The key differences between Business Coaching & Mentoring

Many women have asked me over the years what the key differences are between Business Coaching & Mentoring.

Many mistake me for a Business Coach or refer to me as a Business Coach when talking about me to others. I am not a Business Coach but I am a Business Advisor & Mentor working exclusively with female founders and business owners. There is a difference between a Business Coach and a Mentor, so I thought this blog would be a good way for me to describe my ‘take’ on the perceived differences, for those who may be searching for business support.

The focus of sessions /meetings

Coach vs Mentor

Coaching is more performance driven, designed to improve the business owners ‘on-the-job performance’ and business results.

Mentor vs Coach

Mentoring is ususally more development driven, looking not just at the business owners current challenges, but beyond, taking a more holistic approach for them to develop their knowledge, skills, problem solving ability and learn from a more experienced business owner.

Structure of sessions /meetings

Coach vs Mentor

Traditionally sessions are more structured and are set by the Coach, with regular scheduled meetings and accountability calls.

Mentor vs Coach

Generally meetings tend to be more informal, either on a ‘when needed’ basis required by the mentee or scheduled to fit in with the mentees needs. Mentees decide what to talk about at each session and where they’d like to focus and gain help (in real time) via discussion.

Expertise /Knowledge

Coach vs Mentor

Coaches are hired for their expertise in a given area (Life /Career /Business), one in which the coachee desires improvement. Examples for business: presentation skills, leadership, interpersonal communication, sales.

Mentor vs Coach

The mentee learns from and is inspired by the mentors’ experience. The mentee has the option to ask the mentor to share their hindsight/foresight/personal experience of past situations or challenges. Seeking their mentors perspective and experience is where they will learn and absorb new ways of viewing their own business challenges or gain help with personal development.

Agenda for each meeting /session

Coach vs Mentor

The coaching agenda is often created together by the coach with the input of the coachee in order to meet the specific needs of the coachee.

Mentor vs Coach

The mentoring agenda is set by the mentee. The mentor supports that agenda. The mentor will ensure that the mentee has all the information they need to feel supported for their current development needs or business challenges.

Style of questioning

Coach vs Mentor

The coach will ask thought-provoking questions which helps the coachee make important decisions, recognise behavioural changes needed to be able to take action and report back (accountability).

Mentor vs Coach

In the mentoring relationship, the mentee is more likely to ask more of the questions, tapping into the mentors’ expertise and experience.

Outcomes of working together

Coach vs Mentor

The outcome from a coaching agreement is specific and measurable, showing signs of improvement or positive change in the desired performance area/s.

Mentor vs Coach

The outcome from a mentoring relationship can shift and change over time. There is less interest in specifics, measurable results or changed behaviour, but more interest in the overall development of the mentee to become a successful business owner with whatever knowledge share /guidance it takes to achieve it.

Length of time working together

Coach vs Mentor

The relationship with a coach is more likely to be shorter-term (6 months or 1 year programme) and normally a coach has been chosen to help with a specific outcome in mind. Depending on the goals set, some coaching relationships could last longer. Coaching normally follows a prescriptive programme written specifically for the coachee or they will follow an already prepared programme.

Mentor vs Coach

The relationship is often longer term, sometimes lasting a year or two until the mentee is ready to move on or the mentor thinks the mentee has enough knowledge to move on. It may, however, start with a few months of working together. The mentee will start to see their own development of skills or knowledge increase as they are guided by the Mentor during their regular discussions. They decide when they feel comforted by the ongoing support (being a business owner means there is continual learning) so therefore want to naturally extend the timeframe of working together. A longer term relationship will ensure they have continual access to expert business insights and be able to readily access knowledge greater than their own.

How do you choose which is right for you and your business?

At the end of the day it all comes down to a matter of personal choice, how people like to work together and whether they want specific outcomes or to be guided overall, to make their own choices and decisions, by accessing the knowledge of another person more experienced than themselves.

If you would like help developing yourself as a business owner, through 1:1 mentoring, please contact me for more information.

Group business support available with a mentoring ‘edge’ – The Founders Club

Photo courtesy of David Travis – Unsplash