Differences between Business Coaching and Life Coaching

I strongly believe that there needs to be a distinction between life coaching and business coaching.  There seems to be some muddiness in both the coaching industry and the market about these two arenas; many people mesh them together as two parts of the same whole or overlap them conceptually (how often do you meet someone who claims to do both life and executive coaching?) while I see them as incredibly distinct — to the point of being almost two different professions within the larger profession we call coaching.
Here are some of the factors:
1. Business coaching incorporates executive coaching, leadership coaching, team coaching, and focuses on the results of the person being coached in alignment with the organization or department objectives.
2. Business coaching has a unique playing field: the context is complex organizational systems with layers of clients (the individual, the boss or sponsor — Key Relationships— and the organization as a whole)
3. Business coaches generally sell B2B while life coaches are selling to individual consumers (B2C)
4. Life coaches speak of having a “practice”, similar to therapists, social workers, and a traditional medical model, whereas Business coaches think of it as a coaching business and utilize similar structures to their business clients: strategic plans, marketing plans, P&L, balance sheets, sales strategy, etc.
I know there are more distinctions!  Please help me flesh this theory out and add your thoughts below!

Comments (7)

Amen sister! I think your second distinction is a biggie. I know life coaches have a unique playing as well, it’s just a very different field. Not really sure if this is a distinction but almost all business coaches I know usually provide catalog of services that complement the coaching…strategic planning, training, consulting. I’ll keep my thinking hat one for additional differentiation.

Thanks, Bill! You are so right. Another obvious distinction I forgot is the pricing…those who coach in business can command a higher hourly rate than those who coach people’s lives. I even see it with therapists. For some reason, perhaps it’s managed care, therapists at the market cap can only charge a fraction of what executive coaches charge.

Suzi – important distinctions. where life coaching arms individuals with skill sets for building capacity to communicate and relate – the core level, my vision of business coaching is the set of skills and observations of how the person’s professional capabilities must be first perceivable as a fullly developed organic entity, and then, the operative for business coaching is training the individuals/professionals how to perceive needs – when developing business- how to respond and cultivate, then sustain important relationships as the expertise/services grow and engage.
my achilles heel is communication with the client and recognizing what is the appropriate communication to be followed- not personal – but to maintain and cultivate professional relationships.
At any rate, that’s my quick initial take on it.

Great points, Susan!

Do you recommend hiring both a life coach and a business coach at the same time? Or would that be wrong? Can you have multiple coaches?

Hi, Coty. Of course you can have multiple coaches at once….I usually do! I have different coaches for different areas of excellence I want to focus on.

Very true. The interesting thing is that while 1 and 2 are pretty obvious, even many (beginner) coaches fail to realize 3 and 4. Especially 4 is so important if you want to be successful as a business coach. You just can’t run it like a “practice”.

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