What's the difference between a mentor and a coach, and why is it important to have these allies on your team?

2 February 2018

When New Zealand Business Mentors approached us to help them present the importance of having a Mentor, we didn’t hesitate to jump on board. Why? Because having a Mentor and Coach is something we at NexGen see as an integral part of Entrepreneurship.

We hear a lot about coaching and mentoring — for good reason. No matter your stage, both mentors and coaches can be valuable resources. But what’s the difference between the two? How do you know which is needed?

Mentors are successful people who share their experience with you to provide insight and guidance as an entrepreneur encounters their challenges along the journey. They typically function in a reactive capacity, responding to issues as they arise. They are also there to give you the confidence to make the big decisions and push you to take action.

Coaches, on the other hand, are usually trained as coaches, having strong process and management skills, they also understand how to navigate business in general. Coaches help entrepreneurs anticipate and tackle specific industry challenges. They’re prescriptive and proactive, actively participating in strategizing successful outcomes with the client.

A mentor relationship is open-ended and has no timing, coaching is more of a formal relationship and is used to address specific issues. A hybrid scenario sometimes develops in which the coach/mentor role blurs. Certain issues are handled in a coaching construct, but the relationship is so strong that both parties opt to continue working through long-term challenges and opportunities.

Now that we’ve covered the difference, let get it to why it's important to have these allies on your team.

1. Get insight that can only be gained from experience.

Experience is something you can’t buy; mentorship and coaching is one guaranteed way to gain experience from others.

2. You're more likely to succeed with a mentor.

Research proves that having a mentor is important to success. In an executive coaching survey, 80 percent of CEOs said they received some form of mentorship. In another research by Sage, 93 percent of start-ups admit that mentorship is instrumental to success.

3. Network opportunities.

A successful mentor or coach has an unlimited network of people who can benefit your career. Since they are already invested in your success, it only makes sense for them to let you tap into their network of people when the need arises.

4. A mentor gives you confidence and encouragement.

Self-confidence is one of the most important factors when it comes to entrepreneurship. As Zig Ziglar famously said, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” In hard times, having a coach or mentor can help you keep in a positive mindset to keep trekking on.

5. A mentor will help you develop stronger EQ.

Being able to manage one’s emotions is crucial to business success. Emotional intelligence can be increased with the partnering of a mature and successful mentor or coach.

Having a mentor and coach means your business has a greater chance of success, not only that but you will grow significantly on a personal level too. They will have the ideas and foresight to help you navigate your way to success.