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Do I need a Business Coach or a Business Consultant?

Its becoming increasingly popular trend among emerging entrepreneurs to seek the support of a Business Coach to assist in achieving their business goals and objectives. Entrepreneurship is both challenging and often confusing for new entrepreneurs and most identify their need for support and guidance as a critical requirement for success, particularly in the early phase of their business.

Many entrepreneurs also find it challenging to understand the difference between the role of a Business Coach as compared to a Business Consultant. This ambiguity has led to some entrepreneurs feeling disappointed and cheated resulting from them choosing to engage the wrong role in certain situations. Some entrepreneurs gravitate towards having a Business Coach as they are less expensive than engaging the services of a Consultant without fully understanding the differentiation between both roles and when each role is required.

According to the International Coach Federation, coaching is defined as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” To put it simply a Coach guides you to stimulate your own thinking to help you to achieve greater results. They motivate you to push your limits and keeps you focused. Having an effective Business Coach is like having a supportive parent. They may not fully understand what you are doing, but they are there to support you and to give you general advice when you encounter obstacles. They are not necessarily subject matter experts.

A Business Consultant is defined as " an expert who is called on for professional or technical advice or opinions". They are expected to identify problems or potential problems and the appropriate solutions to resolve them. A Consultant is a qualified and experienced professional and are equipped to provide specific guidelines and solutions to clients. Consultants are rarely concerned with motivating and inspiring clients as compared to a Business Coach whose primary function is to do so.

It is often easy for a client to blur the lines of differentiation, expecting their Business Coaches to be able to provide them with professional advice about their businesses. Many Business Coaches contribute to this challenge by seeking to represent themselves as subject matter experts to clients and providing them with advice based on their own experiences or opinions. This can lead to client dissatisfaction.

To help understand the difference in both roles, they can be compared to the roles of a Doctor and a Nurse. Whilst both are professionals within the medical field and concerned with the care and recovery of patients, the role of a Nurse and a Doctor are significantly different. It is similar with a Coach and a Consultant. A Coach is like your Business Nurse who will help you to administer your medication and care after being prescribed by the Doctor or Consultant. The Coach will also administer first aid and manage the Client until they are able to get the guidance of the Consultant to diagnose and prescribe a solution for the Clients problem and can treat common minor ailments or challenges without a Doctor or Consultant's involvement.

It is important Clients understand the difference in both roles so as to ensure they seek the right level of care for themselves and their business at the appropriate times. It will also help them to better manage their expectations when engaging the services of a Business Coach and minimize discontent when Coaches are unable to provide them with expert advice.

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