The £100k myth – unpacking the reality of coaching income

How often do you see flashy ads and success stories about how easy it is to hit the £100k income mark from coaching?

But is it really true?

Coaching, just like any other profession, takes skill, hard work, dedication, marketing, sales. The list goes on.

Realistically, only a tiny percentage of coaches will hit that magic £100k mark in a really short time scale, if at all, and it’s crucial to understand that these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Think of the world of professional music. You might be an amazing singer – we’ve all seen lots of them on The X Factor.

But only a tiny percentage of them will become a household name like Elton John, Beyonce and Taylor Swift.

Just because someone can sing or play an instrument really well doesn’t mean they’re going to be selling out stadiums or winning multiple Grammys.

And it’s just the same in the coaching industry.

Whilst many venture into coaching with that passion and skill, not everyone is going to effortlessly hit £100k. It takes a combination of talent, timing, hard work and, sometimes, quite a bit of luck.

There are also several factors which will affect how much you gain in revenue as a coach, which you don’t read about in the flashy ads and success stories.

So, let’s look into those five factors here.

 

1. Niche and demand

Not all coaching niches will have the same demand for their offer. Whilst executive coaching or business coaching might command high rates, other niches might not have that same financial potential.

Most of the flashy case studies you will see showcased are either the business coaches themselves sharing their own wild success story, or they’re talking about another business coach client that they perhaps have been friends with for a while. But, of course, you won’t know that unless you have been in the industry for a while, so it looks really impressive and really achievable for everyone.

This is why I work tirelessly to share real, honest case studies of genuine qualified coaches doing real coaching.

These case studies cover a variety of niches, so you can get a feel of what an ‘honest, not hype’ business growth journey looks like in your niche.

I also share client stories whether or not they feel they have had an amazing success story because, depending on your starting point, success will look different for everyone.

Just gaining your first ever paying client is a huge win if you were completely petrified to market your offer and charge for your coaching.

Those stories inspire people who haven’t yet secured their first paying client. It doesn’t always need to be a fancy, big-time success story because, although some coaches will quite easily fill their roster with clients, there will be others who have that personal, emotional journey to go on, as well as learning the practical elements of marketing.

Compare yourself to real professional coaches in your space, not glossy adverts making bold claims in a completely different niche to you.

It’s also helpful to think about the average wage in the workplace.

Most of the time, it’s nowhere near £100k, and you may have worked for years to reach whatever salary level you were previously at in the workplace.

So, be kind to yourself and know that it is going to take some time to build up your business.

This is sadly something that not many people have any awareness of when they’re doing their coach training.

I’ve just come off a discovery call with someone who has just finished her coaching qualification and she only remembered to ask her coach trainer at the end how many people succeed. He gave her the honest answer that 20% of people succeed in running their own coaching business.

It’s a real shame that people don’t realise that growing a successful, income generating business is about so much more than getting a coaching qualification. The business side isn’t covered in that at all.

Just like the coaching qualification took time, practice, dedication, skill and courage, building your coaching business will take the same effort.

So, who came up with this mystical £100k goal anyway?

It’s great to be ambitious and to have big goals. I just want you to have honest information about what it takes to achieve big goals like that, so you don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen as easily or as quickly as you had hoped.

As well as a LOT of hard work, it’s also likely to need a significant investment in business coaching and support, and maybe systems and advertising.

So, if you think you are the only one failing and everyone else is raking in these big figures, just remember it is completely untrue and that you are not alone.

The tiny percentage of people achieving those six figures are usually business coaches. That’s awkward for me to say because I am now a business coach who helps other coaches build their business.

This is a true passion for me after running my own career coaching business and executive coaching business, and not being able to find honest, genuine and practical support to build my business at the time (apart from an amazing career coach, Fay Wallis, who agreed to me buying three mentoring sessions with her, even though that wasn’t what she usually did. Sharing her own business coaching journey with me was invaluable and I’ll be forever grateful to her. She’s all in on her HR niche now, so if you are an HR professional do look her up, she’s brilliant.)

So, rather than go along with the hype in the coaching industry, I chose to stand up to the hype and offer honest support to other qualified coaches who are building their business.

It means a lot to me to create for you what I wish I knew when I was a newly qualified coach and, to be honest, what I still wish I had now. It’s easy to talk about newly qualified coaches, but actually a lot of the people I work with have been qualified for years.

We all still need support to grow our business, to continue to generate leads and new enquiries into our business.

