Business Consultants– A consultant is usually an expert or a professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. A consultant usually works for a consultancy firm or is self-employed, and engages with multiple and changing clients. Thus, clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house, and may purchase only as much service from the outside consultant as desired. A consultant does things for others as well as by giving them advice on how to make their business more successful.
Business Counselors– A counselor is also an expert like the consultant but limits his involvement to giving advice only, that is, he tells the client how and what to do.
Business Coaches– Coaches also help people do things for themselves but not in the same way as counselors. They may have no expertise or knowledge of a specific technical area. They partner with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. They may challenge the client’s internal beliefs or help to remove internal stumbling blocks that limit the client’s potential. Coaching regards the client as the expert in his/her life and work and believes that every client is creative, resourceful, and ultimately “whole.”
Business Facilitators– The facilitator’s job is to support everyone to do their best thinking and practice. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared responsibility. By supporting everyone to do their best thinking, a facilitator enables group members to search for inclusive solutions and build sustainable agreements.
Business facilitators’ work in business, and other formal organizations but facilitators may also work with a variety of other groups and communities. It is a tenet of facilitation that the facilitator will not lead the group towards the answer that he/she thinks is best even if they possess an opinion on the subject matter. The facilitator’s roles are to make it easier for the group to arrive at its own answer, decision, or deliverable.
Business Mentors– A mentor is someone with more experience and “seasoning” than the protege that they counsel. A mentor serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period of time, usually free of charge. Why do they do this? First and foremost as a way of giving back to their community and to society at large. They may do it to develop their skills as a teacher, manager, strategist, or consultant. And a true mentoring relationship also works in both directions—they learn about new ideas from their protege just as the protege learns timeless wisdom from them.
But whatever the benefits to the mentor, the benefits to you, the entrepreneur, are even greater:
- Where else are you going to turn? There’s no boss any more to turn to for advice or direction—maybe not even any employees yet. You’re flying solo. But you don’t have to. Everybody needs a good reliable sounding board, second opinion, and sometimes just emotional support.
- They’ve “been there, done that”. Learn from others’ mistakes and successes. They don’t have to have experience in your particular industry. They don’t have to be up on the latest trends or technology—you’ve got other sources for that. Their role is to share with you lessons from their experience in the hopes that you can learn them a bit more quickly and easily.
- It’s (usually) free. If you’re on a tight budget, that’s a major factor. While good coaches and consultants may be able to offer some things that a mentor doesn’t, it comes at a price, usually of several hundred dollars a month. Mentors, though, are readily available free of charge through a number of organizations.
- Expand your social network. Your mentor, being an experienced businessperson, is likely to have an extensive network, and can offer you access to far more senior decision-makers than you currently have. And they will be far more willing to open that network up to you than some casual acquaintance from a networking meeting.
- A trusted, long-term relationship. Your mentor has no ulterior motive—no service or product to sell you. That combined with their experience creates a good foundation for trust. And as the relationship develops over time, that trust can grow even stronger. Also, your time with them becomes more and more efficient as they become more and more familiar with you and your business.