What is the difference between a business coach and a business consultant?
I see both business coaching and consulting services but am confused about the difference and which is better for someone who is just starting a business?
There is indeed a profound difference:
Coaches help you to stick on an agreed path/plan/methodology. Coaches measure your performance and tell you if you are doing right or wrong. They also encourage you in cases where you loose motivation.
Consulting help you in understanding things by providing the expertise/knowledge you might be missing. They might do some work for you, but it is not strictly necessary.
A consultant tells you what needs to be done while a coach takes you through what needs to be done.
In simplest terms, a business coach has a stake in the company (Equity) and may or may not have a salary. A coach gives advice while risking a lot, therefore will be more truthful and active with coaching for the business' growth.
A consultant gets paid, has no stake in the business and does not have the business' best interests kept in mind. Has no risks to take when his advice goes awry.
You are the most important person your business because your the leader, right. Your direction and example will determine if your company is getting the right things done each day, week, month, quarter, and year.
Your development as a leader is the most important objective for your company. Then hire good leaders as you grow and you will be consulting each other.
Consulting is giving advice based on the consultants, outside looking in, perspective of your company.
Coach is helping you, side by side, to advise your team and to develop you as a leader.
I have done both. I no longer consult because it's not effective 100% of the time.
I coach exclusively because I literally help owners and executives and employees develop and improve 100% of the time.
Coaching is harder because you must adjust to every client. A coach must develop and improve with each client, a great coach.
Consulting is about observing details and results and writing up the observations and advice to improve.
Remember, all consulting and coaching firms are unique. The best consulting is hands on and results focused. They're goals are to improve performance and contribution of the whole team. They work hard to help you succed.
Most firms just want to fulfill their contract and expect you to take their advice and succeed on your, because they're no sure how to make you successful and make money. If you want more help after failing they charge more money.
I found coaching is more effective because it's easier to create a beneficial relationship based on trust. You and your coach are dealing with smaller objectives and fewer people or one person. Consulting is dealing with big objectives involving many people.
The best coaching firms focus on the same things. A coach will make you better the first week and every week after, because they are focused on you being a better leader. They will focus on tools to help you create the habits you need to lead you company.
To find the best of either, you need a list of questions to ask every person you talk to, and keep improving your list of questions as you do the interviews.
Let every person know what you are doing, you are doing a comparison to find the best coach or consultant.
Note how you feel about each interaction and how the person treats you, patient and respectful or less. Do you get helpful insights from the interview?
Remember, you know business better than anyone else in the world and you need someone to help you draw out the great leader that is inside of you.
Michael Jordan had a personal coach his whole career. Steve Jobs had a personal coach during his second stint at Apple.
Jen, Good question. I have been doing both for more than 20 year. I have always defined coaching as helping a business owner develop a skill within themselves. While I do consulting when a business needs a person to fill a needed skill or position within an organization for some period of time. This clarifies whenever I make this distinction. I hope this adds value to this great discussion.
Thanks for the great question Jen! - Dino
Wow, thank you so much for all of the great responses everyone- this has been really helpful!
With 33 responses (till the moment), you must have either got your answer or we must have confused you enough to hire a consultant to analyze this... did we? Everybody had a good attempt at it, I must say and with just classifying the responses you can count the coaches and consultants and pick your deal here and now itself... Anyway, I will also toss my stone to swirl the already whirling pond.
A consultant teaches you about ‘WHAT’ to do and ‘HOW’ to do it, focusing on the process, results and outcomes while a coach will enlighten you with ‘WHY’ to do it with a professional commitment and personal detachment but holistic approach...! The difference between TRIUMPHANT and CONTENT could prove to be a good metaphor to explain this, I believe.
Now with this said, for your basic question ‘whom should you go for?’ the Cheshire cat from Alice in the wonderland has the perfect answer...
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where –" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"– so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough..."
All the best and make sure you walk long enough, whatever path you choose... nothing can beat ‘experience’ when it comes to teaching!
Jen, I like your question as in writing my book that I've recently published, I was asking myself the same question. As there is a lot of great input from other people I would just like to add my findings and understanding about the difference between a coach and a consultant.
For me a CONSULTANT is someone you hire to work for you and ask you questions. They write a document with their answers and hand it to you, so it is a person that tells you what you should already know! It helps you to push through your company the ideas that you are unable or afraid to do.
On the other hand a COACH is someone who teaches you about things you do not know! He helps you or better guides you through the hard way of learning and understanding. He/ she doesn't turn you back the numbers you gave, but rather shows them to you to with a new perspective.
