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Advisor, Coach or Mentor?

Talk to any entrepreneur, who wants to start a business or is already trading, and they will tell you that is lonely and incredibly difficult. Getting a business advisor, business mentor or business coach, can make a world of difference to your path. But who do you actually need?  In practice, the terms, business “advisor”, “coach” and “mentor” are used interchangeably.

Honestly, entrepreneurs are likely to use who ever is accessible to them, relying on their instinct or relationship with the person.

Yet there are fundamentals between them and how they will work with you.

As a business advisor and business mentor to entrepreneurs, here is what you should know:

Business Advisor

The Institute of Business Advisors SA (IBASA) states

“Business Advice is the provision of independent, impartial and confidential information and guidance to potential and established businesses, based on substantial business experience and current knowledge of related factors.”

The business advisor focuses on the business, including the strategy, and operations

A business advisor brings their expertise to bear on your business and establish what the path should look like.

A business advisor is appointed for a specific task and upon completion, the engagement ends or continues with a new task.  Examples of business advisors, include financial advisors, tax advisors and valuation advisors.

A business advisor provides recommendations and does the work for your review.


A business advisor discusses your healthcare business and asks relevant questions for the sections of the business plan. A business advisor  prepares the business plan for your healthcare business.

Business Coach

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching “as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”

The business coach focuses on the entrepreneur.

A business coach facilitates your growth by asking questions, getting you to think deeply and come up with potential approaches. Generally, coaching engagements are formalised and run for a short period. The coach facilitates your potential on the path ahead. A business coach will not just give you answers to questions or do the work for you.


A business coach will ask you questions about the business plan for your healthcare business. Through the discussion, you may then decide to do further research, prepare the business plan yourself or get a business advisor. The business coach will not  prepare the business plan.

Business Mentor

In the book, Everyone needs a Mentor, David Clutterbuck says a mentor,

“… a more experienced individual willing to share their knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust. A mixture of parent and peer, the mentor’s primary function is to be a transformational figure in an individual’s development.”

A business mentor brings their knowledge and acts as the sounding board. When you ask questions, they will share answers, drawing from their background. Generally, mentoring engagements are formal or informal, and run for a fluid period of time.  The mentor guides you on the path. A business mentor will not do the work for you.


A business mentor shares their knowledge and experience about preparing a business plan for a healthcare business. They will not prepare the business plan.


In practice, you may come across a business coach who is also a business advisor. Or a business advisor who is also a business mentor. Establish upfront, who you require and will use to achieve the desired outcome.

It should be noted that whether you use a business advisor, business coach or business mentor, the final decision always lies with you.



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