To Grow My Business Should I Hire a Mentor or a Coach, What’s the Difference?

When I hear the word mentor, I of think of Merriam-Webster’s definition of mentor is “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person”. When I hear the word coach, I also think of think of Merriam-Webster’s definition of coach is “one who instructs or trains”. What is the difference, Thesaurus.com list each of these terms as synonyms for each other, they may be similar, but they are not the same.

Today the internet is flooded with “Certified Business Coaches”, most of these coaches have taken an online or a two or three-day course that now certifies them to go out and help small businesses grow. Some of these programs are very good and give these newly minted “Coaches” some good systems and basic knowledge to work with, but what they are lacking is one of the most important elements, experience.

Recently I began working with a client, who had previously hired one of these certified coaches to help him grow his business. The coach came in with a very detailed system. He gave him a table of organization, job descriptions, etc, he even received a certificate of accomplishment when he hit very attainable goals set by the coach. But because he lacked experience, he did not give my client the advice he was really looking for.  You see this client had already been in business for a number of years and his problem was not running the business it was growing the business, he hit what I call, the small business owner wall. The small business owner wall is the wall that small business owners hit that hinders them from continuing to grow.  

What he needed was a mentor, someone with the experience to be able to come in evaluate his business and give him the guidance he needed to overcome those obstacles to grow. So when you are looking for that business coach, look for a coach that can be that mentor. Ask for references and verify they can provide you with what you need, do not just rely on a certification they learned online.

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