With the dramatic growth in the number of female experts starting knowledge-based businesses in the past few years, it is no surprise that there has been an equally dramatic growth in the number of people offering to help them to reach their business goals. There are business coaches, consultants, and strategists marketing their services for every stage of business from launch to legacy, and for every possible niche and goal.
With a seemingly endless number of options, it is any wonder that many of us hire the wrong kind of help and either blame the person we hired or ourselves when we fail to get the outcome we expected. Or maybe you know you need help but are so confused by all the options (or feeling skeptical because you’ve heard one too many horror stories. If either of these descriptions fit, this episode is for you.
When I first made the change from being a licensed psychotherapist to being a coach, I got asked at least once a week to describe the difference between the two, but now that I have been helping female solopreneurs for the past few years, I find the conversation has shifted to people wanting to know the difference between the various types of help we might need at various stages of our business and how to hire the right person at the right time.
So, let’s start with a few definitions from the dictionary and Wikipedia…
Definition of a business strategist
According to Wikipedia: Business strategy involves answering the question: How shall we compete in this business? Said another way, business strategists help you answer the big meaty questions of what your business does, for whom, how, and why and they help you develop plans to make those things happen.
Definition of a business consultant
The Merriam-Weber online dictionary defines a consultant as one who gives professional advice or services. A business consultant is typically an experienced professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. Due to the speed of change in the online world, someone might market themselves as a consultant who has less than 2 years of experience, but in that time has worked with a high number of clients or high profile clients or both.
Definition of a business coach
Wikipedia defines coaching as a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. Business coaching can then be described as partnering with clients in the process of maximizing their potential as business owners, which includes mindset work as well as skill development.
So, In a nutshell:
If you need to figure things out or make decisions either on the big picture or something specific, hire a strategist. If you need knowledge or support to execute in a particular area of your business, look for the appropriate consultant. If you need to work on your mindset or behaviors to better reach the goals you have set in your business, a business coach is what you should be looking for.
Best times to hire a strategist:
Best times to hire a consultant:
Best times to hire a business coach:
In preparing for this episode, I realized why I have been resisting calling myself a coach for the past couple of years, but haven’t been able to settle on a perfect fit description for what I do. My journey from therapist to coach and my search for a more accurate term than a coach is an ongoing struggle, but at this time, I would say that I’m a hybrid (like the nearer cars from Hyundai and others ) that run on either gas or electric power. I function like a strategist + coach, but at times, I shift into consultant mode to address a specific question or when a client needs recommendations, not coaching or strategy.
Regardless of what I call myself now or in the future, what I do know is that I:
Unfortunately, my domain name for my business is www.diannwingertcoaching and my IG and Linked In handles are both coachdiannwingert
So, I will refer to myself (for now) as a business strategist and coach who can help you map out your business plan, identify the obstacles you are likely to face, and help you overcome them while implementing the plan.
I’ve shared on this podcast how investing in the wrong kind of help not only cost me a fuck ton of money but also set me back big-time in terms of my self-esteem because I stopped trusting myself to make good business decisions. What followed was a backlash of several years spent trying to figure it all out on my own so that I wouldn’t make another bad hiring decision. Insisting on doing everything on my own meant having to learn everything from creating a website to social media, email marketing, and how to package, price, and promote my services. Doing it on my own also meant researching every possible option for each of these learning areas. I had never worked so hard in my life and felt like I had so little to show for it. Fortunately, I eventually realized that I was digging a hole, not paving a road, and recognized I not only needed help, but I was ready to face the prospect of making another bad decision if it meant I was climbing out of the quicksand of my own stubborn self-reliance.
If this has not already happened to you, I’d like to share some general tips for hiring help for your business. And if it has happened to you, maybe I put some past choices into perspective so you can move forward, regain your pride and get the help you need with confidence. Either way, let yourself off the hook, even if you made an obvious mistake because failure and bad decisions are part of the entrepreneurial journey and there really is a lot of confusion in the industry, even among those who are marketing themselves as coaches, consultants, and strategists.
A short list of Don’ts…
Don't hire a strategist and ask them to do the work for you. They can help you think things through & make decisions, but they shouldn’t be expected to deal with your second-guessing or fear of failure.
Don't hire a consultant to advise you on how to do something unless you are 100% clear it is the right thing for you to be doing at this stage of your business.
