Do You Need a Consultant, a Coach or an Assistant?

March 8, 2024

by Lara August, Founder and CEO

I regularly have conversations with business owners who are debating whether they need a consultant or a coach. I also like to toss the idea of an assistant into the conversation. I have personally hired all three types of help in the past, and I feel they all have tremendous value.

But how do you decide which type of help you need? Let’s take a closer look at these three types of professionals.

Consultant: Expert Advice

A consultant should be a highly experienced expert who can guide you through specific challenges in your business. They possess a depth of knowledge and experience in specific areas that your current team may lack. A consultant will provide expert opinions and should be able to recommend strategies based on their own professional background and experience.

I have hired consultants to help in sales, finance, IT and HR. I paid the big bucks to have someone help with things I needed to quickly spin up when I didn’t have time for the trial and error process or learning curve that it would have taken our team. Maybe we would have gotten there in six months or maybe it would have taken two years. By engaging with the consultants, we were able to get expert advice that led to near-instant transformation in the needed area.

Another consideration is that a consultant will have great advice but won’t usually roll up their sleeves and do hands-on work. To fully leverage their value, it is crucial to have the necessary internal team or resources to implement their recommendations.

Coach: Unlocking Your Potential

Alternatively, you may choose to engage a business coach. If you’re struggling with internal organization and prioritization or need a sounding board to crystallize your thoughts, a coach may be what you need. Coaches help clarify goals, create action plans and provide accountability. Unlike consultants, coaches may not have the specialized experience to provide answers, but they know techniques to help guide you through the decision-making process.

I have personally benefitted from monthly business coaching. Mid-way through my professional career the volume of work, competing priorities and seeming lack of resources to get anything done was a real strain. I found that my coach was great at helping to filter, prioritize and focus on what really mattered. I still use the skills and habits I built working with my coach.

If you’re struggling with leadership challenges or communication issues within your team, a coach can also offer tools and methods to improve your internal communication and rally your team. Our company has successfully hired coaches to do team training sessions, personality assessments, leadership training and facilitated planning sessions.

Each coach has their own background, training and tools that they bring to the table. It helps to talk to few of them about their approach to make sure that you find one whose methodology and approach are right for your internal culture.

Assistant: An Extra Set of Hands

An assistant is a force multiplier who can increase productivity by handling many tasks that bog you down. Hiring an assistant might be the best solution when you know what needs to be done but need help with time and bandwidth.

From administrative duties to project management and customer service tasks, assistants help you reclaim time. They can manage schedules, help with communication, and tackle day-to-day operations that allow you to focus on higher-value activities that require your expertise. If you can provide clear direction and effectively delegate, an assistant can help you bring your strategic direction to life.

 There was a second time in my professional career when I was feeling overwhelmed and considering a coach, but by that time I had developed the skills to focus and prioritize. I was able to make the list. I knew where I wanted to start.  I ultimately decided that I just needed more hours in the day and help doing ALL the things. So I hired an assistant instead. Anyone who has had an incredible personal assistant or executive assistant can tell you – it is life altering.

Making the Choice

Every small business journey has its own challenges at different points in time. Whether it’s the deep experience of a consultant, a coach’s guidance, or an assistant’s support, these different types of help can play a critical role when you need it most.

If you are looking for a fractional marketing consultant, Robot Creative might be a fit. If you are looking for another type of consultant (COO, Sales or CFO) or a business coach, I have several experienced professionals in my network who I would love to connect you with. Please contact me for more information.

Lara August is the Founder and CEO of Robot Creative.