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Is the coaching industry getting too noisy? And how does that affect our coaching practice and business?

21 May 2019 Anthony Eldridge-Rogers

I am in my LinkedIn profile and I get a contact request. As we all know we are only supposed to connect with people we actually know on LinkedIn but I have not yet met anyone who sticks to that. So this contact request is from someone who calls themself a master coaching business building expert. Out of curiosity I accept. Minutes later I get a message offering me free stuff with a pitch about how they can help me get clients, get rich etc etc. I am sure you know the way this goes. Now, being somewhat on the ball in the whole marketing business I know what principles are being put into action by this person who has contacted me. First establish a pain point. Their assumed pain point is that I don’t have enough clients and/or don’t make enough money. Second, tell me they can solve that problem and third give me something for free.

Now don’t get me wrong. Getting a coaching business off the ground IS a big deal and to keep on prospering IS a challenge. And, yes, who doesn′t want to learn how to do it well and keep on learning. So why am I feeling irritation and some annoyance? First, I am simply getting loads of this stuff now. There is usually hardly anything to tell them apart. Second they are working off a non bespoke model meaning its a case of making assumptions and them blasting all and sundry. Some of these coaching business building businesses try to head that criticism off at the pass by starting their message with “I have had a look at your profile and like what you do” or something similar. But more often than not, they clearly have not looked at my profile and honestly tailored a communication to me as the content of their message is often NOT appropriate for me and that you could know by looking me up.

Now I get that coaching is a growth business and I am sure that many of these people running these businesses do genuinely care about the people they are trying to sell to. But, frankly, it often does not feel that way. It just feels like I and all other coaches are fodder. In the same way I hate people, human beings like you and me being called ‘consumers’ and I hate the fact that the term coach is becoming implicitly primed with suckers for bad bulk marketing business start ups.

The same goes for the proliferation of coaching models, tips and tools. I have written on this before.

What makes a good coach is not how many tools you have in the box. It is how skillfully you use the ones that must be used! Most of these tools, theories and tool kits are useless to clients. So why do we soak them up? I think because we have a deficit in our perception of coaching as an art, which I think it is. In fact, if a coach just applies with art, skill and mastery with a compassion and their own self realisation at their core to the core competencies of the coaching bodies like ICF, Association for Coaching etc then that will make them one of the top 5% coaches in the world in terms of effectiveness. And getting to that mastery is indeed a lot harder than anyone thinks. So getting to a pretty low level in coaching and then constantly moving sideways to get new tools will not make much of a difference.

So why does it happen? Simply because of the race to differentiate in a crowded market. We start thinking we need to have great special skills and tools so we can sell ourselves over the next coach to clients, mostly corporate. The effect on our potential clients is confusing as well. They also are not sure what to ask for. Is it tools? Is it certifications (often worthless when it comes to coaches competency) is it experience?

Lets see this through a lens of integrity. I got into coaching because it seemed to be more useful to those people I was trying to support. In my case at the time it was people struggling with behavioural health challenges like substance misuse, depression, diabetes etc. Now the coaching approach worked well and I set out to master it. But it was a means to an end. I love coaching but would drop it in favour of something else if I thought that something else would be more effective in helping people. Most coaches have good hearts and a desire to help others which drives their sense of personal meaning and value. Many other coaches are not so aligned with being a coach. Tough thing for me to say but how else are we to interpret so called professional coaches with degrees in coaching but who have not mastered the core competencies of listening, being non directive and so on?

So where does this leave the well intentioned coach who is building their business?

I have three DO’s and three DON′Ts.

Here we go.


1. Focus on being a master at the coaching core competencies

2. Focus on getting genuine client testimonials. They are by far, along with word of mouth recommendations, the best way to show you are good at coaching


3. Focus on your passion for helping people with certain issues and making their outcomes better


1. Don’t go crazy signing up for all sorts of coaching programmes and tools. Instead, spend the time giving pro bono or low cost coaching to people you want to coach and ask them to give you feedback and testimonials when appropriate. Spend the money you will save on going on a self development retreat

2. Don’t sell yourself on how many different certifications and badges you have or how good your uni degree was. Sell yourself on the impact you have as a coach and back that up with testimonials

3. Don’t be tempted to follow the herd. You will probably get lost in it. And don’t start sending out cold calling emails offering to supercharge other coaches businesses. At least not in my direction

That′s it. This is by no means exhaustive but hope I have stimulated you to reflect on your business building world.

Anthony Eldridge-Rogers