Why I don’t like most certificate programs, and what I recommend instead…

I know I’ll get some flack for this post, but I believe it’s important to say this:

In many fields (maybe yours) certifications are an unnecessary cost.

The exceptions are psychotherapy, allopathic medicine, law, and a few other fields where one is legally required to be licensed.

In most other fields of transformation, coaching, and healing, a license is not required. There are alternative ways to spend your precious time, energy and money to reach success.

Let’s explore one path that I’d recommend….

The popular certification programs cost between $5,000-$10,000 for 6–12 months. Some programs cost even more money and time.

What if instead, you worked for 6–12 months privately with a mentor who provided personal accountability and guidance to:

  • Learning just enough practical info each week (instead of being inundated with lectures and “required” readings)
  • …then get into doing practice sessions right away with volunteer clients, starting with your friends (no matter what, you’re going to have to get volunteer clients even in certification programs)
  • …then your mentor will critique the video recordings of your sessions (one of the conditions of getting your services for free during this training period: sessions are recorded so that you and your mentor can watch and critique your skills so that you can keep improving every week)
  • …your mentor may also provide small group calls where you get role-play experience (unlike the larger classes in certification programs) or your mentor might pair you up with a fellow mentee for role-playing on your own time
  • All the while, you’re building true knowledge through real practice, as well as by creating content consistently to share your learnings along the way
  • You’ll also be spending money wisely on Facebook Ads to build an audience, so that by the end of the mentoring period, you’ll have an audience who has been follow your development journey, some of whom will now be ready to become your paying clients!

To me, the primary downside of a certification program (besides the lack of 1–1 mentoring) is the reinforcement that you need a certification to feel like a professional.

It’s an illusion, because potential clients probably don’t understand nor care about your certification.

Alternatively, the mentoring path outlined above will get you into developing confidence right away, building your self-worth through real-world experience and deliberate practice.

Which would you rather have more of: external stamps of approval, or abundant internal confidence due to personal experiences?

Instead of $5,000 for a 6-month certification and ending up with little practice, and no audience to enroll, let’s look at the cost of this alternative path…

  • Find a mentor in your desired field who has worked with many clients successfully
  • Pay to work with them one hour per week (let’s say $150 per session) for 6 months, for a total cost of $3,600.
  • If possible, look for a mentoring program that has either a small group component so that there’s role playing practice, or the option to pair you with a fellow mentee(s) for ongoing practice
  • Immediately begin to create content (blog or video) sharing your learnings, offering tips to potential clients, stories of “aha! moments” that your volunteer clients are having, and other knowledge you’re gaining from the mentorship
  • Start running FB Ads to distribute your content, spending $100 per month (which is more than most coaches are spending!) = $600 for the 6 months
  • That still leaves you with $800 left (to equal $5,000) that you could spend on taking courses to develop your business/marketing skills, which are crucial to actually creating a viable business with your services.

In this alternative path, you’d end up after 6 months with tons of supervised coaching practice, plus an audience to enroll to become your clients.

Why don’t people do this?

It’s because we are easily sold by the glitzy-looking certification programs. On the other hand, the 1–1 mentors don’t have as much of a marketing budget, nor do they have the armies of alumni to help sell the training like certification programs do.

Yet, with the mentoring path, you’ll be much farther along in building a real business. You’ll have had a lot more real-world practice than the typical certification student. You’ll have much more confidence, and probably some testimonials and referrals too!

Potential clients usually don’t look for a certification, and even if you have one, they don’t understand the significance. Instead, imagine having lots of testimonials, as well as your authentic confidence. That will enroll new clients much more effectively than a certification.

So many people who complete certification programs never build up a viable business. Instead, they often get sold into an additional certifications. It becomes an addicting cycle of racking up more external stamps of approval, yet never feeling “ready” to build a business.

Instead, a good 1–1 mentor will get you out there with practice clients right away, and help you build a viable business just like they have.

If you are a 1–1 mentor who can provide this kind of path that I’ve outlined — or if you’re looking for such a mentor — I would love for you to comment below.

Written by

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity" https://www.GeorgeKao.com

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