If you're entering the world of life coaching, you are undoubtedly in the right place. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.9 percent leading up to 2030. In other words – it's a booming industry, unlikely to slow down any time soon.
A personal coach contract is a crucial piece of your documentation as a life coach. Similar to a proposal, this document outlines the terms and conditions of your working relationship with clients. It formalizes the coaching process and helps protect both parties from any potential disputes.
Without a personal coach contract in place, you're more likely to experience issues like scope creep, miscommunication, unmet expectations, and even legal disputes. No one wants to go down that road. A good contract helps ensure a smooth and successful coaching relationship with your clients. So, how do you write one?
Benefits of a Personal Coach Contract
Personal coaches provide their clients with guidance, support, and direction to help them reach their goals. Whether it's a personal coach contract for one-on-one coaching or group coaching, having clear boundaries and expectations in place is essential.
First and foremost, your personal coach contract is drawn up to protect you and your client in the event of a dispute. It serves as proof that both parties have agreed to enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement and are held accountable for their actions. If there's something your client has done (or failed to do) that breaks the contract, you can refer back to the agreement and take appropriate legal action.
Setting out a personal coach contract establishes clear expectations for both parties. You'd be surprised at how often client expectations are mismatched with what you can actually deliver. A contract helps to avoid miscommunication and ensures that everyone is on the same page from the start.
Clients expect a certain level of formality from you – and a huge part of your professionalism as a coach lies in the documents you prepare. Whether it's a proposal or contract, having well-drafted documents makes you look professional and reliable. Your client will be more likely to trust you if they can see that you have your act together.
Essential Elements of a Life Coach Contract
You should never attempt to 'wing it' when it comes to any of your legal documents. There are certain elements that need to be included in a personal coach contract to make it both effective and legally binding – and there’s a difference between simply writing a proposal vs a contract. Let's take a look at the essential elements of a life coach contract.
Start your contract with a brief statement of the purpose of the agreement. Your summary only needs to be a couple of sentences long, but it should include the names of both parties and the purpose of their relationship.
"This Agreement is hereby entered into by [Client Name] and [Your Name], hereafter referred to as the 'Coach', with the purpose of establishing a professional coaching relationship. The Coach will provide [Client Name] with guidance and direction to help them reach their desired goals."
Description of Coaching
Every coach has a slightly different approach, but you should always include a general description of what personal coaches do. Position this straight after the exec summary as an extension of the introductory section. Though most of the document is written formally and for legal purposes, this is a section you can use to reinforce the value of your coaching.
Your description might sound like this:
"Coaching, defined as a partnership (non-legal) between the Coach and the Client, is designed to help the Client identify their goals, create action plans and develop strategies for achieving success. Coaching is forward-looking rather than backward-facing; it focuses on helping clients become more aware of their potential and how they can reach it."
You're essentially setting the scene for the rest of your contract by explaining what coaching is and how it works.
Clarify the Relationship
The first item in the main body of your contract should be a clear description of the relationship between you and the client. Make it crystal clear that no legal partnership exists between you, and that all sorts of contractual obligations and liabilities are waived. The client is solely responsible for their action, inaction, and any direct or indirect results of the coaching.
This section is your chance to iron out any liabilities or assumed responsibilities that could cause problems down the line. Clarify that your service isn't meant to stand in for therapy or professional counseling; you're not here to diagnose or treat mental health problems, and your advice is well-informed but not backed by medical or legal expertise.
Don't be surprised if this section makes up a significant portion of your first page. Separate each item into a different section and begin by clarifying who the item refers to. For example, your first items might look like this:
"i. Coach agrees to comply with all applicable laws and ethics outlined by the International Coach Federation (ICF), and will periodically review and update their skills and knowledge in accordance with the ICF's coaching standards."
ii. Client understands and acknowledges that coaching services are provided solely for the purpose of self-improvement, and that the Coach is not a therapist or mental health professional."
We recommend getting professional legal help for this section, as the wording needs to be precise and unambiguous.
Services Being Offered
Next, it's time to clarify exactly what services you're offering to the client. Make sure to include both physical and virtual services, such as face-to-face meetings, phone or video calls, email consultations, etc.
The number of sessions you'll be providing should also be clarified in this section. Include an exact number and specify any other conditions for the coaching relationship (such as a minimum commitment period).
"The Coach and Client agree to engage in this program from the commencement date of [Date] for a total of [Number] sessions. The duration of each session will be approximately one hour, and the Coach and Client agree to meet either in person or via video call every week on [Day/Time]."
This section should also include any other services you'll provide as part of the coaching package – like offering email correspondence or creating written programs.
The payment schedule should be as specific as possible. Include the total cost of the package, any discounts that apply, and whether you accept installments or require a single lump sum payment upfront.
Include details about when payments are due (for instance, at the start of each month) and what happens if the payment isn't received in time. You might want to introduce a late payment fee or provide a grace period before defaulting on the contract.
Finally, make sure you specify how and when you'll receive payments (for instance, via direct bank transfer).
Cancellation and Refund Policy
It's important to include a section that outlines what happens if the client decides to cancel or terminate their contract. You never know when a client might need to end their coaching relationship, and it's best to be prepared. For example, you might say:
"The Client can cancel their contract with the Coach at any time. If the Client wishes to terminate the contract, they must provide written notice [Number] days before their next scheduled session. In this case, all payments already made are non-refundable and no further payment will be due."
