Business Coach or Consultant
What is the Difference, Which One Should I Hire and How Do I Choose the Right Person?
Most business owners lack the full breadth of knowledge and skills to effectively manage and grow their business, especially at an exponential rate. Ideally, an owner would have financial expertise, operational knowledge, marketing know-how, people management skills, and sales experience.
So how do owners fill in the gaps? For many, the solution is to seek help from a solid executive partner or someone the owner can go to for advice or counsel. This could be a mentor, a partner, a peer group or another owner.
The other growing trend is to hire a business coach or business consultant. If you are a business owner and are at a stage where you are considering paying someone thousands of dollars to help you with your business, here are three questions you should ask yourself.
What is the difference between a business consultant and a coach?
A business coach provides a partner in creating ideas, developing plans and inspiring motivation to execute the plan. Many coaches use specific frameworks and address mindset challenges hindering effective business management and growth. The coach may help the owner clarify their vision and align it with personal and professional goals.
The big value of a business coach is in creating a plan and then preparing and guiding the owner to execute the plan. Ultimately, it is on the business owner to take this coaching, combined with their own knowledge and know-how to make things happen.
A business consultant is typically more of an expert in specific disciplines of business and strategy. A consultant will typically dive in deeper into the business strategy, analytics, and market factors and build specific recommendations to drive the business forward. This can include among other things:
- identifying specific growth strategies
- conducting market, product, pricing and customer analyses
- building targeted marketing and sales plans
- analyzing financials and building key metrics
- building operational processes
- creating hiring strategies
A consultant might be hired on a short-term project or on a more long-term basis depending on the needs of your business.
Should I hire a consultant or a coach?
I think most of us in business, if money was no object, would love to have both a coach and a consultant. Who wouldn’t want more smart people around to help their business grow and succeed? We know that as owners, we have to be smart with our money, and invest in the areas that will help us achieve our goals. Here are three steps to take when deciding between a coach and consultant:
- Build Self-Awareness – What things are currently lacking in order to achieve your goals? If you lack knowledge in basic business skills such as financials, operations, marketing, sales and strategy, you may want to consider hiring a consultant who has those skills. If you do have solid business knowledge but lack the process, planning, focus and discipline to achieve your goals, hiring a coach might be a better fit.
- Determine Your Goals and Desired Outcomes – What are you trying to accomplish? If you are looking to tackle a specific problem such as hiring your first team, increasing margins by 5% or building a digital marketing strategy, hire a consultant. If you are looking at a shift in your business or are having trouble meeting top-line growth goals, a coach can be a great partner.
- Decide on the Level of Need – What level of involvement do you need from the person? Hire a consultant if you need someone who is diving deep into your business and working more as a business partner. Hire a coach if you are looking for a “lighter” relationship, that doesn’t require a deep analysis of the business.
How do I choose the right person to hire?
Once you’ve decided on a consultant or a coach, now it is time to actually find the right person. Of course cost is a huge factor, but I would contend there are two other major factors in determining the person:
- Credibility – this includes the knowledge, reputation, experience and “resume” of the person
- Fit – this includes both the ability of the consultant or coach to work well with the owner as well as the person’s alignment with the values and services of the business
To determine credibility get a bio/resume and have him or her provide examples of successes that relate to the specific needs you are hiring for. Get a reference from a previous client and see what kind of education he or she has. For a coach, are they certified?
To determine fit, really gauge the passion and energy of the person. Do they believe in you and your business? Are they the type of person you can trust and spend meaningful time with?
One last word.
Coaching has become one of the fastest growing professions which creates both a positive and a negative outcome. On the positive side, the growth in coaching means that business owners are seeing value in hiring coaches and seeking out help from others. On the negative side, it means that there are many people that are going into coaching that don’t really have the proper training or business knowledge to deliver results.
It is important for a business owner to really take their time in finding the right consultant or coach – because when you do, it is amazing what can be achieved.
Nevin Bansal, President & CEO
Nevin is a business consultant that works with leaders to help them tackle their biggest challenges and growth goals.
Interested in discussing your business challenges? Contact Nevin