Business Coach, Mentor, or Consultant? - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Coach, Mentor, or Consultant?

Author Lisa Perdue, is a manager of professional development for LandOpt which is an NALP consultant member. 

Coaches Aren’t Just for Athletes

Not sure what a business coach is? Many professional athletes will readily claim the keys to their success are diligence, determination, drive, and a dedicated coach. While it’s true coaching has traditionally been associated with sports, it has evolved in recent decades to have entrepreneurial connotations. The term business coach is becoming as commonplace these days as smartphone and selfie, and with good reason. Small business owners are increasingly discovering the innumerable benefits of a targeted coaching approach in helping them to translate their visions and goals for their businesses into reality. Like the professional athlete, the small business owner may have the diligence, determination, and drive to kick start a business venture but may lack the accountability and time necessary to consistently lead it to significant wins. The dedicated involvement of – and collaboration with – the business coach can make all the difference.

How is a Business Coach Different?

Business coaching is often confused with mentoring and consulting. While all three approaches share common features, coaching sets itself apart in distinct ways. Mentors and consultants often partner with businesses to primarily help them to develop, implement, and measure the outcomes of strategic initiatives. Coaches, in addition, work with owners to help them develop specific skills, habits, behaviors, processes, and tools necessary for the business to thrive as it works toward these initiatives. By providing modeling and guidance, the business coach helps the owner, and the team at large, to increase accountability.

Part Cheerleader…Part Personal Trainer

While mentors and consultants tend to focus on the big picture rather than the individual components needed to translate the vision to reality, the business coach focuses on refining, streamlining, and restructuring the steps, tasks, and objectives toward those goals. The business coach also serves as an objective listener whose unbiased perspective can help the owner to view his business in a new light, which is often the catalyst for taking it in a new, more profitable direction. Equal parts cheerleader and personal trainer, the coach provides a unique blend of encouragement and motivation that serve to build confidence and ensure follow-through.

How can you determine whether a business coach would benefit your small business? Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I have a clear vision for my business but no idea how to realistically and systematically achieve it?
  • Do I need someone I can rely on to give me an unbiased opinion or perspective on how my business currently operates?
  • Do I feel like most of my time is spent in my business rather than spent on it?
  • Does my business need tools and processes that maximize billable time and minimize non-billable time?

A yes to two or more of these questions might indicate collaboration with a business coach could benefit your business. While there is traditionally a fee associated with enlisting coaching services, it is a short-term investment that can translate to long-term growth and prosperity for your business.