The difference between being an advisor & business coaching

Advisory and business coaching live under the same umbrella. They are both there to help business owners moving towards their goals and growth, but what are the fundamental differences and how do you know which is best? Let’s look at the wording itself in the first instance.

  • A coach is someone who will help us improve and develop something in life.
  • An advisor gives advice on a particular field.

So, when working out which route to take, stop and think about your clients. You might need to do both depending on the level of support your clients require and what results they’d like to achieve.

What does being an advisor really mean?

As an accountant, your role in supporting business owners has evolved. There’s a wealth of data in your reach thanks to the cloud. Focus on the insights this will provide. If you’re helping your clients control cashflow and accelerate their growth by looking forwards, you will be their hero.
A good advisor will ask questions and dig into business, looking at previous trends and teaming that with a forecast, or three, will allow you to think ahead to the impact of coming events. When you can see the numbers, good or bad, you can react.

  • Have they set targets?
  • Are they meeting those targets?
  • Will they be happy with their end results if the business stays the same?

If they don’t have a process in place to manage this effectively then again, it is time to step in and help get set up.

What is business coaching?

In business a coach will look at a client as a whole project, focusing on everything from team management, to how the business owner’s professional goals can be achieved alongside their personal goals.
A much broader role, coaches are valuable assets to obtain. They might, however, not be a suitable (or viable) path to venture down for a small or medium-sized business owner. The cost for this kind of service can be high.


We caught up with Futrli Senior Strategic Advisor, Josie Attard (formerly of Morrows, Australia), who has explained this simply:

“Business coaching is about running the business, managing the staff – it’s the much bigger picture. Advisory is the middle ground – it’s taking clients from just giving them their year end accounts to giving them more meaning to help them reach their targets. It’s being proactive with clients and looking forwards, not backwards.”


The power of partnerships

Being an advisor or coach doesn’t mean you’re an expert in everything. That is impossible, and it is far better to play to your strengths. If your client has a sales problem, who can you refer them to that would help them improve this area? If they can’t get the right staff in a post or employee turnover is high, again, who could you suggest they speak with?
Your objective is always to make the business the best it can be and moving the needle on the P&L and balance sheet is a team effort. The important part here is that you have spotted a ball that’s heading off the court and prevented a “loss” for their business. These referrals can work both ways, of course, so this could be another way to generate new business for you.