The good news about starting a business “on your own” is that you never have to feel alone. Advice from peers and experts eases concerns and confusion. When it comes to finding professionals to guide you, opportunities abound. The first order of business is to determine the kind of expertise you need.
Business mentors tend to be established entrepreneurs or business people who can transfer their learned skills into useful reference for others’ success. Business Advisers of Cleveland’s long list of advisers and mentors includes successful leaders in business and nonprofits. When clients connect with Business Advisers of Cleveland, they are paired with an adviser or mentor who has worked in a similar field or who has extensive general knowledge of how businesses function.
Conversely, business coaches are trained and credentialed with an extensive understanding of process management skills. “For coaches, expertise is defined by certifications and obtained through accredited institutions with established ethical policies,” explains Kris. McGuigan, owner of Professional Courage, which provides career management services.
How would a relationship between client and coach differ from that of client and mentor? “The relationship (between client and coach) brings focus and accountability to a client’s goals and objectives,” McGuigan says. “Hence, the relationship is more proactive in nature.”
In other words, a mentor will share real-life experiences as a means of defining how successful businesses work (and why unsuccessful ones don’t work); a coach will create a plan of action with a series of steps to achieve the desired final outcome. To think of it in the simplest of terms, an adviser might say “you should,” while a coach might say “you must.”
So which one should you select? “Both relationships can bring extreme value,” McGuigan says. “While a mentor can offer moral support and valued guidance, the coaching relationship will bring a higher degree of focus on personal and professional development with more consistency.”
Conclusion: There’s no reason why you can’t have both. Just be sure that a sense of mutual respect exists in each of the relationships. “Both mentors and coaches can be incredibly influential in one’s life,” McGuigan notes. “Working with someone who not only has expertise in your area of need but also demonstrates compatibility with your personality lends itself to a stronger, more productive relationship.”