As a business coach I often get asked, “what is the difference between coaching and consulting, and, which is better for my business?” Let’s start with what I consider the main difference between coaching and consulting – and please note that I am keeping it more on the simple side so that I give you some helpful information without this post getting too long.
Business consulting is a process where you meet with the consultant a certain number of times in regards to an issue your business is having (e.g. low sales) or a goal you want to accomplish (e.g. open a second location). During the meeting(s) the consultant gathers information from you and then s/he works to come up with a recommended solution and corresponding plan of action, which they usually put into a formal consulting report. Once they have the consulting report ready, they meet with you and present you the report. From there it is mostly, or completely, in your hands to implement what the plan they have delivered.
Business coaching is the process where you meet with a coach to discuss an issue your business is having (e.g. low sales) or a goal you want to accomplish (e.g. open up a second location). The coach gathers information from you, talks with you about some recommended solutions or approaches, and prepares an expected plan of action… similar to the consultant. The key difference is that the coach will break the expected action plan into logical steps that can be done in between each coaching session, and the coach will then use each session with you to discuss what has been implemented (what progress has been made), how is it working, and are you running into any issues. From what is discussed during each session, the coach will evaluate progress and work with you to determine if the action plan needs to be adjusted. Thus your business coach is not only consulting with you as a partner in the process, but also acting as your success and accountability partner to make sure the plan is being implemented correctly and it is actually working towards achieving the solution.
So, which is better for your business? Tough to say without knowing you, your business, your goals, and the issue(s) you are trying to overcome. However, here is what I have observed over the years. If you are a big enough business that you have an internal accountability person (e.g. an owner) who understands what the consultant is recommending, and you have employees who are qualified to implement the plan, then a consultant would probably work best. The consultant uses their expertise to provide you a plan and your management and staff uses their knowledge and time to implement the plan and adjust it as necessary. On the other hand, if you are a solopreneur or have a very small staff, a coach would probably work best since they can use their expertise to not only prepare the plan but also guide you through it. A coach will be there to help you evaluate your progress and make suggestions, based on their expertise, if the plan needs to be altered during its implementation.