know I will enjoy it and it will benefit others”

There was no other motive.

The people that attended will tell you, there was ZERO upsell.

I’m 99% sure I never even mentioned the next Coach the Life Coach course and I sure didn’t promote it.

I just talked and answered questions to the best of my ability.

Why Most Life Coaches Fail

One of the questions I got asked by Kent was why I though most Life Coaches fail?

The answer is above.

Most coaches think training and having a website is enough.

It’s not even close to being enough.

Most Life Coaches don’t take the business element seriously enough.

Most Life Coaches underestimate how hard it is to succeed.

Most Life Coaches don’t share best practices and are fearful about losing clients through helping other coaches.

And finally, most Life Coaches don’t treat coaching as a serious business and do all the hard work necessary to succeed as you would with any business.

It’s up to you to decide.

You can take umbrage at what I’m saying if you think I’m talking to you.

Or you may think I’m arrogant (and I get that, I have had serious reservations about posting this because I know it will annoy some people).

Or maybe, just maybe, you can use this post as a kick start to start reaching out, learning about the business side of things and do what in general, most Life Coaches don’t do.

Coach The Life Coach Training

Now probably isn’t the best time to advise that the next Coach The Life Coach training is open for enrollment, because I have probably pissed a lot of people off.

But to paraphrase John Lennon who said, ‘Being honest want get you many friends, but it will get you the best ones‘ by saying, ‘Being honest want get me the most sign ups, but it will get me the best ones‘ 😉

The course starts on Saturday 28th March at 12 noon and early bird rates still apply.

I am also investing a lot of time and money over the coming weeks to make the course as awesome as possible.

Certification is definitely coming and I am bringing other people on board to offer expert advice in different areas.

 Image Courtesy of Andrew_Writer

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

45 thoughts on “Why Most Life Coaches Fail”

  1. Not offended either! I love the stuff you put out and although I couldn’t make yesterday’s session (I was travelling back to the desert) I always appreciate that you are willing to help! This is a VERY tough and competitive business and I am very grateful for all that you are willing to share! 🙂

  2. Ditto Keith’s statement! 🙂 Although not the ‘see my e-mail’ part.

    I really wanted to make it yesterday but just couldn’t. at the same time, I can really relate to times of ambivalence where I need to consciously remind myself of what I’m committed to, and how awesome it WILL be when I’m being flooded with clients that I get to help, and that that reality is a possibility. It’s like anything that requires a change in pattern or habit, occasional faux pas are not a big deal, but constantly thinking it’s all just going to happen without doing the work is a recipe for failure at pretty much anything.

    You’re awesome dude! – Thanks

    • Just that there’s a lot of it and there are always going to be enough people doing what needs to be done to crush the ones who aren’t.

  3. I attend many free webinars every month and I find them invaluable! I don’t care any more if they up-sell me because I am so used to that game and I know that it just goes with the territory.

    Sometimes I will actually even buy what they are selling and have been quite happy with the programs, books, etc that I have purchased.

    The free life coaching specific information that you share Tim is well worth the price of admission and maybe you should charge for it.

    Or you might consider Making A Charity Donation from the proceeds of the event/ training.

    Either way, please keep the good stuff that you offer coming!

    • Yeh of course I will Chris and the charity thing has crossed my mind. I shall ponder it for next time, thanks.

  4. I have been sitting on mad coaching skills for years. I am a school counselor for 5th and 6th graders and therefore have not begun to market myself as a coach. That will probably be changing at the end of this school year. I love your style and the “language”! Thank you for your uplifting, challenging and honest posts!

  5. Weeeeell, there’s committed and there’s 4am-on-a-school-night committed. I’m sure there’s a free pass for people in Australia, right? 😉

    I’m with Chris, I often attend free webinars, up-sells and all, and have signed up for a couple of programmes this way just in the last month. I’m an infoglutton, if that’s a word! I normally need a little notice for the live stuff, though. What I generally do is register and attend if I can, if not I’ll wait for the recording. Most webinar hosts will send one out these days. (Can’t wait to listen to the replay of this one – thanks for sending it.)

    I also agree you could charge for these stand-alone sessions – you could make them masterclasses, covering specific content in each, and people could pick and choose.

    • Yes you get a pass as does a LOT of people.

      It just occurred to me the people who this was aimed to kick up the ass probably won’t have read it anyway – lmfao!

  6. Refreshing and honest. It does take a lot of work to build a practice. I have trouble discerning what work to do…so many theories and info out there on how to build a practice. UGH…that’s all. 🙂

  7. I do think people are generally wary of “free” these days, because of the up-sell issue. That said, a free general open call on life coaching sounded good to me, which is why I attended. Being new to the craft, I don’t yet have questions that haven’t already been covered. I also admit to not being fully committed yet, which is another issue. That said, I was on the call (most of it anyway).

    If there is another, it might be useful to tailor it to a specific aspect or topic of coaching, rather than an open-ended discussion, that way it might draw more attention from people with issue in those areas. There could be a segment at the end for general questions not related to the topic.


