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What is Executive Coaching?

A Complete Guide to the Executive Coaching Career Field

Introduction

You’re feeling drawn to the idea of running your own business, and you believe you have the potential to become a successful Executive Coach. Yes, this is certainly a career path worth pursuing! But there’s more to consider before diving headlong into the deep end, and it all begins with one seemingly simple question:

What IS Executive Coaching?

The answer may be more complex than you’ve anticipated, so let’s start with the basics.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

In the world of high-powered executives, the concept of coaching takes on a more specific meaning: It’s a way to support these individuals in navigating a precarious balancing act – one that ranges from responding to urgent responsibilities and implementing long-term visions to managing large global teams of people with varying approaches, perspectives, and backgrounds.

Now more than ever, company leaders are waking up to the value of investing in the all-around development of their top executives. Corporations are increasingly turning to Executive Coaches who can help their people grow and maximize their value far beyond what was previously expected.

If you’re interested in becoming an Executive Coach to serve these professionals in a meaningful way, it’s vital to gain a clearer picture of what this field looks like, what’s involved in getting there, and how your own vision aligns with the realities of Executive Coaching at large. This guide offers valuable insight into these fundamental aspects and helps you uncover the answers to some of your most pressing questions.  

Begin reading the full guide below, or fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version that you can reference later.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Becoming an Executive Coach?

You want to use your talents and passion for something more than a mundane 9-to-5, and the idea of Executive Coaching sounds, well, pretty amazing. It’s got the freedom and flexibility you crave, plus the envious opportunity to do meaningful and fulfilling work.

Even so, you might be struggling to shrug off that little voice inside your head echoing a common doubt: Is this really a “thing”?

To help calm this concern and turn knowledge into power, take this time to delve into some of the most significant concepts surrounding Executive Coaching as a legitimate career option. 

Below, we’ve shed light on a number of the pros and cons involved in embarking on this professional journey:

It’s a booming global industry, with lots of opportunity for market share.

Statistics show that 25 to 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Executive Coaches, and corporate titans such as GE, Goldman Sachs, and Google are now spending more than $1 billion annually on Executive Coaching in the U.S. alone. ICF’s Global Study reveals that three out of four coach practitioners with active clients (75 percent) said they expect their number of coaching clients to increase over the next 12 months, and more than six in 10 (63 percent) said they expect their number of coaching sessions to increase. The professional coaching industry is a thriving one, with a strong forecast for the future.

It’s not a quick or easy road ahead.

A career as an Executive Coach is not just another job. It will shape your days, shade your personal interactions, and impact your entire worldview. And yes, it can be extremely satisfying. But it can also be really hard. It takes a lot of honesty with oneself regarding not only the job-specific changes, but also the time and financial commitments involved. A career as an Executive Coach will demand certain sacrifices and changes in how you operate. Executive Coaches can make a very good living for themselves, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

It continues to gain traction in the corporate arena.

No longer stigmatized as a last-resort effort to correct weak leadership, the profession of Executive Coaching is now recognized as a necessity for guiding talented, high-potential employees to achieve optimal performance. Organizational productivity, profitability, and innovation – these assets all rely on having strong, capable leaders in place, which is why Executive Coaches are in high demand at many top corporations worldwide.

There’s a cost to consider.

To acquire the tools and education you need to become a successful Executive Coach, it’s critical to enroll in a credible coach training program. Like most adult learning pursuits, there is a tuition cost involved. You want to invest in something that’s going to have a lasting and positive effect on your career, life, and financial stability. It’s not just your certification cost that’s at play, but also the training and tools you’ll need to earn your certification and begin making money. While being realistic about your finances isn’t the dreamiest part of this journey, it’s a necessary one. Managing expectations is key to beginning the process on the right foot, with the best attitude.

You have the flexibility and freedom to design your own reality.

You’re finally in a place to set your own direction – whatever and wherever that may be – rather than cater to the locational and structural demands of other, more traditional jobs. As an Executive Coach, you can charge what you want, work when you want, and choose your own clients.

Not all clients will immediately buy into the value or the personal journey.

Particularly where corporate sponsorships are at play, clients will come to the table with different assumptions about what coaching is and what it’s meant to accomplish. Some may feel they’re being pushed into it because their professional performance is lacking or because their company thinks they need “therapy” to fix certain problems in their leadership style. It will be necessary to demonstrate the practice of coaching as a forward-thinking advantage in reaching a person’s highest level of potential (as opposed to punishment for underperformance).

