How Are Business Coaches Different Than Mentors?

How Are Business Coaches Different Than Mentors

The journey of the business owner is becoming an increasingly popular pathway to get out of the 9 to 5 and work on a career you really love. You can set your own hours, work from wherever you like and uncap your salary. Because of the rise of self-starting businesses, there is also a rise in the number of coaches and mentors out there to offer advice, support and guidance. But which one is right for you?

If you are looking for a way to boost your performance, success, or maybe just find some stability you have probably Googled business coaching or business mentors and seen a crossover between the two in your search results.

Business coaches and mentors are both important figures that can play a significant role in business growth and development – not just for individuals but also for organisations. 

These professionals bring their business skills, leadership training and personality with the sole aim of helping you reach and exceed your goals and outcomes. Having someone in your corner, particularly someone who is objective and experienced in business, really can make a rapid and long-lasting impact on your profits, brand strength and confidence.

Despite some similarities between them, there are key differences between coaches and mentors that are important to understand in order to make a great choice on who to employ to give you a competitive edge. 

In this article, we’ll explore coaches, mentors and their differences in detail to provide guidance on choosing the right person to match your current performance needs. It will also help you know when it’s time to make a change to get better results. One thing I can promise you is that your business outcomes are going to evolve with time and circumstance. While one might be a better choice over the other today, you might need to revisit and reassess in a year’s time.

Similarities between Business Coaches and Mentors

Both business coaches and mentors provide guidance and support to their clients on how to manage their business and overcome challenges. This support usually comes in the form of advice, feedback and encouragement. What I find is that even with a professional focus most clients grow personally too and they can achieve more happiness in life, set better boundaries and even notice a positive impact on their personal relationships.

When it comes to quality services, both coaches and mentors will offer a program of some type. Unlike consultants that provide advice and feedback for a one-time event, coaches and mentors work with clients over a period of time with regular sessions that monitor progress and make sure the changes being made are pointing in the desired direction. 

Most of my clients are shocked that changes can have a noticeable difference so early in our sessions but it’s important that we keep monitoring things because other issues can pop up as a result of a sudden increase in performance or demand. You need to be able to keep adapting and evolving to match those great results – or you might panic and slide backwards. The programs are structured to step clients through phases of business growth so their support grows alongside their business.

Key Differences between Business Coaches and Mentors

What’s in a name? Yes, there are a lot of similarities between business coaches and mentors, but they are not the same thing rebranded. There are key differences in what you get from these services. 

Knowing which one is the right fit for you will help you narrow down your search for the right service and cut down on unnecessary research and getting quotes from the wrong people.

Business Coaches

Business coaches focus on specific business goals and the outcomes business leaders are striving to achieve. This can vary widely from business to business depending on how established they are, what their values are and how big the brand wants to get. 

Examples of goals a business coach can help with are; moving up to the next level in sales, improving team productivity or increasing brand reach. 

Many self-starting business owners get lost because their goals aren’t defined or structured in a way that will help them move forward, so coaching can often start with getting goals in place then working towards achieving them.

Coaches usually have structured methods and techniques to help their clients achieve their desired outcomes, which have come from their coaching training and years of experience. Over the course of the coaching session a coach will look at any goals that are not being met and help determine what the issues are and lead their client through solutions to get back on track.

Business Mentors

In contrast, mentors focus on overall growth and development, not just the business goals and business outcomes. 

They may provide guidance on a range of topics like career development, personal growth and life skills. Mentors tend to run an informal program that grows and shifts depending on what topics come up in the session. It provides a more personal relationship where a mentor’s own experiences and insights are shared, which helps encourage relationship learning – learning from others.

The most effective mentors are those that have a lot of personal experience, especially in business to draw on to help across a broad range of topics and situations.

Benefits of Working with a Business Coach

Coaching is not just about fixing a broken wagon. While coaching gets a reputation as a resource that helps when your little red wagon’s wheels have fallen off, there are great benefits to receiving coaching even if everything is ticking along nicely.

good business coach helps you focus your energy on your goals and avoid (and identify) unhelpful distractions, time wasters and energy burners. That can bring a range of benefits, including:

  • guided goal setting and action planning to achieve specific targets for your business such as more money, more time, better processes or all of the above.
  • Ability to fill gaps in your knowledge and training
  • Easy-to-follow structures and techniques you can get results with
  • Help in overcoming specific challenges, such as managing conflict or improving communication or leadership skills
  • Seeing your potential and challenging you to set goals that are bigger than you thought you were capable of 
  • Identifying strengths and opportunities for growth through assessing individual motivation and behaviour 
  • Holding you accountable to help you commit to plans and activities

Benefits of Working with a Mentor

Mentoring goals can be more open-ended, maybe you want more peace and happiness or to be able to balance your work and personal life in a way that is rewarding. It looks beyond your business performance and results to give you a more whole-person growth experience including health, relationships, career and finances.

A mentor will reach outside a structured training program to offer advice and support drawing from their personal and work experience. A good mentor will look for times when they can push their client out of their comfort zone to achieve growth and valuable life lessons, offering to support the emotional side of the journey as well as the mental work that is required to get to the next level.

Working with a mentor can offer the following benefits:

  • Personal guidance and support tailored to your personality, experience and goals
  • Deeper understanding and insights learning from experience
  • Open structure to help address new challenges that crop up along the way
  • Results across every area of life for greater contentment and personal achievement
  • Long-term relationship that is genuine in your engagement towards personal growth

Choosing the Right Coach or Mentor

To help you in choosing a coach or mentor it is important to first assess your individual needs and goals. This will help define what you want to achieve and who is the best person to help. Knowing where you are in business and what you want to get out of your coaching or mentoring experience will also help answer the questions you’ll be asked in your initial screening sessions with your shortlisted providers.

