The Differences Between Coaching and Mentorship

Updated on 25 July 2022

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The Differences Between Coaching and Mentorship

Entrepreneurs should access support wherever they can find it. Two popular options for small business owners are business coaching and mentorship. While both provide support with regards to business growth – they have different purposes and methods.

Let’s look at other key differences between business coaching and mentorship and which service is the right one for you.

Business coaching

Due to the high number of businesses in crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for business coaching has skyrocketed.

Business coaches have professional training and are experts at helping business owners unlock theirs and their business’ full potential. Most coaches will have some form of qualification and accreditation from the various governing bodies, such as the Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA) and the International Coach Federation (ICF).They will have to adhere to standards of professionalism and ethics.

There are many different types of coaching available, from leadership and executive coaching, to African leadership, women and youth development, among others.

Common reasons business owners seek out the services of a coach include:

  • Struggling to get customers or are losing clients
  • Ineffective marketing strategies
  • Inability to successfully communicate with the right market in the right way.
  • Problems with work load.
  • Procrastination and unaccountability.
  • Losing market reach.

Business coaching serves the developmental needs of both the individual and the business. Some of the resources and support you can from you business coach are:

  • Provide recommendations for a company’s vision, growth and goals.
  • Keep clients accountable and motivated.
  • Guide clients in the completion of strategic business growth tasks.
  • Monitor business growth and establish methods for improvement.
  • Analyse strategic plans that have contributed to the company’s successes and/or failures.
  • Set clear, specific, realistic goals.
  • Generate workable action plan and other strategies.
  • Offer non-judgmental support and encouragement.

How much you will pay for the services of a coach will depend on whether you make use of an entry level, mid-level or expert level coach, however, rates typically start from between R500 to R1000 per hour.

Related: How To Start An Executive Coaching Business


Mentors support entrepreneurs through actions and words, sharing knowledge and expertise to help them develop and grow. They are often successful entrepreneurs themselves or have found success in the world of business.

The mentor-mentee relationship is professional relationship that benefits both parties. A mentor is a critical part of an entrepreneurs network and contributes to their social capital.

Katlego Maphai, co-founder of the startup Yoco in a SME South Africa article describes the immense benefit of this kind of support.

“Social capital is the availability of resources through a personal network consisting of family, friends, acquaintances, existing and former colleagues. The system develops over a lifetime and career, starting as early as attending school. I see it as a ‘help option’ that can be exercised at any time to further personal objectives.”

While mentors do not usually take fees for the guidance they offer, the commitment that mentorship requires shouldn’t be taken lightly by either the mentor or mentee, says Anja van Beek, an independent leadership consultant, talent strategist and coach.

It is important that you confirm that your mentor has the time, commitment and expertise to walk alongside you.

The kinds of support a mentor provides include:

  • Provide critical strategic business advice and support.
  • Contribute guidance and motivation.
  • Lend emotional support and role modelling.
  • Provide specific and constructive feedback to your mentee.
  • Help connect you with their powerful networks.
  • Help raise funding/investment.

One of the most common questions regarding mentors is where to find them.

“The most obvious (and usually cheapest) place to start is your own personal network. Are there any people you admire, perhaps a family friend or previous boss or manager, who you could ask for some mentorship support?”, advises Anton Ressel, senior consultant and mentor at Fetola Business Growth Professionals, a business incubator.

There are a number of other channels you can look at when trying to find a business mentor, including:

  • Industry and networking events
  • Associations
  • Small business and entrepreneurial development centres
  • Social media networks
  • Seminars and conferences
  • Non-profit organisations
  • Colleges or universities

Related: Where Entrepreneurs Find Powerful Business Mentors

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