For the experienced individual looking to start a new life in France, life coaching can be an ideal opportunity. Like any other skill, life coaching takes genuine passion, determination and individual ability to turn it into a profitable venture. But unlike other businesses, you have the potential to change people’s lives, all while making a respectable living.
As a favoured destination for travellers, dreamers and expats, France is a perfect location to motivate people and propel them to success. As with other types of business, however, becoming a successful life coach in France can be a peculiar process. Here are some of the key factors you’ll need to consider when setting up a life coaching business in France.
Life coaching qualifications
Starting a life coaching business is often recommended because there are few overheads, with the potential for a fast path to success. This is true in certain circumstances, but the reality is that you will be competing against numerous other expats who have all had the same idea, and have battled to distinguish themselves in the market.
The best way to stand out among this crowd is to ensure you’re properly qualified. There are very few regulations on life coaches compared to other forms of guidance or therapy. However, this is not to say that you can or should attempt to get away with coaching with no experience.
As much as anything, becoming a life coach is a complicated art that requires practice and assurance. The ability to purvey advice and guidance with structure and confidence needs a lot of work. The most reliable qualifications are those employed by international organisations. Post-graduate degrees in fields like Psychology and Personal Development are certainly helpful if you have them, but dedicated courses can be equally valuable.
The International Coach Federation and International Association of Coaching are the two main bodies responsible for life coaching, with various centres in France and elsewhere offering ICF and IAC accreditation. Above and beyond this, the European Mentoring & Coaching Council also offers both prestigious accreditation and quality awards for high competency coaches.
Find a life coaching niche
Part of the reason starting a life coaching business can be difficult is that the profession is so broad. People’s lives encompass all sorts of things, and helping them to organise and focus means addressing many different issues. You may be a terrific motivator with strong life experience, but this might not prepare you for negotiating someone’s love life, or issues that are closer to therapy.
Focusing in on a niche when starting a life coaching business will help you distinguish yourself - and help you play to your strengths. If you have a fulfilling love life, then consider becoming a relationship coach. If you’ve been in a management or recruitment position, consider becoming a careers coach. Whatever your other experiences and passions are, channeling them into your coaching career will double your passion and your insight.
This is particularly helpful in France. Even if you’re starting your French business online as a Micro Entrepreneur (sole trader), French authorities require that your precise field and business nature is committed to record. (To find out the difference between being a Micro Entrepreneur or opening a French limited company, see our article: Starting a Business in France - Micro Entreprises or SARL?) If you start out offering various kinds of coaching, you may find it more difficult to incorporate. Any changes to your services will have to be reported, and amended in your legal records.
Life coaching for expats
You will always benefit from learning French fluently, and the process of starting a life coaching business in a new country is a source of world wisdom in itself! Your core business however, at least to start with, is likely to be other expats. This may seem obvious, but too many people dither and waste time trying to pursue leads that will never come to fruition. When you’re making a leap like this in a new country, you’ll want to hit the ground running.
As in so many things, networking is key. Join French expat groups online through platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, and engage with the comments on expat blogs. Get in touch with individuals on Twitter, too, where many people feature their expat status in their profile bio. If they have a substantial following themselves, consider offering your support for free or at discounted rates, in order to get a mention. And be open to providing coaching wherever people are based. Expats are often split between the metropolises like Paris, and the quietude of country cottages.
Ensure you have an excellent online presence, with active social media profiles and an easy-to-navigate website. Make sure you have secure and convenient online payment options, and explore ways to offer coaching remotely through services like Skype, Google Hangouts or WhatsApp. In-person appointments are always preferable, and your business is likely to branch out to coaching businesses as well. But when you’re starting out small, the internet is a crucial tool in letting you dream big. (Find out the best tips and advice on managing your business online with our article: How to Become a Digital Nomad).
Life coaching online
When you first start your life coaching business, your sights may be set on the local expat community, even if you’re venturing out online. As with choosing your niche, focusing down on one audience segment is sensible while you get your bearings, and establish a few reliable clients. But once your business is stable and you’re feeling settled, don’t waste any time in broadening your horizons, and looking further afield.
It may go without saying, but the internet gives you the chance to offer coaching services to clients around the world. There are advantages in this too: you’ll be able to trade on your experience of starting a life coaching business and life in a new country to motivate people, which you can’t do when your clients are in the same situation. It also allows you to find English speaking clients, which may become more difficult as you exhaust the well of expats in France.
While there are a variety of online directories for life coaches, it’s worth reiterating the importance of a good website. There is plenty of competition online, but the fact that most life coaching businesses are small enterprises means that their websites tend not to be brilliantly constructed or marketed. Link back to your site from these directory listings, and make sure your homepage accentuates your life and journey, making your brand feel welcoming and distinct.
Consider writing a short eBook with some of your basic tips, as a reward for people signing up to a mailing list, or following you on social media. Write a blog on your experiences in France, highlighting challenges and explaining how you overcame them. And make sure you’re active on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Not only do these tools help you project a successful lifestyle - a prerequisite for life coaches - they will keep your site active, and help enormously in getting the word out. After that, it’s all up to you.
For more help and advice on opening your business in France, opening a bank account, or finding an accountant, contact the Euro Start Entreprises team through our contact page or call 0033 (0)1 53 57 49 10.