Business Coaching and Business Consulting – What’s the Difference and What’s the Outlook?

Business coaching and business consulting are two of my primary services. What’s the difference, you ask? Wikipedia defines as, “Business coaching is the practice of providing support and occasional advice to an individual or group in order to help them recognize ways in which they can improve the effectiveness of their business.” BNET defines Business Consulting as “an expert in a specialized field brought in to provide independent professional advice to an organization on some aspect of its activities”.

It may seem like a small difference, but it is an important one. The critical issue is to identify what your business actually needs.

If you need: ongoing help with reaching max potential, someone to confirm your decisions, cheer you on, a transformational relationship with a mentor…you are looking for business coaching.

If you need: situational help with a specific problem, to call in an “expert” for advice, an analysis and recommended remedy…you are looking for a business consultant.

Yes, those definitions are a bit oversimplified and quite often there will be crossover. I suggest you create specific definitions for your business and its needs ahead of time. In the long run, it will help you make stronger decisions about hiring a contractor for coaching/consulting services.

If you are thinking of opening a consulting business, particularly in Portland, OR, here’s some recent research:

Although economic times are challenging in general, Portland has a positive outlook. Greenlight Greater Portland recently released a report indicating that the metro area would add 100,000 new jobs in 2008 and is predicted to grow economically by 29% or $14 million dollars.

Several growth sectors were also identified: professional, financial and information services, as well as construction and natural resources. It is predicted that Portland’s professional and business services sector will grow 23 percent to more than 170,000 workers by 2013.

In addition, the American Management Association (www.workforce.com) recently released a report with positive findings for job growth in the business consulting/ coaching field.

Among the findings were:

Business coaching is more popular than ever, boosted by companies struggling to develop a new generation of leaders to replace retiring baby boomers, and due to a proliferation of business coaches and coaching training programs.
Of U.S. companies surveyed, 52 percent said they had business coaching programs in place, and another 37 percent said they would be implementing coaching programs in the future.
Companies use coaches to work with executives, high-potential employees, problem managers and expatriates headed to overseas assignments.
Companies that use formal metrics to measure performance of coaching programs are most likely to report that those endeavors are successful.
According to both local and national sources, it is a good time to be in coaching/consulting. If you are interested in starting your own business, I recommend sitting down with a consultant and talking to them about what it is like in your neck of the woods..

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