What IS the difference – business mentor or business coach?
I call myself a business coach but I am also often referred to by my clients as a business mentor. Everyone seems to have their own definition around these words. I’m fine with either. I consider myself to be a coach, a mentor and a consultant at different times and for different needs. Sometimes I’m all three in the one session.
No wonder people are confused.
Historically speaking, the term mentor connotes an older person imparting wise advice to a younger, less experienced person. Taking someone under your wing, so-to-speak. But the term has a more modern meaning now and I find that the term business coach and business mentor are often used interchangeably.
The ICF (International Coaching Federation) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
One of the biggest differences between business coaching and business mentoring is that coaching is about asking questions which help you to draw your own conclusions and direction. It’s not at all about telling you what to do.
At times I am using coaching skills and tools to help you to come up with the answers yourself and to help you to set and achieve your business goals. I may gently challenge in a supportive and encouraging way and hold you accountable. I may challenge preconceptions and beliefs that may not be useful.
However sometimes clients need the benefit of my experience in which case I am suggesting answers for them based on what I know works. I have spent many years in my own businesses, from a hair salon to a bookkeeping business, not to mention the many businesses I have worked with over the years, so I get where you’re coming from. I would consider this mentoring.
And at other times what I do is more consultant than coach. A consultant approach tends to be more hands-on and is based on expert knowledge and experience in a particular area. The work I do with accounting software is consulting work (as well as training, but we won’t add a 4th term into the mix – you get the gist).
Essentially if you are paying a professional to help you succeed in business, as a business mentor, coach or consultant, I would expect a structured and systematic process aimed at a specific result or set of results, to get you from point A to point B.
Ultimately you want to come out with greater clarity of business vision, an understanding of business principles, and a strategy for success.
What about the NZ Business Mentors?
I suspect that by the NZ Business Mentors offering mentoring at such a low cost (almost free) the word “mentor” has developed some baggage, something of a lesser value. We tend to value what we pay for more than what we’re given. Whereas, in reality, a business mentor has a wealth of experience in business, years usually, which can be of enormous value to someone with less experience.
I am, myself, a listed NZ Business Mentor. Initially this was a bit of a give-back thing while I was getting started with my coaching business. But for the past couple of years I’ve been so busy with paying clients that I’ve not been able to commit to any mentoring clients through NZ Business Mentors.
Ultimately, this work is my livelihood. I help my clients create tangible results that make a difference to their businesses and, consequently, to their lives. So I think my coaching/mentoring is of a standard that is worth the price I charge and then some, and I’m reluctant to give it away for free these days.
However, if you’re new to business and can’t afford a business coach, then the NZ Business Mentors is a low cost solution relatively low in risk, and you might get someone who can help to make a big difference to your business. Some, by accounts, are great.
Do keep in mind that the mentors through NZ Business Mentors are volunteers. Be kind and gracious about the time and advice that they are offering you for free. They are doing this to give back and are not getting paid.
Business coach, business mentor, business consultant
So I hope this has shed some light on the differences between business coach, mentor, and consultant and that you have a greater understanding of what or who might work for you.
I’m happy to have a chat with anyone who wants to discuss this further, or to see if coaching with me is a good fit.
I have a strong background in accounting & finance, as well as a number of years in sales, and small business ownership. I believe this unusual combination gives me a unique perspective when it comes to coaching others.
If you’ve grown your business to a point where sales are pretty good but you’re thinking there’s got to be more to it than this; if you’re feeling overwhelmed and disappointed with how much money is actually going into your pocket, then you’re the type of person I can help.
I help you, as a small business owner, to build and grow a profitable business that works for you. Profitable as in you’re making good money. Works for you as opposed to feeling like a slave to your business.