There’s unparalleled meaning and fulfillment in the work.

As you build a future in Executive Coaching, you’ll learn how to identify and leverage opportunities you never knew existed. You’ll tap into your own creativity and inner genius, honing your skills and developing a life-changing sense of awareness. You’ll meet interesting people and find fulfillment in the successes you help clients achieve. You’ll work to become the best version of yourself and support others in doing the same.

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How Much Does an Executive Coach Earn?

So often, creative, exciting, fun work seems to require a big compromise and asks the uncomfortable question… are you willing to give up material comforts to pursue your passion? 

Yet, on the other hand, you can’t watch YouTube without a handful of influencers telling you to chase your dream to finally become a multi-millionaire with luxury cars, private jet trips, and the ability to set up an office-of-one at any beach you choose.  

But most of us aren’t looking for either of these extremes. We just want to find a way to channel our soft skills, professional experience, passion, and values into a career that makes the world a better place, feeds our souls, and allows us to live a relatively normal but comfortable life. 

And the conflicting information available about pursuing your passion can create a lot of confusion for someone exploring the idea of getting their executive coaching certification. Before you can fully jump into a new career and commit to the training you’ll need, you’re wise to ask yourself, “Just how much can an Executive Coach earn?” 

Will it sustain the comfortable lifestyle I’m used to? Will a career as an Executive Coach not only satisfy my desire for meaningful work, but my desire to be financially secure and comfortable? Will I be able to make a good living and continue to live a good life on this new career path? 

These aren’t only healthy concerns—they’re essential questions to ask before making a big life change. 

Woman Figuring Out Financial Plan

Current Statistics on Executive Coaching Earning Potential

Forbes recently affirmed that coaching is now a billion-dollar industry. There’s ample opportunity to turn your passion into a lucrative profession. Marketdata study findings indicate that the number of coaches worldwide is growing. And even though there are thousands of coaches already making their dream a reality, there's still a magnitude of untapped opportunity in the market.

The Executive Coaching industry is ripe for potential earnings. Recent data from Indeed.com indicates that the average salary for Executive Coaching ranges from approximately $60,353 per year to $119,173 per year. The 2018 Sherpa Executive Coaching Report states that, on average, Executive Coaches earn $386 per hour.

However, while many Google searches will show you the fullest earning for an Executive Coach—often well over $100,000 annually, that isn’t the reality for all coaches.

More realistically, an accurate look at what an Executive Coach can earn was shared by Payscale and it shows that the average salary of an Executive Coach ranges from $28K to well beyond $200K annually. 

This is a huge gap in earning potential and it’s important for you to understand why this gap exists

YOU’RE MORE THAN A COACH—YOU’RE A BUSINESS OWNER

Why does one coach file a tax return for a grand total of $28K for the year and another one does cartwheels as they read a figure in the range of $250K on theirs? 

The answer is simpler than you think. 

Factors like training, marketing, networking, and luck do play a small role in driving the success of your coaching business. But the biggest difference between an Executive Coach earning an average hourly rate of $13.46 and an Executive Coach earning an average hourly rate of $87.98 is this: the lower-earning coach only sees themself as a coach. But the high-earning coach understands that they are a business owner as well as a coach. The impact of this distinction on your coaching income cannot be stressed enough. 

One iPEC Graduate, Emily Liou, (who cares deeply for her clients, and treats her coaching as a business), shared in a powerful video that as a Corporate Recruiter her salary would have maxed out at $160K annually, but as an Executive Coach, not only could she earn beyond that already impressive figure, she could do it her way. On her own time. While aligning with her values and creating a daily life that she was excited about.  

While it’s not required to offer business training with a coach training program, iPEC takes your training a step beyond the norm, and within your program we offer business development training—all included with your standard tuition. 

GOING BEYOND 1:1 COACHING 

As you learn to think like a business owner, you’ll soon begin to identify ways to leverage your skills, increase your impact, and maximize your coaching business earning potential. 

In addition to 1:1 coaching, which is a very powerful way to support Executives, CEOs, leaders, high-potential employees, and others ready to improve their careers with the help of a coach, there are limitless ways to connect with and help your clients. 

Consider the following opportunities and their earning potential: 

  • Public Speaking: The rate will depend on the conference or company, the topic, and the duration, but generally speaking, $2,000 to $10,000 is a standard fee for an Executive Coach’s time when offering public speaking. 

