Today I’m going to be answering a very common question. The question is: Do you need a qualification to actually offer services as a coach?

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Let’s get into it!

I want to talk about this need to be qualified as a business coach through a business strategy lens.

I’m not going to be talking about the legal – particularly when it comes to helping people with their health and well being, working in spaces such as financing or legal. They are very different areas of business, and it’s important that you understand the legal and financial requirements of you running your business.

However, there are some services that require a qualification in that space, and I want to just focus down on coaching.

This may be:

  • Life coaching
  • Certain forms of health coaching
  • Business coaching
  • Clarity coaching
  • Strategy coaching

Whatever you want to call it. The types of qualifications that I see people holding themselves back from stepping into their business for which aren’t actually required.

For example, I do not have a formal coaching qualification. I have trained in coaching but I have not gone for a certificate/diploma in coaching or any of those sorts of things.

When I talk about this with people, a lot of them are really surprised.

But it was actually some really great advice that my first business coach gave me when she said:

“You have a natural propensity to be in that space. You have really good natural style when it comes to working with people, and to be 100% honest with you, we probably wouldn’t call a lot of the work you do ‘coaching’ in its purest form. Why don’t you just spend 6 months growing your business first and if you decide you want to get that formal qualification with your profits, then you can do that.”

It was such amazing advice and I am so glad that we had that conversation because ultimately I didn’t need a formal coaching qualification to grow my business.

I have a Bachelor’s in business and particularly in leadership and management, I have many qualifications in coaching/training and all sorts of things that aren’t necessarily formal certificate level qualifications, and I also have a lot of experience from being a business consultant for over 4 years before I actually decided to start my own business.

I’m going to be a little bit controversial here and say that you do not need another qualification.

You do not need a formal life-coaching qualification in order to be able to help people set goals and go for them. You do not need a formal coaching qualification in order to help people with their business strategy.

I wanted to have this conversation because I want you to be 100% honest with yourself about why you feel the need to get that qualification.

In some cases, that need may actually mean that going through a formalised program to get such a qualification is a good idea for you.

In other cases, it will mean the opposite.

Let’s not forget that overall I am a big advocate for feminine business, and a lot of the whole certification structure around businesses and business models is a very masculine model of business.

Let’s jump into the reasons why I see people thinking that they need to get a qualification…

1. Lack of confidence

They feel really unconfident and they really struggle to even sit in front of one client.

They don’t have a process that they know they’re going to use with their client, and it makes them feel really out of their depth.

The idea of sitting in front of a person and saying “I would like to do a coaching session with you” completely sends them beyond the comfort zone, the learning zone and way into the terror zone.

In that instance, I think that it’s a good idea to get some form of support or qualification/structure behind you to help you feel like you can be comfortable in that space.

But I want you to tap into that discomfort.

Are you uncomfortable because you haven’t done this before? Or are you uncomfortable because you have no idea how to do this?

Are you uncomfortable because this is a new application of all of your skills and experience that you’ve previously used in an unstructured way? Or are you uncomfortable because you don’t actually know what you’re doing?

Is it that you have an idea of what it is you want to do, but you don’t actually know how to do it, and you have never done anything of this type in any context before?

2. Not an exact expert

I see people feeling that they need a qualification because they are not an exact expert in the exact thing that they want to offer their business in, and that was exactly where I was.

I had experience as a business consultant and had worked in executive/CEO coaching before, and I also had worked as a business strategist with small, medium, and ginormous organisations. BUT I had never done anything like being a business coach or mentor for women in the creative sector.

I had never taken those skills and qualifications and actually used it in this particular context.

In that instance – when it’s just changing the context through which you’re expressing and using your skills – then I don’t think a qualification is what you need.

3. Will do the selling for them

People feel like the certificate will do the selling for them…

“Well I’m one of twenty-five now qualified people in this level of …, so, therefore, that is going to create business success for me.”

I see this happen a lot for people who have done a life-coaching qualification, now they’ll do several others because they think if they just amass enough certificates, then that will magically create the business results for them.

Unfortunately, in 99.9% of cases, that is just not true.

Certificate in coaching referrals business start-up

You don’t necessarily get referrals when you get a certificate in coaching.

Yes, you will have that qualification and yes you will have that certificate, but that certificate will have no impact on your business results unless your potential clients are actually googling exact phrases that match your qualification.

You may get referrals from the provider of that qualification, you may get some initial clients because you’re excited and talking about all the things your qualification can do, but when all is said and done, you are still required to learn how to market yourself as a provider in that space.

You still need to match what that qualification has taught you, with meeting the needs of your exact niche and your target market and solving their immediate problems.

This is one of the big things I see with people who get life coaching qualifications.

They are so in love with the modality that they think talking about the modality will do the selling for them.

“Everybody needs a life coach.”

I hear this from them again and again, and I say:

“You need to niche.”

Yes, everybody could benefit from working with a life coach, but if your message is to everyone and you are trying to market to everyone, you are going to resonate with no one.

People don’t go around actively looking for a life coach. They don’t even think a life coach is what they need at that point in time.

If they do think a life coach is what they need and if they are actively Googling for life coaching, you’ve now put yourself in competition with every other life coach who is relying on that same strategy.

