Business Coaches Verse Business Owner Coaches – Key Differences And How They Can Help Owners

As a business owner, you may have looked at consulting with a business coach, only to find that they weren’t quite the right fit for you. Maybe they weren’t reputable enough, you didn’t know them or you may wonder what value they can add to your business. 

A business owner gets into business for financial reasons, of course. But it’s not the only reason. Many owners are looking for more, work-life balance, love of what they do, managing people, growing and redirecting their focus and flexible working arrangements. So a business owner coach can offer business owners insight on the bigger picture, not just financial growth. 

The Alternative Board, as an establishment, deals with various sorts of business coaching and consulting services. In the process of serving our clients, things are often miscommunicated and misunderstood, which then leads to additional inconveniences. Business owner coaches, from TAB Australia’s Daniel Wong (Brisbane Inner North), Andrew Lawrence (Gordon and Sydney Hills) and Tim Horbury (Adelaide City) give insight into what the key differences between business coaches – and business owner coaches – offer to their clients.

The focus isn’t just on revenue

Tim says business owners are not always just focusing on revenue, and so business owner coaches tailor the coaching to the owner’s wants or needs.  “The key difference is that the business owner coach focuses on the business owner,” he explains. “The two things, the business owner and the business, or the entity, are very much intertwined and they need to be often untangled. We, as business owner coaches, do the untangling and provide clarity around the business owner and the entity to ensure that both have reasonable outcomes expected from their involvement. The goal setting process we go through with strategies is to deliver excellence in their business growth, and profitability. Even from the point of view of growing from a business owner to a CEO of a business or perhaps someone who has been promoted to an executive level, how they can start overseeing the business, and other really compelling things to bring out better outcomes for the individual and the business.”

Daniel believes personal development plays out differently in both roles. “A business coach is not too distant from a mentor or board member willing to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise in the field of business to help you make better business decisions,” he says. 

However, it may be worth noting that beyond your consultation hours and in the absence of your business coach, you are expected to make all strategic decisions yourself, without the immediate guidance of your coach.

“A business owner coach helps you work through your thoughts, decision making process, emotions and technical ability so that you can develop your ability to run a successful business regardless of the strategic decision required or who else is in the room.”

The bigger picture

Andrew says business owner coaches help owners see the bigger picture – one that often owners can’t see themselves, or rely on employees to see. “Business owners are different to the people that work in their business,” he says. “They can uniquely own their vision for their business which is often very closely linked to their personal vision especially for small and medium sized enterprises. They are also often lonely and find it hard to locate people who truly ‘have their back in their business’. At a point in time, they also have to consider their exit or next generation strategy. All of these areas are what a business owner coach works on with their clients.” 

Operational decisions, staffing issues and products purchasing – business owner coaches assist small and medium business owners with various concerns. They also provide coaching on matters that often business owners are seen struggling with such as time management, cash flow and profitability.

Accountability differs in each scenario explains Daniel. “As business coach I would be accountable for maximising the risk adjusted return for the investor, typically the business owner in an SME,” he says.  While there is nothing wrong with having a valuable business, most SME business owners do not go into business because they prioritise profits above all else. As a business owner coach, I am accountable for supporting the business owner to live a fulfilling life. Compensation is an important aspect among many others including health, time with family, business role, succession plan, and happy culture just to name a few examples.”


Andrew, on the other hand, shares with the team how business owner coaches can hold business owners accountable as well. “A monthly focus on the key issue or opportunity that will have the biggest impact on a small or medium sized enterprise is critical for allowing the business owner to make the changes they do not make when they are not held accountable and do not get exposed to different ways that might allow them to run their business better,” explains Andrew. Hiring a business owner coach would significantly help improve business owners’ accountability, all in all making way for the business to deliver expected results. 

From his own experience, Daniel explains why his members find him to be a great business coach. “As a business owner it is easier to hire a business consultant, mentor, or business coach with a set program to take your business from A to B. My members found value in a business owner coach because it put them back in the driver seat of their business with bespoke services designed to increase their personal and business outlook satisfaction,” says Daniel.