Business coach or mentor: what is right for me?

It is said, and rightly so, that one of the most important lessons of being an entrepreneur is that you can never lose humility . Because it is impossible to know absolutely everything, not make any mistakes or be able to solve every problem that arises without help: this is where the figures of the business coach and mentor come into play as a source of guidance, advice and motivation .

But what is the difference between one and the other? And who do you really need at this stage of your business? In this article we want to tell you what each one can bring you and how to define who you should work with to take your company to the next level. Let’s start by defining each figure.

What is a business coach

coach is a professional with in-depth knowledge and experience in a certain business area, trained to share it through training and coaching sessions. For example, about leadership, communication skills, sales, process development or scaling the company.

In recent years, this type of service has become popular and that is why there is now an entire industry around the figure of the coach. But care must be taken not to hire people who, in reality, have little experience and whose contribution to the company would be very little. For this reason, before signing a contract, investigate all the options available in the market , look for references; For example, about the institute or organization where the coach was trained, ask for proof of the results obtained, such as the recommendation of a satisfied client.

A clear sign of a coach ‘s professionalism is when they ask you to make a first introductory call to introduce yourself ; above all to understand your needs and expectations, to determine if it can help you or not.

what is a mentor

As for a mentor, this is someone who voluntarily becomes a guide for a less experienced entrepreneur or businessperson in a specific area of ​​business. In general, these are more personal, more empathetic and longer relationships than those established with a coach who provides their services in exchange for financial compensation.

The B-side of mentoring is that it can become very informal , as both parties may cancel their meetings at the last minute due to work issues, or not focus on specific business problems. Therefore, the ideal is to access it through the program of a good business accelerator, which establishes work routines and monitors progress.

Another good tip is to look for a mentor to advance in a specific area of ​​business where you can bring your experience and advice , as well as good contacts. For example, in the case of marketing, to access interviews with the purchasing managers of large supermarket chains or with experts in logistics chains.

And then what do I need?

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the difference between a business coach and a mentor, you need to answer which one is better for you.

In general, in the earliest stages of the company , the owners need to improve certain specific skills in order to scale it. So, what they need is a coach who trains them for a certain period , and who also helps to apply their new knowledge in the day-to-day running of the company.

Mentors are ideal for the later stage of company acceleration , as they tend to have little time, are not as accessible and so it is better to contact them to make the most of their experience and contacts. For example, if the business is not yet ready to start selling online, look for a capital injection or land in another country. Why start a relationship with a big businessman, who, unless he has a personal relationship with the founder, will show little interest in a still small project?

Finally, do not forget to keep in mind that both a business coach and a mentor can help you improve not only specific skills for the growth of your business, but also for your personal development . Now more than before we are aware of the importance of achieving a better balance between work and personal life, of developing healthier relationships or of taking care of our physical and mental health.