  • Online Membership Groups: These can be free resources where you build a pool of engaged future clients or they can be high-value groups that members pay access for. You can even engage potential clients in a free group and run a second membership group for those who want more in-depth information or more assess to you (via comments, live streams, etc.) The cost of online membership groups varies, but an average rate of $49.99 a month or $499.99 a year represent fair average rates. 

  • Information Products: Clients enjoy the ability to learn in the privacy of their own home, at their own pace. Information Products have become explosively popular with consumers and that trend is only going to continue. Creating a signature program is a great way to connect with and serve clients who want to work with you and prefer a self-paced approach. Information Products can cost anywhere from $50 for a basic entry-level program, to tens of thousands of dollars for intense and deeply developed programs that include virtual coaching, group check-ins and accountability, and in some cases, access to other specialists or executives.  

  • Group Workshops, Seminars, and Retreats: These exciting group coaching sessions are high-energy meetings where your clients can connect with like-minded individuals and you can really maximize your impact as an Executive Coach. Your rates will be determined by the location, duration, and topic, but a 2-day workshop or seminar lasting about 9 hours can sell for more than $300 a ticket. 

  • Podcasting and YouTube Channel: As trends continue to show we’re consuming information through non traditional channels like podcasts and YouTube videos, keep in mind that your clients are a part of this trend. You can meet them where they already spend their time by launching a Podcast or YouTube channel. You won’t see immediate income from these options unless you find strategic sponsorship partners, but don’t underestimate the power of building an energized audience with free content. As a business owner, you’ll learn to plant seeds with an eye for the upcoming harvest. 

  • Write a book: We can’t all be Marie Forleo or Tony Robbins, publishing best-sellers seemingly in our sleep. But publishing a book can go a long way to building your reputation. It’s also a safe way for clients to feel you out before committing to a larger coaching plan and it’s a wonderful way to follow up any speaking or workshop engagement. If attendees want to learn more about working with you, having your book for sale after the event is a wonderful way to serve your audience while increasing your earnings. 

Overall, it’s really up to you to decide what mix of offerings you want to develop as you build your Executive Coaching business. Integrating your coaching skills into unique offerings across multiple platforms will massively shape what you’ll have the potential to earn and the type of impact you can make on the lives of your clients. 

THE CAREER PATH WHERE YOU GIVE THE RAISES

If you’re considering a career as an Executive Coach, you need to understand how much you can earn. Changing careers is a huge transition, especially when you’re accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle and a consistent professional life. Will it be a jump into the unknown? Is it worth it to leave an unsatisfying job that affords you a good life to do work that feels great… but leaves you eating ramen noodles instead of sushi on the weekends? 

Knowing how much an Executive Coach earns is a responsible and smart question to ask before becoming a certified professional coach. 

Currently, this industry is experiencing a lot of growth and prospects for coaches are bright. However, with true average salaries ranging from $28K to over $200K a year, you must realize that becoming a highly successful Executive Coach means also becoming a business owner. The highest earning Executive Coaches started on the path of self-employment and built up their brands by diversifying the ways they bring coaching to clients. 

The beauty of a career as an Executive Coach is that your earning potential is up to you. Unlike a corporate path where your earning potential is tied to policies and the luck of drawing a generous manager, as an Executive Coach running your own business, YOU get to give out the pay raises. 

Ultimately, Executive Coaching is a viable career path and holds a high earning potential. And beyond the financial income, Executive Coaches gain benefits that are difficult to measure—you get to live a life that you design, to feel good about your work, and to decide what you earn. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Executive Coaches begin growing their businesses, you might like this article sharing expert tips for securing a paycheck

Otherwise, read on to discover what an Executive Coach can help with. 

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What Can an Executive Coach Help With?

Can you recall the opening scene from The Wizard of Oz? The dull, bleak, colorless world that Dorothy was bored living in? Often, the corporate world can feel like Dorothy’s Kansas… an unimaginative, exhausting, and anxiety-ridden place. 

Successful, high-profile executives regularly struggle to overcome daily pressures and find a clear sense of direction, confidence, and authenticity at work, even when they have strong interpersonal skills and robust industry experience. Add family, health, and personal life to the mix, and finding a personal sense of success in an executive role can become an exhausting struggle. Life can feel flat across the board. 

