Business Forward Issue 74
There are many advisory services out there. It can be confusing to try and sort through all the marketing to make sure you connect with someone who can really help. For instance, what's the difference between a business mentor and a business coach? And where do business advisors fit in? Or are they all just different names for the same animal?
Horses for courses. Advisors, mentors and coaches all serve different functions and you might call on one or the other at different times for different reasons.
Ideally, if you do consult more than one source of business advice, they should work with you in some kind of coordinated framework. The last thing you want is for them to be working at cross-purposes with each other (and you). Even if they never meet each other face to face but only work one on one with you, they should all support your business goals and help you develop and align strategies to achieve your goals. And, if you are considering a special project or a major transaction, you should be able to call together all the people who can provide specialist advice.
A business advisor is a specialist with professional insight into specific issues for your business. For instance, if you're a farmer, you might speak with your farm advisor on the pros and cons of different pasturage systems and how to monitor returns. They'd be your resource to work on your farming system to produce higher outcomes from your pasturage. A manufacturer might consult an advisor on strategies for marketing and distribution.
As your accountant, we take care of the tax returns and make sure you meet your compliance obligations. But your business success is bigger than that. For instance, we hope we'd be your first call if you had issues with cashflow and wanted to develop better systems to manage it.
Advisors can also serve a useful clearing house function. They have wide networks and, if they know you and your business, they can connect you with reliable people and businesses that would be a good fit.
A mentor is more like a role model. He or she will be someone you admire, with sound business success. You can confide in them. Typically, you might schedule a call or a coffee with them once a month or so.
A mentor can help you build your existing skills and develop new skills. They'll be straight with you, call you out on your assumptions and challenge you on your goals and your business direction. They can red flag potential mistakes, on the basis of their knowledge of the business world. They can play devil's advocate, to help you test your plans and decisions to make sure they're solid.
Mentors typically have excellent networks and can turn you on to people and businesses with resources that may be useful to you. They might also provide introductions so you don't have to cold call. And they might provide consultancy services to you from time to time on key projects.
A coach is a bit different. Reach out for a coach when there is some particular aspect of your business performance that you want to improve. They will help you find the gaps and analyse why they exist and how to overcome them. A coach will help you refine your skills and goals and help you stay on track.
Like a coach to a high performance athlete, a business coach might cheer you on from the side but they will also push and pull until you deliver at the level you aspire to. They help keep you motivated and help you push beyond your own limits. Coaches help you to be accountable for your own success (or lack of it).
Call us today if you need an Advisor, Mentor or Coach - 07 8275192