Coaching vs Mentoring - Which Works Best For Small Business Owners?

By Jeromine Alpe on August 4, 2018. 

  • The importance of the personal and professional support network.
  • Coaching and Mentoring:  differences between short and long time solutions.
  • How necessary is it for your coach or mentor to understand your expectations or goals? 



Small business can be lonely if you don’t have a personal and professional support network around you. Seeking out a mentor or participating in some 1-on-1 coaching can be the difference between a good business and a great business.

A decision to invest in a coaching or mentoring program empowers individuals through deeper self-awareness of individual characteristics, competencies and values that underlie individual approaches to work, leadership, and interaction with others in the workplace.

Business owners who recognise the need for learning and a different perspective open themselves and their business to greater opportunities for success. The first step is to understand what the opportunity is and how to get there.

What is the difference between Coaching and Mentoring?

Studies show organisations with strong leadership are 13 times more likely to outperform their competition, and three times more likely to retain their most talented employees (Peter Berry Consulting). In small to medium businesses, strategies such as coaching and mentoring are vital to ensure success in the foundational stages of running an organisation.

Coaching can be a short term solution to focus on key issues a business owner might be facing; it’s performance driven. Coaching is task focussed working through strategies to identify challenges, seek opportunities and resolve any issues. However, coaching can often be misconceived as only a short term solution whereas it can have a lasting impact on business owners and the way they continue their business journey.

Mentoring is a longer term commitment focussed on developing the mentee holistically targeting both personal and professional qualities. Mentoring can be both formal and informal which can determine the lasting impact of the process. Business owners looking to create lasting connections with key industry leaders might benefit from a longer term mentoring program where they can gain insights specific to their business. If business owners are looking to operate a mentoring program within their organisation, they may want to consider customisable digital platforms that offer the opportunity for staff to connect.


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Important things to note when choosing a mentor or coach.


Agree on your purpose

Are you both there for the right reasons? In a less formal mentoring program, the purpose may not be as defined as that of a rigorous coaching program. When first engaging a mentor or coach, ensure they understand your objectives and reasons for undertaking the program.


Ensure your values are aligned

That’s not to say you shouldn’t engage with people who do not have the same values or perspectives as you. Opening our mind to different viewpoints is a crucial part of becoming a dynamic entrepreneur or business owner. However, within a mentoring or coaching program, you may be looking for someone who is going to understand who you are and how your purpose aligns with your business. Seeking out someone you respect and admire for an initial chat can be a great way to begin the process.


Establish expectations early

This can be a simple question of logistics. Draft up a one-page document of what you expect from your mentor or coach. This can be a combination of the time commitment, agreed outcomes and desired learning topics. This may be more appropriate for a mentoring program as coaching programs tend to have more structure.

Coaching and mentoring can be an incredibly valuable experience for both new and experienced business owners. Equipping yourself with the knowledge and benefits of each program is important to suit the needs of the individual.

This article was originally published by SavvySME here

Corporate Diversity Pathways is a full service diversity and inclusion advisory focused on empowering women for diversity, happiness, inclusion and peak performance. We do this through Careers for WomenExecutive Development ProgramsCoaching for Peak PerformanceWorkplace WellnessD+I Advisory and ActionD+I Leaders Network and The Power of Mentoring.