Advisor, Mentor or Coach?
These terms are very commonly used in business. Furthermore it can be very confusing for people. In reality it doesn’t matter. The best Business Advisors, Coaches or Mentors are ALL of these. Most business owners actually need a combination of them all, depending on the situation.
My attempt at some definitions (for those that feel they have to have a definition) are:
A business advisor gives advice on what to do. This might be something very specific. It might also be about how to carry out a business task. Likewise the advice might be more general, about whether to do something or not. It might be advice such as – “I advise that you chase up your debtors more frequently than you are doing”. “I advise you to consider improving your web presence”. There are many other situations that a good business advisor can help with. This will help to steer a business owner to running their business better.
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 business mentor is a good listener and is someone whose opinion you trust. Also a good business mentor will help to steer the business away from making bad decisions. They will also help the business to work through the options and come up with the best choice for that particular business.
A business 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”. In addition they might be someone who will lead the business through a process. They can also show you how to get the best from what you are doing
The business consultant is usually an expert in a particular field. They are therefore someone the business will consult about a particular subject. A business owner will consult their accountant about how their finances are doing. They will also consult a solicitor about the detail of a legal contract. There are consultants in just about every business field that exists.
They very best business advisors are a mixture of all of these. As a consequence they are able to provide the very best assistance to their clients. The business advisor will tailor this help to what the client needs at the time. When you need very specific help your business advisor will have a network of consultants that they can call on for that expertise. A good advisor will NOT try to do it themselves if they are not experts.