It’s not just life coaching where I see this particular phenomenon, but it is a good example of where you can sometimes put too much emphasis on what the qualification will give you, and not enough emphasis on you actually growing your business.

No great business was ever built on theory alone.

Unfortunately, even though there is a lot of practice with peers in the coaching training, it is still theory-based from a business growth perspective, because you did not need to sell your services to the people you coach whilst you’re going through the qualification.

I really am grateful that my coach way back then told me to hold out on getting my coaching qualification and to grow my business first, based on the skills, abilities, and qualifications that I already had, and to only get the qualification if I thought it would add to what I already provide for my clients.

It helped me to:

1. Stick with my natural skills and abilities and develop them further.

2. Stop hiding behind a modality.

That was one of my desires – to be able to say “I am a fully accredited (blah blah) coach!” thinking that that modality and certificate would help make a difference in the decision the potential clients were going to make.

3. Get really clear on my messaging.

The message vs the modality in the sales process.

I didn’t have the ability to say that I was an accredited coach, so I had to really get my messaging clear.

If this is something that’s coming up for you, I need you to ask yourself the following:

If you were to sell yourself as a service provider with the skills, abilities, qualifications, and experience that you already have:

Who could you serve?
How could you serve them?
What would your core message be?

Ultimately, a qualification doesn’t always change that.

A qualification doesn’t change your purpose, it doesn’t change the way that you want to show up in the world, and it doesn’t change what you are here to do and who you are here to serve.

After all this, ask yourself: Is it a qualification that you really need? Is it actually confidence? Marketing skills? Do you just need to get out there and offer services and see what happens?

I mentioned earlier that I don’t have any formal qualifications in coaching.

I have been asked about said formal qualifications during the sales process a grand total of one time.

In the five and a half years that I’ve been in business, one person has asked if I had a coaching qualification.

I explained to them that I didn’t, however, I was an experienced executive and CEO coach, that I had my Bachelors in business leadership and management, and that I had done some coaching training, and she still purchased from me.

Have a think about it.

Remember, I’m just talking about it from a business strategy perspective. I’m not taking away from the amazing techniques and methodologies that you learn when you actually do a coaching qualification.

I’m not taking away from the power of coaching qualifications and what they teach you, the practice that you get, the confidence that it builds.

For a lot of people, I think that getting a coaching qualification is a good idea, but I just wanted to do this blog post to get you questioning and thinking about the why behind you wanting to go out and get that qualification or certification.

A little side note here: I wanted to talk girl-on-girl about a little bit of feminism and what the school system taught us.

One of the biggest issues that I have with the education system and the way that it sets us up in terms of working out how the world works, is that we are always answerable to an external party.

An external party (our teacher) teaches the things that they want us to learn and what they feel we need to know.

We practice those things while memorising and applying them to different situations, and in a school setting we always present our work back to the same person who taught it to us, and that person gives us that feedback and grade on whether what we have done is correct.

One of the things that this does, particularly for women, is it trains us that both the most important information we can learn comes from external parties, and the feedback that we need for our works also comes from one single source.

That authority figure that is external to ourselves.

Therefore, when we leave the education system and go into business for ourselves and don’t have a boss who is telling us what to do or holding us to account, we can look to other avenues to find that external source of validation, information, and feedback.

Sometimes this can lead us to think that we need that as well in our businesses, and that can be one of the reasons why we get so caught up in still continuously seeking qualifications, teachers, mentors, coaches, and the environment where you do “homework” and submit it for external feedback.

It’s all pushing you to that external focus, and one of the big powerful things about being in business for ourselves is that not only do we seek from within for the information that we are looking for, but we also seek within to learn to be our own inner mentor and give ourselves feedback.

Everything comes from within and there’s this beautiful dynamic we create when we begin to look for it within ourselves.

If you do have the reluctance to look within, maybe this little blog post was designed to plant the seed for you to just give it a go.

Instead of looking for external feedback, just ask yourself whether you love it or not.

I always talk about crowd-sourcing… I don’t understand why people crowd-source their logos and ask people which one they prefer.

Which one do you prefer?

You’re the one who is going to have to show it all the time. Pick one that you love.

You’re allowed to love your own work.

People may not like your logo design or your brand colours, but it doesn’t matter. You need to be proud of them and love your work and yourself going forward.

You may not love this blog post, but I felt really called to do it, and so I don’t need to have that external validation to tell me whether my blog post is good or not.

To be honest with you, I don’t really pay attention to the negative feedback, because I know that it’s more of a reflection of what that person is looking for and I wasn’t it at that particular point in time, which is totally okay, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t what other people needed from me.

That’s just an extra little aside to this podcast episode because I wanted to plant that seed that maybe it’s time for you to look within.

Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Heart-centred Business Podcast.

If you’re looking for more information about how to grow the marketing side of your business because some of those reasons really resonated for you, then I would encourage you to come and join the ladyposse Library.

In there, I have some training and resources on:

  • How to get your business off the ground and get those first clients
  • Structuring blog posts and podcasts
  • Helping you do the business side of what it is you do best
  • And so much more!

That may just be all of the resources that you need to have that confidence to move forward and to start being of service today.

Make sure to head on over to the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook group and share any aha moments you had using #podcastaha and the episode number (162)!

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist