More often than not, these two are confused and used interchangeably, however they couldn't be more different. Let's clear this up, shall we?
Simply put, consultants bring their outside skills to the start-up, whereas a coach nurtures your skills and others within the start-up.
When you hire a consultant, you're hiring someone outside of your company to come in and take care of a challenge for you. Once that task is complete, they are no longer involved with the business. The task is completed, but if you have to do the same task again in the future, you will have to then hire another consultant to complete the task again.
Whereas a coach, even though they're also outside of your company, are an invested partner. When you have a challenge, a coach works with you to legitimately coach you on the skills you need to face it. They work with you to create a plan to complete that task successfully. They cultivate and develop your skills overall, so you can continue to use those skills to grow yourself and your business for years to come.
Here's a practical application; let's say you want a house.
Consultants build it for you.
Coaches teach you the skills you need to build the house, and then build it with you.
Both scenarios get the house built, but one allows you to build a house the next time on your own.
Ultimately, coaches are there to help you build your business, not build it for you. They coach you on the skills you need to lead an organization, to overcome challenges, tackle specific situations, and help keep you laser-focused on your goals and your vision.
The beginning months and years of a start-up are crucial. Your mindset and the many key decisions you make in those first moments can decide whether your start-up will thrive or die.
This is why I believe every founder needs a coach - especially young founders. The perspective, insight, confidence and sheer motivation I received from my coaches and mentors during those early days of starting the business allowed me to grow personally and professionally for years to come.
Even into year 2, year 4, year 6 and even YESTERDAY - they motivate me, help me get out of my head, and allow me to see the forest for the trees. They’ve helped me become wildly resilient, and to persevere to get to where I am today.
If you are ready to speed up the learning curve, to invest in yourself and the future success of your business, you simply need a coach.
So, what on earth are you waiting for?
TIP: It's crucial that you can actually connect with your coach. Find someone that you can have a beer with and also be vulnerable. If not, you won't feel comfortable having these tough conversations, and then the coaching is pointless. They can be the best in their industry, with all of the skills and recos in the world, but if you can't see yourself building a connection/relationship/friendship with them, it's just not going to yield the results you are looking for in the end.