Don't hire a coach and expect them to tell you what to do or make the strategic decisions for your business for you.
Don’t expect any of these professionals to be your therapist. Being an entrepreneur can be very challenging for your mental health and there are some excellent therapists who specialize in working with entrepreneurs.
In the ginormous marketplace called the internet, with an unregulated field like coaching and the fast-growing industry of online business and marketing, it is up to you, the consumer to be informed about who you are hiring and why. One of the reasons I do a screening process and a free consultation is because I need to be certain that I am the right person for the right reason at the right time. I want every client to be delighted with their results from working with me, which means I have to be willing to turn someone away who isn’t right or isn’t ready.
If you are looking for someone to partner with you to move your business forward, trust your intuition and do your due diligence. Don’t just hire the person your biz bestie raves about or get swept into something because of FOMO when you see everyone at the event racing to the back of the room, credit card in hand. Make sure you are not hoping the person you hire is a mind reader who will understand what you need and give it to you, something I refer to as magical thinking. If you have done this in the past, I encourage you to listen to episode # 129 of this podcast, “There is No Magic Pill” for additional insights.
And if you are ready for a hybrid strategist + coach, like my approach, and think we might be a fit, there’s a link in the show notes to book your free consultation.
You already know you can only learn so much from a podcast, no matter how generously the host shares their wisdom. Just imagine how different your business could look in 2023 can look if you get started now! You can also book a spot now, enjoy the holidays and start in January, but it all starts with a free consultation and I only work with a limited number of clients at a time.
If this was helpful, share it with someone who needs it. Be sure to subscribe or follow The Driven Woman Entrepreneur on your favorite podcast player so you will be notified automatically next week when I share the mic with best-selling author, podcaster, coach, and serial entrepreneur Jadah Sellner. We will be talking about pacing your ambition, preventing burnout while meeting your goals, and her amazing new book “She Builds: The Anti-Hustle Guide to Grow Your Business and Nourish Your Life.”
In the meantime, stay driven!
There are so many new female owned businesses, the growth has been absolutely dramatic, and so it should come as no surprise that there has been an equally dramatic growth in the number of people offering to help those female business owners. There are business coaches, business consultants, business strategists, and they are all marketing their services for every stage of business from side hustle to launch, all the way up to legacy and for every possible niche or goal, there is a seemingly endless number of options. And while lots of options sounds good in theory, in practice, it can be very, very difficult for the individual business owner to know who do I hire for the stage of business and the problems I'm having. And a lot of us end up hiring the wrong kind of help, when we do, we may blame the person we hired or blame ourselves and when that happens, we tend to lose confidence in making another hire. So maybe you know you need help, but you're confused by all the options and maybe you fall in the category of skeptical because you've heard so many horror stories about people hiring the wrong person and having a bad outcome. If any of these descriptions fit you, this episode is for you.ing female solopreneurs since: So right now, end of the year:
The definition of a business consultant, according to Miriam Webster, is one who gives professional advice or services. So a business consultant is typically an experienced professional who either has a wide knowledge of the subject matter or a great deal of experience in a specific niche. Now due to the speed of change in the online world someone might market themselves as an expert consultant with less than two years of experience, but in those two years they have worked with a high number of clients or high profile clients in that specific niche, so that may qualify them as an expert because the field is so brand new, and two years of experience in a rapidly moving field can count for 10 or more years of experience in a field that develops more slowly. Now let's talk about business coaches, Wikipedia defines coaching as a form of development in which an experienced person, in this case, the coach, supports a learner, the client in achieving their personal or professional goals through training and guidance so business coaching could be described as partnering with a client to maximize their potential as a business owner.
Now, this usually includes mindset work as well as skill development in my opinion, business coaches often need to help the business owner adopt, embrace, and learn to work from their new identity as an entrepreneur. I'll come back to that later so in a nutshell, if you need to figure things out or make decisions on a big picture level, hire a strategist. If you need knowledge or support in order to execute in a particular area of your business, hire the appropriate consultant. They could be a launch consultant, they could be an SEO consultant, they could be a Facebook ads consultant and if you need to work on your mindset, your habits, your behaviors, or your entrepreneurial identity a business coach is what you should be looking for. So hopefully you're gonna be in business for a very long time and your needs will evolve over time. There are better times to hire a strategist than not, and there are better times to hire a consultant or a coach.
