How Much Should You Pay for Coaching?
Who has considered working with a coach and googled this question? I know I have!
Answering this question is a bit like asking someone “How much should I spend on a pair of shoes?”
The answer could be $20 pair of slip-ons from Target, or it could also be a $745 pair of iconic red-soled Christian Louboutins. If you’re hoping to impress while making the rounds at NYC’s Fashion Week, $745 might feel like a bargain. But if you need to turn on a dime while filling your cart playing Supermarket Sweep, those red-soled stilettos are probably not a good investment!
It all depends on what you’re looking for.
The other problem with answering this question: the price of a coach doesn’t always determine the quality.
To top it off, coaching is also a completely unregulated industry. So many people who call themselves “coaches” are actually consultants (those who help you solve a specific problem with their expertise) untrained in coaching skills, or well-meaning people who are in the advice-giving business after their friends and family told them they were great at it.
So how much IS the right amount to spend on a coach? Well, the answer, annoyingly enough, is “It depends.” While I can’t answer that question for you, I CAN give you a framework for thinking about how much you want to spend on a coach, give you some insider tips and share some of my experiences with coaching costs to give you some tools to make the right decision for you.
How Much Should You Pay? Two Guiding Principles
When it comes to coaching, costs can be all over the place. I know of coaches who charge six figures a year to work with them and others who bill $25 a session. That’s a crazy range!
When you’re looking at the price a coach charges, here are a couple of things I want you to keep in mind:
- The price of coaching doesn’t always equal quality (in either direction). High-priced coaches aren’t always the best, and low-priced coaches can be amazing. But, in general, more experienced coaches will charge more.
- Unless you are one of the rare people who sets a personal or professional development budget for yourself, it will probably always feel expensive at first, no matter what you pay.
So, as we talk further about actual numbers, your goals, and the value of reaching them, as well as making a financially responsible decision, keep these two things in mind.
What Does Coaching Cost? What Can I Expect To Pay for Coaching?
I know everyone wants to see actual numbers. I get that. So, while this is absolutely not exhaustive and incredibly general, I do want to give you some of the most common ranges you might see
For ease, I’m using a per-session cost, but many coaches (including me) charge by a package model for a certain amount of months, sessions, etc, and may include other things to support you outside of session times, but I’m trying to keep it simple.
Brand New Coach (particularly if they are still in the training or certification process): $25 – $75 per session
Newish Coach (depending on background and niche, certified): $75 – $200 per session
Experienced Coach (certified, possibly in multiple areas): $150 – $500 per session (maybe more, depending on niche)
Coach Working Through an Agency (varies widely): $249 – $750 per month
Executive Coaching Packages: $12,000 to $25,000 or more depending on what’s included
From there, the sky is the limit.
I’m currently in a group program with a coach who charges $108,000 a year to work with him one-on-one. A friend of mine just paid $12,000 to work with a business coach who isn’t certified for five months. One of the best coaches I’ve had cost me $1200 a year!
Here is my point, which you’re going to hate me for…pricing in a coach doesn’t necessarily indicate skill, and it isn’t a great way to judge.
Another note: Sometimes certified, experienced coaches charge less for certain groups they want to serve or work pro-bono with certain organizations. For example, when I was in certification, my mentor coach charged $599 a month. This is was waaaayyy below his corporate executive rate, but he enjoys mentoring coaches who are in certification and sets his fees at a rate that is more doable for students. Some coaches also have a special rate for groups like teachers or BIPOC folx who are traditionally underserved.
So if More Expensive Doesn’t Automatically Mean Better, How Do You Decide How Much You Should Pay For A Coach?
First, let’s talk about a coach’s role.
Coaching, at its core, primarily focuses on helping you identify your own answers to big or difficult questions, explore and identify what you want out of situations in business or life, help you move forward on that path, and challenge you to become who you want to be.
Coaches are thinking partners.
They bring an outside perspective, but not judgment.
They are trained to ask questions, provide reflections so you can see your own thoughts and feelings more clearly, then help you translate those insights into a mix of being and action that moves you toward your goals.
This is incredibly valuable stuff, but results vary and it’s not tangible like you know, buying a table.
Here is a way to think about this:
Think about what you want to achieve with this coach. The specific result, outcome, or goal.
Maybe it’s finding a partner or achieving a work / life balance you’re at peace with. Perhaps you’re looking to grow through your trepidation around building a team and doubling your business revenue. Maybe your goal is to feel good in your body and full of energy.
Ok, got it in your mind? Good.
Now, if you achieve that thing, how much would it be worth to you? How much of a difference would it make in your life? And how much would it be worth it to achieve that more quickly than you would on your own?
Now, let’s take a minute to compare that to a more tangible expense that you or someone you know might have done: a trip to Disney World.
