Context vs Content

A couple times each year I have the privilege of training new business coaches.  What could be more glamorous than spending 3-4 days in Las Vegas, in a conference room far from the strip, for 10-12 hours per day? I chose to do this because I love teaching, and after 20 years in this business, I know our business operating system inside and out along with the method behind the madness that is business ownership too.

I always start the training with the same basic concept, written in LARGE LETTERS on a flip chart at the front of the room.


You’ve probably heard the phrase “Culture eats Strategy for lunch”, and I agree with that statement, but it is really a sub-paragraph under an even bigger theme. In over two decades of owning my own coaching firm and coaching other business owners, I have seen again and again how too much attention is paid to Content and not enough to Context.

I define Content as “what to do.” In my experience most business owners know what they should do, they just don’t do it!  I define Context as “why and how you should do these things.” 

Here are the three key components of Context, which becomes the basis for what you chose to do and how you choose to do it (your Content):

1. Your personal Why and Purpose.  

The more clarity you have about why you went into this particular business and what your bigger purpose in the world is, the better for you, your family, your employees and your clients.

2. Your company’s Vision, Mission, and Core Values.  

These elements define what you are trying to accomplish/build (Vision), how you intend to go about doing so (Mission), and the rules you and your team intend to live by (Core Values).

3. Your Industry and Your Target Market. 

The third component of your Context is a combination of your industry and your target market. You need to understand both.

When you have clarity on all three components, it is much easier to choose what to do, and to do it in a way that is compatible with who you are and what you and your business stand for. 

For example, there are dozens of different ways to grow a Med-Spa, hundreds of ideas and strategies you could implement, yet only a few of those ideas/strategies are the right choice for you and your definition of what you want for your Med-Spa – your Context.

So, if you are trying to figure out how to grow or scale your business, you probably don’t need to read another leadership book or listen to another sales podcast.  Most likely, you need to reflect on what you have already learned, figure out what applies to your specific instance of your industry, and learn how to apply what you already know.

If you want some help figuring out where to start, let’s grab a cup of coffee and figure out your Context, then we can brainstorm some “you-specific” Content.

Author: Mark McNulty, Business Coach in Louisville, KY

Context vs Content