Getting outside advice is invaluable to the small business owner. Business coaches and business consultants are both valuable sources of help to an owner, but the distinction between the two sometimes confuses people. This can lead to people pursuing business coaching when they need business consulting services or vice versa. Which service is right for your business?
What Is Business Consulting?
Business consulting services offer expert advice in an area that the business owner may be lacking in. The business consultant can serve several roles but ultimately is a source of personalized, objective, expert information.
Consultants can be hired to answer a question. For example you might want an analysis of which marketing techniques would be most appropriate for your business. A marketing consultant could analyze your industry and the markets and indicate which marketing efforts are likely to provide the best ROI.
A consultant can also be contacted to provide a service. The same marketing consultant could use the analysis to create and manage the marketing programs. You would oversee the consultant’s efforts but allow the consultant to do the actual marketing work.
Finally, consultants can teach new skills — and this is often where business consulting services are confused with business coaching. If you know nothing about marketing but want to do your own promotions rather than hiring an outside firm, the marketing consultant could educate on the proper way to run your campaign and oversee your early efforts.
What Is Business Coaching?
Consulting involves fairly concrete principles while business coaching gets into more abstract areas. A coach’s job is to help you be the best business manager you can, not by teaching new skills but by helping you develop your potential.
Coaches aren’t there to give you answers. They are there to help you find the answers yourself. A question like, “What is the best direction to take my business?” doesn’t have a single right solution. Instead, the coach will let you answer that question by helping you decide what is important to you and what you really want from your company.
Business coaching provides a source of accountability. Many business owners find that the lack of someone to answer to causes them to flounder. Having a coach who helps them set goals and evaluate their success gives them the structure they need to motivate them to meet those objectives.
Which Service Does Your Company Need?
It is common for business coaching organizations to also offer business consulting services and vice-versa. The reason is that in most cases, their clients need a little of both. One might need more coaching and another more counseling, but most need a blend of services.
Working with the coach/consultant is the best way to determine what mix is best for you and the future of your business. Over time, your needs will change and a good coach/consultant will change with you.