Identifying the right business support for your strategic growth needs is crucial to achieve a good return on your investment of time, energy and money. Here’s the second instalment of my two-part series on decoding the consultant vs coach dilemma where we’ll think about what professional practices attract you as the customer.
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In part 1’s article, and podcast episode 83, we focused on the consultant vs. coach dilemma through the lens of our own business – what to call ourselves and why it matters. We explored the notion of professional identity, where it comes from and how it shapes our values, practices, as well as our business brand and marketing to attract the right clients to work with us.
While consultants and coaches have different roles, they also share some similarities. Both professions require excellent communication skills, the ability to build trust and rapport with clients, and the ability to manage and prioritise competing demands. Additionally, both roles require a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in their respective fields.
Importantly, we covered the challenge of transitioning between consultant and coach roles when working with clients. We talked about four practices that really help here:
- Understanding the client’s needs and expectations;
- Setting clear boundaries between the two roles;
- Communicating these boundaries to the client; and
- Reviewing the relationship, in terms of the experience of working together, and what is being achieved.
Now in part 2, I want you to think through how you perceive the consultant vs. coach dilemma as a customer. This will help you with identifying the right business support and ensure you achieve a good return on your investment of time, energy and money.
When we look at it as a customer, it’s interesting to then turn it back on ourselves and re-examine or re-invent our own professional identity to make it clear to your customers how they go about identifying the right business support for their needs. We want to be able to explain what we do and how we do it in a way that conveys the roles and practices that best suit our ideal customer’s needs.
Hope so, it’s going to fun and it’s super powerful to look at things this way.
Let’s kick off by thinking about how the labels and roles of business professionals impact how you go about finding support for your own business.
What Do You Pay Attention To Most?
As previously mentioned, consultants are typically hired to provide expert advice and solve specific problems for their clients, while coaches focus on developing their clients’ skills and abilities over time to improve their overall performance. Identifying the right business support starts with these two ends of the spectrum.
(Those ends actually stretch much further – advising at one far end and counselling at the other, but that’s not for most of us where we sit on the spectrum unless you’re a financial adviser or a licensed therapist for example.)
There may be a common thread in that both a business consultant and a business coach may start out exploring your goals with you, to come up with a strategy and action as the basis for your work together.
But what about how you execute the plan? How do you go about identifying the right business support for implementation? Can the person you’re working with or thinking of working with help you with both strategic and execution?
Think about it from two angles:
What do you already know you need help with?
What might come up that you’ll want help with?
However, as we talked about in the last article, the roles of consultant and coach can sometimes blur or overlap. So, how do you choose the right person to work with?
If you’re not entirely sure as a customer what these different roles are, does what they call themselves give you a clue? If it’s just business consultant or business coach, then possibly not. There’s likely some nuance to what you’re looking for that is missing and you will need to dig into.
If we go with the argument made in part 1 about the distinctions, identifying the right business support for yourself and your business may become clearer.
Because it’s important to understand your own needs and expectations, as the client in this case, to determine whether you want to look for a consultant or a coach.
For example, if a business client needs a quick solution for a specific problem, then a consultant who provided a clear roadmap for achieving a desired outcome may be the best approach for you right now.
However, if you’re looking to improve your overall performance, then a coach who focuses on developing your skills and abilities over time may be more appropriate.
In addition to understanding what you need, you’ll also want to have clear boundaries between the two roles, both when hiring and when working with a consultant or coach.
There are times when all you want is expert advice and getting a problem resolved. You don’t want to learn how to do it yourself or develop skills, you just need it done.
If necessary, you can develop these skills yourself later. There’s absolutely no need to become skilled in every aspect of your business operations! Chances are you will want to spend your precious time elsewhere and just outsource or hire specialists.
Being open to communicating these boundaries clearly to the person you’re thinking of working with is crucial to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation.
Deciding what kinds of support that you need will impact where you look and who you consider hiring and working with.
If you need quick solutions to specific problems then you’ll want to find an expert in a specific field who can provide specialist insights and solutions to complex problems. In this case, you should be fishing for a consulting professional (who may do some coaching).
On the other hand, a business coach is more likely to fit the bill as a supportive guide or mentor if what you’re looking for is to improve your overall performance and achieve long-term success.
However, it’s important to note that these labels are not mutually exclusive, as we talked about in part 1 in relation to your own practice. Many professionals in the industry can switch between consultant and coach roles depending on the client’s needs and expectations.
In today’s fast-paced world, as business owners, we are constantly seeking guidance and support to navigate complex challenges and achieve our goals. The two popular forms of professional support discussed in this series, are consultants and coaches. But there are also many other roles and hats we wear that could be derivations of these.
But just taking these two roles, while there are similarities between them, there are also significant differences that are important to understand when deciding which one is right for you.
First, for yourself, choosing the right label for your professional identity as a consultant or a coach can impact how you position yourself in the industry and the type of clients you attract.
