I have helped hundreds of women start and grow their business, but I have never seen myself as a business coach. Some people would call me that, but it never felt right to me. I always saw a coach as someone who asks a LOT of questions, and that’s not how I work. I just want to dig in and give a lot of advice from my own experience. So what was I if I wasn´t a business coach? I have realized that I have never seen myself as a coach because I am a mentor (and strategist, obviously), and I prefer it that way. There are definitely some big differences between a coach and a mentor, so what are they? Let´s go over them so you can figure out if you should create a coaching program or a mentorship program.
P.S. Obviously, both of my own programs are online group mentorship programs.
- the Online Group Mentorship INTENSIVE is for service-based entrepreneurs who want to create the BEST Online Group Mentorship Program in their niche in the next 90 days & sell it for 2k – 6k+.
- the Solopreneur Scale-up Program is for online entrepreneurs who want to implement and optimize the *boring* systems to scale their online group mentorship program and create consistent and predictable 10k+ months, without all the stress and overwhelm.
What is a coach?
“Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” – The International Coach Federation
A coach is someone who has received professional training to be a (certified) coach and is trained to help her clients achieve their goals. They will often work with formal assessment tools, models and frameworks, which they have learned during their training.
In their programs they focus a lot on mindset and developing the soft skills needed to achieve the goals of the client. This is perfect for people (clients) who need to feel and be different and develop their capacities. A coach can help her clients to be more assertive or confident for example.
Coaches help their clients (or coachees) identify and prioritize goals, break them down and make a plan to achieve them. They will also hold them accountable along the way. They really help them to gain clarity and overcome overwhelm or feeling stuck.
If you look at the TAPS Model® from NLI, you can see that coaching focuses on the ´solution´ by ´ask(ing).´
Being solution-focused means that coaches look at what their coachee wants to achieve and make an action plan to get there. They don´t go digging in the past and start analyzing things but focus on the future.
A coach believes that her clients already have all the answers inside them and her goal is to help them find those answers. She does this by asking a lot of questions. She may, for example, ask what the client her ideas for the solution are. How does she think she can reach her goal? Which steps does she think she needs to take?
Coaches will not give advice but expect their clients to make decisions, resolve their own problems, and reach their goals – by asking the right thought-provoking questions. The client needs to bring 100% to the table.
I love taking road trips, so let’s take this as an example. Let’s say I want to drive from Lisbon in Portugal (where I live) to Valencia, Spain (where some of my friends live) and a coach (who has never taken this route) is helping me out.
What she’ll do is let me think of ways to get there. We´ll make a plan to reach out to friends who have been there, do research online, work on my mindset so I’ll have the courage to drive there alone, etc.
I might get there… or end up somewhere else because I didn’t have the actual GPS with me.
In short, a coach;
has received professional training to be a (certified) coach and is trained to help her clients achieve their goals;
focuses on mindset and soft skill development;
does not give advice;
helps clients to find the answers that are already inside of them;
does not (always) have experience with the thing her client is trying to do/achieve.
What is a mentor?
“An experienced and trusted person who gives another person advice and help” – Cambridge Dictionary
A mentor is someone who speaks from experience. She has been there and done it (probably more than once or twice). She knows what someone needs to do to get the results they want because she has done it herself. After trying – and probably failing – a million different things. Because of her hands-on experience, she knows exactly what the roadmap to get her client from point A to B is.
Usually, a mentor has done something her clients want to achieve as well. She has paved the way, and her clients are eager to learn from her and follow in her footsteps. Because she has faced the same challenges, she knows exactly what her clients need.
Mentors have a lot of knowledge, expertise, experience, and skills and are experts in their niche. When they work with clients, they focus a lot on developing hard skills and strategies while sharing knowledge and showing them how to implement everything to get the results they are after.
A mentor is not an accountability buddy. She expects her clients to be motivated and get sh*t done without having to check up on them or deal with their mindf*cks.
If you look at the TAPS Model® from NLI, you can see that mentoring focuses on the ´solution´ by ´tell(ing).´
Like a coach, a mentor focuses on the future (on the solution, not the problem).
A mentor will give her clients straight-up advice. She can be seen as a guide: someone who knows the terrain like the back of her hand. She will show clients exactly where to go and what her next steps are, based on her own experience. Mentors are always a few steps ahead and advise their less experienced clients. They won’t let you struggle and try to come up with all the answers yourself but answer the questions for you.
Let’s go back to the road trip example from before. Instead of working with a coach, I have now decided to work with a mentor. I ask someone who just drove to Valencia for the 20th time and is now on her way to Barcelona (a bit further than Valencia) and after that the south of France, to help me out. She draws me an easy to follow map and tells me where to turn left or right to get to Valencia as fast as possible.
The drive is smooth and easy because I know exactly how to get there.
In short, a mentor:
gives advice based on her own experience;
knows exactly what her clients are going through, because she has been there;
is always a few steps ahead;
has a lot of knowledge, expertise, experience, and skills and is an expert in her niche;
Conclusion: the biggest differences between a coach and a mentor
For me personally, the biggest difference between a coach and a mentor is that a coach usually doesn’t have hands-on experience but is trained to ask a lot of questions and helps her clients find the answers within themselves. In contrast, a mentor is an expert in her niche and gives advice based on her own experience. I have listed all of the most important differences below.
Coaches are experts at supporting you to reach a goal.
The coach asks most of the questions.
Helps you clarify things by asking you questions and find the answers that are inside you.
More focused on developing soft skills.
Has probably not been where you are.
Has received training to become a coach.
Uses formal assessments.
Mentors are experts in their field.
The mentee (clients) asks most of the questions.
Gives advice on what to do based on her own experience.
More focused on developing hard skills.
Has been where you are.
Has usually not received training to become a mentor.
Uses other assessments, based on their own experience.
Now that you know the differences between a coach and a mentor, you probably have a better idea which one you are and what kind of program is right for you. If you are like me, and you want to give lots of advice based on your own knowledge & experience, a group mentorship program is the way to go.
If you’re curious and want to learn more about creating an online group mentorship program, I want to invite you to an exclusive online workshop, where I will show you how to do just that. Check it out >>