Now imagine the contrast of excitement and emotions when Dorothy opens her eyes and you’re transported to bright, stimulating, interesting Oz. As an Executive Coach, you get to help your clients transition from feeling like they’re stuck in “Kansas” to feeling like each day of their life is in technicolor. Like their world has transformed into a delightful version of Oz. 

Executive Coaches don’t come in with the force of a tornado, though. Instead, they work in more subtle ways, using methods gained through extensive training and practice to help clients tackle the root causes of their challenges. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy fell off her bike, hit her head, and imagined the entire ordeal. But as she imagined her adventure, her mindset slowly changed, and by the end of the film, we all remember how excited she was to return to the Kansas that she’d wanted to escape a short time earlier. 

And just as Dorothy’s reality shifts with her new mindset, an Executive Coach guides their client to uncover underlying thoughts, emotions, and energy that might be keeping them feeling stuck. By supporting clients in shifting hidden internal blocks, you enable them to uncover their own insights, wisdom, and perspectives, which leads to powerful and sustainable shifts in every area of their life. You get to inspire and motivate your clients to do what they previously felt incapable of doing, but craved with longing equal to Judy Garland belting out, “Somewhere…” 

Ultimately, an Executive Coach gets to support clients as they establish and achieve new goals, raise their level of consciousness, and open up new possibilities that were previously hidden from sight. 

Help your clients find their own yellow brick road. 

Truly successful Executive Coaches apply a transformative approach that lends itself to fostering long-term results. Transformative coaching digs deep to uncover inner blind spots and cultivate new perspectives that support individual success on a sustainable level. This means leveraging methodologies that empower people to look deeply, honestly, and objectively into their energy and mental programming in order to assess who they are and who they want to become. 

Just as Dorothy discovered the Yellow Brick Road, your role as an Executive Coach will be to help clients see their challenges and goals in new ways so that they can then reprioritize and more clearly address the challenges they face in their personal and professional lives. 

Part of your work will be to help lay a foundation for clients to find better balance and build a more fulfilling, well-rounded life. Often, clients harbor hidden or shadowed fears that they aren’t even aware of. When they are able to bring light to, and face these core issues in a safe space with a trained professional who holds space for them, the totally new and unfamiliar experience can be a powerful catalyst for unearthing new levels of understanding, purpose, and direction. 

Once Dorothy set out on the Yellow Brick Road, clear in her purpose, nothing could stop her. When your clients find their own Yellow Brick Road, they can see improvements across the board, from more satisfying personal interactions to meeting business benchmarks with newfound ease—the results are highly related to the individual’s desires and are truly limitless.

Help your clients find their courage, heart, and optimal mindset. 

Another element of what an Executive Coach can help with involves opening up opportunities for clients to improve their leadership abilities, engagement levels, and business performance so that they can make a greater impact in the areas of life that really matter to them. This could look like getting to the next level in their career, finding more time to spend with their family, or even getting their blood pressure down and prioritizing their personal wellness. 

You’ll be able to help leaders step into new versions of themselves where they can become catalysts for culture shifts within their workplaces

When the Lion received his certificate of courage, when the Tin Man received his heart, and when the Scarecrow received his diploma… they all experienced profound shifts in what they believed they were capable of on multiple levels. The Lion was transformed into a leader. The Tin Man suddenly became compassionate and connected. The silly Scarecrow suddenly found himself to be a genius. But the trick is that they already carried those traits inside of themselves, just as your clients currently carry the answers they so deeply desire. Your job as an Executive Coach is to help them realize these truths and set them free to use their gifts to change their lives and their workplaces. By employing your professional skillset of coaching to facilitate the client's unfolding and the goals they bring to the coaching engagement, you’re helping them tap into the highest potential part of themselves. 

Help your client find their way home.  

As clearly as you can see the Ruby Red Slippers clicking together, you’ll be able to see your clients define new goals and establish new habits that will raise their level of consciousness, opening up new possibilities that were previously hidden from sight. 

As you help leaders “find their way home” you’ll relate to, and motivate, clients who are C-level Corporate Executives, Board Directors, Executive Leaders, Presidents, Vice Presidents, and high-potential employees. 

When Dorothy decided that she wanted to return home to Kansas, even though she had the guidance and support of The Good Witch, and The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz, ultimately, it was her responsibility to take the actions that would get her to where she wanted to be. No one else could click the ruby red heels together but her. She certainly had assistance finding the slippers and understanding how to use them, but just like your clients, only Dorothy could use those tools to make the choices to change her life. 

