At any point in the lifecycle of a business, whether it’s just starting, starting to scale up, implementing a succession plan, or preparing to sell, it can be challenging for business owners to be objective, and they sometimes struggle to “see the forest for the trees.” Oftentimes remaining relevant and competitive is a full-time job that puts day-to-day operations on the backburner; or the opposite can happen and putting out fires in the day-to-day takes priority over making strides toward implementing changes that propel the business forward. Business owners and executive teams are forever faced with many questions: Where can we make changes? What stays and what goes? What adjustments can be made? Where do we start? It is often a daunting task that’s load is best shared with a specialized outside party who can provide expert advice and unbiased expert opinions. We have done some digging and compared Coaches, Consultants, and Advisors as three resources that companies can leverage to help them take the next steps they need; oftentimes, the steps they didn’t realize they needed!
What is a Business Coach?
- Helps business owners clarify vision, mission, and strategy.
- Can provide comprehensive, EQ-driven leadership skills training and help develop high-performing teams at all levels.
- Develop people and culture roadmaps that ensure optimal employee engagement, motivation, and performance.
- Depending on the agreed-upon strategy, you can expect to meet with a coach anywhere from weekly to monthly
- Terms vary but it is common to have a length of 3, 6, or 12 months – the latter being the most common. You can make arrangements to do it hourly but this will be less cost-effective.
- Your relationship with your business coach can be open-ended and last for decades where you would contract with them as your needs arise or change due to expanding your team, taking on new initiatives, or continuously improving your company culture, etc.
Good to know
- Where team members and colleagues will not always feel comfortable having difficult conversations, a coach should be a person who is willing to tell you things you sometimes don’t want to hear, pushing you to confront issues positively and to get out of your way. Says Jared Weitz, CEO of United Capitol Source Inc., “This will get you out of your comfort zone and find growth that can be translated into your business.”
What is a Business Consultant?
- Provides expert advice, analysis, and solutions to specific business challenges.
- Usually, a subject matter or industry expert can provide professional advice based on their significant knowledge.
- Exists to pinpoint issues and provides in-depth problem solving while working hands-on in the business.
- The typical length of a consulting contract is from 2 to 4 years.
- You can expect a consultant to work in your business daily for the length of your contract.
- Consultants can charge both an hourly rate and a fixed rate based on the project as well as the time spent on the project.
What to Consider
- Look at the track record and get references and results.
- Look for a firm that has a team with broad and significant experience in more than one industry.
- Ensure that you can understand one another and develop a line of communication that you are comfortable with before contracting.
What is an Advisor?
- Assists clients in improving their overall systems and processes over time.
- Usually works with companies long-term and are supportive across all departments of a business.
- Leverage their personal business experience to define problems and offer a broader perspective on how to solve them.
- The advisor/advisee relationship can be open-ended and long-term.
- You should meet regularly with your business advisor – once or twice per month to ensure you’re working through processes.
- There is a very wide range of hourly rates and it will depend on the type of project undertaken and the expertise of the advisor.
Why an Advisor
- Working with an advisor is more proactive than reactive and they seek to identify problems before they arise.
- An advisor will look at a business across all departments and strategize overall growth and continuous improvement.
- Advisors can be instrumental to help business owners develop a broader network to draw from and collaborate with.
With so many great options, how does a business owner firstly choose what type of help to engage, and secondly, which individual or company within that discipline to work with? The simple answer is to spend quality time considering the following questions:
- What is the overall goal? Is there one area to improve or several?
- Are there efficiency gaps? If so, where? Do you have one or several bottlenecks?
- Is there an industry-specific issue or goal where specialized help will be needed?
- What is the budget in terms of resources, time, and finances?
- How long are you willing to commit?
- Are you ready to face what you have been avoiding and committed to accepting feedback?
- What is the potential that you want to tap into?
- Where do you see the business in two years? Five? Ten?
Once these questions are answered, a choice should be a little more clear. It is then time to interview, do rate comparisons, and review references. All of this can seem like a job in itself but it is important to take the time at this stage to ensure the choice made is the perfect fit to avoid overspending time or money – likely what you are trying to get more of at the end of this process!!
Like any other investment, or hire even, information and research are pivotal for success. An important thing to keep in mind during this process is that objective and fresh perspectives can be worth their weight in gold. For anyone who spends the majority of their time working hard in a business, this objectivity can be fleeting, and choosing to work with a professional should bring excitement and relief at the promise of greater rewards and accomplishments. Whether the choice is to work with a Coach, a Consultant, or an Advisor, it should align with the answers to all of the questions above and guarantee the forward momentum of a business.