And second, getting the right fit for the kind of support you and your business needs is important in a sea of professional identities where there’s tremendous variation in skills, experience and practice, that brings ambiguity and no ‘one-size-fits-all’ dilemma.
As a profession there is such a lack of clarity about what a business coach or a business mentor is and does. And it’s totally unregulated. Anyone can set up and call themselves a business mentor. But now we have a gold standard and you have to apply to get the rubber stamp!
This is one of the key reasons that, in the UK, the Association of Business Mentors was established, for which I was a founding member.
If I may, I’d like to share another example with you, which has to do with why I designed the Leveraged Business Accelerator (LBA) the way I did. I wanted to run a programme of business support that was super flexible to meet the needs of people at different stages of business, different types of business, and different levels of experience of both business and digital technologies.
LBA is driven by strategy and fuelled by accountability and support. We create a roadmap and go on the journey together. Once we agree on the destination, as the business owner you are the driver, and I’m your navigator – helping you stay on the right path, giving you resources and nourishment along the route.
And we only deviate if there’s good reason to do so. For instance, if an unexpected opportunity comes along or we learn something along the way, we can decide whether to do a bit of a re-route. As an accelerator, you want to avoid distractions and detours, right?
The Leveraged Business Accelerator is neither a curriculum nor a coaching program per se. And as your business partner, I’m both consultant and coach, mentor and teacher.
Sometimes I may have to help fix the engine or pump up a tyre! So even tech support, copywriter or graphic designer are hats I wear working with my client – or I’ll sort out some outsourcing, like finding a mechanic or getting you to a garage for a check.
3 Steps to Identifying the Right Business Support
My question to you right here and now, up front is this: what kind of support do you, and your business, need? And we can break this down a bit …
#1. Are you getting the right kind of help on your strategy?
When you have great strategy support, it means you will be able to focus on the highest points of leverage for your business goals and really get things moving for yourself.
My mantra is that with clarity comes confidence, and with confidence comes consistent action taking. And when that happens, even if it’s not perfect action – it’s imperfect action – that gives you momentum. Because you can’t steer a parked car, right?
And even though this can be the exact thing we help our own clients with, we find it hard to do it for ourselves. Because we just can’t see what can’t see, we miss things. We’re too close to it, our nose is up against the window so we don’t see the bigger picture.
#2. How is the support you’re getting or looking into accelerate you?
When we’re doing something new, it’s often a case of “don’t know what I don’t know” so it’s hard to search for answers because we don’t know what to ask. You can never see what’s in a blind spot, but at least recognising that blind spots exist – that they are real – is a good start.
If you’re just in DIY/self-study mode, participating in a structured program or course, or working with a coach… is it working? Is it moving you forward in a tangible way? How are you measuring success of that investment of time and/or money?
And if you need to take a step back, here’s another useful question.
#3. Do you actually know what you need most?
We all like to think we’re super self-aware, of course – me included. But we also all have blind spots. Sometimes these are really massive blind spots that never change, sometimes it’s just a temporary aberration.
How do you work all that out? Do you need some help to figure it out? This is what a discovery call will achieve. Do a few with different people and see where the clarity emerges.
Because when I do my discovery calls with potential new clients, what I see very often is what I experienced myself a few years back – a case of “it’s hard to read the label when you’re in your own jar”.
I call it your big bucket of spaghetti or your blind spots.
And what you most need help with to start off is akin to pulling the most important strands out of your big bucket of spaghetti and creating a clear roadmap of steps.
So if you can’t answer this question, go back to step 1: strategy 🙂
Getting Clarity & Confidence to Move Your Business Forward
Would you like to work with me over the next few months?
Imagine where you could be in the next 3-4 months when know all about identifying the right business support.
If you want to make a big leap forward over the next 90 days, I’m looking for ambitious business owners to work with. Let’s talk and see if we’re a fit.
Every month, I offer just 6 private digital roadmap consult sessions which is the first part of getting started with the Leveraged Business Accelerator. And from there, I’ll take at least 3-4 people forward to work with.
This is only for those of you if you want a fast injection of consulting plus coaching – because knowing what to apply, how and when, that’s my genius. You’ll kick off with a high-level strategic review and action planning, and then execute that action plan with access to educational courses and a regular dose of coaching and other support to get stuff done.
With me as your co-pilot, you’ll avoid going down blind alleys and have eyes on your blind spots. You’ll save so much time and energy, by getting stuff done as effectively and efficiently as possible based on the time, resources and skills you have at your disposal.
- Do you want to get clarity on your business idea and run a pilot program or service?
- Do you need to inject some momentum in your business game plan?
- Are you looking for specific ways to accelerate your growth, such as pump up the volume on your marketing, have more effective sales calls, raise your prices or scale your delivery?
It’s all about finding the strategy that’s going to really move the needle and up-level your business and grow your revenue.
Starting with a deep dive strategy call as an ‘application’ into my 90-day Leveraged Business Accelerator programme.
