Phil Khor
Phil Khor Founder at

What is the difference between a life coach and a business coach?

What is the difference between a life coach and a business coach? When should a sole trader pick one over the other?

Top voted answer
Don Gregg

Don Gregg, Director at Advice 4 Growth

A business coach helps you with your business - managing better, selecting products and services to offer, which clients to target, operational systems, staff issues, etc. Use them to help you figure out how to make your business better. A life coach focuses on you and your personal goals such as more time with the kids and impacts of your personality on your work and family life. They help you change your ways to give you more of what you personally want in life. So if the issue is the business get a business coach. If it is about your lifestyle and personal goals see a life coach. Either could possibly help you but their focus and approach will be different.

Ronaldo Cruz

Ronaldo Cruz

I thought you could also plan your professional development and career goals with a life coach... help you compose a strategy for the year to achieve your professional goals, and then during the year facilitate the fleshing out of tactics, track progress on a quarter-by-quarter basis (depends on the objective) and giving feedback... Well, that's what I would expect from a Life Coach if I could afford one!

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Damir Butkovic

Damir Butkovic, Director at Damir Butkovic

As Don said, business coach is there to give you a hand with your business primarily, life coach with your life in general. In many ways that get very much mixed up especially with small business owners. Also many business coach will be trained as life coaches so they can do both jobs while may life coaches are just life coaches. Business coaching is usually more expensive than life coaching so again decosion will have to be made by sole trader.

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David Solomon

David Solomon, Business Performance Strategist at

While coaches may come from various backgrounds, there are basically 3 types:

1) A business coach

2) A corporate / executive coach

3) A life coach.

So what is the difference?

A business coach collaborates with the managers and / or owners of smaller companies to ensure people work on their business, rather than just in it.

In contract, executive and life coaches work to develop individuals rather than businesses. Coaches may work one-on-one or with groups.

A life coach works in a more holistic fashion to help develop people’s personal and interpersonal skills and set in place strategies to achieve both career and life goals.

In many ways the work of both executive coaches and life coaches can overlap. The difference between life and corporate coaching is blurred given you deal with work / life balance when you are coaching.

In my experience - or maybe it’s just the way I approach my coaching (which is quite holistic) – a coach can play multiple roles. For example, at various times I have been a sounding board, motivator, mentor, business consultant, teacher, task master, spiritual guide and friend to each of my clients.

But here is the really big problem - the coaching industry is virtually unregulated.

There are still no special qualifications that are widely recognised. There are no minimum criteria and there is not even a common terminology. People call themselves advisers, coaches and facilitators. It’s very easy to get into, there are no barriers to entry and anybody can call themselves one. Choosing the right coach is a whole other subject. 

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Adrienne McLean

Adrienne McLean, Founder at

Top 10% Career Planning

There certainly are cross overs between a Business Coach and a Life Coach but people look for one specifically when they are experiencing challenges in their lives. 

A mother having difficulties after having her children and experiencing a loss of her direction, would rarely go to a business coach and most likely appreciate the inputs from a Life Coach who has been there and done that. 

For a Business Owner who is struggling with getting sales through the door, It would be very unlikely that the Owner would go to a Life Coach and is much more likely to go to a Business Coach. 

The cross over between these two is the importance of mindset and the thinking behind what is happening. The Business Owner and the Mother both need support, connection and a reflection that it is going to be OK and here's the path forward.  

Hatty Bell

Hatty Bell, Community Manager at

Great insight @Adrienne McLean ! Mindset is everything right?

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Adrienne McLean

Adrienne McLean, Founder at

Top 10% Career Planning

Totally agree with @David Solomon 

From my understanding: 

A Business coach is to help with business issues and accountability. 

An Executive coach is for career advancement

A Life coach is for personal challenges and moving forward. 

There is a crossover with the skills the coaches need to support the client with moving forward from a dealing with people perspective ie coaching but there are specific areas each work on too. 

As David mentions, coaches can play many roles. 

 

Hatty Bell

Hatty Bell, Community Manager at

Thanks for your contribution @Adrienne McLean . Crossover is with the mindset adjustments then?

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Steve Gray

Steve Gray, Director at Gray Capital Investments

Top 10% Marketing

Coaching, assisting people to maximise their potential. Business and or life helps with those specifics to each area, life or business.

However as most issues arise from how we filter the world and our reaction to our sensory input, beliefs and values the coach needs to be savvy enough to not just provide basic strategies, but the deeper connections to the the things.

I can create a to do list for each style of coaching and set goals for people, however if they don't connect to the reasoning required and how they may respond to the goals they will often retreat mentally and or procrastinate etc.

Business operators may well pick a business coach thinking that's what they need, an effective coach will explore the needs of the client via some form of ecology check to figure out what the client needs/wants. Without the ecology check clients can often end up frustrated that they didn't get the result they wanted and may become resistant to change.

I could add that in a complex and or highly competitive sales environment a 'coach' who is not suitable for a client may well sell themselves in a manner the client likes, while the effective coach may not, the result a missmatch. Example if you get a pesky sales person  who is just there to get your signature and pester you until you sign on the dotted line, you may regret it later on...

Hatty Bell

Hatty Bell, Community Manager at

Thanks for the insight @Steve Gray ! Would a good life coach suggest a business coach if they realise that's what you need?

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Hatty Bell

Hatty Bell, Community Manager at

Would love to hear your thoughts on this @Steve Gray @Babette Bensoussan @Lisa Ormenyessy @Greg Rogers @Hitesh Mohanlal 

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