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We Need to Talk About the High Cost of Coaching

Today, there’s a trend in coaching that encourages us to constantly raise our rates. When did it become unacceptable for coaches to charge less than $100/hour? Or even $250/hour? Or…even more?

I was part of this trend, and fell into it quickly. Every few months, I raised my rates until I finally reached the “unicorn rate” of…$500/hour. 

“Ooooh, I’ve made it!” I remember thinking. 

I was wrong. 

I hadn’t “made it.”  

Instead, I lost something very dear to me. I lost my focus on the greater whole.

Because of our ability to efficiently and effectively help our clients reach their goals, we are encouraged to charge more money than other helping professions. This doesn’t bother me. If we are doing our jobs well, our clients should spend less time with us. 

One of the biggest questions I hear from coaches is: “How can I make enough money without burning myself out by over-filling my day with coaching conversations?” In other words: “I only have so much time!”

One of the ways we bypass this exhaustion is by making more money in less time. We default to charging high prices to offset our potential energy drain. (I know because I got very good at doing this.)

But this is a short-sighted shortcut.

At what point do our coaching prices begin restricting the work we claim to be so dedicated to? At what point is our inflated belief in the monetary value of coaching moving us away from service rather than toward it?

I used to think that if coaches could accept insurance like therapists can, we’d have a floodgate of people rushing in to be served. However, I recently learned that only 30% of therapists in the US today actively take insurance. And still, therapists have waiting lists! And that isn’t because therapists usually charge less than coaches. It’s because therapy is decades ahead of coaching in terms of market credibility and is an established and known support tool.

Coaching’s exclusivity is partly to blame for why so many coaches are scrambling to find enough clients to serve. I used to believe that it was not my responsibility how my clients found the money to pay for my services. In hindsight, this was a super convenient way to turn a blind eye to a deeper truth.

For the most part, it is none of my business. But it is my business that my clients feel safe and congruent about spending their money with me, no matter the amount. 

But as our prices rise, our exclusivity rises. As our exclusivity increases, we are no longer building unity. We are now fueling the very thing most coaches and healers claim to stand against. 

If my work is not accessible, then I am not upholding my desire to make coaching a viable tool for whoever wants or needs it.

I remembered something a fellow practitioner, Anna Schaum, shared with me years ago. She said, “If a therapeutic process is inaccessible to any one person, it is ineffective to all people.”

This hit me hard then and still does to this day.

The social worker in me, the one who was trained to advocate for the betterment of our collective system, still believes in this. If a system that claims to serve humanity is in any shape inaccessible, it isn’t serving humanity. It isn’t really a whole system, it’s only part of one.

We must know who we seek to serve.

Because when money is our only barometer, it becomes obvious who is being served. And it isn’t the majority. 

Why are we so compelled to get more for less? Less time. Less effort. 

Why do I feel like I’m breaking some cardinal rule by not only choosing to not raise my rates, but potentially lower them?

As a coach, I’ve been given full permission by my industry to ignore issues of accessibility and affordability. I’m reminded of common, yet hollow sayings like:

“Charge your worth!”

“People only show up when risk is alive!”

“People will find the money if they value it enough.”

“Your rates should make you uncomfortable!”

I can’t go back, but I can be honest moving forward. We always have a chance to re-evaluate where we are, and if our values change, that is OK. 

Let it be OK. 

Do I not value myself? Of course I value myself. I value my work and my skillset. I also value my client’s livelihood and their financial well-being. I value long-term coaching relationships that unfold over time.

Am I a poor businesswoman? Nope. I love business. I love leveraging my time and systems to keep my income sustainable and my margins healthy. I track my numbers and I track my profit. I also love finding new ways to serve people without maxing out on time (my Mentorship and weekend-long programs, for example). 

Ultimately, here’s why I’m questioning the high-price game…

  • I value humanity over business. If my business acumen ever comes at the cost of my integrity, or of serving the whole, then I am not successful. Maybe I won’t be a 6-figure coach next year. Maybe I won’t ever amass millions. But I do know that I will live with peace of mind. 
  • This work has to be accessible. Coaching is a wonderful thing to have in your life. It is supportive, playful, and challenging. It has drive and purpose, but it’s also a space to be seen and to practice things like vulnerability and self-acceptance. As much as I believe in the power of this work, I don’t believe it should cost the equivalent of a down payment on a house to get access to a coach or coaching conversations. 
  • Money is scary enough as it is. Money is easily in the top 3 topics my clients often focus on in our work together. I am not a financial planner or advisor, but I am equipped to support my clients in untangling their stories, fears, and generational wounds around money. Hiring a coach or paying to do this work shouldn’t be one more experience that triggers your money stuff. It also shouldn’t stretch you or your family to such an extent that it causes additional stress or pain. 
  • If not now, when? The world feels a little uncertain right now. Doing deep work like this can help us find our center amidst the uncertainty and keep us focused on how we can help ourselves and one another. This work is healing—not just for us as practitioners, but for everyone we affect in our communities. In order to help make that happen, my doors need to be more open than ever before. I need to become more accessible than ever before. 

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Andrea Leda - Brave Coach - Guest Author
Andrea Leda

Andrea Leda is a sought-after master coach, teacher, and mentor with over 10,000 hours of coaching experience since she began her practice in 2010. She is dedicated to helping each of us learn to trust our own innate value and worthiness so that we can show up for the work we’re truly here to do.

By harnessing her deep and practical knowledge of powerful coaching techniques—including NLP, journal therapy, mental emotional release work, and BodyMAP coaching—Andrea supports heart-centered coaches and visionary change-makers in reaching their fullest potential in both life and business. In her coaching work, she has been called "a force to be reckoned with and a brave woman who truly makes this world go round.”

In 2022, Andrea founded Braver Coach—a mission, a community, and an educational platform for coaches who are reimagining coaching by bringing forth all of who they are. As a certified training organization through the Association of Coaching, Andrea equips coaches so that they feel empowered to do the work they are called to do—and help their clients and communities do the same.

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