We caught up with Julie Parker, founder of Beautiful You Coaching Academy, to find out what it takes to become a life coach, and how to set up your own academy that helps others realise their dream.

What is a life coach?

A life coach is someone who provides a safe and encouraging place for their clients to define and set goals on how they would like to improve their life.  Then, with guiding accountability, support and inspiration, they help their clients break down those goals into meaningful actions to assist them to move from where they are now, to where they want to be. Many life coaches choose to have a speciality niche, such as a Mum’s Coach, Body Image Coach, Retiree Coach or Career Coach.  All can make a positive and lasting difference in someone’s life – most of all by helping their clients uncover their own skills and strengths.

A good life coach needs to be many things. But the main characteristics they need to have, from my perspective, include:

  • Being Passionate. They need to be passionate about people and inspired to really lift them up to be the best they can be.  There is no ‘half way’ with being a coach, even if you are more introverted by nature, you can share that passion in a softer and more gentle way.
  • Being Intuitive. A good life coach can read and see and feel between the lines of what is going on at a surface level with their clients. They have a honed sense and presence that they have attuned from learning to be mindful, present and focused, that allows them to get to the heart of matters quickly and with great impact.
  • Being Encouraging. One of the main roles that a coach plays is as a cheerleader and encourager in their clients’ lives.  And this is something that should never be underestimated. We would like to think that everyone is being supported and encouraged in their life pursuits but often they are not. And so the role a coach plays in doing that for their clients can be life changing.

Someone typically seeking a life coach may need guidance on a variety of things. Truly, in this day and age, it can be anything. It could be that they need coaching to make a big career change, find a soulful new tribe of friends, improve their health and wellbeing or have a more easy and positive relationship with money.  Most clients who seek out a coach are undergoing some kind of transition in their life or they may feel stuck and held back with where they currently are, with a desire to break out of that and forge a new path for themselves.

I came to coaching after many years working as a counsellor with young people and their families.

From the moment I started coaching people, I loved the positive, affirming and forward moving way it supported them to create the life they most wanted.  In my early days of being a coach, I was particularly passionate about working with women in areas of self-love, self-confidence and self-care, and that has gone on to inform the creation of the Beautiful You Coaching Academy and the people we now train to be life coaches. Our mission at the Beautiful You Coaching Academy is to provide coaching and coach training that inspires and guides motivated and passionate people to discover their best life.kaboompics.com_Chamomile flowers

We fulfil our mission through heart-centred, personal engagement and authentic business principles.

We are deeply committed to providing a training experience that also takes people on a personal development journey, because we believe that those people who make the best life coaches are committed to working on themselves and being the best people they can be.  We also love being ‘high touch’ in our work and even though all our courses sell out every year, we only take a select number of trainees so that we can provide them with the very best support. We know that doing so means they become inspired to provide that high level of support to their own clients

Over my many years of coaching (16 years now!) I began to notice a considerable shift in the type of people who wanted coaching and also those who wanted to become a coach too.  There was a movement away from the original corporate model where coaching came from, to one that was much more holistic, nurturing and self orientated.  This in turn attracted more women, mothers and people looking for genuine career changes, rather than just using coaching as a way to enhance work performance in staff.  Coaching still has its place in those organisational contexts, but now it is much more about inspired and well trained people helping others find their own callings and strengths to initiate positive change in their life.

Soon I couldn’t stem the tide of a more than six-month waiting list.

And as my own business grew to become very successful, more coaches came to me wanting to know how I was working with people and why I was in such demand. Soon I couldn’t stem the tide of a more than six month waiting list. That’s when I started to think seriously about creating my own training program based on my many years of counselling, coaching and personal development work.  It seemed crazy and a very tall order to begin with, but I decided to make the leap with a pilot program to test the waters – and it was a huge success. We have grown from there to now training life coaches from all over the world.  Noone is more thrilled and surprised about that than me!

In truth, I have learned many lessons working in the wellness industry, and I know there are many more to come.  The biggest one I would have to say is that to have a successful business you cannot just be good at what you do.  You can be the most wise coach, brilliant naturopath or heart healing counsellor in the world, but if noone knows about you or can find you, your business will not succeed.

Starting a business truly does involve you needing to ‘get over’ any fears of putting yourself out there, self-promotion, marketing, using social media and getting out from behind your computer and meeting people. And all of those things can be done in very soulful and meaningful ways that can see you develop real and authentic connections, as well as drawing clients and business towards you.

We cannot expect others to believe in us if we don’t believe in ourselves.

Saying that, I think the biggest obstacle I faced was myself! I had a lot of self-doubt and even disbelief in the early stages of even thinking about creating the academy. I did not have a corporate background. I was not a big business player.  I was very different to the other coaches and coach training schools that were out there and I genuinely wondered numerous times, ‘would anyone ever take me seriously or want to do it?’. I then realised that I was the one not taking me seriously and that I needed to change that if I was going to inspire anyone else with what I was doing. I knew if I let my ego and fear go and really concentrated on what I did have to offer – it was a great deal.  Years of therapeutic education and experience, certifications and awards in coaching, a highly successful business and so much more.  As soon as I began to back myself – others believed in me and came on board.  And I am sure the same thing happens to many of us.

My advice to a qualified life coach looking to improve their business…

Firstly, I would suggest looking closely at the basics. And the basics to me are always about skill level.  So often if something in our business is not going the way we want it to, we can look for factors outside ourselves to ‘fix’ it, such as more marketing, better media exposure or greater use of social media. And while all of those things can be very helpful, first and foremost I always suggest coaches look within and truly ask themselves – are they a good coach? Are they deeply listening and present with their clients?  Do they know how to ask powerful questions?  Are they using their intuition?  Are they constantly reading and developing themselves to be the very best person and coach they can be?

It’s these things that improve the skill level of a coach and in turn their clients’ engagement with them. And the flow on impact of that is clients who have richer and deeper experiences with a coach talk about that experience with other people, assisting the coach to get word of mouth and organic referrals to grow their business.

If you want to get to know more about our coaching academy, we have a beautiful free magazine on our website called inspired COACH, which is perfect for any entrepreneur, coach or those thinking of becoming one. You can also learn more about how to enrol in the Beautiful You Life Coaching Course.  We welcome anyone reaching out to us for further information and even just to have a chat as well. We know this is a big life step for many people and it can help enormously to have someone supportive to talk to in ensuring that becoming a heart-centred life coach is for you.