It’s an ongoing process that will always need to be fed, and I feel so lucky to be able to do this work.

If you are like me, whatever niche you have chosen is probably due to your own personal story because that’s often what dictates where you decide to focus your passion and your energy.

What problem are you trying to solve? You’re often driven by where you were three or four years ago, wishing you’d had the support you’re now offering others.

2. Experience and credibility

A lack of experience and credibility will impact on your ability to earn £100k. New coaches often need more time to build their reputation. Gather testimonials. Case studies. Refine their coaching offer. Niche. Build up an audience. It’s  easy to look at what someone else is charging, or services that they’re offering, but often they will be in a completely different business phase to you.

What you can do is sell one-to-one coaching or higher ticket services because that will really help you to sustain your business and learn how to create an offer.

Your service is hugely valuable and this time in your business is such a valuable period, especially when the online market is full of online courses. You can stand out by giving that personal service.

3. Marketing and outreach

A significant part of a coach’s income is determined by their ability to market themselves effectively and reach their target audience.

It has very little to do with their own coaching ability, so more coach training will not help.

When you are qualified, the next thing you need to do is learn marketing so that you can get real paying clients, who will be the best on the job learning for your further development.

As you progress as a coach, you will have real impact and real paying clients to work with.

4. Your identity

It’s not just about being the best at marketing and being the best at coaching, it’s also about your self belief, your confidence, your money mindset, your entire identity.

And it does take inner work, and a lot of it, to build your business.

I know this from personal experience and the amount of work I’ve done, and from the women I work with who perhaps undercharge massively, or certainly want to when they join my Business of Coaching programme. And there are so many reasons for that. Women are often expected to do caring work for free.

Women often get shamed for talking about wanting to make big money, yet a man can put themselves out there and demand big money and people will applaud them for it, and for providing for their family.

So don’t be put off going for that big goal. You go for it. Just don’t believe in the myth that it’s very easy and that if you can’t achieve it you must be doing something wrong, or not be committed enough, because that is not the case.

5. Systems and a team

Another challenge that many coaches will face is wearing too many hats.

You are suddenly the marketeer, the coach, the finance person, the IT department, and everything else, which all put a lot of demand on your time.

It isn’t always easy to get everything done, especially without good systems, paid ads, a team, a nurture sequence and so on, so do be kind to yourself.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to reach £100k without all of this. What I am saying is that it depends on the time you have available and how much you are focusing on the tasks that are going to get you to that goal.

Take a step back and compare the time you spend on those activities, vs. the behind the scenes actions like working on your website and emails. Yes, of course it all needs doing, but to get a high income you need to maximise the time you spend contacting leads and building relationships.

So, why does the £100k myth exist?

It’s a catchy number, and it’s a milestone that many entrepreneurs will see bandied about, not just coaches.

It’s helpful to think about the reality of that number  – I heard recently about a coach who made £450,000 one year.

But she actually only paid herself 50,000 in that year, because there were so many other expenses associated with generating that amount of income.

Did you know that your profit margin is the highest a year or so into your business? As you grow, your expenses will mount up. So you may actually already be earning the same as someone earning or touting themselves as a £500k coach.

In conclusion, whilst reaching £100k or more is definitely possible as a coach, especially with year on year of cumulative growth, it is important to understand the work, dedication and time it will require.

If you do bust through that milestone quickly, huge congratulations to you. A small percentage will, and that is amazing. I will be cheering you on!

No matter where you are on the scale of the £100k myth, I hope your journey is filled with learning growth and that you have a genuine passion for helping others.

Take it one step at a time and know you will reach that moment when the cumulative effect starts taking off and all of your actions start coming together and bring you more consistent clients.

One final thought. Don’t forget that success is a journey, not a destination. Because, I guarantee you, the moment you hit £100k, you’ll start thinking about £200k, then £500k… the goal will always keep moving.

Keep learning. Strive to be the version of you. And keep in perspective what you really need for you and for your family.

I truly believe that women can earn so much more than they think they can. So go for it. Set that goal. Know that it is possible for you, just go a bit easier on yourself with the timescale.

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you grow your coaching business:

1. Love coaching, but struggling to get clients? Download the 12 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Clients now.

2. Want to learn from valuable insights and actionable advice so you succeed in the coaching arena? Listen to my podcast Women in the Coaching Arena here.

3. Interested to know more about the Business of Coaching programme? Click here.

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Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.