As an Executive Coach, your job isn’t to craft your clients’ reality for them, but support them in making these profound, empowered changes for themselves. 

While executive coaching can look similar to other modalities, it’s critical to avoid associating your role with that of a mentor, consultant, or therapist. Why? Well, there are essential distinctions:

A mentor serves as a role model, helping a mentee emulate their own success. With coaching, on the other hand, you work to help clients find their own path, not merely mimic the one you’ve forged.

A consultant helps people define their problems and identify solutions. In a consultant-client relationship, the consultant is the expert. In a coach-client relationship, the client is the expert in their own life.

A therapist examines the past to help people cope with the present. A coach, in contrast, helps an individual build on the present to create a brighter future.

Mentors, consultants, therapists, and coaches all play powerful roles in supporting people who want to improve their lives. None of these roles is superior or inferior to that of a coach. They’re simply different. As a coach, you’ll uncover the barriers to others’ successful transformation and help unlock clients’ true potential. Recognizing and resolving the obstacles to clear, open communication, asking empowering questions to address underlying problems (instead of offering band-aid solutions), and looking beyond “obvious” goals to the deeper thought-patterns and emotions that influence how people show up in life by being present and engaged. 

Understand, though, that professionals in the executive space may not immediately see the value or relevance of tapping into their energy levels. That’s why it’s important to learn how to speak to them on the level they’re at, building trust and listening to their unique experiences, before introducing deeper concepts around energy and awareness.

As an Executive Coach, you’ll help clients find the light within themselves so they can bring that into their work and their lives—and so they can recognize it in their environments where they didn’t see it before. 

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How Do You Get Trained on Becoming an Executive Coach?

Many leading corporations select Executive Coaches that have a mix of rigorous coach training, ICF credentialing, and specialization-specific tools to demonstrate the depth of expertise and competence in supporting high-potential executives.

To become certified as a professional coach, you need to complete a program with an established set of core competencies and be evaluated on your proficiency in these areas. And although you don't have to be certified before offering Executive Coaching services, there are some significant, career-defining reasons to earn your professional coaching certification.

Man Working from Home

Reasons to Earn Your Professional Coaching Certification

For starters, it’s an easy way to stand out in the market. It boosts your reputation, establishes you as a true professional, and provides an instant layer of legitimacy.

In addition, participating in a certification program equips you with the tools and techniques to be truly successful as an Executive Coach.

And when you’re part of a community of certified coaches, you’re able to access a wide circle of peers, mentors, and friends should you need to reach out.

While some training programs offer an Executive Coaching Certification exclusively, it’s not necessary to garner this particular designation to excel as an Executive Coach. You can become a Certified Professional Coach through an accredited program that offers specialty training in Executive Coaching. At iPEC, for example, you get the best of both worlds: mastery in the professional skillset of coaching AND the specialty training to rise to the top of the Executive Coaching field.

Graduating from an accredited coach training school requires a serious investment of your time, energy and financial capital, so be sure to choose a program thoughtfully. Consider whether each program option takes its mission and curriculum as seriously as you do. Compare school philosophies, methodologies, learning approaches, lesson content, and access to ongoing support. Your program selection should also provide you with the opportunity to specialize in Executive Coaching so you can acquire more specific knowledge, skills, and tools in this area.

While there are many coaching certifications out there, only a select few programs are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the coaching industry’s governing body for coaching and training schools. Since there are over 200 coach training programs available in the U.S. alone, choosing one with ICF accreditation is a distinct advantage.

There are three different types of accreditation or approval that the ICF offers:

  • Accredited Coaching Training Programs

  • Approved Coach Specific Training Hours

  • Continuing Coach Education

For a comprehensive coach-training experience, look for an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). ACTPs require at least 125 hours of coach-specific training that ensures participants have a thorough knowledge of the ICF definition of coaching, ICF Core Competencies and the Code of Ethics. Participants are observed during coaching sessions and must complete a final exam to ensure their coaching competency.

As far as the training delivery methods you can expect from an institution, styles and options vary from program to program. Just keep in mind that an amazing training program that has all the bells and whistles you could ask for will not do you any good if the material is not presented in a way that makes sense to you. Everyone has a preferred learning style, and it is important to consider how well you learn from the format the school provides.

