Should you choose a Mentor, an Advisor or a Consultant to help you in your business? Or all 3?

This post is by Philippa Bowen

As time goes on the number of people at networking meetings who are describing themselves as a business mentor is increasing rapidly. It made me wonder about the differences (perceived or otherwise) about the roles of a business mentor, a business advisor and a business consultant.

So I decided to see what the dictionary definitions of these roles were in a business context and came up with the following:

Mentor noun business a more senior or experienced colleague appointed to help and support a junior employee

Adviser or advisor noun someone who advises.

Advice noun 1 suggestions or opinions given to someone about what they should do in a particular situation. take advice 1 to ask someone for an opinion about what one should do. 2 to act on advice given.

Consultant noun  someone who gives professional advice.

So interesting, but certainly not the whole story from these definitions.

So I next spoke to some people who describe themselves as either mentors, advisors or consultants about this to see what their thoughts were. The consensus seemed to be:

A mentor is someone who has been there, done it, wears the T-shirt proudly, shouts loudly about it and is capable of helping someone else to do the same thing. This probably means that they have worked at the same level, in the same industry or something very similar, to be able to mentor effectively. It’s why a mentor in a corporate world is so effective in successful career development.

An advisor is someone who has a far broader skill set. Has more experience and the ability to question the business owner on their decisions in order to help develop plans. They take an overall view of a business and help define a strategy and plan to move the business forward. They understand all the roles within an organisation and the implications of any changes proposed and then help implement them in a very hands on way.

A consultant is someone with an even greater field of experience. They help steer a business in a very strategic way, but they don’t become involved in the day to day implementation of plans in a business.

So each has a distinct role to play within a business, maybe at different times within the life of a business. But the choice is down to the owner/ decision maker and they need to ask what makes anyone fit to do the job they say they can do within an organisation. And then check out either the references or the profile of the person.

It may also be that the same person can perform each role within a different organisation, but you need to be clear about how hands on you want someone to be in your business and agree that upfront… but that’s the topic for another post!

So which do you think could be of most use to you and your business? And how will you make sure that whoever you pick has the relevant skills and experiences?

Written by Philippa Bowen

Philippa is an enperienced business owner who has worked in the private , public & charitable sectors and for large & small businesses. Her passion is helping business owners to get the best from their businesses in the most efficient manner & using social media to do that. You can usually find her on twitter at @philippabowen
or you can contact her via:
07885 610228

2 Responses to “Should you choose a Mentor, an Advisor or a Consultant to help you in your business? Or all 3?”

  • Avatar Philippa:

    a couple of people have said about including coach and when to use them, how they fit in so think I need another post!

  • And adding business coach in there gives a whole new dimension….

    This is great clarification Philippa, thank you.
    Personally, I believe that the mentor distinction is so important – they must be able to show that they have been there and done it and can help you to do it.

    My definitions are similar.
    Mentor – leads from the front
    Advisor/Coach – walks alongside, holding the bigger picture
    Consultant – pushes along from behind

    Just simple for me to understand!

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