In the most simplify model: a business coach is a personal mentor who guides your business success and a consultant is someone you hire to help solve specific issues or aspect of your business
A Business Consultant is, in principle, a person who can give you an Overview of your Business, and help you resolve issues of a specialised nature. I used the phrase "in principle", as there are a number of Failed Company Directors, etc, calling themselves "Consultants". To find a decent Consultant, it's advisable to check how long they have been Trading, and the number of successes with Clients. If you have difficulty getting that information - walk away.
A Business Coach is there to guide you through the process of setting up your company, helping you determine your approach and/or product profile. Beware of a business Coach who will only work 'one way', and is disparaging rather than helping in a positive manner. These are low grade Coaches, and see you only as a source of income.
Clearly, you are going to have to pay for help and advice, but you should be able to find support from Reliable Coaches/Consultants who, as an example of their Integrity, will provide a limited time at no cost to see if you and they can work together and that you are satisfied with the Support.
This is a great question. Basically a consultant is hired to do work and provide answers to questions. Think of it like you would also considering the consultant as a full time person if you actually needed that capability full time. The advantage of a consultant is that you can get a high level of expertise on an as needed basis.
A coach helps you discover what the questions are that you want to ask. They help you learn to be self aware and take self directed action. Most leaders benefit from having a coach on their side to help them make tough decisions and also the coach is there to remind them of their goals and vision.
For a startup you would use both in different ways. The coach is best there to help you decide what you want and guide you to your goals. The consultant will do the legwork to get you there.
In theory, they are different. The main difference is on the tool and methodology they use.
A coach will help the client to identify his goals (for his business, department, team...) and mainly through questioning an resource sharing help the clients to find his own solution.
A Consultant on the other hand works more with problem solving and direct implementation. He takes a much more active role. Leading a complete project implementation for example.
To summarize: The coach will help the client to find his own solution the consultant will give the solution.
Now in practice the boundaries are generally quite blurred. That's why it might be confusing.
Just one comment to add to the great answers below. There are many folks that use the name Coach. If you choose to employ a Coach make sure they are trained as a coach and not on the "call me a coach" bandwagon. Coaches help you find what you need. You call the shots. Consultants are usually experts in their field and make recommendations for you to adopt. I suggest you ask enough questions to get the person you need.
A Business Coach is someone who usually coudn't make it in business. Now they promote themselves as individuals who can guide and teach business people how to expand on and and improve their businesses.
A business consultant, like myself, is someone who becomes a strategic partner to a owenr of a company with history. We help them improve cash flow and stabilize long term business costs.
In general, a consultant will provide a total program of services, and will include hands on activity depending upon the client's needs. A coach may be more in the background, and often expands the ability of the client to build a productive culture.
A consultant will likely be the best choice for a startup.
I want to give a concrete example that builds on what others have said. A client of mine is a woman who started a bakery with specialty products. It started out with a handful of friends in a tiny location and now has two retail outlets, two more coming, and companies are wanting to license her brand. She had no prior management experience, and now she has a $3 million company with 40 employees.
As her "small business growth adviser" (my chosen title) I do several kinds of coaching and consulting for her:
-- Problem solving on all aspects of running her business
-- Planning and sticking to her plan. Nagging and reminding and congratulating
-- Connecting her to resources she needs, such as production manager, licensing attorney, HR expertise, CFO
-- Helping her put together a presentation to get a working capital loan
-- Training her in key management skills
-- Working on her management style.
This last one is the most important, because small business owners have habits and attitudes that hold them back. It takes a lot of coaching, hand holding, browbeating to get them to change. I help her build her self confidence that she has what it takes, and she doesn't need to feel overwhelmed.
So this runs the gamut from consulting to coaching, and it's very difficult to separate them.
Doesn't matter so much, focus rather on what your business NEED is and find the person who can fill it.
Absolutely no difference. Marketing 101 mumbojumbo. Today everyone that can't get a job or isn't making enough money is a business coach. Most don't have a clue about advice or implementation. Be very selective if engaging with one!
A Consultant gives advice. A coach is more 'hands - on' in implementing their advice.
The difference is not precise, and business consulting can overlap with business coaching. I suggest you provide more detailed information as to what is being offered.
- do you provide personal mentoring?
- do you help brain-storm business ideas?
- do you look at financial information together?
- do you become a friend?
- are you hands-on or hands-off?