So let's talk about what some of those times might be, because I understand the simple definitions may not help you recognize yeah, but what about where I am right now. So here are some examples. Some really good times to hire a business strategist might be when you're trying to make sense of so many creative ideas or opportunities for your business, but you don't quite know how they fit together or don't fit together. A lot of people that I've worked with have an abundance of ideas, but they don't know which one to go all in on, or they don't know if it's possible to make their different ideas work together in the same business, that is a strategy question. Here's another good time to hire a strategist, let's say you wanna launch a new program, a new service, or a new offering or you want to eliminate some of the offerings that you already have because you realize your product suite is too complicated and you're ready to niche down and focus on a specific area. So you either wanna launch something new or you want to reduce the complexity in your business and zoom in and specialize, those would be really good times to hire a strategist.nd sadly far too common since:
Okay moving on to consultants, a consultant is the right person to hire when you already know what you need to do. Let's say for example, you know that you need to leverage your Instagram following. You want to expand your reach, you want to get more engagement, and you know that Instagram is the social media platform that your ideal market is spending time on, but you don't know how to do it. You could hire an Instagram consultant, someone who specializes in Instagram. Or how about this you figured out who the what, the why, and the how of your business and now you want someone to show you how to optimize your marketing on YouTube. Or how to maximize or optimize your search engine optimization for your website and your weekly blog. You're dialed in on the business, you know who you serve, you know what your offer is, you know your positioning, your pricing, your packaging, but you just want very specific guidance and decision making on SEO or YouTube or TikTok, get a consultant. Here's another time you wanna learn something new like let's say you wanna launch an online course and you want to skip to the front of the line and bypass the whole trial and error and learning curve, get a consultant who specializes in online courses.
And lastly, when you wanna do something specific like hire a virtual assistant, I actually hired a consultant to help me get my virtual team in the Philippines because I had made a few previous hires of assistants that didn't work out. And I learned of someone who has a very specific approach to hiring, training and working with Filipino virtual assistants. So I hired her to teach me how, I didn't know anything about hiring anyone outside of the country, and I learned a lot from working with that consultant. Let's say you realize your trademark system should be trademarked. You call it a trademark system, but it isn't because you don't have the legal protection, you're gonna need to hire a legal consultant to actually trademark your stuff instead of just saying it's trademarked, that's something I've stumbled across a few times. People talk about their trademarked system it's like I don't see a TM any here, anywhere on here, you actually need a trademark. Or let's say you are becoming increasingly aware that you need to develop a greater awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in your growing team or among your clientele that is a wonderful opportunity to hire a consultant with that specific expertise.
Now, business coaches are the largest group of among the three approaches that I've been discussing, and they are, there's every different type of business coach you could possibly imagine from those who help you start your business as a side hustle to those who claim they can get you from zero to six figures in six months. There's every possible type of coach out there, but in general, the best times to hire a business coach are when you know what to do, but you're struggling to reach your goals. You want someone to hold you accountable. You want a sounding board. You want to verbally process what you're doing with someone as you're doing it and you want someone to talk to about your concerns as you are developing your entrepreneurial acumen, that is an excellent time to hire a business coach. You wanna know another really good time when you have behaviors that are holding you back, and I am specifically speaking of the ones I see most often. Procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing what I call the unholy trinity. These behaviors individually and in tandem definitely holds you back, and all of us would benefit from eliminating them in our businesses.
There are business coaches who specialize in productivity, business coaches who specialize in time management, business coaches who specialize in mindset, and you name it, they're out there. Another good time to hire a business coach is when you are growing a team or you are getting a team for the first time you've always done everything on your own, and now you are outsourcing and hiring, getting virtual help part-time on a contract basis full-time, and you realize, I really don't know how to be a boss. I want to be a better boss. I wanna be a better leader. I wanna be a better mentor. That would be a really good time to hire a business coach who helps business owners with their leadership skills. Another time to hire a business coach is when you are a new business owner and are struggling with your entrepreneurial identity and mindset. This was something that I struggled with a lot in the beginning and I completely missed it because, and I've spoken about this on the podcast previously, but I really believed that going from being a psychotherapist in private practice to being a coach online was just a small change, just a small pivot.
