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Advisory & Consulting - same same or different?

~ by Alan W & Candice R

What IS the difference between the advisor and the consultant for the creative business? Unfortunately mixing up these two experts can take away the magic they both bring to your (or your clients’) business.

Here are 10 key questions to ask yourself before deciding on an advisor or consultant (or both!) to tackle your creative business/project challenges:

Do you know the problem you need to solve and do you have a solution in mind?

Not really?

The advisor will investigate the root causes of the problem from which your symptoms have surfaced. They define the real problem/s at hand, the interdependencies at play, and the scope required for solutioning.

You do?

The consultant will execute solutions to a specific and defined problem. They can also be involved in devising the solution to this already well defined problem.

Is this a long-term ongoing challenge or a current challenge you are facing?

Long-term ongoing?

The advisor looks at the longer term which is why high level issues are their fortay. They can therefore predict problems before they surface so they can influence longer term success. They address ongoing challenges for the business/project.


The consultant looks at a current and more predicted term of a strictly defined and granular problem at hand and executes its solution.

Surface level or deeply rooted exploration?

Deeply rooted?

The advisor will work on those not fully defined and broader challenges, working at defining them more succinctly and exposing their depth in the business/project whatever the scope.

Surface level?

The consultant works with clearly defined parameters around the problem solve/s with regards to timelines, elements, scope and outcomes.

Do you require big picture thinking or specialized solution execution?

Big picture thinking?

The advisor will develop and craft strategic and sustainable models that house executional efforts, strategies that can be executed, and the direction of certain routes to be taken over others.

Solution execution?

The consultant brings specialized skills to contribute to strategy through detailed execution of their craft.

Do roles & requirements need to be determined?


The advisor will look into roles and requirements required to address the challenge/s at hand and may employ creative structures to solve for these like a skills matrix model or framework. They consider and develop suggested ways of work that fit this challenge resolution approach.


The consultant on the other hand will fulfill these pre-determined roles and assume the responsibilities therein.

Are you looking for leadership on a problem or project level?

Problem level?

The advisor takes on greater responsibility for the wider context of the business within which a project may sit. The provider leadership holistically through their ability to think big picture never losing sight on the strategic business objectives within which problem resolution sits.

Project level?

The consultant takes on responsibility for the project and executes the delivery of the solution. Their focussed project view ensures their aspect of problem resolution is thorough and on point within the project context and objectives.

A formal or informal business relationship?


The advisor by nature has a less formal relationship and interaction with the business and/or project. Seen as a mentor, industry expert and peer that is called in when you need guidance. They maintain an ongoing relationship with the business and/or project team. Their engagement as such often fluctuates depending on the needs at the time.


The consultant’s relationship is more formal and professional and remains more attached to the project/solution and the team they are delivering it for. Their engagement tends to be more fixed term at a full capacity for that term in order to conclude project based deliverables and outcomes.

Are you proactively or reactively tackling challenges you face?


The advisor aims to work proactively to foresee challenges, their interdependencies and implications and devise strategies for the long term, to help implement these, always weighing in alternatives.


The consultant accommodates a reactive, fast turnaround on the specific problem being addressed with the best possible solution.

There is room for both a consultant and advisory role when addressing business and/or project challenges. In fact, advisors typically bring in consultants to execute their strategies. When they team up and hone in on their areas of focus and expertise they can work well in tandem to efficiently and effectively deliver impact. This is not about doubling up efforts but rather streamlining which expert enters at which stage of challenge resolution to drive success for the business and/or project.

Work with Alan W

Work with Candice R

“Solving niche challenges founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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