You've probably heard of at least one person who quit their 9-to-5 job to pursue an online coaching business. Health, business, and life coaches are everywhere. There's no denying that the once defunct coaching industry has been totally revolutionized and normalized, thanks to the power of the internet. Indeed, the coaching industry is letting almost anyone translate their unique skills into potentially lucrative businesses.
Coaching has a long history. In fact, the term "coach" dates back to the 1500s. But the coaching industry as we know it now has only really been around since the latter part of the 20th century. The new obsession with self-improvement, self-help, and personally wellness in the 21st century has given way to an absolute explosion in interest in coaching.
No doubt, the internet has helped the billion-dollar coaching industry grow. It's now easier than ever to market your services, find leads, and most importantly, connect to potential clients. Business strategist Kaylee Summyt echos this sentiment, as her coaching business allowed her to not only flex her entrepreneurial muscles, but also to live nomadically. "Before coaching, I was a virtual business manager for six-figure coaches back in 2012," Summyt says. "Although my company was 'online,' many of my clients preferred the face-to-face for sharing such sensitive information and building trust." It was when Facebook groups started to gain momentum that she decided to take the leap into an entirely virtual coaching business. "[When] I decided to take my business on the road to live in Bali and Japan, that's when Facebook groups really started to hit a whole new level. [It was the] perfect timing to create a culture of trust online to build my own coaching platform," she says.
However, as the coaching industry becomes more accessible, it's also seen its fair share of backlash, scam artists, and questionable business models. While almost anyone can get in on the coaching business, this also means there's a lack of regulation. Unlike other facets of the self-help industry, coaches are not required to have any type of licensure to be in business. This lack of regulation has cast a shadow of doubt on the practice as a whole. "I think the lack of regulation has allowed anyone to declare themselves coaches, and while some of them are providing value, a lot of them are not as legit as they claim to be," says life coach Krista Rizzo. Summyt says the lack of rules and regulations has led to many hoping to tap into the market as a "get rich quick" tactic. But, she points out that "over 90 percent of coaches make less than $30,000 a year coaching during their first few years."
Social media seems almost tailored to help the coaching industry thrive. Social platforms like Facebook and Instagram not only let coaches promote their businesses, but they also allow them to support and communicate with one another. "The most important [aspect of] social media has been the collaboration with other coaches," Rizzo says. "Getting to know individuals with different backgrounds and learning about how we can help one another reach our goals has been empowering and a big help in my business."
This sense of community is also what allowed me to begin my own coaching practice: After working with a life coach and raving about the experience, I realized that I had a knack for giving people advice myself, and wanted to funnel my skills and talents as an already blossoming entrepreneur into coaching. When I saw so many other coaches using social media to connect, share stories, and create platforms for their content and communities, I felt so much more confident that I could make it work.
With this shift from comp cards to social media handles, coaching has certainly been revolutionized. What was once a disjointed, stigmatized profession has bloomed into a career path that not only allows those with entrepreneurial drive and a passion for helping others channel their skills into a sustainable business model, but also makes it easier than ever for those seeking alternatives to traditional health and wellness institutions to find support.