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In the world of entrepreneurship, seeking professional development support is essential for success. However, with the abundance of options available, it can become overwhelming, frustrating, and even emotionally challenging to determine the right path. In this episode of Business Tech Unraveled, I break down the 4 C's of entrepreneurial support – Consultants, Coaches, Courses and Contractors – and provide insights into how to effectively leverage their services based on your specific business needs.

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Zakia Ringgold [00:00:02]:

Welcome to another episode of Business Tech Unraveled. I'm your host Zakia Ringgold, and the goal of this podcast is to help new business owners demystify what's going on with the tech. In order to grow their business online. I'm really excited about today's episode because I get to infuse both my training background and my experience as an entrepreneur because in the training world, over my 20 year career, or led or online courses, I would create accountability groups and, pick out coaches and all of that for the various leadership teams that my department was responsible for. And so there is a bit of a shift that occurs when you go to a solopreneur because there is no training department. There is no training budget per se. That's managed by a company when you are working full time. But when you go to a solopreneur or your own business owner, you are the one that's figuring out your professional development to move your business in the direction that you wanted to go.

Zakia Ringgold [00:01:28]:

And that is where the world of either free entrepreneurial programs, online courses, coaches, and all of that in between starts to come into play. But if you are not a savvy business owner when it comes to deciding where that money for your professional development, it can become challenging, frustrating, and sometimes a bit over Well Emotional damage. And I put the emotional damage in there because you're not really sure. If number 1, the person has what you need that's going to get you to your ultimate goal or maybe even what it is that you actually need. So what I'm going to try and do is just put the different experts into 4 categories. And then hopefully, these categories will help you decide Are these or which ones are or are not what you need? Are you ready? Okay. So let's go. So in no particular order, the 4 c's are consultants, coaches, and contractors.

Zakia Ringgold [00:02:45]:

I know. It's a mouthful and sometimes they do intertwine. Sometimes one person does one thing. Sometimes they do both. Sometimes they do all. But where it becomes tricky is understanding where you are in your business and which one is going to serve your needs and not their own. So let's look at this from the perspective of someone who has decided that they want to start a new business. They've never done it before.

Zakia Ringgold [00:03:14]:

How can they leverage these 4 c's? Do they need them all? Do they need one of them or none of them? So let's take a look at it. Let's unpack it a little bit. Whenever you think about a consultant, that is going to be a person that gives advice or provides a blueprint for you in terms of the steps that you need in order to effectively start your business. So let's say I was looking for a new business consultant, someone who could help me with systems. And I was trying to set up shop in, let's say, Philadelphia, but I also wanted an online presence. Maybe that consultant would tell me where I need to register, how I can go about getting my EIN number set up. The type of business I wanna set up, whether that be an LLC or a sole proprietors, or this is where you go to make sure that you can collect and pay sales tags. And all of those things kind of giving me more of a checklist in a particular order to do those things in based on their expertise.

Zakia Ringgold [00:04:22]:

They're the consultant. They're not actually going to do the work, but they're going to point me in the right direction. It is then up to me to figure out if I want to number 1, do it myself, or number 2, have it done for me. And if I decide to go the DIY row, let's say a part of that consultant saying to me is you need to establish an online presence in order for you to start marketing and promoting your products and services. Well, the first thing that comes to mind is, do I know how to set up that online presence, or what are those components that I'm going to need? So they may be able to tell me, Hey, you need a website, you need social media, you need email management, a client relationship management system, a way of invoicing contracting proposals, project management solutions, they may be my systems consultant to be able to tell me which types of systems I should consider as a small business owner. So once they have given me that blueprint, it's up to me to figure out how to fill that blueprint in. And this is where course, coach, or contractor comes into play. Now deciding on a course or a contractor is probably going to be dependent on your budget and your time.

Zakia Ringgold [00:05:46]:

So if you are doing this on the side and you have some money that you can allocate to pay someone to do it for you, Or do you actually have, really great last quarter, right? So now you have some money allocate for someone to be able to do the heavy lifting. You don't have the time, but you have the money to pay someone. So that's where a contractor would come in. You could pay someone to do the things that that consultant has laid out for you. Conversely, you may need to learn how to do it yourself. Maybe you don't have the extra money to be able to pay someone to do it full time. And that is where a course comes in, but I wanna make a very clear distinction between a course in a coach because what I'm seeing in the online space is very, very troubling. Very troubling.

