Coaching of some kind can be highly useful for many businesspeople and entrepreneurs. It can help them to reach their goals, grow as a business owner, leader and manager, and help them achieve a better work-life balance, to name just a few things! But, when you search for coaching, it can quickly feel overwhelming. There seem to be countless different variations of coaches, who all promise to help you and your company thrive. How can you know what sort of coaching would work best for you?

Two of the most common types of coaching are business and executive coaching. It’s also not unusual to think that these two types of coaching are the same thing under slightly different names. But, what is executive coaching, and is it the same as business coaching? How are they similar, and how are they different? Of course, they do have plenty of similarities. However, they are not quite identical. You may benefit from one form of coaching over the other. So, this blog post aims to answer many of the questions you may have surrounding this topic, to help you decide if one of these forms of coaching would be the right choice for you and your organisation.

What is business coaching?

Before we answer the question of what is executive coaching, let’s firstly look at the definition of what is possibly one of the most common forms of coaching. That is, business coaching. Your business coach will work with you to improve the performance of your business, and help it and you reach any business-related goals, such as increasing sales and revenue, expanding the team, or simply making more money. Usually, the coaching revolves around setting these realistic goals and coming up with strategies to help the company get there.

They may also work with the business owner with personal development, but usually only when this also pertains to the improvement of the organisation as well. And, it’s not always just about the business owner! The rest of the team, if applicable, can also often get involved with the coaching process, as business coaching aims to improve the organisation as a whole.

Some common things that a business coach may support you with:

  • Strategic planning
  • Sales and marketing
  • Starting a business (business coaching for startups)
  • Building up an effective business network
  • Instilling a better work-life balance
  • Improving your business skills.

Conversely, what is executive coaching?

Executive Coaching

Executive coaching

On the other hand, executive coaches are not usually hired by the business owner themselves. They are usually aimed at supporting senior leaders in an organisation, such as Managing Directors, Vice Presidents, and other key figures. As a result of this, they are often hired by larger companies compared to business coaches. While executive coaches often make an improvement to the business, their biggest focus is normally on the personal development of the executive in question. It’s not just for those executives who are performing badly. Indeed, almost anybody can benefit from improving their skills and becoming better at what they do, even if there are no major issues to begin with. And, both executives who are new to a team and those who are long0standing managers can benefit from this sort of coaching.

For example, an executive coach might work with you to improve communication, leadership, interpersonal relationship, or teamwork skills. The end goal of this is to help the executive reach their full potential. Of course, this will have a knock-on benefit for the people the executive manages and the wider organisation. So, what are some common things that an executive coach could help you with? Here are just a few:

  • Developing leadership skills
  • Improving communication skills (internally, externally, or both depending on the needs of the executive and the organisation)
  • Building the best possible teams
  • Techniques for motivating managees
  • Developing better management skills

Similarities and differences

So, from answering the questions of what is business coaching and what is executive coaching, it should be clear that they definitely have several differences. So, how are they similar and how do they differ? This should help you decide which would be best for you if you’re in the market for a coach fo some kind.

Target coachees

One of the major differences between business and executive coaches is the people that they work with. In fact, this is probably the number one way to tell them apart. On the one hand, business coaches tend to work directly with the business owner in a certain organisation. Of course, they may work with others in that organisation, but usually, the main aim of a business coach is to help the owner improve their operation. On the other hand, executive coaches don’t tend to work with business owners. Instead, they usually work with the higher-level executives within an organisation who don’t own the company but play a large part in the everyday running of it.

Business coaching

Business coaching

Type of business worked with

Another difference between the two is the general type of businesses that each of the coach types work with. For example, for startups and SMEs, it is more likely to work with a business coach. This is because the business owner is still usually heavily involved at the top of the company and, especially when thinking about startups, may be one of only a handful of employees. Then, executive coaches usually work with larger corporations, as their focus is not on the organisation as a whole but on the individual executives within it. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule; this is just a general guide.

Areas worked on

When it comes to what business and executive coaches can support you with, there are both similarities and differences. Overall, working on one part usually has a positive knock-on effect for other parts of the business or person being coached. But, as a general rule, business coaching focuses on improving the business, with improving the business owner as a secondary priority or as a natural consequence of working on the business. Then, executive coaches tend to focus more on the personal development of the executives in question, with any improvements to the business from this being an added bonus.

Are they the same thing?

Hopefully, this article has helped to answer the question of what is executive coaching, and show you that it and business coaching are actually separate entities! At the end of the day, they aim to do different things by improving the performance of either the business as a whole (business coaching) or the individual executives within it (executive coaching). And, each type of coach will work with different people within a business. Whether you believe that you would gain more benefits from business coaching or executive coaching, there are plenty of options out there to suit you and your needs.

Here at Chrysalis Partners, I am a business coach who specialises in helping companies improve their bottom line. I know that you care about making more money, so I will help make that happen! I do this alongside meeting other goals such as generating opportunities, increasing the value of your business, and engaging with your customers. Contact me today at or complete the contact form here and I’ll get back to your shortly to discuss your individual requirements.