Consulting Versus Coaching: What’s the Big Difference?

Consultant vs Coach

When you think about consulting versus coaching, both professions have a lot in common. But they also have some differences.

The differences between the two are subtle and nuanced. Kind of like the differences between a consultant and a contractor.

As a result, it’s not always easy to decide which one might be right for you or how consulting versus coaching compare with each other. And there will always be exceptions to the rules.

But to decide which profession might be right for you, it’s essential to know what consulting versus coaching involves.

 Is consulting the same thing as coaching? No, consulting is not the same as coaching.

Can you be both a consultant and coach? Yes, you can be a consultant and coach.

In fact, I’m both. I started as a pure consultant. However, I kept finishing projects and providing coaching services during the implementation (for free).

So, I enrolled in a coaching certification program and started charging for coaching services. My coaching expertise sometimes helps me sell my consulting and vice versa.

Plus, coaching turned into a nice revenue stream.

What are the similarities and differences when considering consulting versus coaching?

This article will give you an overview of the similarities and differences between these two professions so that you can decide which one is right for you.

What is consulting?

Consulting is a service business where you provide advice to your client about resolving a specific challenge or achieving a business objective.

Consultants are subject matter experts. Therefore, they must have expertise in the industry or field to solve a client’s challenge. 

For example, a consultant might identify and assess sales operations problems for a B2B industrial manufacturer.

Then, the consultant offers insights, tools, and recommendations.

Additionally, a consultant will provide training, tools, and techniques. Consultants can work with businesses on both short-term and long-term projects.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a one-on-one relationship where the client is responsible for their development. The coach acts as a facilitator, asking questions to help clients explore possibilities, identify problems, and find ways to solve them.

Most importantly, the coach does not provide advice.

A typical coaching session might include goal setting, exploring options and strategies, and developing support plans.

A coach does not need to have specific knowledge or experience in the topic area that the client wishes to improve.

Instead, a coach uses the “coaching process,” asking the right questions, which is effective regardless of the goal a client wants to achieve.

What is hybrid coaching?

Hybrid coaching is a consulting model. It combines elements of consulting with coaching methods to meet the client’s needs. It is best suited for organizations that want consulting services but are also open to coaching.

Often, a hybrid coach would develop a coaching program to walk clients through a specific process to get the results. Hybrid coaching is a blend of advice, education, training, and the traditional support and accountability of a coach.

A hybrid coach will have specialized expertise like a consultant and training in the traditional coaching process.

Similarities between consulting versus coaching

Coaching and consulting can both help people or businesses solve specific problems. Both consultants and coaches ask questions to gain insights and understand their clients.

They use those insights and answers to develop plans and strategies to help their client succeed.

Additionally, coaches and consults are committed to their client’s success. They collaborate with their clients by providing assistance and knowledge.

Difference between consulting and coaching

The main difference between consulting versus coaching is that a consultant provides insights, recommendations, and solutions to a client while a coach asks questions to help them find their own answers.

Client interaction

Consulting often involves working with several people within a team or department of an organization.

Coaching often involves one-on-one work with a client. Sometimes, a coach can work with multiple individuals in an organization or group but still follow the coaching process.


The consultant uses their expertise, tools, and insights to help clients. The consultant will provide recommendations on improving, growing, or fixing a problem.

If a coach follows the traditional process, the client uses their own abilities to solve problems or grow. A coach is there as a facilitator.


A consultant has deep technical knowledge, skills, industry expertise. The consultant relies on this knowledge to analyze data, provide insights, and give recommendations.

When it comes to consulting versus coaching, expertise can be a considerable differentiator. For example, a coach may not have expertise in the client’s industry or function.

The coach’s expertise might be in more soft or behavioral skills. A coach is an expert in the coaching process.

Contract duration

A consultant often works on a set deadline defined in the project scope. So, a consultant could work with the same client but conduct multiple projects under different contracts.

A coach works with a client for a set period but may adjust the timeline if the client requires more time.

Ownership of the results

A consultant is held directly responsible for completing the project or delivering results. A consultant is often required to transfer or delegate work as part of the project.

There can be some nuance here. For example, a strategy consultant owns the strategy’s development but not necessarily the results.

On the other hand, a coach is not responsible for delivering results and can only provide guidance and support. It is the responsibility of the client to take action. If a coaching client doesn’t follow up for follow-through, that’s on the client, not the coach. On the other hand,

Wrapping up the debate

In conclusion, consulting versus coaching often comes down to the expert’s role, methods, expertise, and ownership of the results.

Consulting involves advising clients on business matters, while coaching focuses on helping people reach their potential by working through issues that hold them back from achieving their goals.

You can be both a consultant and a coach. I’d recommend it as a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Plus, successful consultants are good at listening and asking the right questions. Learning the coaching process will help you with that.

Stewart Swayze
Stewart Swayze
Stewart Swayze is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Weekly Consult. He's a B2B Marketing Consultant that supports large companies and private equity firms. He conducts market research, collects VOC, and creates go-to-market strategies. Stewart also conducts commercial due diligence projects for private equity firms. He's lived, traveled, and worked all over the world. In his spare time, he enjoys trail running, walking his dog, dinners with his family, and woodworking.

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