If you want to grab a spot, go book a Digital Roadmap Session via the short link book.jayallyson.com/strategy.
On the call, you’re going to throw all your spaghetti at me, I’m going to sift through it, and you’ll get a tonne of clarity about your best next steps – and at the end we’ll talk through if the Leveraged Business Accelerator is a fit for mapping out and supporting you with the best step-by-step action plan, and I can explain in a little more detail how the program works.
In this 60-90 minute strategy session, we start with a high level review to align on your vision and objectives, and identify where the best leverage points are for your business right now. We then create an action plan together, spreading the work and support over 90-days.
How I most love to work with entrepreneurs nowadays, it’s not a one-size fits all. The Leveraged Business Accelerator is a structured program of work we embark on together.
It’s a structured process but not a curriculum, it’s strategy drive and results focused, and it’s very much tailored to your needs and timeframe. We play to your strengths and match you with the right solutions for where you’re at.
What You and Your Business Really Need
How to Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Let me explain what I mean by this question. Let’s pop back to the key question of what do you and your business really need in terms of guidance and support?
Do you need a course, consulting, coaching, or a blend of all and more?
In most cases, what’s on offer is either training, corporate consulting or personal coaching, and it feels like you have to choose, right?!
What business owners and entrepreneurs need most today are professionals who can help you navigate, steer you in the right direction using the most appropriate tools and skills?
Why feel you have to choose between hiring a consultant and getting a business coach.
Why can’t you have the best of both? Maybe there isn’t really a consultant vs. coach dilemma at all!
This is the basis on which I set up the iSuccess Business Academy – because I believe you don’t and shouldn’t have to choose. And not because it’s a hybrid course model, but because we are flexible and adaptable at the outset and as we go about our work together.
I’m both sage on the stage and guide by your side. I serve you in the best way for what you need at any given stage and for any given task.
Sometimes you need strategy – a steer in the right direction, and guidance – that’s advisory and directive, more consulting. You also may want a relationship that’s akin to mentoring from someone who’s been on the path you’re on. You review (R), organise (O), analyse (A) and develop (D) from there. We give you a ROAD map.
Sometimes you’ll want something ‘done-for-you’ – such as some market research, analysis, tech implementation, copywriting, web design. We help you get from A to B.
And other times, you’ll need more coaching support, someone on your side for motivation, emotional support, accountability – someone who holds space for you, listens, reflects things back and who’s got your back. It’s collaborative and non-directive.
I get to the crux of the matter and get you where you want to be, but we have fun along the way too. We get to hang with on your journey, and keep you on the straight and narrow, until you reach your desired destination. (And then we ask ‘where next?”)
So what if you didn’t have to choose?
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
(That’s an old English expression used to say that one cannot have two incompatible things, or that one should not try to have more than is reasonable.)
What if you could have THREE – A, B AND C?
When you work with me, you absolutely can – you get three great ways to work with me and tap into my expertise and experience. Working with me in the Leveraged Business Accelerator you get the best of THREE worlds (or cakes to eat as and when)…
- My Consultingexpertise – 15 years working with organisations and small businesses on strategic review, process improvement and curriculum planning.
- A Coachingrelationship – 10 years mentoring professionals and CEOs, and 10 years of success coaching, including access to the iSuccess business academy’s vault of courses, resources, templates, planners and checklists.
- Done-for-you support– my steer on research, analysis and report structuring, advice on setting up systems and tools, plus my partnership with two digital implementation agencies to find you the right project resourcing.
Whatever stage you’re at, working 1:1 with me will provide both structure and “up-close-and-personal” individualised support to make things happen for yourself.
Book a Digital Roadmap Consult to take the first step.
This call is all about strategy, not just your business plan but also what you personally need to step into success.
It’s a £295 refundable deposit for the Leveraged Business Accelerator 90-day program(me). And if either of us decide it’s not for you, you can request an immediate reimbursement of your deposit. Sound fair?
Just 4 spots a month, so click here to get yourself booked in for that first session.
Can’t wait to partner with you on your big vision business.
So that’s it, wrapping up another two-parter for the Leveraged Business Podcast. And you know, it’s interesting, because I first wrote about back in 2020, as my book was published in the midst of the pandemic. So really, the ‘state of the nation’ I was drawing on was very much pre-pandemic. As I put the material together, it’s been very insightful to me thinking through all of this, how things have shifted, and where the same consultant vs. coach dilemma still exists.
And in that light, I hope this discussion has been useful to you too, and there are things you can do to clarify, communicate and clinch the different ways a consultant vs. coach role shows up in your own professional practice. When you have this all dialled in, you can focus on achieving the greatest leverage to build, market, grow and scale your business and success.
Let me know how this is helping, submit a question or write a review for the show on iTunes, share the podcast with others you feel could benefit. I’d really love to hear from you.
And subscribe, subscribe so you’ll know when the next episode drops!
To your great success!