Zakia Ringgold [00:06:45]:

A course is designed for you to be able to change a knowledge, skill, or behavior. It's very frustrating, disheartening, and any other negative words that you can think of when I am seeing courses and challenges that are just vaguely veiled as coaching programs. Because in that space, it's all about mindset, mindset, mindset, and no real knowledge transfer, which is the purpose of a course. A course is designed in order to teach you something in order to change your knowledge, your skill, or give you an ability, or change your behavior towards something. And what I'm finding is master classes, challenges, and they're promising that you're going to be able to do something at the end But there is no actual transformation happening in those coaching programs that are being called courses. The distinction between a course and a coach is that a coach is really meant to pull something out of you that already exist. And so it is up to you to identify based on the objectives that you have And what they say is going to be taught and how it's going to be taught, is it actually going to give you the knowledge that you need if you're searching for course to move forward. So remember, when you are looking at a course versus a coaching program, a course should be teaching you a new piece of knowledge, a new skill, or an ability.

Zakia Ringgold [00:08:31]:

So if you are someone where your consultant has said, Hey, you're gonna have to build a website. You wanna look for a course that teaches you how to build the website. Not why you should change your mindset on building a website. Because at the end of the day, you're not going to have a finished product. In a coach conversely, if you wanna think about, let me see. What's the best way? A football team. The coach does not get out there on the field and throw the ball, or catch the ball, or make the tackles. They are coaching their players.

Zakia Ringgold [00:09:08]:

They are helping them to get past roadblocks. They see things that the individual players can't see so that they can perform at their highest potential. And sometimes you absolutely need a coach. You may have those mindset blocks around finances when you're trying to price your products and your services. Or to go into a new product line or a new service line. You might have mindset blocks around other things. So that's when you're going to seek out a coach, but I want you to be aware that you're not going to be able to necessarily have the skill set to do a technical thing if you don't already internally have it using a coach. Right? And the last C is that contractor.

Zakia Ringgold [00:10:00]:

And let's say, for example, or no, I will give you a very clear example here. And the movie set it off. There was a guy. I I think he was the boss for the cleaning folks, and he said, Young lady, there are three people in this world. I don't mess with the I, the r, and the s. So as a business owner, one thing that we have to do is pay our taxes. I would not try to go to a course or a coach and learn how to do QuickBooks or get my mindset right around filing taxes to make sure I do my Schedule Cs correctly and all. No.

Zakia Ringgold [00:10:40]:

I am going to go to an expert in terms of an accountant or a certified financial planner for any kind of retirement stuff so that I know that the information and the things are done appropriately. So a contractor is that person that is going to roll up their sleeves and do it for you. So I'm hoping that as you listen to this podcast, you find out what is your very next step that you need in your business. If you don't know seek out a consultant to help you figure out what is that blueprint? And they should have some success in that area that they are attempting actually have the time and the interest to be able to learn how to do it yourself and apply it. Seek out a course. So that you know the skills and you're able to get the things that you need done for yourself. And if you're someone that's struggling with roadblocks, or you're just not sure, like, you know what the next step is, but for whatever reason, you can't take it. It's not a knowledge gap, but there's something else holding you back from moving forward.

Zakia Ringgold [00:12:01]:

Then you wanna consider a coach. And then if you're like me and you know your limits and your ability or the time that you have, and it just won't get done unless you outsource it. And that's just something that you're not interested in doing, that's when you wanna hire a contractor. So even your administrative things, right? If If it takes you 2 hours to create a flyer and you wanna think about what is your hourly rate if you're working in an hourly rate Can you pay someone to do that because they can knock it out in 5 or 10 minutes? Because that's their skill set. They just absolutely love it. That's when you might wanna use a contractor, but it's also very, very important to be able to take action on any of those. So if you work with a consultant and you don't follow through, guess what? It is not on that consultant that you didn't get the results. If you take a course and you don't actually apply the information and do the things that are within that course, It's not on that instructor for you not getting those results.

Zakia Ringgold [00:13:10]:

It's on you. Same thing for the coach and contract. You can hold them accountable only if you do your part. I'm gonna take that back. With a contractor, you can absolutely hold them accountable because you have pay them for a service or a product or a deliverable. And then when you are seeking out the right coach or consultant, make sure that you take a look at their testimonials, but not just the ones that they publish on their website. Seek out referrals from people who have gone through whatever it is that they offer and that they're promising you'll be able to do after engaging with them. Ask them for referrals so that it's someone that you can actually speak to.

Zakia Ringgold [00:13:56]:

And then the last thing is just to make sure that you are comfortable. Right? You wanna make sure that you're comfortable with whoever you work with. Don't feel like you're behind the eight ball or like you were pressured into anything. And most importantly, give yourself a little grace. Something I always used to remind my students and live soap school is never compare your chapter 1 to someone else's chapter 10. Right? You don't know when you're coming into someone else's story in comparison is the biggest trip for small business owners. So I'm hoping that with this podcast, you have learned the critical difference between the 4 c's when you are seeking out entrepreneurial support. That's courses, coaches, consultants, and contractors.