Some options include:

  • Virtual, self-guided lessons

  • Live classroom trainings that enable you to practice your skills in a supportive environment, get immediate feedback, and build invaluable relationships with other students

  • A mix of self-paced modules, independent projects, and group work

  • Material that is presented both in-person and on live webinars

  • One-on-one mentoring sessions to receive individualized coaching feedback, strategies, and suggestions to improve your coaching ability

  • Opportunities to strengthen your skills through live sessions spent coaching your peers and being coached by them

  • Ongoing access to online recordings, resources, and the coaching community

Coach training programs vary tremendously in the amount of time they require for completion. They can range from just 30 hours of training over a few days to more than 300 hours over the course of several months. This is an important distinction because as an Executive Coach, your clients will be relying on your support. You want to be certain that you are not only properly prepared to stand in those “important shoes,” but that you feel confident in your Executive Coaching skills and abilities.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Certified Executive Coach?

The big question on everyone’s mind is usually this: What type of investment will I have to make to become a certified coach?

This is an important inquiry, and one that you’ll need to approach from an informed perspective.

It’s not just your certification cost that’s at play, but also the training and tools you’ll need to earn your certification and begin making money. So, let’s start with some ballpark numbers around training. Coach training programs vary significantly in price, with unaccredited programs starting as low as $2,000 to $3,000, and accredited programs ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000 or more.

The key to understanding the price of a program is to make sure that you know exactly what’s included in the cost.

Woman with Headache

Some programs appear less expensive on the surface, but if you study them further, you’ll find hidden fees for things like:

  • Purchasing prerequisite courses or additional training to earn certification
  • Finding and hiring your own mentor coach

  • Acquiring additional books or materials

  • Paying for business development coaching or business development kits to help you start your business

  • Covering the cost of certification exams

Tuition options that are all-inclusive can actually be more cost-effective. Additionally, some programs offer students a variety of tuition payment options, including student loans, payment plans, and early enrollment reductions.

What you can expect to pay in training and certification costs, as well as the type of ROI you have the potential to garner, all hinge on how you approach the process and what decisions you make regarding your learning and investment opportunities. For more information about the key factors to consider when evaluating any coach training program and its ROI, check out this highly informative guide.

In the end, making the best decision about your certification and training path is about understanding all of the options and taking the time to fully evaluate them in the context of your own needs and desires.

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How Do You Acquire Clients?

If you’ve chosen the right coach training school, the curriculum will include either a strong business development program to get you familiarized with key business principles and comfortable talking with potential clients about your services, or specific training on how to utilize your Executive Coaching skills within an organization.

Through iPEC’s Professional Coach Training Program, for example, you aren’t just learning how to be a coach, you’re also learning how to be a successful entrepreneur. Understanding how to operate and market a business is an essential part of any successful solo venture. With iPEC’s Quick Start business development training, you’ll gain a solid foundation of entrepreneurial skills, strategies, and best practices. Additionally, you’ll have the benefit of being paired with your very own Success Coach, who is there to guide you in designing a business vision for yourself and preparing for the time when you officially launch (or scale up) your coaching practice.

Marketing is one of the ways to share the incredible value you offer and connect with people who are looking for a coach just like you. There are lots of methods for managing this effort, and successful marketing can take on many different forms. You have the freedom to determine the path that works best for you.

Here are some options to consider:

Connect with Friends

Connect with Your Personal Circle

When you’re looking for new clients, be highly vocal about asking for help in sharing your message. Tell everyone about your new venture, print business cards with contact information, and invite your biggest supporters to spread the word when they have an opportunity to do so.

Create an Online Presence

Create an Online Presence

When a potential client goes looking for you, you want them to easily find a professional coaching website that outlines your qualifications, experience, and services. Build one with updated reviews from existing and former clients, and create a blog that’s populated regularly with Executive Coaching-related posts. You’ll also want to create, monitor, and update your professional accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to connect with your audience wherever they may be spending their time online. 

Networking

Get Out and Network

 The more people you know, the more people you can engage to get the word out. By joining professional organizations and attending events, you have the chance to meet new contacts who can help expand your reach. If you enjoy this type of approach, or are willing to learn how to be authentically strategic in this type of setting, you have the opportunity to connect with potential coaching clients and meet highly influential individuals who might recommend you as an Executive Coach.

Event speaker

Become a Guest Speaker or Blogger

Getting new Executive Coaching clients and contracts is all about exposure. Approach relevant businesses with an offer to share a presentation or lecture. Volunteer to give talks to write posts anywhere you see the potential for someone to utilize your coaching expertise.

