Do you really need a coach?

A common theme that comes up in my conversations on Instagram and in my Facebook group is how, for the amount of money that some business coaches charge, you could hire people to do your marketing for you and save yourself a ton of time.

Pricing for business coaching is becoming more and more expensive – I’ve seen prices ranging from $20,000 to $450,000 for anywhere between nine and 12 months. Seriously – SERIOUSLY – for half a million dollars, you could hire a top-tier, full-service advertising agency to devise and execute your entire strategy. You could hire an entire full-time marketing team of top talent and never have to worry about marketing your business ever again.

A lot of people, however, aren’t familiar with the freelance market or what their options are, so here’s some context to help you determine what the best choice for you is.

What does a business coach do?

A business coach is someone who supports a client or a learner to achieve personal, professional, or lifestyle goals through a 1:1 collaborative process. A coach’s job is to teach relevant skills, strategies, or approaches to mentally prepare you to achieve business goals in addition to providing motivation and accountability. 

While there aren’t any qualifications for becoming a business coach because the industry is unregulated, if you want to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth, any business coach you hire should have some kind of coaching certification or training through an accredited institution such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

You should work with a business coach if you need lots of hand-holding as you create and define strategies to launch or grow your business.

Your business coach should have both credentials and experience. If you want to ensure that you are working with a business coach who truly has value to offer, make sure that they have some kind of marketing and business experience outside of  coaching coaches to coach coaches. 

A large number of business coaches on the internet became business coaches after being another type of coach – I’ve seen personal trainers, life coaches etc. all make the pivot to business coaching – but they have no business experience outside of this very niche area and no real foundational knowledge in business or marketing. They can only teach you the template they’ve learned from working with other coaches who did the exact same thing. This creates a very narrow window of experience and “expertise” and it’s often the reason many coaches can’t work with you to create strategies that are customized to your unique needs – they can only coach you to do exactly what they did, because they’ve never done anything else.

A good business coach will have: 

  • An education in business, marketing, or a related field that they received outside of coaching, such as from an accredited academic institution, or equivalent real-world experience. Having only been in other business coaching masterminds doesn’t count.
  • Industry experience in business and marketing outside of coaching.
  • Held a position in a company outside of coaching.
  • Has had training on how to coach.

 

See more business coach criteria 

Ideally, a business coach becomes a coach because they have an education and real-world skills that they bring to the table for potential clients, not because they became a coach first and then pivoted to being a business coach. 

What does a consultant do?

A consultant is a trained professional who can provide expertise and assistance for a particular challenge or problem. Consultants do a deep dive into a business’s existing goals, processes and structures and provide possibilities, answers, options for improvement, along with implementation instruction for clients who are looking for solutions that they would not be able to arrive on their own.

You should work with a consultant if you know you have a problem but aren’t sure what’s causing it.

You can also work with a consultant to understand the best approach to scale your business operations or make them more efficient, or better understand your market needs or identify marketing opportunities.

A good consultant will have: 

  • A degree in business, marketing, or a related field that they received from an accredited academic institution or equivalent real world experience. 
  • Industry experience in business and marketing.
  • Held a position in a company.
  • Analytical skills.
  • Deep knowledge of market trends and best practices.

While both a business coach and a consultant strive to help solve problems in your business, their approaches are quite different. A business coach focuses on you as an owner and leader. A business consultant focuses on the business and how it operates.

Consultants charge hourly rates that range from $100 to $300/hr. Some may offer packages or quotes on a project basis and the price will depend on the scope.

What does a freelancer do?

A freelancer is a trained professional who can provide strategy and execution for a particular challenge or problem. Freelancers do the work for you and can also execute the strategies for you.

You should work with a freelancer if you need more bodies to execute your strategy or you need someone with a niche area of expertise to devise a very specific strategy.

A good freelancer will have:

  • A degree in business, marketing, or a related field that they received from an accredited academic institution or equivalent real world experience.
  • Industry experience in business and marketing.
  • Held a position in a company.
  • Deep knowledge in their area of specialization.

