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Mentor, coach or advisor?

Finding the right support for you and your business can make a big difference. We outline the options so you can make the right decision.

How to choose

Whether you’re just getting started in business or you’re up and running with a full team, having someone to go to for advice can be invaluable. They might help you see things differently and gain perspective. They can also help you grow, not only as a business, but also as a person.


A mentor is someone who has decided to give back by offering their support and guidance for free. Mentors have a great amount of experience, either in business or in a business-related subject.

Choose a mentor you trust that has the kind of expertise you want to learn from. A potential mentor can be someone you know or someone outside your industry or region. Finding a mentor that is a bit different from you and your business may help you gain a new perspective.

If you are ready to get started with a mentor, Business Mentors New Zealand offers programmes for small to medium businesses.

Business Mentors(external link) — Business Mentors New Zealand


If you’re feeling a bit stuck, a coach can offer specialised skills and advice in areas like management, strategy and operations. A coach will come in with fresh eyes and ask the questions most are afraid to ask. Based on what they learn, a good coach will make suggestions and help you form a game plan to reach your goals.

A business coach won’t do the actual work – that’s up to you and your team. What they can do is hold you accountable by checking in with you regularly and offering guidance to keep you on track.

Training and development


An advisor is often a specialist in a particular subject, like tax, accounting or law. They may be brought on for a specific period of time. An advisor can act as an external, or sometimes internal, member of your team.

An advisor can help you with a particular challenge or issue. They will give advice and recommendations based on their professional expertise or experience dealing with a similar situation. Some advisors will help you make the changes they recommend, while others may only give you guidance.

Regional Business Partner Network(external link) —

How business advisors can help

Getting financial advice

Friends and family offer much needed moral support. But get expert advice to make informed business decisions.

Friends and family offer much needed moral support. But get expert advice to make informed business decisions.

Get ready for advice

Before sitting down with a mentor, coach or advisor, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know exactly what problem I’m looking to address?
  • Am I seeking a short-term solution or ongoing support?
  • Am I open to advice, especially if it’s difficult to hear?
  • Can I make the changes myself or do I need others to help me?

Book an initial meeting and come with questions. Bring along any information you think might help guide the conversation, eg business plan, financial documents.

It’s important that you feel comfortable with the person you decide to work with and that they suit your particular working style. Find someone who is excited about your business and has the right skills or experience to bring to your working relationship.

Types of advice you’ll need

Government help for small business [PDF, 1.5 MB]

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