 

Ultimately, there are as many approaches and paths to growing a successful Executive Coaching career as there are coaches interested in building one. It’s up to you to create and own what works best for you.

As a new coach, it can be easy to focus too much on “getting clients” or doing “the right things” to build a business. But this journey is yours, and yours alone. Find your own way of attracting clients and building your career. Supported by a strong foundation of coach training and tools, you can discover your own path to becoming a successful Executive Coach.

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What Types of Companies Do Executive Coaches Work With?

Conference room

When it comes to understanding what types of companies executive coaches work with, the field is wide open. In short, where there’s a need to get better, stronger, faster, or otherwise improve in some facet of work or responsibilities, executive coaches can help make it happen. 

Generally speaking, executive coaches work with companies that are interested in improving and maximizing value in some of the following areas:

Job Performance

Motivated, hard-working, productive employees are the backbone of every thriving company. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that job performance ranks as one of the areas where executive coaches most often find their niche.

 

Whether it’s helping to revitalize the workforce with new ideas or infuse new energy in management and strategy, executive coaches are there to ensure that executives can implement the kinds of strategies that empower their workers and that workers are in turn thriving in their respective positions.

Business Management

Managing a business can be hectic, with unforeseen challenges around every corner. But company leaders don’t have to approach business management with a sense of trepidation. With the right executive coaching, your clients can grow to manage mission-critical aspects of the company with confidence, and a calm rationale.

By determining what your clients want and where they want to be, versus what they’ve been given and where they are right now, they can take concrete steps toward measurable improvement. True, lasting change comes from within!

Time and Energy Management

Time and energy are two precious commodities you can’t buy more of. Everyone gets the same amount of time in a day and it’s up to us to use our energy wisely, on fruitful and productive tasks that help bolster the bottom line.

If your client feels like they’re spinning their collective wheels in the mud, it won’t be long until their employees notice it too. As you coach your executive clients to reduce internal stress, and see the opportunity in all situations, their natural leadership and efficiency management skills  can percolate to the top, allowing them to gently control and course-correct a situation before it becomes unwieldy.  

That’s why proper time and energy management are vital to success. 

Effective Teamwork

There may be no “D” in team, but there’s definitely an “D” in “Disconnect,” which is what many people feel when it comes to working together as a team. As a professional coach, it falls to you to help executives lead their respective teams with authority yet kindness, focus yet freedom.

Balancing these facets of effective teamwork takes more than just knowledge and experience— it takes knowing what powers an effective team and how to leverage everyone’s natural abilities and talents for the best possible results. 

By asking the right questions, you can not only facilitate extraordinary business outcomes, but also create the enjoyable, connected workplace environments we all crave. 

Self-Confidence

You may be surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a “born leader.” Great leaders are made, and one of the crucial ingredients that makes a great leader is having the self-confidence and determination to excel. Nurturing self-confidence among executive coaches doesn’t mean being a cheerleader. It means helping them to see themselves as they’d like others to see them: Disciplined. Empowered. Understanding. 

There’s a big difference between being self-confident and being too self-assured. Great leaders understand this difference, and great executive coaches help foster this difference and build the foundation upon which great leaders are created. 

Communication Skills

Even with a strong foundation of true self-confidence, executives may often feel tongue-tied or break out into a cold sweat when it comes to communicating effectively with others, be it board members, shareholders, managers, or even customers. 

Having the right communication tools and mindset is crucial to not only saying what needs to be said, but doing it in such a way that it creates greater team synergy, and actionable momentum forward, toward the goal.

With your help, executives can learn how to keenly hone this ability so they have the internal awareness to elegantly navigate communication challenges as they arise. 

Relationships

Executives often have a lot on their plates, and it can feel impossible to give everyone the amount and type of attention they deserve. As such, executive coaches will also often address relational issues, whether the relationship is purely business, or is centered around family, health, illness, finances, or loss.

Helping professionals to nurture all aspects of their lives, not just their businesses, is critical to helping them enjoy a more fulfilling balance in all areas. Relationship coaching can help bring these challenges to the forefront in a way that helps professionals truly blossom and reach their full potential. 

