More often than not, mentoring and coaching are used interchangeably in the business context. That’s why at many organisations, a mentor is expected to undertake coaching responsibilities as well. But despite what most people might think, there is a big difference between a mentor and a coach.


If you are wondering how these two roles differ and what these professionals bring to the table, you need to know the specific responsibilities of a mentor and a coach. 

The Difference Between a Mentor and a Coach


What is a Business Mentor?


A mentor, in simple words, is someone who offers their knowledge, expertise and advice to those with less experience. By leveraging their experience and skills, mentors guide mentees in the right direction.


A mentor helps mentees consider opportunities for business growth, gain confidence and improve interpersonal skills. The support is based on the mentor’s own experiences and learning, which makes them more reliable figures in the eyes of the mentee.


What Does a Business Mentor Do?


As stated above, a business mentor provides support to the mentees with regard to their career growth and interpersonal skill development. Specifically, a mentor helps mentees explore their business options, set development goals, develop new contacts and identify resources. In this way, a mentor serves as a professional advisor and role model for the mentees.


A mentor’s role evolves as the needs of his/her mentees change over time. In most instances, mentoring relationships are usually formal. In formal mentoring relationships, mentors follow a structured approach to set realistic expectations and gain mutual benefits.


Good mentors are always willing to share their skills and knowledge with the mentees. Since they have faced the same challenges as their mentees, they are more empathetic towards their needs.


To inspire and build trust and confidence, mentors possess a positive and can-do attitude. These qualities make it easier for the mentees to discuss their professional goals and concerns with them.


What is a Business Coach?


A business coach focuses on specific skills and development goals by breaking them into concrete tasks to be completed within a specified period of time. By doing so, business coaches help and guide businesses clarify their growth vision.


For many businesses, identifying and prioritising goals is a big challenge. Business coaches address this challenge by helping businesses prioritise their goals on the basis of importance. They follow a more formal, structured approach to resolve issues and manage specific aspects of the job.


Both mentors and coaches benefit businesses in several ways. To benefit the most, businesses need to be clear on what their priorities are and what kind of support they are looking for. With the right support, small businesses can become more productive, profitable and competitive.