One of the things that’s happening more and more in today’s market is we’re getting a lot more inbound inquiries than we had. You know ten years ago, twelve years ago when I first started in business coaching, it wasn’t something that was well known, and we didn’t get a lot of calls. However there’s still some confusion as to what it is we actually do and how we differ from business consulting.
So what I want you to do in this article, is to draw this line in your mind, and over here is business coaching and over here is business consulting.
What is a Business Consultant?
A business consultant, and I’ll start with that because you’re probably more familiar with what a business consultant does. A business consultant typically will come in and analyse the problem that you say you have. Once they’ve analysed that problem they’ll come up with a solution, and they will do the implementing.
Now I think there’s a joke about a consultant, I can’t remember the exact joke, and I’m not a comedian so I’m not going to attempt to tell you the joke. But it was somewhere along the lines that a consultant will take your watch off, tell you the time, then give you your watch back. The whole idea of that is that a consultant is a professional specialist. So they specialize in what it is that they do. They can fix the problem fast, sure, but you’re probably going to invest a little more with them to get the problem fixed quickly, but then it’s done. It’s solved and it’s finished with.
The problem is the next time you want to know the time, guess what? They have to take the watch off you again, read you the time, and they give you the watch back. So the whole model of that story is that a business consultant doesn’t actually teach you how to solve the problem. They solve the problem for you. And that’s okay. In some instances that’s exactly what you want. But it doesn’t teach you how to solve the problems for yourself. So that’s business consulting.
How is a Business Coach different?
Let’s go to the business coaching end… The difference with business coaching is you say, “Hey business coach, what’s the time?”
They say, “Well have you got a watch?”
“Yeah, I’ve got a watch, but I don’t know how to read it.”
“Well okay, how about we spend some time learning how to read your watch so you can tell the time for yourself?”
This is the difference between consulting and coaching. Now the problem with this is sometimes as business coaches we need to be directive. So have what we call a directive and a non-directive mode of coaching that we use. Sometimes we have to be more directive and say, “Hey, you know what? Right now you just need to know the time. I haven’t got the time to teach you how to tell the time, but we’ll work through that later. Right now the time is X.” So in some instances they are almost consultative, but a business coach is more about helping you learn so that you don’t have to continue relying on other people to fix your problem for you. By doing that they help you understand how to solve the problem.
For most people it takes a little bit longer because now you’re going through a learning process. But say for example you hire a recruiting consultant. They do the recruiting for you, they find great people, and they just plug them into your business. You don’t know what they do behind the scenes to get those great people, you just know that they do it. And you’re going to pay dearly for that, and that’s okay.
A business coach will then say, “Okay, how about you learn how to recruit the right people?” And they help you put together a system and teach you in intricacies, the questions to ask to find the right person. And ask you, “What type of person you’re looking for. What tools can you use?” A business coach will coach you through the process.
To sum it up, what we do is we say we will teach you to fish. If someone gives you a fish, it feeds you for a day. If someone teaches you how to fish, they feed you for a lifetime. Essentially that’s what business coaching is aimed at doing. It’s teaching you how to fish.
There you go…
So hopefully that’s helped you to answer that question in your mind because that is a question that comes up a lot. People going, “What’s the difference, between business coaches and business consultants? Sometimes you cross over…” And that’s true, we do. But you know, this video was about getting you to understand exactly where it is that we think we sit as business coaches and how we can help you.
So if you want to learn how to fish, then a business coach is right for you!
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.