Four people spending five days at Disney or an all-inclusive spa or resort, on average, costs around $3800. That’s a pretty hefty price tag, especially considering that after five days, you come home to the same problems you had before you left.
Now, imagine that for the same amount of money, in six months, someone could help you achieve:
- peak fitness
- healthier, happier relationships
- more confidence as a leader of your team
- figure out how to get more time and enjoy your life more (that one’s me! ????)
- push past your own constraints to make more money
Doesn’t that seem like a good deal?
Usually, when we look at the cost of coaching through that lens, it’s easier to see the value and ROI. That can give us a good framework for how much we might want to spend: how much is X worth to get done?
So, tangibly, how much would it be worth to you to achieve the goals you have for yourself? There’s no right answer to this question, but framing the investment of coaching in this way can help you spend a dollar amount that you are comfortable with.
I believe coaching is incredibly impactful and has helped me personally make incredible progress toward what I want in life.
But I also think that no one needs a coach. You are smart, capable, and hard-working. You will figure this out.
But without the individualized help of a coach, it might take longer. You might sacrifice things you didn’t mean to in the process. You might end up completely misaligned with your values. You might make mistakes you wouldn’t have. You might burn yourself out. You might not go for all the dreams you’re capable of.
What’s that worth? That’s the right context to help you make the decision of what to spend.
How Much Is Too Much To Spend on a Coach?
The reality is not everyone has a budget to go to Disney World! In general, I don’t think you should take on debt for a vacation, and I feel the same way about coaching.
I KNOW there are coaches out there who will say “But you’ve got to invest in yourself! You have to have faith to make progress and reach your goals! Do what you need to do!”
On some level, I agree with this.
I don’t believe that you can really grow a business past a certain point without investing in your business and your own growth. I know I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am now without the personal and professional development I’ve done.
So yes, there are times I think you MUST invest in your business to grow and make forward progress.
But I also believe in spending a sustainable amount that’s reasonable for the level that you’re at.
Even if you’re an amazing middle school track runner, at that point you probably don’t need Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s running coach. So don’t look for that.
Coaches for CEOs in charge of multi-billion dollar companies, where having clarity around one decision can mean the difference in millions of dollars, might charge $25,000 a year. On the other hand, if you have a small dog walking business and $25k would be 50 percent of your revenue, no matter how great that executive coach is, they don’t make sense for you.
Because most of us don’t have a personal development budget, spending money on a coach is always going to feel a little uncomfortable at first. But there’s a difference between uncomfortable and spending more than you can really afford.
If you’re taking on debt or taking away from other essential elements of your business or life, that’s too much to spend.
If you’re just starting out and budget is an issue, don’t let that hold you back. Just find someone to start that can help you uncover things that are holding you back, give you a fresh perspective when you need it, help process feelings as you do scary stuff, remember your vision, challenge you, cheer for you, and champion you when things are down. There are a lot of very reasonably priced coaches who can do all that very well.
Then, as you start to learn more about yourself — your business grows, your problems get bigger, you’re making more money, or you start to realize you need a specialized coach for a specific problem — consider spending more.
Here’s a good equation for what the right amount to spend on coaching: make sure you’re spending enough so that feel like you need to show up and do the work (since that’s the only way getting coaching really makes an impact), but not so much that you are constantly stressed and second-guessing if you’re making progress (because that will hold you back from doing so!).
A special note: Don’t spend more than you can afford thinking it’s the magic pill because you paid a lot for this particular coach. You’ll just be pissed and poorer when it isn’t.
Summing It Up: Wait, How Much Should I Spend?
- The cost of coaching can vary wildly. Although training and experience can be a good guide, the most important factor is having a good connection with your coach and feeling like it serves your needs.
- No one has a coaching budget. Set one for you. Think about this amount in terms of the value of what you want to achieve, balanced with affordability for the stage of life and business you’re at.
- It’s not bad to make it a bit of a stretch so you create a little pressure on yourself to show up well, but don’t take on debt, spend your life savings, or sacrifice essentials that are needed to run your business or your life.
Okay, if you’re reaching the end of this article, and you STILL don’t know how much you should pay for coaching, that’s okay! To be honest, this article was really difficult for me to write because there are so many factors, both out there in the world and within your own life. What I’ve tried to do here is give you a framework for helping you make the right decision for yourself.
And ultimately, that is what coaching is about. Not someone telling you what to do or how to live your life, but helping you figure out what matters to you and makes sense for where you’re at.
So…there’s no one right answer. It depends (you KNEW that was going to be the bottom line didn’t you? ????). But as a coach myself, I truly believe you can make the right decision for you.
You are capable. You are worthy. Don’t let this multi-pronged problem keep you from choosing a coach who will help you achieve your wildest dreams.
Because those dreams are possible…and the sooner you get started, the better! ????
If you’re now wondering how to find a coach, check out THIS article.