What’s the Difference Between a Business Advisor and a Mentor?

WeBC August 29, 2023

When You Need Help, Ensure You Get the Kind of Help You Need

Starting, running or growing a business can be a stressful undertaking. As an entrepreneur, you need to have a wide variety of skills and make a lot of decisions. This is where some well-chosen support can really come in handy.

But exactly what kind of support do you need? People will often spend a lot of time searching for a Business Mentor when what they really need is a helpful tool or some guidance from a Business Advisor. On the flip side, sometimes business owners reach out to an Advisor for an answer when, in fact, they would benefit from the long-term support of a Mentor. 

So, what exactly is the difference between a Business Advisor and a Mentor?

What is a Business Advisor?

A Business Advisor is someone who helps you to plan your organizational objectives, identify your company’s most important goals and objectives, understand the ins and outs of your business, and connect with other business supports and networks. 

At WeBC, our professional business advisors have industry experience and training in finance, technology, marketing, exporting and more, and they can answer your business questions no matter where you live in BC. 

For example, if you’ve completed your business plan but you’re having issues completing the cash flow forecast, a Business Advisor can provide a template, review your financials and educate you on how to use the tool for your business. 

A Business Advisor can meet you where you are in your business journey and help you find your next step, whether it’s defining your market, determining where to spend your marketing dollars, or choosing a growth strategy for your business

“I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today without my trusted advisors. There has been a lot of learning in ramping up this company and it was critically important to build my small, tight group of industry expert advisors. I am incredibly thankful for this because being a solopreneur in a category where most of our competitors are global brands, I now have the support I need to play out this long game.” – WeBC Business Advisory Client

What is a Business Mentor?

Business mentorship, on the other hand, is different from business advising in that it’s a relationship that lasts over a period of time. A more experienced entrepreneur helps a less experienced business owner by providing knowledge, advice and encouragement. A Mentor, having faced similar situations in business herself, is able to help the mentee overcome the challenges small business owners face. 

Every business is different; however, many business processes are transferable, no matter what type of business you’re running. Your Business Mentor can remember how difficult it was prior to honing key skills in her business. She can also remember how smoothly and efficiently her business ran when she mastered those skills!

While a Business Mentor can be helpful at the early stages of starting your business, they are especially helpful during its growth stages. Often, it is when you are past the planning stages and into the development of your business that the greatest challenges start to emerge.

Of course, having a mentor can also help with an entrepreneur’s confidence levels. Prior to participating in the WeBC mentoring program, only 39% of our mentees felt confident in their business skills. Following the program, this number has improved to 95% of mentees feeling confident.

How to Find a Mentor

Increasingly, business professionals and successful entrepreneurs are volunteering their time to help others in business. Some business owners develop relationships with their peers as mentors through local networking groups. Others have been successful simply by approaching someone they know, explaining that they admire how that person conducts themselves and their business, and asking if they have time to get together over coffee for some mentoring and brainstorming. Most often the person being approached is flattered and will happily share their expertise.

At WeBC there are many different types of mentoring programs available for women business owners, from Peer Groups to One-to-One Mentoring relationships and specialty programs for women in tech or other fields. Regardless of which format you pick, there are incredible benefits from connecting with a Mentor

“When I am working with a Mentee, I often surprise myself with the number of resources I am able to suggest. Your Mentor is ahead of you in the years-of-experience department. She has worked with people in a variety of areas in her business and can often pass these names along to you. She has professional connections you can only dream of! Your Mentor’s experience makes it easy for her to recall a name or a business that may be exactly who you need.”Cathy Burrell, WeBC Mentor

Business Advisor vs. Business Mentor: Recap

At the end of the day, how do you know which one to ask for to support your business?

 You may benefit from a Business Advisor if:

  • You have specific questions
  • You are struggling with a certain aspect of your business.
  • You need help making a plan—business, growth, financial or marketing
  • You just need someone who can point you in the right direction for information

You may benefit from a Mentor if:

  • You feel isolated as a business owner
  • You would like an outside perspective and a chance to be held accountable
  • You would like to build your networks in the business community
  • You want to increase your business knowledge and build confidence
  • You’re looking for a longer-term, structured relationship

Do you know which kind of support you need?

Contact us if you’d like free support from a Business Advisor, or apply for one of our mentorship programs to receive guidance from a mentor and inspiration from other women entrepreneurs.

About WeBC

WeBC is a not-for-profit that has been supporting women business owners across the province for over 25 years. Working with our regional partners, we’ve provided thousands of entrepreneurs with business loans and expertise, training, resources, and peer network support to help businesses grow and thrive.

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