Work/Life Balance

Maintaining a proper work/life balance is something that doesn’t just affect executives, but considering their constant workload, it affects them deeper than most. By specializing in work/life balance, you’ll be helping them to lower their stress levels, avoid taking on more responsibility than is necessary, and feel more comfortable sharing their work and priorities with others; safe in the knowledge that they’ve chosen the right people to tackle the job effectively and efficiently. 

Developing Industry-Specific Skill-Sets

No matter which of these areas you choose to specialize in, or if you choose to specialize in a combination of them, it could very well be that your potential client hasn’t yet entertained the notion of how coaching can benefit them and their company directly. 

The fact is, awareness levels differ from industry to industry, and some are more open to coaching than others. The experience of an Executive Coach will vary based on the size and mindset of each organization (e.g., Fortune 1000 companies versus small business owners, trail blazers versus companies with a strong history, who may be accustomed to the methods of generations past, etc.).

In general, the field of Executive Coaching has been trending toward industry-specific skill sets. The more you become familiar with a particular industry, the better the service and coaching expertise you can provide. Far from limiting your options and potential clients, specializing increases your effectiveness and attracts people who will want to work with you. It’s beneficial to create a niche for yourself that complements your personal brand.

Close your eyes and picture your ideal client. Is it a young tech executive that wants to reach the next level in their organization? A seasoned veteran seeking to transition into something totally different? The niche you choose to serve should be one that you feel compelled to support.

The most fulfilled Executive Coaches are the ones that have found the right type of clients for themselves by asking:

Can I understand and relate to this persona’s strengths and weaknesses?

Am I willing to create a relationship with them?

Do my natural tendencies line up with their needs?

Desiree Perez, iPEC graduate and current Global Leadership & Career Development Coach, worked in the aviation industry for years, where she operated alongside high-level executives. When she decided to become a coach, she knew this particular audience was one she could easily relate to. “My experience working with execs confirmed my suspicion that I wanted to work with them,” Perez explains. “Knowing that I could help these people pushed me to dive deeper into coaching.”

Some coaches use their experience as a starting point, but you don’t have to feel tied down to that industry if you want to explore. Other coaches (like iPEC’s very own founder, Bruce D Schneider) have an awakening of hidden energy following a traumatic encounter. Still others have hopped from industry to industry and find that one in particular seems to stick with them. The point is that there are a myriad of options to explore, and it’s up to you to decide the direction in which you want to go.

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Is There Support for Launching an Executive Coaching Business?

Having the resources to succeed as an Executive Coach is just as important as having the knowledge and certification. For instance, you can benefit immensely from working with a mentor coach. Some coach training programs offer access to a mentor coach (and their coaching community at large) as part of their holistic model of student support.

When you enroll with an institution like iPEC, you get access to numerous business and professional development resources that are all included in your tuition:

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iPEC's Business Development Program

To assist with launching your coaching business and getting your first clients, you have the opportunity to participate in iPEC’s business development program called Quick Start. From choosing a specialty, creating your own packages, and setting your prices to developing your marketing message, networking approach, and website, you’ll learn how to leverage your style and inspire people to take action.

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Access to an iPEC Success Coach

Our program also includes a Success Coach who will help you gain the clarity and confidence to move forward however you define success. You’ll benefit from three 30-minute, one-on-one sessions with a dedicated Success Coach, as well as a private forum where you can connect with other students and share your experiences.

Coaching Community

Join Our Coach Community

Plus, our rich and vibrant coach community is always available for open and constructive dialogue on pricing, packages, agreements, and any areas where you’d like added wisdom (on starting your own practice or anything else coaching related).

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What’s the Next Step?

You’re going to expend a great deal of time and resources as you work toward becoming a successful Executive Coach. To sustain the motivation needed to see these efforts through, you need to recognize and remember the real reasons you’re doing this in the first place.

You have to be willing to get honest with yourself about what you want from a career in coaching so you can identify how to make it happen. You owe it to yourself to do some inward digging so you can figure out whether your goals and interests are aligned with the realities of becoming an Executive Coach.

Many in this field are surprised to learn just how much of their own transformation unfolds before they take the final steps toward a full-fledged career in Executive Coaching. Just as much as becoming a coach involves learning how to help clients transform, it also involves discovering yourself from a different point of view and undergoing your own mindset shift.

Find out if becoming an Executive Coach is the dream you aspire to make a reality. You can start right now by connecting with an expert to have a productive conversation about your interest in Executive Coaching and your potential for success.

Take the First Step Forward

Connect with an expert to start a productive conversation about your interest in coaching and your potential for success.