Coaching was something that originally stayed within the walls of a court or a field, while mentoring was only present in writings about Ancient Greek history. Fast forward to the mid-20th century, and both terms started appearing in the workplace. But are these just synonyms, or do they have any differences?

Coaching and mentoring definitely have their differences. These two are so different that they basically justify an entire article, just focusing on how each one varies from the other. And, well, that’s what this article is all about.

We’ll go over everything you need to know about mentoring and coaching, compare the two, and find what is best for your business. We’ll also see if there’s any worth taking mentorships and coaching classes simultaneously. So, if you're looking to engage a coach or mentor, read on to discover which of the two you should engage, and why.

Coaching vs Mentoring: What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Coaching and mentoring are both designed to help you and your business grow, but their approaches differ greatly. While both mentors and coaches will guide you to make better choices in your personal and professional life, they will target different issues in your life.

So, let’s pit coaching vs. mentoring and find what will be best for you right now. First up, we’ve got coaching.

What is Coaching?


Coaching is client-focused, goal-centric guidance conducted by experts in a given topic or industry, aka coaches. Coaches help their clients by:

  1. Asking questions
  2. Providing feedback
  3. Creating actionable plans

Coaching, in general, is going to help you develop a new skill, achieve a specific goal, or find solutions to problems within a relatively short time frame. Coaches push their clients to take action first, reflect second, and question third, which is in direct contrast with mentorships, as we’ll see below.

Different Types of Coaches

While coaching is well-defined, there are plenty of unique coaching types, all of which target different skills or problems.

  • Life Coaches: There are many different coaching types within life coaching. Some life coaches focus on personal development and achieving a more balanced life as well as any goals you’ve set. Some other subtypes have a more narrow focus, like improving your health and well-being, and so on.
  • Professional Coaches: Professional coaching also has a fair share of types. Executive coaches help company executives and managers refine their everyday tasks and achieve a better work-life balance. Business and performance coaches help entrepreneurs and employees grow and optimize their work.
  • Skill Coaches: A more niched-down version of professional and life coaches are skill coaches. They’ll help you achieve some more specific goals, like improving your communication skills or your sales chops. Another example could be parenting coaches; although parenting isn’t a “skill”, per se, they still help you become better at just that. The same goes for relationship coaches.
  • Financial Coaches: Financial coaching is one of the most important types of coaching anyone should get at any point in their career or life. Financial coaches help you understand the basics, like business budgeting, and give you the best business investment options to make the money you’ve saved work for you (aka earn passive income).

How Does a Coach Work?

Coaches are usually professionals who’ve studied a specific coaching type. Think of them as consultants but with a more targeted, short-term approach. They basically try to find solutions to your problems through traditional back-and-forth while also identifying your potential and helping you improve specific skills.

Like consultants, coaching is a paid service. Most coaches won’t be familiar with your industry but will offer general advice optimized for your current situation and goals. Generally, your coach’s job is to take you from A to B in the shortest amount of time possible without skipping any steps in between.

At the same time, coaching is all about tangible results. Say you reach out to a coach to improve your efficiency and reduce burnout. At the end of your sessions, you’ll have factual info showing you if you’ve achieved those goals. A mentorship will also help with that, but it’s more mindset-focused rather than goal-centric.

When to Engage a Coach

Engaging a coach might not always be the best idea. Since coaches take a very targeted approach, they're the best choice for some specific areas of improvement, like the following:

Learning New Skills

If you want to learn any new skills, a coach is always the best option. Whether it's a personal skill, like time management, or a professional one, like sales skills, there are coaches out there who will help you improve. Since coaching is a structured learning approach, the processes you’ll be put through are basically perfected. So, you’re in the best hands to improve on any given skill.

Improving Overall Well-Being

If, instead, you want a more holistic approach, life coaches will help you with your overall well-being. In a similar fashion, managing your stress levels, improving your work-life balance, etc., have specific strategies that will help you. Your coach will be there to help you enforce these and give you feedback along the way.

Setting and Achieving Goals

Now, we’re not taking any shots at mentorships. But if you really want to set and achieve goals, coaching will be the best option. That’s because you’ll get well-structured, step-by-step processes that will efficiently help you achieve your goals. So, all you’ll really need to do is follow them and optimize them according to your coach’s feedback.

Improving Performance

Similarly to goal setting, coaches excel at helping you improve your performance at work. Be it productivity, hitting quotas, or even project management for executives, coaching will help you out with each step from start to finish with tried-and-true frameworks and strategies.

Now that we’ve covered coaching let’s check out what mentors have in store for you.

What is Mentoring?


Mentoring is based on the mentor’s experiences and focuses on establishing a relationship between mentor and mentee. Through this relationship and effective communication, the mentor, who’s usually on a more advanced level of the same career path as the mentee, can help the latter improve in their professional and personal life.

