Vive la Difference: Coaches and Consultants

Freelance professionals are external consultants who bring agile talent to mission-critical special projects at thousands of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations throughout the world.  Freelance consultants play an increasing role in many organizations, providing vital ad hoc staffing as full-time work forces contract.  We are highly effective,  reliable and adaptable.  We work alone, usually from a home office, and that keeps our operating expenses low and our billable rates affordable.

We are disciplined self-starters who treasure our independence, but there is a downside. Every once in a while, it would be helpful to have team members in the office with us.  We have no one readily available to duck out and have a quick cup of coffee with, no one to help parse a tricky question or lend a sympathetic ear when we hit a rough patch.  We most likely have a support system of colleagues and friends,  but they are not on site and may not have the wherewithal to help us address some of our most important questions.

As a result, many Freelancers consult with a professional to help sort through the array of challenges and decisions that we all eventually face.  Working with the right coach or consultant can bring many benefits to one’s business or personal life.  You may feel the need to receive some expert guidance, but wonder which type of specialist you should hire?

Follow the wisdom of the late management guru Peter Drucker and ask (yourself) questions that will reveal the right answer. Before you call in a specialist, clarify your desires or dilemmas, at least superficially.

For example, you may have a time management problem that results in a work overload that undermines your ability to have a social life.  Your task is to determine its source.  Might you need to hire a bookkeeper to compile the monthly financials, or an administrative assistant to do your billing, or some other professional to take certain tasks off your plate? To resolve business matters,  a business consultant is the go-to person.

If your time management problem results from your inability to set boundaries and understand that you cannot say yes to everyone, which then results in a work overload that undermines your ability to have a social life, then it will be useful to see a business coach to help you to identify priorities and establish boundaries.

Let’s take a look at the focus of each specialty. A business coach will:

  • Help you to enhance competencies you already have and help to bring out the best in you.
  • Help you to identify your passions, acknowledge what motivates you and then brainstorm with you to discover avenues for their expression.
  • Acknowledge and remedy a fear of success, fear of failure, or self-sabotage that you may fall victim to.
  • Provide encouragement and accountability to ensure follow-through of the action plan that the two of you develop.

OUTCOME: An action plan that addresses business and personal development goals and strategies.

A business consultant will:

  • Work with you to assess business strengths and weaknesses and evaluate its preparedness to take advantage of opportunities and overcome obstacles.
  • Improve the viability of the business and position it for growth, scalability and sustainability.  Operational efficiencies, strategy development, the business model, customer acquisition and retention, packaging of services, strategic partnership possibilities, the marketing message, niche market development, pricing, technology needs, staffing and customer service protocols are among the areas that will be examined and evaluated.
  • Work  with you to set reasonable short and long-term goals and objectives for the business, devise strategies and create action plans and time tables to ensure that strategies are implemented.  Follow-up and further consulting services to support and enable your plans can be arranged.

OUTCOME: SMART goals for your business and a way to make them happen.

So which do you need? A coach is like a partner and a consultant is like an adviser. If working on aspects of your personal life, that is if behaviors are the issue, then a business coach may be the better choice, at least initially.  But if you would like to grow and optimize your business , then a business consultant is the way to get the best results.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

 

 

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