You can hire a freelancer to do a number of things for you, such as brand strategy, graphic design, copywriting, social media strategy, social media management, web design, and more. Freelancers are often highly specialized in one or two of these areas.

For the amount of money that a lot of business coaches are charging these days, you could hire an army of freelancers, or a full- or part-time employee.

Freelancers typically charge hourly rates that average around $80 to $100/hour. Some may have packages available for monthly retainers or various types of strategy sessions. Some may quote on a project basis and the price will depend on the scope.

If your business is big enough, you might want to hire an agency.

An agency provides the same services that a freelancer does, except they all exist under one roof and work as a team. Most agencies only focus on strategy and execution plans, but they will not do the execution for you – unless it’s something highly specialized such as a media buy. Some agencies do offer full-service execution which means they will do everything for you, top-to-bottom, including strategy, creation, and execution.

Likewise, for the amount of money that a lot of business coaches are charging these days, you could hire a small agency. Agencies typically charge on a project basis. A brand or marketing strategy session from a full-service agency may cost in the $40,000 – $60,000 range, depending on the scope and scale.

The differences between a coach, a consultant, and a freelancer, in summary:

  • A coach helps you develop the soft skills (e.g. leadership skills, mindset, etc.) and strategies you need to be a successful business. They give you feedback about your existing strategies or coach you on how to run a business. Their main role is guidance. They might listen to your business problem and recommend that you work with a consultant or a freelancer.
  • A consultant analyzes your business then helps you set strategic goals and initiatives and recommends business strategies to achieve them (e.g. how to scale your business operations, how to improve efficiency, etc.). Their main role is analysis and strategic recommendations. This is really high-level, big picture stuff.
  • A freelancer helps you devise and/or execute sub strategies to meet those goals and initiatives (e.g. a marketing strategy, a social media strategy, etc.) or they develop the materials necessary for those strategies (ad copy, graphics, content, etc.). Their main role is creation and execution. This is how you implement that high-level, big picture stuff.

How to determine if you need a business coach, a consultant, or a freelancer

In order to determine this, we have to understand what your intended ultimate goal of working with a service provider is.

I want to learn business/marketing.

Maybe work with a business coach –– but you’d better make sure its one who is qualified, meaning they actually have a degree in business or marketing. If they don’t have a degree or real-world business experience outside of owning their own business, your money is probably better spent on an online marketing course or actually taking college-level courses in marketing because you can get an actual degree for the price that some of these business coaches are charging.

 

I’m just starting out, I don’t currently have a marketing plan and I need one.

Hire a freelance strategist to work with you on a strategy – or – hire a qualified business coach who specializes in new business owners. Key word is qualified

 

I’m struggling and I want to grow my business.

Is your struggle because your marketing isn’t working or is it because your personal issues get in the way of good decision-making? If it’s the former – hire a consultant or freelance strategist to devise a plan that you can execute. If it’s the latter, you may want to work with a qualified business coach (or a specialized therapist). If you don’t know which is the problem, start with the strategy first.

 

I want to become a better business person/leader.

Work with a qualified business coach –  one who actually has real world leadership and business experience, not one who randomly decided to become a business coach. 

 

I need to rebrand my business.

Hire a consultant or freelance brand strategist for strategy and a freelance graphic designer for execution – or – hire an agency who can do all of it. 

 

I have an established brand, but my business is stagnant and I want to shake things up. I spend between $50,000 and $100,000 on business coaching every year.

Hire an agency. Hire a full-time employee. Or at the very least, hire an actual freelance marketing professional. You do not need to spend this kind of money on business coaching. You just don’t. If you are spending this amount of money on business coaching, at least make sure that you’re working with a bonafide corporate trainer with actual credentials and not someone who is really an unqualified Instagram influencer/scammer.

PS: If you found today's topic intriguing and you're a spiritual entrepreneur or practitioner who offers services to others, I would recommend checking out my articles on conscious business and subscribing to get notified when there are new posts. Learn how you can work with me here.

Xo,

Ash

 

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