In this post we’re going to be answering a commonly asked question, should I coach for free in my business?
Most people would think that, as a business mentor I’d say: ‘of course you shouldn’t coach for free – CHARGE YOUR WORTH’ etc etc!
However, I actually think the answer to this question is more nuanced than this, and in this post I’m going to be describing some of the situations where it’s not just ok to coach for free but when it might actually be a really good idea from a strategic or mindset point of view.
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If it feels good
If coaching for free feels good to you, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks, it’s ok to coach for free!
However, conversely, if it doesn’t feel good to coach for free there’s going to be no situation where it’s going to make sense, even the ones I’ve listed below.
I do feel that there’s an energetic component to all of this, so first things first, check in with what feels good to you – if coaching for free feels expansive then go for it, if it feels icky or like it’s coming from a place of lack then don’t.
Scenarios where coaching for free can make sense
You’re a new coach
If you’re a new coach it can absolutely make sense to coach for free. You’ve probably coached for free in your coaching certification, but doing some sessions for free as you build your business can be helpful for a lot of the reasons I also list below.
You want to increase your confidence
If your confidence in your coaching skills needs a boost, offering some free sessions and seeing people get results can be helpful. It can also be a good opportunity to test out your package and processes. Just bear in mind that for some people, the lack of value investment means their results could be impacted, just as I describe below when it comes to value exchange.
Your want to get some testimonials
Coaching for free in order to build up some testimonials can also be a valid reason to coach for free if paying clients aren’t coming through. Testimonials can potentially help you gain paying clients and support your confidence too.
To keep your coaching skills sharp
Generally speaking, as a business mentor and coach, I know a lot of us would be better off doing some kind of coaching rather than none at all in terms of finding our flow and building our confidence. So coaching for free to simply keep your hand in can make sense as well.
You’d like to offer scholarship opportunities
If it’s in line with your values and putting your values into action in your business, you may want to offer free coaching opportunities as a scholarship opportunity so people who are marginalised can benefit.
You want to test out a new niche or a new package or area of work
If you’d like to test out a completely new niche, a brand new package or doing something differently within your niche, again it might make sense to offer it for free.
Potential issues with coaching for free
The lack of a value exchange
Sometimes, the exchange of money for the value of the package is part of what makes people show up and get results. When you coach for free, what you may find is that some clients aren’t as invested in the work as they would be if there had been a payment involved.
It’s just something to bear in mind if you’re working with people for free and they’re not showing up and doing the work.
Presenting the free offer to your community
One of the tricky things with coaching for free is how you present that to the people in your community and audience.
Now, if you’re starting out, you might not have much of an audience and that’s fine. If you already have a bit of an audience or do you have a community, offering free coaching widely can be problematic because if you then turn around six weeks later and say ‘Hey, I’ve got a coaching package and it’s a thousand pounds’ but six weeks ago you were offering it for free, that might feel quite jarring for people and leave them thinking WFT.
So something you might want to consider is instead of offering free coaching sessions to your whole audience / community, is to offer it to specific people or a subset of your audience.
Getting into a pattern of free coaching
If there’s some mindset stuff at play, then you can find yourself getting into a pattern of only coaching for free, and if you do it too much, the downside is that you end up reinforcing the idea that people will never pay you for your work and skills – some limit the free sessions and have a strategy around how you use free coaching in your business.
Alternatives to coaching for free
A good alternative to coaching for free, which can still achieve the same outcomes and benefits is coaching at a reduced rate.
This way, there is a value exchange, albeit a small one. That means the client is more invested and the coach gets some money too. This can mean that the client gets better results.
I also feel like this is a better way to present the offer, for example as a discounted beta test for a programme or package.
So depending on how you feel, having a reduced rate rather than offering it completely free can actually work more effectively.
Mindset check in
Before offering free coaching it can be really helpful to ask yourself exactly why you want to coach for free and unpicking that answer.
Is there some self doubt there? Are you worried people won’t pay? Are you stuck in a lack mindset? Do you have impostor syndrome?
Charging for your coaching when you’re starting out and even when you’re further along can feel deeply uncomfortable. It did when I started health coaching 10 years ago! But if you want to have a sustainable business you’re going to have to charge for your work eventually.
Of course it might not be a mindset thing, because not everything is a mindset thing! But it is worth unpicking this.
Even if you do uncover a mindset issue, that’s not to say it should rule out coaching for free.
If you have impostor syndrome, doing some coaching to boost your confidence might actually be really helpful. It’s just making sure you’re doing that inner work and fully understanding why you want to work for free in that way.
Recap and next steps
To summarise, there’s lots of situations where coaching for free would make sense, however, there’s also a lot of things you want to consider if coaching for free is something you’re considering offering.
Really thinking it through, having a strategy with it and having boundaries with it can all be really helpful.
And don’t forget the mindset side of it too!
Do you coach for free or have you ever coached for free in the past? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
P.S, thinking about coaching for free and want to talk through your strategy and how you actually start working with clients who pay you? Book a Clarity Call with me or check out my Thrive 1:1 Business Mentoring Package.
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