A couple of days ago I wrote an article that differentiates between consultants and coaches and the respective business models.
I realized that I was remiss in pointing out one business model that both might choose: becoming a subcontractor.
Consultants and coaches are both executive advisors. The difference between the two is the way that they advise their clients.
Consultants are more focused on enhancing leadership and organizational capacity whereas coaches are more focused on the leaders themselves and helping them improve their personal and leadership effectiveness.
A consulting business is a "business to business" (BTB) model where you get paid to improve an organization's results. A coaching business is a "business to consumer" (BTC business) where you get paid to improve an individual's results.
A subcontractor is a self-employed consultant or coach carries out work for a company as a part of a larger project. They can be hired directly by the company or by a consulting firm that lands the work and then hires them, usually for a fixed price.
As a result of the nature of this employment form - the role is typically an "extra pair of hands" for the organization or a consulting/coaching firm as the person hires the sub-contractor defines the outcomes, deliverables and schedule.
If you're an individual who has no aspirations of being a change agent to an organization or becoming an executive advisor who guides leaders to create healthy and positive work environments that support all stakeholders - then a subcontracting role might work for you. It's also a good fit for individuals who do not have a desire to be seen as an expert in their industry or a thought leader.
The benefits of this model is that you get to do the work without feeling overly invested in the organization. You also don't have to push yourself out of any fears or discomforts about putting yourself out there marketing-wise. As long as you're a decent networker who can develop positive relationships with successful consulting and coaching firm owners and have a specialized expertise that they and their clients need - you can focus on just delivering the work.
Depending on your goals, there are several drawbacks to this model:
Choose the subcontracting model only if it legitimately is the one that aligns with your career goals, life priorities and values. But ONLY in those circumstances.
Consider if you use these types of filters in your decision-making:
If you do - be honest with yourself. These statements are fear dressed up as rational objections because the truth is: Networking to find people you subcontract with IS marketing. It's making people aware of that you exist and can help. It's just not the smart, strategic and bold marketing that you could be doing that would attract the clients you ultimately want to help into YOUR own network that could lead to landing your own contracts at fees in exchange for value vs. time.
There's a tragedy that comes with playing small and setting yourself up to achieve less than your potential. There's a challenge for your own life as you don't experience the full benefits and freedom that is possible for you with your business. But the tragedy is so much bigger than that.
Executives need purpose-driven consultants and coaches to set themselves to win the business over consultants and coaches who are just in it for the money. When you win the business as a peer to executives, you'll be able to influence the change that is ultimately needed in today's stressed out, short-term profit obsessed workplace. It's you who will stand up for the employees that need to be treated with respect. It's you who understands the implications of horrible customer service experiences on profits and the customer's own lives as they have to waste time sitting on the phone through endless phone trees vs. spending time on what matters to them.
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