What type of a person are you…do it yourself or have someone else do it for you?
Perhaps it’s situational as sometimes, well who am I kidding – most of the time – I like to think I can do things myself. However, when it comes to business I find that I learn something new everyday which helps me acknowledge the fact that I don't know it all and there's a lot to learn. When we’re faced with a situation where you don't know something in business or can’t do it on our own, where do you go from there?
Many entrepreneurs and business owners when faced with a situation where they need help tend to use their network to find people who perform well in the area they need help in, to come in and support them with the task at hand. This support arrangement is typically referred to as consulting (or services in the technical market place). A consultant comes in as a hired gun and fulfills an important role by offering support to people or companies that can't do the work themselves, for a variety of reasons. It’s a form of outsourcing and it’s a $100+ billion industry per year. With that much cash flying around, it’s clear consulting is not just important, but there’s an incredibly strong demand for it in the market.
There’s a lot of ways businesses can get work done, consulting being one of the many options. A growing resource in the business world since the early to mid nineties, picking up significantly in the last 10 years, is coaching.
Consulting. Coaching. So what’s the difference?
For starters, consultants do the work themselves, taking care of a specific task or project. They are brought in to do the work themselves and they typically dictate how the work is to be performed. A coach utilizes a very different approach by teaching the individual or business how to perform better in the areas they struggle in. Like a sports coach, a business coach improves their ‘players’ so they can perform better not just in the moment but also in the future.
You might be thinking…which is better? Unfortunately, it’s not a black and white answer as both services provide a different outcome and are often used for different purposes. As the old saying goes, “you can give (consulting) a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, or you can teach (coaching) a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life”. Sometimes people might need help with a set task and it isn't an integral part of their business, in that situation consulting support is a great option. Perhaps a business owner or a manager struggles with leading their workforce to a higher level of achievement. In this scenario coaching would be the suggested way of support as with coaching the professional gets one-on-one development support, increasing their competency in the area they struggled in. As a result, the individual getting help comes out better and so does their team.
While both support options, coaching and consulting, can help businesses get to the next level, there are a variety of things you need to be aware of before making the decision to utilize either of these support services. These seven items are the bare bones minimums you need to consider BEFORE you bring on a consultant or coach:
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a medical device consulting firm, providing end to end engineering and compliance services. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years and has been recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.