Maybe you’re passionate about healthy living, and all your friends come to you for advice on exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness. Maybe you’ve heard the words “health coach” before, but you’re not exactly sure what a health coach does or how someone can become one. If any of this sounds familiar, this is the article for you. Find out exactly why and how to become a health coach, how to streamline your business as a wellness entrepreneur, and how to earn a living doing what you love.
What is a health coach?
A health coach is a wellness professional who guides clients in making and maintaining healthy living choices, whether that be maintaining an exercise routine, eating more healthily, or making a commitment to mindfulness, among other goals. A knowledge of goal-setting strategies, nutrition, exercise, and excellent communication skills are a small sampling of what you need to be an effective health coach.
Should you be a health coach?
Becoming a health coach may be in your future if:
Health coaching, is, as of this writing, an unregulated industry. This means that anyone can become a health coach, without the need for any diploma or certification. However, if you want to feel confident in your work, present yourself as a professional, and earn more clients, certification and/or accreditation is a good idea.
There are several certifications on the market to help you become a health coach. One of the most popular ones is the certification offered by the International Association for Health Coaches. In order to receive this certification, you’ll need to first complete a course offered by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
If you want to keep your options more open, one of the most recognized life coaching accreditations are those offered by the International Health Coach Federation (IHCF). IHCF offers three tiers in an accreditation program to help you become a life coach. In order to earn IHCF accreditation, you’ll need to take one of the courses that is accredited by them. You can search IHCF’s database for health coaching-specific training. Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll need to complete several hours of experience, as well as other requirements, prior to receiving accreditation as a Life Coach.
In Canada, The Canadian Health Coach Alliance provides health coaches with opportunities for continuing education, liability insurance, and more. As part of its services, the Canadian Health Coach Alliance offers a listing of approved schools for membership. Thus, if you are in Canada, this website is a good place to start to research potential certification programs.
Once you decide on what certification you’d like to have and you’ve taken the required courses to earn it, it’s time to get your business off the ground. To do that, you’ll need to decide what population to serve.
Choose your Target Market
Any new business needs to have a particular client type in mind, in other to focus and know where and how to market. Your target market can grow as your business grows, but in the beginning, it’s important to have one specific group in mind; that way, you can have razor-sharp focus on where to market your business.
For example, a health coach who wants to work with new moms might frequent baby and mommy groups online, whereas a health coach who wants to work with the newly retired might do talks at a local seniors centre. The type of client you want to serve will dictate how you’ll market your business.
Once you have an idea of your target market, it’s time to develop services and products that the market will be interested in purchasing.
Create your services and products
The standard for most life and health coaches is to provide a free discovery session, and then one-on-one sessions after that. While this system works fine, it’s not scaleable, meaning that the amount of money you earn is dependent on the amount of hours you can physically put in.
It’s important to think ahead to growing your business, and to get to the point where you’re not physically required 100% of the time, but can still help your clients. Some ideas to accomplish this might be to offer group counselling, pre-made programs, helpful printables, meal plans, and more. The type of client you want to serve will dictate the type of service and products you sell. Once you’ve decided on the types of services and products you’ll sell, you’ll need to decide how much to charge for them.
Decide Your Rates
A number of factors will affect the rates you decide to set for your business: local cost of living, amount of time needed to create plans of action for clients, cost of doing business, your expertise, market value, and more.
Take some time to research the rates of other health coaches in your niche, and evaluate if that’s a realistic rate for the expenses you need to cover (and still make a salary—and eventually profit afterward).
It’s usually best not to advertise your rates, as you want clients to get to know and trust you before you attempt to make a sale. Having rates clearly advertised may turn people away before they’ve gotten to know you, especially if your rates are on the higher end.
Market your business
Creating a website for your business is important—it allows you to display your services and products, and is a space for you to let prospective clients get to know you. Including a blog that optimizes for words in your niche is even more important.
And finally, whatever you think about social media, it’s pretty unavoidable if you want to market your business. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the options, though. Find the social media platform where your target market is most likely to hang out, and go all out on that one platform. But while you’re at it, don’t forget the platform that people think is a social platform but isn’t: Pinterest.
Pinterest is an excellent source of traffic for many, many niches. Creating Pinterest-friendly graphics to link to Pinterest does pay off. Investing in Tailwind can also work really well (and you can always start with the free trial to see if it’s for you).
Set yourself up for success from the very beginning
Getting organized and streamlined from the very beginning works wonders in managing the stresses of setting up a new business. Find software solutions that work for what you need. Client management software is a must, and for health coaches who offer nutrition services, meal planning software saves you tonnes of time and headaches.
Once you’ve gotten your certification, set up your products and services, decided on your rates, and started promoting your business online, it’s time to get off the computer and do some real-life engaging. Don’t forget to go out of the house or office and meet people in the real world. Carry business cards with you, and have your elevator pitch ready for whenever someone asks the inevitable, “so, what do you do?”
If you’re comfortable with public speaking, offering a talk or workshop at local events is a great way to get your name out to the public.
Remember to promote your business both in person as well as online. Running contests on social media can help carry your name throughout the Internet, as can writing guest posts for blogs in your niche.
Use your current, real-life social network as a source of referrals as well. Tell everyone you know about your new business endeavour, and don’t be shy about asking for referrals.
Keeping the business going
As you continue to grow your health coaching business, remember to take some time for yourself, too. Keep practicing what you preach, so that you’re calm, collected, and healthy. You can’t take care of your clients if you haven’t taken care of yourself.
Remember to outsource tasks once your business starts bringing in money. Hiring a virtual assistant can take some of the pressure off your shoulders, so you can concentrate on the more enjoyable parts of your business (and take a vacation once in a while).
Make use of apps that help you save time, and remember to breathe. You’re in this business to help people achieve their goals; don’t forget to set and achieve some of your own.
These are just some of the tips on how to become a health coach and have a rewarding career while helping clients meet their healthy lifestyle goals. What will you do today to get closer to your goal of becoming a health coach?