Coach or consultant? These terms get thrown around a lot, but what are business coaches, business consultants, and how are they different?
Let’s start by addressing their differences.
“I get asked this a lot because there are so many "Coaches" out there. I explain the difference as Coaches strictly advise and use tools to help you discover who you are and grow internally, whereas Consultant are hands-on and start by analyzing then creating a plan, and implement with measurements.”
One of the simplest and best explanations that I have seen to explain the difference between a business coach and a business consultant is with a bicycle scenario:
A business coach will help you understand how and why you ride a bicycle, help you to determine what's holding you back from riding properly, and jog along next to you as YOU ride.
A business consultant will explain why one bike is superior to another, teach you how to ride the bike, and if necessary, ride the bike for you.
The differences between the two roles, when it comes to job functions, become clear once you understand who you need and what they can do for you. But what can they do for you once you have chosen to work with either a coach or with a consultant?
The first rule is not to get overwhelmed with the choices. There are a hundred different niches and specialties when it comes to coaches and consultants. However, we’re going to keep it pretty simple, because how often do you really need a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Coach when it comes to business?
Basically for every type of coach, there is a consultant counterpart. Unless you have very specific needs I would look at someone who has a firm grounding on the basic overall understanding of what it takes to survive in today’s workforce; for example: life coach, business coach, small-business coach, corporate business coach, or life consultant, business consultant, small-business consultant, corporate business consultant. One of these people or groups will cover most of what you need, and if you later find that you need something more specific, then turn to a niche coach or consultant.
Here is a list of what a business coach might help with: time management, feeling overwhelmed, motivation, letting go of fear, brainstorming, implementation, follow-up, negativity, creating a plan, creating structure, sharing your vision, goal setting, clarifying your idea, and accountability.
Here is a list of what a business consultant might help with: business planning, lead generation, company and business strategies, marketing, social media, SEO, sales, delegation, employee relations, customer service strategies, and having an online presence.
Of course, coaches and consultants may cover different services; so it is important to meet with them and talk about what they can do for you, what is required of you, and their pricing structure.
Tip: A lot of coaches will have group meetups that get together weekly. If arranged in advance, sometimes you can sit in on one or two meeting for free to evaluate the coach to see if they are a right fit for you. Not all coaches offer this, so you’ll have to be proactive.
Now that you know the difference between a coach and a consultant, it’s up to you to take an unbiased look at yourself and your business to determine what actions (if any) should be taken. What areas do you need help in? What areas don’t you need help in? Do you feel that your needs would be better addressed by a coach or by a consultant?
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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