When you are deciding on making the leap from your corporate career you will have to answer one basic fundamental question: How will I deliver my service to the client?

Will I coach, consult or train?

This article covers the different options available and tips on which one to specialize in.

When you make the leap and escape the rat race you will be leveraging your skills and talents to make money. Your specialities may lie in leadership, business, relationships, accounting, and at some point you will have to decide how you are going to deliver your expertise.

Value can be delivered to clients through empowering (coaching) problem solving (consulting) or educating (training).

So what is the difference?


A coach works on bringing out the best of what is already in the client. For example in small business coaching, you would work on the “bigger picture” of what it is that you want to create for your business (and your lifestyle) and talk about what will keep you motivated to move forward with your dreams, goals and tasks.

You will work with the client on developing them to their highest potential, as well as developing their business. As a coach you will encourage, support, applaud and empathize with them. It is all about tapping into the “wisdom within”.

An example of what a small business coach may work on with their client includes:

•    Accountability
•    Brainstorming
•    Clarity
•    Distraction
•    Fear
•    Focus
•    Follow-up
•    Overwhelm
•    Purpose
•    Self-sabotage
•    Structure
•    Time management
•    Vision


A consultant however is less about empowering clients to realize a solution for themselves and more about creating a solution. As a consultant you will analyze the problem, and advise on how to reach the solution to the problem. You will then continue to implement this solution.
If you were looking at being a marketing consultant for example you will advise and then implement things like:

•    Marketing planning and strategy
•    Lead generation
•    Closing the sale
•    Internet planning
•    Social Media marketing
•    Setting up Ecommerce
•    Website Planning
•    Product offerings and pricing
•    Direction of business

This Analogy Might Help Shed Some Light

There 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.


And finally training. A trainer is different to both a coach and consultant.
Training teaches clients how to do something. Each training session requires your clients to be present, yet it requires little interaction. Training can be done 1:1 or one to many and is the perfect way to leverage your time and ability to earn income. The training model can be the basis of your new business, or can be an addition to your coaching or consultancy offering.

Which one is right for you?

With high client interaction yet a low expectation for problem-solving, coaches need to balance a nurturing and stern role in order for clients to get results. Like a psychologist, they need to be able to listen and then direct. A coach needs to see the client’s problem in context.

If the client can’t solve a problem (i.e. start a business), as the coach you will have to look beyond the immediate problem and look at related issues (i.e. look at more than just the business plan—maybe the client’s home environment or history of finishing projects).

Coaches have to be disciplined on the scope of their role in order for them to succeed. They are there only to help the client set a goal and then facilitate the process of the client reaching that goal by breaking down the work into manageable steps. It is the enabler role, and ultimately, success lies with the client.

The consultant tends to be more analytical than the coach as s/he analyzes a problem plaguing the client (i.e. slow sales, disorganized recordkeeping, poor web site conversions) and suggests the best course of action to resolve the problem. While there is high client interaction, consultants don’t handhold and advise more than listen. Consultants are better equipped with analytical versus counseling skills.

Consultants start a job by figuring out the client problem through a situational analysis. You will then write a proposal to the client, which, if agreed upon, indicates what implementation will be done.

As the consultant you will then implement a solution to the problem, be it designing a better marketing campaign, developing a better record-keeping system, or a web site that converts visitors better. The client is involved in the process due to the signoffs required for each step and the payment that takes the work to the next phase.

A trainer on the other hand either teaches onsite or online, in the form of a conference center event, an e-book, a video, or an online conference. The trainer’s only aim is to deliver a prescription through instructions and anecdotes.

The implementation is to be done by the client. Trainers spend much of their time developing curriculum, new systems to be used, and presentations to be given. The role of the client is simply to buy.

Which one should you specialize in?

There isn’t a clear cut best option. It ultimately comes down to your passions, income requirements and your need for time and freedom in your life.

Income and Freedom:

Whilst coaching may seem like a meaningful and rewarding business, you are stuck with only as many hours as there are in the day, and the only way to earn more money is to put your prices up. Some well taught coaches understand that they can package their coaching into a product and sell an outcome. For example a relationship coach could package up a confidence programme and sell it as a programme rather than coaching sessions.

Consulting is a great option as the opportunity to earn more money from the get-go is there, as you need less testimonials as the proof is in what you deliver. So unlike coaching, you can charge a higher fee from day one, as you will be paid throughout the process, at certain deliverable milestones.

Your ability to earn, and to get consultancy jobs will be down to your skills and talents in delivering an outstanding result. This is a good option for those who are looking to escape the corporate world, as it is the nearest thing to freelancing and you can replace your salary with ease.

If you have been a trainer in the corporate world then the chances are you will want to use this skill and talent when you leave. The greatest advantage to being a trainer is that you can leverage your time, and income. It is not just about working 1:1 with someone, but with the opportunity to work with people in a group. Through my own experience my journey from consultant, to coach, to trainer has been one from burnout to freedom.

But a word of warning, if you want to be known as a trainer you have to have the skills and talents to deliver well, and ensure that those in the room/listening online will get the results you claim. You need to be aware that it is possible to be labeled a fraud if you over promise and under deliver. This is why training programmes bundled with a “done-with-you” package (Q&A webinars and support in the form of coaching) get the best outcome for most people.

Ultimately your interests, personality and passions will direct you to the path that suits you most at this time. What do you like to do most: Create? Solve? Enable or Teach?

If you want to make the leap and start your own coaching, consultancy or training business then you should join us on this webinar: 9 Essential Steps to having a successful business. Click here to reserve your space.