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What is a Business Coach?

If you were training for the Olympics, you would have a coach to train your entire being – body, mind, heart, and soul. I work with successful, energetic individuals who want to go for the Gold in their business. To some people, that may mean building internal systems to rapidly grow their young business while for others, it may mean defining their vision and then creating and implementing the strategies to reach it quickly and easily. Whatever a Gold medal looks like to you, working with a coach will get you there faster and more effectively.

As a business coach, I am professionally trained with a background in small business issues and will mentor, assist and guide you—the small business owner—in developing, growing, and successfully running your small business. I help you clarify your business goals and objectives and help you develop the skills and acquire the resources needed to operate a successful enterprise.

We meet on a regular basis, either in person or over the telephone, to discuss the current and future business and life issues you are facing. This structure keeps you and your business on the track you have set — continuously moving forward toward your goals and objectives. The results are that you experience clarity of what success means to you, and the means to create success.

Business owners seeking the expert guidance of Business Coaches typically look for coaches who not only are successful Business Coaches and professionals, but who also have business training, experience and a genuine interest in assisting them.

Your Business Coach:

  • Helps you look at the big picture for your business and life.
  • Guides you in enhancing your business skills and intellectual development.
  • Provides candid feedback to you about your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Helps you identify business opportunities.
  • Helps you define and implement effective strategies in line with your goals for your business.
  • Assists you balancing your personal with your business life.
  • Listens to your business challenges, helps you set goals and develop a plan, and requires you to carry out and implement your plans.
  • Encourages and motivates you, building your business confidence.

Business Consultant or Business Coach: Which Should You Choose for Your Business?

Depending on your goals, you may need either a business consultant or a business coach.

Business consultants are professionals who are experts in their fields. They can be just what the doctor ordered when you have a particular, focused question. While I worked in the corporate world, I frequently used the services of business consultants. My clients and I have discussed their experiences with consultants, from direct mail consultants to product packaging consultants.

In the best scenarios, the business receives an expert answer to a specific issue or question that was holding the company back. However, in the worst case scenarios, the business simply receives a ream of notes that collect dust and a large invoice. In those latter situations, it’s often the case that what the business truly needed was a small business coach, instead of a consultant.

Let me explain the differences between small business consulting and small business coaching and when to use either:

Small Business Consultants

Who are they? Chances are, your business already has a roster of Business Consultants – CPAs, attorneys, and insurance representatives are good examples.

What questions do they answer? A Consultant brings expert answers to specific questions or challenges. Common questions that Consultants might handle are, “How do I increase business profitability?” or, “Is my corporate structure appropriate for my business?”

What is their job? The job of a consultant is to bring solutions to small businesses. The communication is primarily one-way, with the consultant delivering a prescribed solution for the small business owner to implement, although the consultant may sometimes complete some or all of the work. An example of this is the social media consultant who recommends a marketing strategy and then creates a Facebook and Twitter presence for the business. Consultants often teach skills, allowing the business staff to implement recommendations made by the consultant. Consultants focus on improving business weaknesses over developing business strengths.

When is a Consultant best? A Consultant is best used when you have a specific question or challenge to which you want a directive answer. You are willing to either pay to have the solution implemented or have the time and energy to implement it yourself without varying greatly from the prescription.

Small Business Coaches

Who are they? A Small Business Coach may be an expert in a field, but that expertise is used as a backdrop to how a Coach works with a small business owner. A Business Coach looks at the whole business and the owner’s goals with respect to the business, and integrates the owner’s personal goals.

What questions do they answer? Communication between a Business Coach and a small business owner is generally two-way, with the business owner doing more of the talking than the Coach. The most skilled Small Business Coaches are masters at asking questions, in drawing out the best solutions for a particular business owner. Once solutions are created, a Coach provides accountability to agreed-upon actions and changes to achieve the results they want.

What is their job? Coaches generally focus more on business strengths than weaknesses, although it is every Coach’s mission to develop you, the business owner, to be the best you can be.

When is a Small Business Coach best? A Small Business Coach is best used when your questions are “big picture” in nature OR when you aren’t certain you’re focusing on the right questions to grow your business. Many clients hire a Coach because they want to follow their own path or they have a general feel that “something isn’t quite right in the business”.

There is a place for both Business Coaches and Business Consultants in your small business. To choose the right one and get the most value from your investment, start by knowing what questions you’re trying to answer.

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.