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How to Hire a Small Business Coach or Consultant

Earlier this week Duct Tape Founder and Marketing Guru John Jantsch published an article on the American Express Small Business Open Forum entitled, “5 Things You Must Uncover Before Hiring a Coach or a Consultant” It’s a great article and I suggest anyone who is considering hiring either one give it a read.

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John points out 5 key things to look for:

1. Are they Strategic Thinkers? I love this one because most small business owners I know and work with focus on the tactical; what content should I put in my ad, how many flyers should I create, etc and have some difficulty focusing on the bigger picture – the strategy. Why are you advertising? What is your goal? Lead generation (like building your list) or sales? That’s why it’s important to hire someone who is a strategic thinker. Because if you keep going round-and-round with the tactics, you’ll stay right where you are.
2. Do they have the right kind of experience? John points out that having experience in your industry is not only irrelevant, it can be a handicap. I love working with new industries because I get to bring them new ideas. Don’t let “Well no other business in my industry does that” stop you from trying it! That one thing may end up being your biggest lead generator or differentiator!
3. Do they employ a process framework? Process is key to success. Without process we are just reacting to whatever we’re hit with at the moment. When I decided to start my own business I chose Duct Tape Marketing for the process. It’s simple, easy to follow, and has a track record of success helping small businesses that spans 20+ years.
4. Do they have network of relationships they can share? This is another excellent point. When building a marketing strategy, you need more than a plan. You will eventually need to get to the tactics – or the execution of that plan – and you will need people to help you. You will need web developers, designers, advertising experts, writers, copywriters, SEO experts, and more. Is your Coach or Consultant plugged in to the industry and do they have a network of trusted service providers that you can hire and rely on?
5. Can they demonstrate documented results? I have heard about so many people who hire consultants and coaches without asking for references or success stories and then wonder why they didn’t get the results promised. Is your coach/consultant obsessed with getting results (they should be!)? If so they should be have some case studies that prove the process they use gets results. Again, that is why I joined the Duct Tape Marketing Coaching Network. I have a team of 50 coaches who have been doing this a while and have case studies and success stories of small businesses who have been through the program I deliver to prove that it works. That is powerful.

While we’re on the subject of Coaching and Consulting let’s talk about the difference between the two. I get asked a lot how they are different. Here is a good analogy that illustrates the difference between a small business coach and a consultant:

• A business coach will help you understand how and why you ride a bicycle, help you to determine what’s holding you back from riding properly, and jog along next to you as YOU ride.
• A business consultant will explain why one bike is superior to another, teach you how to ride the bike, and if necessary, ride the bike for you.

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