Business Coaching or Business Consulting: Is It For You?
Business coaching and consulting defined
“Do we need business coaching or consulting?” is a question we get asked a lot by business owners. So here are some thoughts to guide you. Let’s start with a bit of background first.
It’s Lisa here. When I started in business in 2003, there were ‘business coaches’ and ‘management consultants’ providing advisory services to privately owned businesses.
Business Consultant wasn’t a term that was used 12 years ago.
Early days of business coaching vs management consultants
In 2003, there were a small number of business coaches providing services to small to mid-sized businesses.
Most business coaches came from marketing and sales backgrounds, and had bought into franchises such as Action International, now known as Action Coach. I evaluated the available business coaching franchises at the time and decided they weren’t for me.
My way of working was less formulaic, and more tailor made with a people and strategy focused coupled with commercial rigour.
At the other end of town, management consultants were servicing the larger businesses, privately owned. The traditional business advisory firms, such as KPMG and EY had set up ‘private advisory’ departments. These departments were staffed by small teams with financial backgrounds. However most in these advisory roles, had not owned and operated their own business.
When I started in business, I worked freelance as a management consultant too.
So what do we call ourselves?
Dilemma – is Business Coach or Management Consultant more suitable as a job role title? I wrestled with this for weeks.
I wanted to offer the services of a coach and a consultant to private business owners; to be able to coach, and do the work if required. My sense was the market needed a service provider who could offer strategy and operational advice from experience, coupled with the ability to deliver with commercial rigour.
I decided to use the term ‘Business Consultant’ to describe our role. I took the Business out of ‘Business Coach’ and Consultant out of ‘Management Consultant’ and stuck them together; it felt right at the time.
In early days I had to explain ‘Business Consultant’ a great deal; I coach, and do the work if required. Now thanks to Google ‘Business Consultant’ has become commonplace.
Professional training and development roles
In the visual we provide above, you can see Business Coach, Facilitator, Counsellor, Mentor, Trainer, and Business Consultant are all professional training and development roles, used to enhance individual skills, knowledge or performance.
In practice the differences are often blurred, and the terms are used interchangeably.
Our brief explanations are provided below.
1. Business Coaching
Business Coaching is about encouraging and empowering a business owner from the sidelines, so you can learn how to achieve a specific professional goal.
You may aspire to a big and brave goal that seems unobtainable or a stretch based on where you are.
Business coaching helps you to identify goals that are in your best interests, create a realistic action plan, and hold you accountable.
Along the way, we may also need to point out how self-doubt or fear limits your achievements. This is usually part of your journey as a business owner.
Facilitation is about promoting resolution within a group when you need to achieve a specific business goal.
Facilitation techniques are used with business teams and stakeholder groups.
3. Business Mentoring
Business Mentoring is being a sounding board for you when you are evaluating how to progress a new professional direction or vision.
Mentors share ideas, examples and advice to help you as a business owner evaluate potential new ways of seeing the world, and new directions.
Counselling is supporting you in private typically 1-on-1 to resolve a specific professional challenge.
Counsellors use the sharing of ideas, examples and advice to help you to resolve a specific professional challenge you may have in your business and to move forward.
Training is teaching you specific skills and knowledge to improve your individual capability, capacity, productivity and performance.
6. Business Consulting
Business Consulting is doing the work for you on your business to achieve a specific business goal or outcome.
Drawing on expertise to review, develop, recommend, and help implement a solution for you the business owner or manager.
Services we offer as business consultants
We call ourselves Business Consultants and publicly promote ourselves as a Business Consultancy. When we work with you we use aspects from each of the 6 training and development roles outlined above, to give you the best of all worlds.
Here’s how we approach Business Coaching and Business Consulting:
- We use the term ‘Business Coaching‘ when working with solo, micro and small businesses. We work 1-on-1 with the business owners of these businesses, who employ between 1-19 people. The business owner typically needs us for coaching, mentoring, facilitation and counselling roles as outlined above. There’s often a blend of business and life issues we work on. With business coaching we offer two options; Springboard and Drive.
- We use the term ‘Business Consulting‘ when working with mid-sized businesses. These businesses have one or more owners, and employ 20-100 people. The business owners typically need us for leadership mentoring, team training and business consulting roles as outlined above. There’s often a blend of business, career, leadership and life issues to work through. We agree a project work scope with a timeline, for a fee.
Choose your provider on value contribution
If you find a mix of professional training and development skills in one person, you’ve struck gold. That’s the kind of person we search for as we look to grow our team at A Little Ray of Sunshine.
When we work with you, we come packaged as an all-in-one Coach-Consultant.
Some of our clients also lovingly refer to us as their Business Mentor or Business Psychologist. We take that as testimony to the fact that we can cover the many training and development techniques when working with you.
If you’re able to find a professional provider in the marketplace whose contribution to your business helps make your life easier and your business more successful, that’s all that matters.