What is a business advisor?

Business advisors are brought on board to facilitate the success of business – mostly small and mid-sized. Their roles range from scouting new opportunities for business growth to analyzing and streamlining the operational aspects of a company. As experts with a reservoir of experience, they are tasked with making valuable contributions to business growth through trend analysis, risk analysis, marketing plans and a host of business strategies. But often, the terms ‘business advisor’ and ‘consultant’ are used interchangeably and, even more often, the terms ‘business advisor’ and ‘mentor’ are confused. While each role has its place in the harmonious functioning of a business, they are not the same. Here are some key differences to consider when you’re looking for a business advisor for a company.

The difference between business advisors and mentors

Business advisors are often part of an advisory board in a company, and are compensated, sometimes with stakes in the business. As such, a business advisor’s efforts are directed towards the success of the business itself, and they have much to gain from its success, and much to lose from its failure. Mentors, on the other hand, are a little more personal and informal. A business mentor will guide an entrepreneur, often with a more motivational approach that appeals to the entrepreneur as an individual. Although they can, mentors don’t necessarily share fact-driven, statistical or research-based advice; they provide wisdom through their knowledge and experiences, and tend to do so informally. Because of the nature of mentorship, mentors would not be approached the same way business advisors would be, i.e they are not hired. In fact, mentorship tends to unfold unintentionally, and is similar to having a role model.

The difference between business advisors and consultants

The simplest way to differentiate between business advisors and consultants is through their goals. A business advisor works toward the success of a business as a whole, while a business consultant is hired for the success of a specific project and task, and is gone thereafter. Because of their long-term involvement and the nature of their roles, business advisors also tend to be a part of a business’s leadership. On the other hand, consultants are ‘niche’ problem-solvers, and do not necessarily become a long-term part of the business.

Which is more important?

Since business advisors, consultants and mentors play vastly different roles, trying to establish the more important of the three is akin to comparing apples and oranges. Every business is multifaceted, and requires the nurturing guidance of mentors, the leadership of business advisors, and the expertise of business consultants. Mentors are crucial for the personal development of entrepreneurs; business advisors are invaluable assets to the growth and success of a business, and consultants are indispensable when it comes to solving specific problems within a company. With varying benefits from each sphere, it’s safe to say that the business that harnesses the advantages of all three is more than well-equipped for success. One can never be neglected in favor of the other, as they’re all important.

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