I really didn't see it as a big deal, and I underestimated what a significant change would be required of me in terms of my identity and mindset. I could have used a business coach at the very beginning for that reason, and I didn't recognize it. So now you might be asking yourself if you followed me for a little bit well what am I, what do I call myself and, you know, in preparing for this episode, I really had to come to terms with the fact that I have been resisting referring to myself as a coach for at least the last couple of years. Now, this is kind of awkward because my domain name for my business, my website is Diann Wingert Coaching, and my handle on LinkedIn and Instagram is Coach Diann Wingert, but I no longer feel that calling myself a coach is entirely accurate. I just haven't been able to settle on a perfect fit description for what I am now my journey from therapist to coach and my search for a more accurate term than coach has been an ongoing struggle. But at this time, I would say the most accurate description is that I'm a hybrid, kind of like the newer cars from Hyundai and others because they can either run on gas or electric power.
So in my current functioning in my business with my current clients, I am a business strategist and coach, and to make things more complicated at times I shift briefly into consultant mode to address a specific question, or when a client needs a recommendation. They don't need coaching, they don't need strategy, they need a specific recommendation, which I can give based on my expertise. So regardless of what I call myself now or in the future, what I do know is that for me, I work better with established solopreneurs, not total beginners. I have worked with many beginners, but I'm actually better suited to working with more established business owners. I work best with service-based businesses and what are often called knowledgepreneurs people who help others with their intellectual property, their brain power. I am also very well suited to those who have lots and lots and lots of ideas and are super creative, but they struggle to choose one to focus on. I'm also really well suited to those who want to rebrand, reinvent, or pivot in their existing business, and they like to shift between the big picture and the nitty gritty in their work with a helping person.
I love that big picture, small picture shift. I think of it as like, you know, dialing in and dialing out, zooming in, zooming out. You can also probably tell another thing I love to do is teach from analogies and metaphors. I love to generate frameworks and acronyms, and I literally do alliteration in my sleep because it helps me break down complex concepts and make them memorable. So in my current iteration, I bring together a degree in communications, a background in sales, two decades of experience as a therapist, and the experience of starting and running several successful businesses. So my actual toolkit is pretty full, but there isn't one specific title for what I do. I'm going with strategist plus coach so I can help you map out your business plan, identify the obstacles that you're going to face and help you overcome them while implementing the plan. Do you see why that's a hybrid, okay, I thought so. I've shared on this podcast how investing in the wrong kind of help not only cost me a fuck ton of money, but it also really set me back big time in terms of my business confidence I simply stopped trusting myself to make good decisions.
What followed was a backlash of several years, and I spent those years trying to figure it all out on my own because I couldn't bear to make another bad decision. But in retrospect, insisting on doing everything on my own meant literally having to learn everything from scratch building, from a website to learning the individual social media platforms, to studying email marketing, how to package price, and promote my services, start a podcast. I mean, you see why this is problematic, right? It meant doing research on every possible option and then learning about each of the options I chose I have never worked so hard in my entire life and I really felt like I had very little to show for it. Now, fortunately, I did realize eventually that I was digging a huge and deep hole, not paving a road to the future, and I recognized that not only did I need help, I was finally able to face the prospect of making another bad decision if it meant that I was at least climbing out of the quick sand of my own stubborn self reliant
Now, if this has not already happened to you, I'm glad, but I'd like to share some general tips for hiring help in your business, and if it has happened to you, maybe I can put some past choices into perspective so you can finally move forward, regain your pride, and get the help you need with confidence either way, please, please let yourself off the hook. Even if you made a totally obvious, like literally dumb ass mistake. It's okay because failure and bad decisions really are part of the entrepreneurial journey. I have talked a lot about failure on this podcast, I will continue to talk about failure because something I have learned is that it is our fear of failure that holds us back more than any lack of ability and I also want you to let yourself off the hook because there genuinely is a ton of confusion in online. A ton and the confusion exists even among those who are marketing themselves as coaches, consultants, and strategists. So it's not your fault, and even if it was, you can choose to let yourself off the hook and move forward okay.
