Like so many things in life, the answer is, “It depends” and the answer is also “both”. To me, the question needs a pre-question as there is an assumption that you need support in the first place ...
So, let's cover that off first of all. Do you need someone to support you with your business? I suspect that very few people in business actually go it alone. We all need help from others whether it's right at the start having someone to bounce the idea of setting up on your own, or when it comes time to sell up and move on.
All the way through there's that nagging thought in your mind that there's a huge black hole in your thinking filled, yet by definition out of reach. I'm talking about the stuff you don't know that you don't know.
A really early personal example was I was filled with amazement when coming out of a career in public service to learn that there was such a thing as networking groups. Rooms full of other business people, most of whom were filling the gaps in each other's 'don't know' boxes.
Gosh how easy to lose confidence when faced with the range of stuff I didn't even realise I needed to know! Luckily there were quite a few people in the room selling confidence in one guise or another. I needed help, but who to choose?
Which leads us back to your dilemma. Do you need a coach or a mentor? Actually, there's a wider selection of support professionals out there. Coaches, mentors, consultants, advisors, trainers, therapists and maybe others defining their offering under different titles.
A quick review of the internet throws up a whole load of models and definitions of these roles, many of them contradicting each other in the details as they struggle to differentiate themselves from others. A lot of angst seems to be spent setting the boundaries around what each profession offers.
For example, coaches seem to differentiate themselves from therapists by stressing that they are action-orientated forward thinkers rather than dwelling on the past and fixing something that is broken. They differ from mentors in that they don't offer their own experience, but guide the client to come up with their own solution.
In reality, there are times when the client needs some repair work and action-orientated planning calling on the expertise of someone with more experience. Are we really suggesting to you that you need a therapist, coach, mentor and various trainers on your payroll?
How about if we think of these professional disciplines as verbs instead of nouns? So, a skilled advisor picks the method to suit the issue the client is presenting rather than forcing the issue to fit their professional discipline.
Let's look at the core support each verb uses:
- Consulting offers a helicopter view analysing the problem, comes up with a diagnosis of the root cause and offers a solution. Often continues to support in the implementation.
- Mentoring brings to bear the advisor's own experience of dealing with such issues before and offers access to the resources material and other expertise needed to effect the solution. The tricks of the trade
- Coaching enables the client to build their own internal psychological resources to put the plan into action. Access to their unconscious brain.
- Training offers practical guidance in the skills and techniques needed to put the plan into action.
- And Counselling uses therapeutic techniques to unblock personal barriers that are stopping progress. Fix what is broken.
Now, this may make some advocates of each method hold up their hands in horror, and much talk is made of maintaining barriers and staying within your own expertise. This is where the advisor, whatever their label, needs to develop their range of skills and techniques and, on the other hand, know their own limitations and when to advise their client to bring in a specialist.
The patient presents themselves to the GP (General Practitioner) who assesses the client to come up with a diagnosis and if they have the knowledge and resources they treat the patient and support their recovery.
They may offer preventative support to enhance the patient's well being generally, for example, Diabetes screening, nutritional advice etc. For those issues beyond their capabilities, they refer to a specialist with the patient then returning to their care for ongoing support (i.e the GP does not feel they should undertake brain surgery!)
For instance, consultants add value if they are able to mentor an inexperienced new business owner. A mentor may use coaching techniques to motivate them to follow some advice. A coach working with a client's limiting beliefs slips in some therapeutic interventions.
Why try to coach a novice in sales techniques when the basic knowledge and skills have never been taught? On the other hand, a trainer may stray into coaching when the client is reluctant to try the techniques.
To finish up, when you're faced with so many different types of business support professionals how do you choose the right person to support you as your Business GP?
- Can I work with this person? The key to this type of support is the strength of the relationship. No matter how skilled the advisor is, if you don't like them and can't open up to them, move on.
- Have they evidence of skills in all these areas (such as qualifications and/or testimonials)?
- Are they experienced in dealing with similar issues to those you face?
- Do they have access to resources relevant to your issues?
- Do they have access to a wide pool of specialists they can call on your behalf?
- Do they work to a sensible methodology that you can follow?
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.