Zakia Ringgold [00:14:49]:

I'm Zakia Ringgold of Business Tech Unraveled, and I'll talk to you next time.

5 Key Take-Aways from this Podcast episode:

  1. Understand the different roles of consultants, coaches, contractors, and courses in supporting your entrepreneurial journey.
  2. Consultants provide advice and guidelines while coaches pull out existing strengths and help overcome roadblocks.
  3. Courses should focus on knowledge transfer and developing specific skills or abilities.
  4. Contractors can be hired to handle tasks laid out by consultants, while courses can equip entrepreneurs to do it themselves
  5. Be mindful of your budget and time constraints when deciding between hiring a contractor or enrolling in a course. 

Consultants: Guide You in the Right Direction

Consultants play a crucial role in providing advice and blueprints for business owners. If you're a new business owner embarking on this journey for the first time, a consultant can help you navigate through the essential steps required for a successful start. They possess expertise in areas such as business registration, taxes, and legal frameworks, structures, marketing, systems etc. 

If you're looking to establish an online presence in order to market your products or services, a consultant can guide you through the process, recommending the necessary components such as building a website, social media presence, and client management systems. Their role is to outline the steps you need to take, but the execution is up to you. They do not implement for you. I offer a free consultation for small business owners to identify the right tech based on their business needs. 

You can book me for a free consultation

Coaches: Unleash Your Full Potential

business coach

While consultants offer guidance, coaches help you tap the potential within you. These professionals focus on mindset and helping you overcome mental blocks that may hinder your progress as an entrepreneur. Coaches can be particularly valuable when it comes to areas like pricing, entering new markets, or overcoming financial mindset blocks.
It's important to note that coaching programs often differ from courses. Their outcomes are vastly different. If you want to be able to actually do something with what you've learned from a coach, you may need to seek a course.

Leveraging a coach can be beneficial in various aspects of business. One key area where a coach can make a significant impact is in mindset and personal development. As an entrepreneur, it's common to face self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and fear of failure. A coach can help you navigate these challenges by providing guidance, support, and accountability.

They can help you identify and overcome mindset blocks that may be holding you back from reaching your full potential. Additionally, a coach can act as a sounding board for your ideas and strategies, offering an outside perspective that you may not have considered. Having a coach can help you gain clarity, set achievable goals, and create a strategic plan to move your business forward.

Courses: DIY Learning for Business Growth

Courses are structured to teach you new knowledge, skills, or behaviors, whereas coaches work with your existing abilities. Online courses can be a powerful tool for business owners seeking to expand their knowledge and skills through self-guided learning. Unlike coaching and consulting, courses provide a structured curriculum designed to teach specific knowledge, skills, or abilities. For entrepreneurs looking to take a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach, courses offer a cost-effective and flexible option. I am currently developing a Podcasting Playbook and toolkit, be sure to get on the waitlist to be notified when it becomes available. 

Podcast toolkit

With courses, business owners can learn at their own pace, choosing the topics that are most relevant to their needs. Whether it's building a website, improving marketing strategies, or mastering financial management, courses provide step-by-step guidance and practical how-to's. Online courses empower entrepreneurs to acquire new skills and apply them directly to their business, fostering self-reliance and independence in business growth. While coaching and consulting focus on individualized support and guidance, courses offer a comprehensive learning experience for those willing to take control of their professional development.

Contractors: DFY (Done For you) Taking the Load Off

Contractors are ideal for solopreneurs with limited time or those who prefer to delegate tasks. If you have the financial resources, hiring a contractor to handle the practical implementation outlined by your consultant can be a smart move. They carry out essential tasks like building websites, managing social media, or handling invoicing and proposals on your behalf.

By employing a contractor, you can focus on other aspects of your business without compromising quality. However, this option does require financial investment, so consider your budget when deciding whether to hire a contractor or take a more hands-on approach.

As an entrepreneur, understanding the different types of support available within the 4 C's – Consultants, Coaches, Courses and Contractors – is crucial for making informed decisions about your professional development journey. Consultants can provide expert advice and guidance, coaches help unlock your potential and overcome mindset blocks, and contractors assist with hands-on implementation, courses empower you with knowledge or skills to do it yourself. Whether you opt for one or a combination of these services, keep your specific business needs, budget, and time constraints in mind.

Remember, it's essential to assess the credibility and expertise of individuals or programs before investing in them. Seek recommendations, read reviews, and ensure their offerings align with your goals. By effectively leveraging the 4 C's of entrepreneurial support, you can gain the knowledge, skills, and guidance necessary to grow your business and navigate the complex world of technology with confidence.