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What’s the difference between business coaching, consulting?

Steve Stegmeir

Business coaching is a relatively new concept and people often ask, “What does a business coach do that’s different from a consultant?” Simply put, a business consultant will “do it for you,” leaving the hole of ignorance intact. This is not to say consultants aren’t valuable. There are times when outsourcing is necessary. As business owners, we can’t and shouldn’t do it all. But hiring someone as part of the “plan” is a lot different from hastily trying to find someone to do something to “fix a leak” in one’s business. It’s important to see and understand the difference.

To give a sports coaching analogy: Say you are an experienced swimmer and you’re aiming for Olympic gold. Does your coach swim your laps for you? Of course not! Your sports coach helps you get better at your game. Likewise, a business coach helps by mentoring you in the areas of systems, methodologies and strategies necessary to “play your game” more effectively.

Key steps within the system:

* Mastery, the first stage of growing any business, is about having enough information to make great decisions with regards to delivering profitable, productive products and services.

* Niche involves defining your uniqueness and to then building your marketing and sales machines.

* Leverage is about putting the proper systems and process in place so that you have a commercial, profitable enterprise that runs with or without you having to be there!

* Synergy is when everything comes together and works like a well-oiled machine. While a business owner’s work doesn’t stop here, it does show him or her that the systems that have been put on place are working.

* Results happen when business owners have the time, money, and energy to do the things they want to do.

Clearly, business coaching is all about process and systems. A business coach trains both novice and experienced business owners in the areas of marketing, management, sales, and team-building so that they’re not chained to their work 24/7.

A lot of the principles that apply to running a sports team (systems, strategies, processes, team management and group dynamics) also apply to business ownership.

Most business owners go into business because they are good at something. They start an IT company, for instance, because they are good at creating software, or they start an engineering company because they have an engineering degree, and so on. But being great at something does not automatically imply that you’ll be great at the game of business? Far from it!

There is both an art and a science to running a business. It is nearly impossible for one person to be the most effective person to do everything involved with running a company, yet many a business owner will work him- or herself to the bone, leaving themselves exhausted and often times frustrated. The statistics for failure in business are staggering, and burnout is one of the most common factors. Yet, that’s exactly one of the many things a business coach can help prevent.

What does effective business coaching offer business owners?

* An effective business coach works with the business owner to clearly define what is working in the business, giving both a solid starting point.

* They then work with the business owner to re-envision where they want their business to go.

* Based on that, they create a ‘winning game plan’ that is tailor-made for the business that ensures boosts in profits and revenues.

Benefits are seen almost instantly, the first generally being that the business owner gets back to working a sane schedule, giving him or her more time, money, and energy to focus on working “on” the business, rather than in it. Other immediate benefits include having an efficient team that, like a great sports team, works well together toward a common goal. This allows the business owner the freedom to be away from the business, knowing it will still run smoothly and profitably. Of course the rewards don’t stop there. The increased profits and revenue affirms the business owner’s decision to invest in his or her company by hiring a coach.

Some of the more common questions that people ask about business coaching include:

1. How can I be sure a business coach will work in my industry and in my business?

2. How soon will I see results?

4. Won’t this just mean more work for me?

5. What’s in it for me?

The answers are quite simple: An effective business coach helps you implement the strategies, processes and solutions required to allow you to put your energy toward the company’s growth, rather than its survival. Your coach teaches you lasting ways to boost profits and revenue.

Business coaching is partly about holding you, the business owner, accountable, but at the same time you’re given the training and tools you will need to make that possible. Business coaching is definitely about rolling up one’s sleeves and getting down to work, but doing so in ways that get you to the results you’ve wanted and deserve.

So, while the concept of business coaching is still relatively new, more and more business owners are seeing the value in investing in one, whether they are struggling to keep up, or highly successful and want to go even further.

Any sports person who is serious about their sport and taking their team to the top has a coach. The same holds true for business!

Steve Stegmeir is a business coach with ActionCOACH in Reno. Contact him at stevestegmeir@actioncoach.com or 775- 560-7477.