Knowing the difference between a mentor and a coach will help you pick the right one

The difference between a mentor and coach
The difference between a mentor and coach


A business mentor is somebody who has experience of what you want to do or become, and will share this information with you. On a periodic basis, they will offer advice based on past experiences. This can save you from wasting time or money on a strategy, or help you realise a different approach to achieving something.  

Mentors are also there to facilitate a discussion about your life and business goals, and how best to achieve the lifestyle that you want. Hence the mentor-mentee dynamic is a long-term business relationship.


The role of a business coach is to ask well-crafted questions that enable you to work out the answers or next steps for yourself. So rather than sharing their own ideas, opinions or perspective, they guide you to come up with the best way forward. This consultation is done when the business is going through big changes – such as moving into a new market or product line.

Coaching is very structured, hence a plan of action is drafted in the beginning. After that, the coach takes the role of a day-to-day sounding board, and does routine check-ins to hold you responsible and remind you of the plan of action, so that you do not stray from the vision. 

READ MORE: Are you expecting too much from your mentor? We look at both sides of the coin


Mentor focus:

  • To help develop relevant skills for the mentee (currently and future wise)
  • Identify business problems
  • Offer potential strategies for solving problems

Coach focus: 

  • To improve only the performance of your current job
  • Create a plan of action for business issues
  • Equip you with tools to fix the business issues yourself 

The benefits of having a mentor include having an expert to discuss ideas, formulate goals and work through challenges, whereas with a coach you learn to run your business more effectively.

The structure of a mentor-mentee relationship is informal, while a coach will take a more formal approach. 

Lastly, a relationship with a mentor is more long-term (as it's constantly evolving and growing with the mentee), whereas with a coach it's for a short period (the time depends on the areas of improvement needed). 

Additional reporting: Small Biz Trends 

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