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What Is the Real Difference Between a Business Coach and Consultant?

Let’s start with why either of them exist: Were you aware of the fact that over 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year? You know, there's a proverb that says, "Good advice is beyond all price." Whether you're someone who's thinking about starting a business (or looking for ways to keep your company successful), truer words have never been spoken.

Small business owner sitting on the top of a mountain looking out.

That said, there are plenty of articles and videos that you can watch online to help you. At the same time, nothing replaces the insight and expertise of a reputable business coach or business consultant.

But how do you figure out which one, coach… or …consultant, will be more effective for you and your personal business needs? That's a good question, one that we hope to answer for you today.


First, What's the Main Difference Between a Business Coach and Business Consultant?

By the time we're done, we're sure that you will be well-versed on this topic. But if you happen to be skimming through, there is one thing that business coaches and business consultants have in common: they're both invested in helping you find solutions to your business-related problems.

business advisor at a white board helping some business owners with their problems
Finding Your Solutions

Where they differ is their overall approach to your situation.

While a business coach is interested in helping you to become a better leader in your company as well as aiding you from a comprehensive level, a business consultant typically tackles improving specific challenges that your business may have.

TLDR: Business Advisors focus on the bigger picture, while consultants home in on direct issues.

Now that you know what coaches and consultants have in common let's branch off to dive into their differences.

What Exactly do Business Consultants Do?

Let’s dive in a bit deeper into how business consultants operate and how they view their role in helping businesses. A good way to help communicate their roles is to recite the number one question that a consultant fields: “What is your specialization?”

laptop sitting open with some website statistics on the screen
Business Data Consultants for Example

There is not a better way to summarize their fit within the business space than that question. While it is not universally true, most consultants have a few niches, and they stick to them almost exclusively.

Think something along the lines of someone that has a ton of experience in setting up the sales process specifically for boutique shops. If you wanted to start a boutique and you knew just about everything else (marketing, accounting, etc.) but were not sure how best to implement the sales / checkout experience you would hire this consultant to come in, set it up, and then exit.

Business consultants rarely stick around more than their established project. In our example above, they would be around just long enough to help set up the sales process and then that would be the end of their obligation and service. Their niche focus allows them to dedicate their experience to one specific need and deliver results based on their unique knowledge.

How Do Business Consultants Fit with Small Businesses?

How a consultant fits within “small” business usually comes down to their specialization and the actual ‘smallness’ of the business. As we saw in the example in the previous section, there was a distinct need for a business just getting its footing, but that same business had everything else in check. In a case like that, the fit is quite clear.

Business consultant meeting with a client in a board room

However, each small business’ need for a consultant really comes down to their specific need. Or rather, HOW specific their needs are.

Business consultants generally thrive in small businesses that are in the very early stages of growth. This is the time when an entrepreneur has holes within their skill sets but lack the funds to hire someone full time to plug the hole.

Small Business Consultants exist almost exclusively to plug these holes for the fraction of the cost of hiring someone: $15,000/one time versus $60,000/per year.