Where are you in business? These questions will help you decide which professional you need to excel:

  • What are your goals
  • What are your biggest challenges in business
  • What’s stopping you from achieving success
  • What do you need help with

Answering these questions will help you to determine whether a business coach or mentor is the best fit for your needs. If you are just starting out and are having trouble answering the questions, chances are you need a coach to help define your business direction and get you moving. From there you will have a better idea of what obstacles are getting in your way and any further support you need to get past them with a mentor down the track.

There are other things to consider that can influence your choice including your budget. While there are costs with coaches and mentors they are an investment. If a mentor is out of reach, consider working with a coach to meet your business income goals to get you to a comfortable stage to employ a great mentor in the next quarter or next business year. 

Once you know if you need a coach or mentor it’s important that you take the time to talk about your needs with them and ask what they can do for you. Overall the best coach or mentor is the one that you feel you have a connection with. This includes matching someone to your personality and communication style. When you like who you are working with you will naturally move towards your next level in business faster.

How are business coaches different than mentors? – Key Takeaways

Business coaches and mentors both have important roles to play in assisting business owners and leaders to reach their full potential. Each works to support their clients by challenging, encouraging and uplifting, offering feedback and insight into what might work better or where the trouble spots are lurking. Having a person you trust and feel confident in makes all the difference in getting great results. 

Knowing where you currently stand, what your biggest obstacles are and what help you need will point you towards the right professional. 

For goal setting, planning and achievement you are best to employ a business coach, for general well-being, personal development and overall growth, a mentor might be a better fit. Whether you are looking to achieve specific goals or to grow and develop more broadly, the right coach or mentor can make a real difference.

For a little mentoring, a little coaching, and strategies to help your business grow, make sure you join our free Facebook group The Business Evolution today.

How are business coaches different than mentors? – FAQs

Q: What is the difference between a business coach and a business mentor?

A: Business coaches focus on specific goals and outcomes that you want to achieve or are struggling to achieve solo. Coaches usually follow a structured framework they receive through coaching training. Mentors are more open-ended and rely less on a set structure. They are able to provide guidance on a range of topics and use their own experiences and insights to help in problem-solving. Rather than just business goals they focus on a client’s overall growth and development. 

Q: What are the benefits of working with a business coach?

A: Working with a business coach can help you excel by clarifying your business goals, setting action steps to complete goals, giving your business more structure and direction through planning and milestones, helping you identify gaps in skills and resources that are preventing you from achieving goals, and overcoming specific challenges you are facing in business.

Q: What are the benefits of working with a business mentor?

A: Working with a business mentor offers personal guidance and support with opportunities for deeper learning through experiences. You’ll get to work on all aspects of life while smashing through your business challenges to have better finances, better health, better personal relationships and really love working on your business. It’s perfect for business leaders who already have a solid grasp of business goals and how to reach them.

Q: How do I choose the right business coach or mentor for me?

A: When choosing a business coach or mentor, it is important to assess your individual needs and goals, both in life and business. Knowing where you are at, where the sticking points are and what you want to achieve will not only help you decide if a coach or mentor will be better to drive your results, it will also help with accelerating your strategy session. Factor in your business budget and personal resources and take the time to match your professional to your personality and communication style – the person you feel most comfortable and engaged with will inspire you to do your best work.

Q: Can I have both a business coach and a business mentor?

A: Yes, it is possible to have both a business coach and a mentor at the same time. In some cases individuals do better having both, as they can provide complementary support and guidance and target different aspects of your growth at the same time.

Q: What should I look for in a business coach or mentor?

A: When choosing a business coach or mentor, it is important to look for someone who has relevant experience and expertise. The more experience they have the more knowledge they have to support you. Ideally you want your business coach to have owned and run their own business (outside of coaching). Look for someone with good communication skills and a personality that you feel good about opening up with. You want to be able to take their advice onboard so make sure they phrase things in a way that doesn’t get you frazzled. Choose someone who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to provide honest and helpful guidance.

Q: How do I know if I need a business coach or a business mentor?

A: Whether you need a business coach or mentor depends on your individual goals and needs. If you have specific business-related goals you want to achieve, such as increasing sales or improving team productivity, a business coach may be the better fit. This is also the case if you’re newly established and haven’t got solid goals for your business and want to learn how to plan and set your business milestones. If you are looking for more general guidance and support for your personal and professional growth, a business mentor may be the better choice. Mentors are usually more impactful for clients who are looking to achieve bigger goals or more whole-person success.

Q: How often should I meet with my business coach or mentor?

A: The frequency of meetings with a business coach or mentor can vary depending on what you want to achieve, the program available through your professional and how big and how well established you are. Typically you’ll want to meet anywhere from once a week to once a month. 

Q: How long does a typical coaching or mentoring relationship last?

A: You want to meet with your coach or mentor over a longer time period as this will allow you to make changes and see growth in a sustainable and realistic timeframe. No change is magically going to take place overnight so you’ll need someone to work with you over the coming months to check your progress and iron out any bumps. Timeframes will depend on how regularly you meet but typically you’ll stay with your coach or mentor anywhere from three to six months. Some individuals may continue working with their coach or mentor for a year or more, if that is a good fit for their individual goals and progress.

Q: How much does it cost to work with a business coach or mentor?

A: The cost of working with a business coach or mentor will vary widely depending on the program they offer. Usually, costs will increase for a professional with more experience and proven expertise. The reason being that the more knowledge they have, the faster and bigger your results will be as their client. Some business coaches and mentors charge by the hour, others session to session while others offer a fixed rate package or program.