Mentor Or Business Coach? Here’s How To Determine What You Really Need

Here's how to tell if you need a business coach or a mentor.

Mentor Or Business Coach? Here’s How To Determine What You Really Need

Originally Published Oct. 19, 2022.

One of the most frequent questions business owners ask me is, “Can you be my mentor?” I’m not a mentor, nor am I a business coach, so my answer is always “no.”

Recently, I decided instead to ask someone what they were actually looking for. One owner told me she wanted guidance and direction on her business and entrepreneurial journey.

What is a business mentor?

A business mentor is often someone you know or are acquainted with. They’re someone who cares about you and is interested or invested in seeing you succeed.

With a mentor, you likely won’t need to meet on a regular basis. They might check in on you from time to time and if you have a question; they’re available to take your call. Overall, the mentors in my life are business friends who I turn to for tactical business issues, but also for emotional support.

What is a business coach?

A business coach is a different person, and is often someone you hire and schedule to meet with on a regular basis. You usually have full permission to call them within an agreed upon timeframe. Business coaches expect and want you to connect with them as much as you need because it’s their obligation to you based on what you pay them.

There isn’t a set rule on how to work with a business coach. You might work with a business coach for a year or more. While another coach might take you through a defined curriculum that lasts 30 to 60 days.

How do you find a business mentor or coach?

Whether you’re looking for a mentor or a coach, it’s important to know that the best relationships take time and a mutual understanding. However, be careful from whom you get advice. You want a coach or mentor with proven expertise and experience who can help you find the best solutions for you and your business. A business coach and mentor can help clarify questions like:

  • Does my business have to run Facebook ads?
  • Does my business have to hold webinars to drive leads?
  • Should I scale my business?

I recommend you get a mentor you’ve known for some time and know a bit about their background and journey. Maybe they’re a mature and seasoned business owner you met at church or another parent you got to know through your child’s third-grade class.

On the other hand, many professional business coaches actively network for clients through podcasts, webinars, and even digital advertisements to make business owners like you aware of their services. Before you hire a coach, spend some time listening to their free content to get a feel for who they are, how they deliver, and what their expertise is.

How much will it cost me?

A mentor is often free. There are several people in my life who call or email me for quick input on things like referrals to other vendors or suggestions on their website.

Of course, I don’t charge them for this because they are friends I want to see succeed.

For a business coach, you should expect to pay for their services, but there’s not one set price. You might pay $50,000 for a six-month intense program with them, a monthly fee, or by the hour. Before you lock in and pay a huge fee for a coach, be sure they’re the right fit for you and your business. Get referrals and spend the extra time getting to know them as best you can.

Are you ready?

Before you hire a business coach or work with a mentor be absolutely sure you’re ready. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is my mind open to advice?
  • Am I ready to implement someone else’s suggestions?
  • Am I prepared to consider that my way might not be the best way?
  • Am I willing to go beneath the surface to explore how the emotional and personal aspects of my life affect my business success?

Use multiple advisors

Just because you’ve hired one business coach or have one mentor doesn’t mean you’ve “arrived.” Over the years I’ve had several different mentors and coaches who’ve helped me reach success. Yacov Wrocherinsky is an entrepreneur in New York City and the founder of Orion Global Solutions. Years later, he remains a true mentor. Even though we’re the same age, he’s built larger and more complex businesses than I have. I visit Yacov’s offices several times a year and we remain in touch by phone. He pushes me to think in different ways about my business and to raise my standard of success.

Some business coaches might specialize in mindset and sales. Others might have more experience in e-commerce and digital advertising.

Regardless, business coaches should have several years of experience building businesses and especially a successful business of their own—I recommend more than one business. Some other things you can ask your business coach or mentor is what books they read, podcasts they listen to, and events they attend. If they’re not investing in themselves first, be cautious.

Article written by Ramon Ray, the founder of ZoneofGenius.

RELATED CONTENT: Ask Your Fairygodmentor®: How To Manage A Team Of Your Peers After Promotion