Business Coaches and Mentors

Many people use the term “Business Coach” and “Business Mentor” interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences. 

Business coaches help entrepreneurs overcome short-term obstacles in their business. They apply models from their coaching toolkit to the situation to help the entrepreneur work past it. They draw on their own experience in similar situations to offer examples and support.

Business coaches are never know-it-all gurus on the mountaintop. The best business coaches are usually subject matter experts: their expertise is narrow but deep. 

That means a business coach is a specialist in one topic, and they take that deep expertise from one client to the next. Business coaches differentiate themselves by knowledge, not niche.

Conversely, business mentors take a higher-level view. Their relationship with a client is longer (usually years instead of months). They are a model of long-term success in the client’s niche. They plan strategically, and guide the entrepreneur from one level to the next. Business mentors are experienced and successful in their niche, though they may not have deep specific knowledge in any one area.

For example, a business coach who specializes in hiring staff can apply their hiring knowledge to a wide variety of businesses. A business mentor might help the entrepreneur identify where they need help; budget for hiring; define the roles to be hired; and measure the effect of the hires.

Another example: a business coach might be an expert in Instagram marketing. They stay up-to-date on the new shifts in the product algorithm, and help businesses in different industries succeed at Instagram advertising. A business mentor in the fitness niche might say, “We should do Instagram advertising–my other clients are having success with it!” The mentor will include Instagram advertising in the fitness entrepreneur’s overall plan–but they usually won’t have deep knowledge of the ever-changing Instagram algorithm.

Mentors are strategic. Coaches are tactical.

For this reason, many entrepreneurs work with both coaches and mentors.

I have a mentor for building my mentorship practice. He has built a 40M practice, and can show me the entire journey to get there. I have coaches to help me with the specifics, like how to boost my podcast audience by 10%, or how to improve our sales team’s close rate.

The larger the business, the more valuable it is to have both a mentor for the CEO, and coaches for specific tactics. 

Some mentors are also coaches. For example, in my mentorship practice, Two-Brain Business, we have over 50 mentors. But some are also subject matter experts in different areas. Colm O’Reilly is a subject matter expert in Facebook ads, so he does some deep coaching in those areas. Clients purchase extra calls to work with Colm for short periods, and he does some group coaching in our live streamed Office Hours. Taryn Dubreuil is a subject matter expert in selling high-ticket programs, so she does some coaching on that topic. Clients purchase extra calls with Taryn, or attend her live Office Hours segments.

Finally, mentorship is usually done 1:1 or in a small group, while coaching can be done 1:1, in a small group, or to a very large group.

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