Now, a small cautionary tale before I wrap this. I've told you a lot about the dos, do hire this kind of person when do hire this kind of person when, but I wanna give you a couple of don'ts as well, because whether you are talking about hiring a business strategist, a business coach, a business consultant, or a hybrid strategist and coach like me, your expectations need to be realistic and appropriate because if they're not, you won't be satisfied no matter how good they are and that's not fair to either of you. So please, it's a short list of don'ts, but here they are, are you ready? Don't hire a strategist and then expect them to do the work for you. They can help you think things through and they can definitely help you make decisions. Don't expect them to do the work, it's your work to do. They are there to be the guide on the side okay. Don't hire a consultant to teach you how to do something unless you are a 100% clear that it is the right thing for you to learn at this stage of your business. I made some really hideous choices and purchased things like, I think I purchased two courses on Facebook ads when I didn't even have an offer. I mean, I still don't run Facebook ads five years later.
Hiring a consultant who specializes in Facebook ads when you don't even have an offer in your business is a bad decision, and that's not the only bad decision I've made but I'm gonna repeat this one again for the folks in the back. If you hire a consultant to teach you how to do something or to make a recommendation for you, you better be sure it's the right thing for where you are in your business, or it's going to be a waste of money, time and confidence. Don't hire a business coach expecting them to tell you what to do or to figure out the strategic details of your business for you. That is not their job and I've been able to dodge a couple of bullets when during the screening process of working with me, I asked a person about their expectations of working with me as a coach, and they said, well, I just wanna get to the finish line quickly and I don't wanna figure it all out myself, so I'm hiring you to tell me exactly what to do, and then I'll just do it. I'm like, hard no, hell no. It's not happening.
And lastly, don't hire a strategist, a consultant, or a coach, and expect them to be your therapist. In fact, don't even hire me and expect me to be your therapist because even though I was a therapist and I was actually a very good therapist, that is not the role that I'm in now. And it really does confuse things when you hire someone for one role, but you actually need something else and you are kind of trying to maneuver them into that role, you're never going to be satisfied with the outcome and they're going to be very frustrated and probably try to fire you. Listen, the internet is a ginormous, noisy, chaotic marketplace, and the field of coaching is completely unregulated. The fast growing industry of online business and marketing is full of options, but it is up to you, the consumer, the buyer, the client, to be informed about who you are hiring and why. I mean, one of the main reasons I use a screening process and I insist on a free consultation with my one-on-one clients is because I need to be certain that I'm the right person for the right reason and at the right time.
I don't even think of it as a sales call, I need to be sure that their expectations of me are appropriate and they actually know what they need, and I'm actually what they need, and I have to be willing to turn someone away who isn't right or isn't ready. Now, if you are looking for someone to partner with you to move your business forward, trust your intuition and do your due diligence, because I find a lot of people do one or the other they either are so focused on doing their due diligence that they literally almost hire someone to investigate a potential consultant or coach before they will consider hiring them, or they do so much research on so many people that it becomes like a part-time job. Obviously, that's too much, but just trusting your intuition saying, I had a good feeling about him, or a good feeling about her you will be disappointed, I promise. Let the buyer beware, do both, do both. Don't just hire the person your biz bestie raves about or get swept up into something because of fomo, because you're at an event and everybody's racing to the back of the room with their credit card in hand to sign up for whatever is being sold there.
Make sure you're not hoping the person you hire is a mind reader because the entrepreneurial journey truly is one that has the potential to create so much personal growth and so much personal development and so much self-awareness. But sometimes we just wanna outsource all of that, we just want it to be instantaneous. And nobody's a mind reader even if you happen to be lucky enough to hire someone who's really intuitive because what you don't understand about yourself and your business will eventually catch up with you. This is a phenomenon that's referred to as magical thinking, and if you've ever done this in the past, I encourage you to go back and listen to episode 129 of this podcast called There is No Magic because it will definitely give you some additional insights.t your business could look in:
If this explanation of the difference between a business strategist, a business coach, and a business consultant was helpful, please share this episode with someone who needs to hear it, especially someone who has been burned in the past and is trying to DIY it and is literally circling the drain because they need outside help. Please subscribe or follow the Driven Woman Entrepreneur Podcast on your favorite player because you are definitely going to want to be notified next week when I will be sharing the mic with bestselling author, podcaster coach, and serial entrepreneur, Jadah Sellner. We're gonna be talking about pacing your ambition, preventing burnout, and meeting your goals. It all comes from her amazing new book She builds the Anti Hustle Guide to Grow Your Business and Nourish Your Life. It was a fabulous conversation, I can't wait to share it with. Come back next week here and hear all about it, and in the meantime, stay driven.