Many people find difficulty understanding which of the terms advisor, mentor or coach applies. They will also often even insist on using only one or the other. In fact it just doesn’t matter. In reality the best Business Advisors are ALL of these. It is a truism that most business owners actually need a combination of them all.
An advisor gives advice on what to do. This might be something very specific, about how to carry out a business task. It may also be more general, about whether to do something or not. It might also be advice such as – “I advise that you chase up your debtors more frequently than you are doing” or “I advise you to consider improving your web presence“. There are many other situations that a good advisor can help with to help with running a business more effectively.
This is much more about having someone the business owner can talk to. Phrases such as “a shoulder to cry on”, “I just need to talk things through”, “I’d like to run this by you to see what you think” are often used. A good mentor is a good listener and is someone whose opinion is trusted. A good mentor will help to steer the business away from making bad decisions. They will also help the business to come up with what is best for that particular business.
A coach is much more akin to a teacher. They will be someone who can show a business how to do something. They will also be an “encourager”, someone who will lead the business through a process and show them how to get the best from it
The consultant is usually an expert in a particular field. They are someone the business will consult about a particular subject. A business owner will consult their accountant about how their finances are doing, they will consult a solicitor about the detail of a legal contract, and there are consultants in just about every business field that exists.
They very best business advisors are a mixture of all three of these, and able to provide this kind of assistance to their clients, depending on what the client wants at the time. When you need very specific help, a good advisor will have a network of consultants who they can call on for that expertise. A good advisor will NOT try to do it themselves if they are not expert in a particular skill.