Lines are blurred today regarding the types of business support available to entrepreneurs and small business owners which has created confusion in the market. Part of the problem comes from a misunderstanding of the definition of a Coach, a Mentor, and a Consultant within the business community. And, the phenomena of advisors crossing lines, creating new advisor types like “coachsultant” isn’t helping the industry either.
This confusion over which advisor is better at addressing business issues may come from the fact that some business issues actually originate in one area, but are realized in a different area. So, it can be hard to really figure out what’s needed. A business owner may inaccurately diagnose their own problem, and then contact a specific type of advisor who may, or may not, be equipped to solve the actual problem. And, many advisors may start working with a client and realize later in the process that the challenge is rooted in an area that is not their specialty. At this point, wasted time, money, and effort by both parties can create disappointment and frustration all around.
If business owners don’t know that they have a choice in bringing on a Coach, Mentor, or Consultant, and don’t understand the primary strengths of these different advisor types, or the scope of skills each advisor type specializes in, trouble is likely.
Below is my explanation of the types of business advisors available to a business owner. Knowing what type of advisor you need offers you the best opportunity for great results. First, my definition each advisor type.
Coach – a professional who understands where you are now, and helps equip you with the mindset tools you need to run your business. They can also give you access to some business skills training.
Mentor – a professional, usually from the same industry, that helps provide guidance and support based on their personal experience and success in that industry.
Consultant – a professional who looks at the specific challenges of a business, provides a recommendation to address them, and can oversee implementation. They work across business disciplines to help a business owner create a flow to their business that is tailored to their needs specifically.
All three advisor types provide accountability and alignment, and help you with expectations around your business. They just do it from differing perspectives.
Coaches and Mentors support the business owner with mindset blocks, while Consultants support the business by providing recommendations on improving the way the business is created, and how it’s run. All types of support can lead to a better business. The wrong support however, may not create the results you desire.
Coaches and Mentors excel with mindset issues. And, because they’re mindset focused, they are more likely to be short term focused. Their strengths are in their ability to clear blocks, get clarity, and reframe a challenge, so they help address personal limitations to create results in your business. Coaches are trained to look internally, and I think they’re better with “Whole to Part” learners (see separate post on learning styles coming soon). Coaches will guide you using a specific methodology that they’re trained in to get you moving your business forward. Coaches understand human behavior. They may, or may not, have any industry specific experience or knowledge.
Consultants excel at business issues. Their job is to strategically look at how a business runs. Because they’re looking at overall business flow, they are more likely to look at the business from a longer term lens. They’re trained to look at a business overall, as well as from specific disciplines, to identify the root cause of a business challenge. They are good with both “Whole to Part” and “Part to Whole” learning styles because they can provide training, or identify steps needed to reach goals and reverse engineer solutions to realize goals. Consultants may focus on processes and systems that enhance management, productivity, and order flow by identifying gaps and voids that can be addressed simply and quickly to get results. Consultants are usually jacks of many industries, masters at strategy.
You may have no clue how to run a business. You may not be emotionally ready for entrepreneurship. Or, financially ready for it either. You may not be equipped with the proper skill sets required to run your business successfully. And yet, you can still be successful!
Are, there people who can create something from nothing without a Coach, Mentor, or Consultant? Sure. But, most can’t. And, many who can, work with advisors because it can get them to success faster.
So, if you choose to consider working with an advisor, how do you decide which advisor is best for you? Start by determining the following.
1)The type of help you need. Be honest. Do you need personal support or business support, primarily? Are you looking to address limitations in your skills, or in your thoughts? Are you constantly repeating the same mistakes? Or, are you stopped cold because you don’t understand the next step?
2) Their success doing what you want to do. Are they a success from your industry? Are they going to teach you tools to manage the mind games that impact your ability to run your business? Are they going to provide skills training in areas where you need to grow?
3) The type of support you’re getting. Is it a group program? One-on-one? Are you getting personal time with the program creator, or someone on their team? Do you get live access via email, private group, phone time? Are you expected to interact in a group environment?
4) All of the costs associated with the relationship. Bringing on an advisor should be an investment, and you should know how it will impact your budget. In addition to hiring your advisor, you may have to pay to implement projects. Or, travel to meetings. Know what’s involved financially so you’re prepared. Be prepared to carve time out of your schedule to do the work. Be prepared energetically because you will be stepping out of your comfort zone, and that can drain and frustrate you. It’s great, you’re trying new things. Be prepared for any frustration associated with the process.
5) Your readiness to show up. And, your readiness to do the work. No work with a Coach, Consultant or Mentor will be productive if you find excuses to implementing their recommendations. You need to put in the effort.
Regardless of which advisor you bring on, be patient. The impact to your business may not be immediate. Advisors will recommend tools that introduce coping skills, destressors, and organizational methods that take time to show up in your business. Let the process flow!
And remember, any experience works best when you’re consistent with it. While many challenges can be simple to address, some require additional effort. Even the best expert can need time to tweak strategy and implementation before you will see some traction in your business. There are a lot of moving parts. And, if your advisor is not trained to spot gaps, they can miss the root cause of the problem entirely, adding additional time to the tweaking process.
Many successful business owners rely on Coaches, Consultants, and Mentors. Know what you need, know how much you’re willing to invest, and find an advisor that can help you take your business to the next level. Anything is possible with the right support!
To your sweet success!