Non-Disclosure and Confidentiality
To protect both yourself and your client in the event of a dispute, you need to include a non-disclosure agreement. This is especially important if you're dealing with sensitive information, such as private coaching sessions or proprietary business plans.
Your contract should make it clear that any confidential material shared between the parties must remain secret and not be disclosed to third parties without written consent. It's highly recommended to get legal assistance when writing this section, as it can mean the difference between a successful coaching relationship and a costly legal battle.
Though you've already mentioned and clarified your role as a coach, it helps to have an entire section that outlines the limits of your liability. Specify that you can't be held responsible for any decisions taken or actions performed by the client during or after their coaching sessions.
"The Coach cannot be held responsible for any decisions taken or actions performed by the Client as a result of coaching sessions. The Coach is not liable for any damages, losses, liabilities or costs incurred by the Client in relation to their coaching program. The Client is solely responsible for their own decisions and any consequences arising from them."
Applicable Governing Law
Finally, you should specify which law applies to your contract. If the client is based in a different state or country to you, then this can help prevent any legal complications that may arise due to conflicting laws and regulations.
"This agreement shall be governed by the laws of [State/Country] and any dispute arising out of or in connection with this agreement shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located within [State/Country]."
By including all these elements, your personal coaching contract will be comprehensive and legally watertight. Both you and the client need to sign at the bottom to make the agreement official.
Once you've finished writing your contract, it's a good idea to have a lawyer review it to make sure everything is in order. Doing so will give you peace of mind and protect both parties from any potential misunderstandings or legal issues down the line.
Crafting a Comprehensive Personal Coach Contract Template
As you can see, a personal coach contract is packed with detail – so it takes time to get it right. To make life easier, you can create a template that includes all the clauses above. This way, when you land a new client, you won't have to start from scratch; simply adjust the details and you're good to go.
Personalize your contract by adding your brand name, logo, colors, and fonts. Your clients will appreciate the consistency and professionalism and you'll establish yourself as a credible coach.
To help you get started, here's a personal coach contract template we prepared earlier!
Address: [Street Address], [City], [State/Province], [Country], Zip Code
Re: Personal Coaching Contract
This agreement is made between [Client Name] (the "Client") and [Coach Name] (the "Coach"). The Client wishes to engage the Coach for personal coaching services, and the Coach agrees to provide such services on the terms set out in this contract.
Description of Coaching: Coaching, defined as a partnership (non-legal) between the Coach and the Client, is designed to help the Client identify their goals, create action plans and develop strategies for achieving success. Coaching is forward-looking rather than backward-facing; it focuses on helping clients become more aware of their potential and how they can reach it.
1. Coaching Relationship
A. The Coach agrees to provide [service] coaching services to the Client for [length of contract] commencing on the date of this agreement. The Coach is not an employee, contractor or legal representative of the Client and will provide coaching services as an independent professional.
B. The Client is solely responsible for any decisions taken or actions performed as a result of the coaching sessions. The Coach is not liable for any damages, losses, liabilities or costs incurred by the Client in relation to their coaching program.
C. The Coach...
D. The Client...
2. Services Offered
The Client-Coach relationship will involve the following services:
A. [Service 1]
B. [Service 2]
C. [Service 3]
The Coach and Client agree to engage in this program from the commencement date of [Date] for a total of [Number] sessions. The duration of each session will be approximately one hour, and the Coach and Client agree to meet either in person or via video call every week on [Day/Time].
3. Payment Schedule
The Client will pay the Coach a fee of [Amount] for each session in advance, either through [payment method]. Payment is non-refundable and failure to make payment on time may result in termination of this contract without notice. If additional sessions are required, the Client and Coach will [agree on a new payment schedule/negotiate the same fee].
4. Cancellation and Refund Policy
Cancellation of coaching sessions must be done at least [hours/days] in advance. Failure to do so will result in [consequences/penalties, e.g. forfeiture of the session fee]. If either party wishes to terminate this agreement at any time, they must provide [number] days' written notice before the termination date. A refund will not be provided for any unused session fees.
5. Confidentiality & Privacy
A. The Coach agrees to keep all information shared by the Client confidential, except in circumstances where disclosure is required by law or regulation.
B. The Coach will only use the Client's personal data for the purpose of providing coaching services, and will not use it for any other purpose without the Client's explicit consent.
C. The Coach agrees to keep all records relating to the Client in a secure environment and will delete them upon completion of the contract period.
6. Limited Liability
The Coach is not liable for any damages, losses or costs incurred by the Client in relation to this coaching program. The Coach does not guarantee results and will not be held responsible for any outcomes that may arise from the Client's decision to undertake coaching sessions.
7. Governing Law
This agreement shall be governed by the laws of [State/Country] and any dispute arising out of or in connection with this agreement shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located within [State/Country].
[Coach Name] _________________________
[Client Name] _________________________
Working as a personal life coach is incredibly rewarding. You get to experience firsthand how you can help others to create and reach their personal goals. In order to ensure a successful relationship with your clients, however, you need to put together a detailed contract that outlines the expectations of both parties.
Writing up such an agreement might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little preparation and thought, you can create a comprehensive contract that will help ensure the success of your coaching business.
No time to draft your own contract? No worries. At Bonsai, we've got a selection of legally-reviewed coaching templates to help you get started. Sign up for a free 7-day trial today.