Have you ever considered working with a coach, consultant, or an agency? You hear these words a lot in the online business world, and outside of it, too. It can be confusing because there is some overlap between the three support models, but there are more differences than likenesses. You can think of them as a venn diagram—they have their own unique traits, but they also have a small section of common overlap.
We’re going to get into all the benefits and characteristics each one has so that you can make an informed decision before choosing who to work with!
Perhaps you’re trying to figure out where your business fits or how your business should grow. You might be in the beginning stages and unsure of how to diversify your revenue. You might be a few years in but you’ve reached a stagnant phase where you feel stuck. You could be an experienced entrepreneur but needing next steps to increase profits or grow a team. Maybe you yourself are a coach, a consultant, or an agency owner… Maybe you’re all three!
Regardless of what you do and what phase your business is in, you could likely benefit from working with one of these support systems (coach, consultant, or agency). All three of these roles have this in common:
They can help you grow your business and reach your goals.
However, how you get there is different with each of them. If you’re trying to understand which one to hire, a good place to start is knowing what each one can offer you.
This description of a coach vs. a consultant from Olympic gymnast Leanne Wong is extremely helpful in understanding what a each role can do for you:
“Say you’re learning how to ride a bicycle. A consultant would ride the bicycle for a while and write you a ‘how to’ manual. A coach would have you get on the bicycle and walk alongside you, guiding you through the process until you felt confident enough to ride on your own. Hire a consultant when you need an expert who can teach you a process or method. Hire a coach when you want to discover yourself.”
Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of each.
I see it like this: Coaching is the building of capacity. They’re not giving you strategies or a plan; they’re showing you how to create your own. Most importantly, they provide accountability so that you feel enabled to follow through with what you want to do.
You should walk away with tools for uncovering your truth or skillset on your own. Coaches don’t do the work for you, but they guide you, push you, and keep you going while you do the work.
In short, coaches provide guidance.
Consulting is a professional service that provides expert business advice and a personalized roadmap for a fee. Rather than just accountability (like coaches), consultants take it a step further by handing over plans, strategies, and custom steps to take to scale your business.
A consultant is someone you hire for their expertise and knowledge. They dig deep into your business and outline solutions and plans for you to reach the next level. Consulting tends to be hands on and provides quicker, more direct solutions to the issues or roadblocks faced by their clients.
In short, consultants provide instruction.
Bringing on an agency will allow for implementation of your plans and strategy. An agency can often handle things like pricing restructuring, marketing, new branding, copywriting, and more.
If you use a consultant for your strategy and don’t have an internal team to complete the work, you will still need to hire an agency or independent contractors for the execution. Bonus: A consulting agency will have those resources in house for you to leverage as a client.
In short, agencies provide execution.
Danielle Langton is a business education and consulting agency. We identify as a consulting business, albeit a bit unique. We offer consulting services and have a small but mighty internal team that can support our clients, so we provide both consulting and agency services. Anything that falls outside of our expertise is contracted out to our trusted network. This allows me and my team to stay in our zones of genius while also serving our clients’ needs at a high level.