Business coaching and business mentoring seem to be the noisiest buzz words around for 2018! But what do they actually mean? Your inboxes will be flooded with emails from consultants promising to take your business to the next level, to help you develop plans and goals, and to help with the day-to-day running of your business. Do you really need their help?
What is a business coach?
Business coaching is generally the shorter-term option of the two – you engage a business coach when you are hitting a particular milestone in your business and need some guidance, or are moving your business into a new market or product line, or want some clarity around your overall business goals, or if your business is growing at a rate faster than you can keep up with, or even if your business goals are not aligning to your personal goals.
When do you need a business coach?
The coaching element is exactly how it sounds – the coach will help you develop certain skills and abilities to deal with a particular struggle or challenge you’re facing within your business. Generally once you have those specific skills, you can move forward by yourself. Business coaches are also useful for people who are fantastic at their specific skill or trade but are struggling with the business admin side of running a business.
Once a plan of action and concrete goals are set in the beginning of your sessions, the business coach takes the role of day-to-day sounding board. They will contact you regularly to keep you accountable – to direct your focus back to the goals you set together. And vice versa – they are also there for you to contact directly if you feel you are drifting off course and pull you back into line.
The attraction of this option compared to enrolling yourself into a business course or a specific seminar is of course the personal element. To be able to talk directly to someone who has an understanding of your business (and also a knowledge of your industry if you’re lucky!) and is able to provide specific guidance and service is golden.
What is a business mentor?
A business mentor is more likely someone who has ‘been there done that’, someone you look up to in your industry or in a similar industry, who has done it all and come out the other side with a business model that you aspire to. They are someone you would contact for a lunch or coffee maybe once a quarter to ‘pick their brains’ on particular challenges you are facing and have them share their similar past experiences.
When do you need a business mentor?
Having the experience of a mentor can save you time and money when trying to figure out a new path or way of doing business. A business mentor can share with you what worked for them, and you might be able to use that valuable information in your own business model.
A business mentor has a much broader focus than a business coach. These are not the kind of people you call every day to talk about your goals – but more an experienced ear to listen every now and again and provide suggestions. Also as your mentor will usually be older and more experienced than yourself (not always..!!), as the relationship grows, they may start to also talk about aligning your business goals with personal goals, your family and what’s important in your life for the long term, and building your business around that.
So where does your accountant fit into this?
Your accountant provides a whole different set of skills to help within your business and generally your accounting relationship is a long-term one. For example, at Accru Felsers, we usually know the background of our clients’ businesses, we know their families, what they’ve been through, where they’ve come from – and so we can provide tailored solutions. Your accountant is not so much the regular coffee date (well, maybe!) or the person you call every day to chat to about the direction of the business, but they are the financial and business backing.
When do you need an accountant?
An accountant is hard for a business to do without! As well as keeping you compliant with financial statements and tax returns each year, your accountant can help you develop budgets and cashflows and do analysis on all sorts of areas of your business that help with business decision-making.
So your accountant is the one you call when making major business decisions – purchasing or selling a property, opening an office, developing a new line of products, bringing investors into your business, starting to employ people, hitting the GST threshold and needing to lodge BASs,, running out of cash (!), changing business structures, working out how much you should be paying yourselves etc – the list goes on.
So overall, you can use all three – a business coach, mentor and an accountant – in various capacities on your business team. Which you prioritise depends on you – your strengths, weaknesses, what’s going on in your business, how fast you want to grow…
I hope I have clarified some of the differences for you, and of course, if you need an accountant, please get in touch!