    • That’s a good point. The reason I didn’t do that or on the previous one is that there is a lot more work for me to do in terms pf prep if I specify a topic. There was aa spur of the moment thing.

  8. It is very true that many life coaches either underestimate the importance of the business side of their work in one way or another. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the left-brained filters we’re conditioned to use when thinking of business building. There is a temptation for life coaches (or any entrepreneur, really) to stay in the safe space of “working on it” instead of going after it with all that you have, because it *is* a risk and it *is* challenging at times. The thing with that is, you will never move out of that safe-but-stagnant space if you don’t do something differently. The internal intent to do whatever it takes happens when we start asking “how am I going to do this” instead of “am I going to be able to do this”. The actions follow the shift and if you’re not 100% in it, you will never see 100% success.

    • And I’d addd to the how am I going to do this, and who can help me?

      Very few Life Coaches have life coaches or business coaches. I have both.


      • True. I’ll take this opportunity to mention the school of thought that accuses coaches of being some sort of pyramid scheme because many recommend that coaches have a coach (or coaches) for themselves. We don’t accuse physicians of being in a pyramid scheme if they seek healthcare from another physician, nor do we make that accusation of an attorney who seeks legal council from another attorney. When a coach engages the services of another coach, it is a testament to one’s belief in what a good coach can collaborate with her (or him) to accomplish. I invite any coach who wants to see better results to consider that as a re-frame of the pyramid theory.

  9. Tim, just listening for a recording, thx a gazillion for sending it. It’s super valuable as always. I usually never miss YOUR free stuff, but this Sunday I had plans. What is the blogging course you were talking in the beginning?

  10. Nice post and language never offends me. 😉

    Re: webinar attendance:
    I am an old school IT geek and am just getting my feet wet in Life Coaching. I used to LOVE webinars. Now, I receive many invites, each day to webinars. It is so hard to juggle work, business, business, business, life (notice life being last) that attending them is taking time from something else. I now tend to gravitate to the written word as opposed to video (can consume it faster and actually retain it to memory). I start to daydream in a webinar and then I multitask.

    It does stink though – looks like I missed something great that I should have attended! Do you offer the transcript for the webinars after somehow – say like to people who registered only maybe?

    I do read your emails BTW (which is not always done by myself, I hit delete way too often) -> brought me here! 🙂

  11. Here is my sense having been at this coaching thing now for over 14 years: most free seminars are nice/educational, but also ‘junk food’. We haven’t had anyone in the field STRONG like Tim at actually having done it (made a sustainable profit) at coaching (which is running a micro-sized business/self-employed). We have lots of coaching schools. But the business training piece has been very weak for us and over the years as I’ve reached out to so many for help (such as chambers, marketers, etc.), it’s been a real crap shoot. So don’t waste too much time filling your head, inbox and hard drive with knowledge, you need to learn how to build your business. In the end that’s the bottom line and Tim’s picture with this post ‘going out of business sale’ is so, so true. More small businesses fail than succeed and I am sure the rate for ‘micro’ business (like ours) is probably even higher. Part of the problem might be the fact that micro businesses aren’t recognized as such. For example, has anyone here attempted to get an SBA loan or get certified to earn gov’t business? These processes are way too involved for most of us in terms of the time, money and resources we have. Have any of you attempted to get Venture Capital? Again, that’s a tough thing to accomplish as a micro biz. So I am very excited to learn more from Tim on making it out there.

    • I honestly think over 95% of coaches fail Barb, but as one person told me yesterday, their training company actually indicated that getting clients is easy.

      When you have a total lack of integrity like that from the organizations who are leading the industry, then we have a serious problem imho.

  12. Tim, per your email request: Why do I think most Life coaches fail? – (1) poor training, (2) lack of well defined goals, (3) Lack of marketing/sales skills, (4) Lack of focus and effort.

  13. Hi Tim

    I’m just (hopefully!) uploading the recording.

    I’d have been on the call ordinarily, but it was the evening before my dear departed dad’s funeral.

    Thank you for giving your time so freely, it is appreciated 😉

  14. Hi Sandra. Nice to see you on here! Thanks for pointing me over here. Thinking of you . xx

    Tim, I agree with everything you’ve said. I had NO idea the marketing side of things would be so difficult and NO idea that there was an explosion of life coaches going on when I did my training. I had done a good job of researching my local market but the online market was quite an eye opener for me.

    I am blessed that my husband has a job and that I can take some time to build my practice. I know this is not the case for everyone.

    I am also a huge believer in attracting clients through our confidence, our mindset and our energy. That being said, it’s a fine balance and I’m pretty sure the Universe expects us to put in the work as well!

    Thanks for the tips

    Cheers, Sonia

    • Kia ora Sonia
      I’ve been ‘on here’ and following Tim’s sound advice for a long time, it’s invaluable. Get on the CTLC course – the best investment you’ll make to move forward in your business IMHO 😉
      Go well x

    • You’re welcome and yes, being able to segue in with another member of the household is definitely the ideal scenario!


Leave a comment

Share This