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Do You Need a Business Coach or a Business Consultant?

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While business coaching has its place as the must have tool for improving management performance, one must tread into this world slowly and carefully.

It is estimated there are over 50,000 business coaches that generate over $3 billion dollars in annual revenue.

Those who work as coaches tout their value in helping their clients reach goals, lessen stress, and improve “return on investment,” among other desirable outcomes.

However, I have to offer my two cents about looking deeper into what your business truly needs, and be wary of an industry that has no standards, and requires no certification:

  • Business coaches rely on general skills rather than expertise in the area of need For example, many come from the social sciences and may lack the technical skills to really assist on topics like finance, operations or the internet.
  • Coaches are excellent at motivation, and helping the business owner learn how to solve problems, but maybe the problem has more to do with the business owner’s lack of knowledge in analytics or social media. In that case, a consultant in social media will be the wise choice.
  • A business coach won’t make miracles happen. The business owner needs to realize that he or she has to be ready to make changes, even in their own decision-making. Are you ready to do that?
     

Sometimes managers just need to be prodded or pushed to understand the realities of their situation rather than simply receive understanding and support. I have found that small businesses need a better understanding of their financial parameters and realities, more than they need someone to motivate them.

What to consider when determining “do you need a business coach?”:

  • Determine first what it is you need. Don’t hire someone because they helped someone you know, your needs may be entirely different. Consider the expense and time wasted by searching for a business coach when you’re not exactly sure what your business needs.
  • Have an established contract that states your goal or goals, and how you will measure the business coach’s performance. Agree on a schedule for regular reviews and updates.
  • With anyone that you hire, check references. Not just the ones that your applicant offers, but their last three to five clients.
     

In summary, business coaching can be a wonderful supplement to your business, but it should be not replace good old fashioned research into building better analytics, more accurate measurement, modern technology, better programs and objective thinking in decision-making. While a business coach can be the backbone of success, don’t forget that a consultant in a weak spot of your business can be the best investment.

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