Mentoring takes an inverse approach compared to coaching in that:

  1. The mentee asks questions to the mentor
  2. The mentee reflects on what the mentor has said
  3. The mentee takes action based on these reflections

In essence, mentoring is usually just a conversation between you and someone who’s been in your shoes. But, there are plenty of mentorship types, some of which even break this mentoring model.

Different Types of Mentorships

Mentorships are usually categorized based on who’s leading the conversation, their purpose, and how long they last. This might sound confusing, so let’s go over some of the most common mentorship types.

  • 1-on-1 or Group Mentorships: Mentorships can either be 1-on-1, with a mentor and a mentee, or in groups, with many mentees and a single mentor. Kind of like a class. In these group settings, you can also collaborate with other mentees, which will make the experience even better.
  • Traditional, Reverse, and Peer Mentorships: Traditional mentorships are mentor-focused, where the mentee asks the questions. Reverse ones do this… well, in reverse. The mentor is learning from the mentee, the latter of whom usually has a better idea of the current market and trends. Peer mentorships are between mentees who are at the same point in their careers and want to learn from each other.
  • Mentorship Circles: Mentorship circles are large groups of mentors and mentees. In these circles, you have all three mentorship types: the traditional mentor-mentee relationship, reverse mentorships, and peer mentorships.
  • Career Mentorships: Most mentorships are holistic in their approach, but there are also career mentors. Career mentorships are pretty similar to career coaching sessions, the main difference being that the mentorships are based on the mentor’s experience, while the coaching sessions are generally fact-based.

What Does a Mentor Do

Mentors are professionals in an industry willing to share their knowledge with people at an earlier part of the same career journey. Mentorships are often free, as mentors value relationship-building much more than monetary value.

Mentees usually lead the conversation by asking the mentor specific questions. The latter will answer these based on their experience, aiming to help the former understand what step to take next in their career. Think of mentors as advisors and guides rather than consultants. They’ve been in your shoes and now want to help you get where they are.

The nature of mentorships also makes them long-lasting, with mentor-mentee relationships lasting for many years or even decades. Besides the obvious skill-building, mentors help you network with other mentors and potential leaders in your industry. So, mentorships are also networking opportunities. 

When to Look For a Mentor

Realistically, you should look for a mentor as early in your business career as possible. Having a guide early on in your career path will help you avoid pitfalls and grow faster. But, still, there are some areas where a mentor will be a lot better than a coach, such as:

Career or Life Changes

When you change careers or have a pretty significant life change, a mentor can give you personalized feedback on what to do. Sure, you’ll need to find someone who’s gone through what you have, which will be difficult. But such a mentor will truly help you keep a balance on everything and take the next step strategically. For example, if you are getting into real estate, you may want to find a real estate mentor to show you the ropes.

Personal or Professional Development

A mentor can also help you improve your personal and professional life, even if there aren’t any major changes in either of these. Remember, mentors have been in a very similar, if not the exact, situation you’ve been in. So, they know what they would have done in hindsight, which will be what you’ll need to do in foresight.

Networking and Long-Term Relationship Building

As we stressed above, mentorships are long-term, and they focus on building a relationship much more than just learning skills. If you want someone who will guide you through your career and open doors through networking, find a mentor. Keep in mind, though, that you might need to speak to several mentors before you find the one that clicks, just like any professional and personal relationship.

With all this in mind, it’s time to pit mentors and coaches against each other. Who’s really the best for you?

The Main Differences Between a Mentor vs a Coach

Since there’s plenty to cover, we won’t deviate. Check out the table below for a brief overview of the differences between mentors and coaches, and let’s get straight into it.

Mentorships Coaching
Purpose Holistic Targeted
Duration Long-Term Short-Term
Main Goal Networking Upskilling
Structure Experience-Based Fact-Based
Initiative Mentee-Led Coach-Led
Cost Usually Free Comes at a Fee
Expertise Specialized General

Holistic, Long-Term vs Targeted, Short-Term Development

Mentoring is all about improving in every area of your life, be that professional or personal. Instead of only focusing on one skill, mentors take a holistic approach and help you become a better version of yourself. Plus, they focus on building a long-term relationship and really help you develop over the years rather than finding a solution for you in the short term.

Coaching, on the other hand, is meant to help you become better at a very specific skill or achieve a certain goal. It’s more targeted than mentoring and also lasts shorter than most mentorships. That’s because once you’ve obtained the skill you need, you won’t necessarily have to attend any more coaching sessions.

For example, if you're looking for guidance on finding a career path, you should speak to a career coach or life coach. However, if you're looking for guidance on how to excel in the career you're already in, seek out a mentor who has been in your shoes and progressed to a higher level.

Networking vs Upskilling

Coaching focuses on helping you learn skills and achieve goals. If all you really want is upskilling for your business, you should look for a coach. In general, since there are so many types of coaches, you can improve any skills you want, from common ones like productivity to more obscure, niche ones like parenting.

Mentorships also help you learn new skills, but mentors and mentees primarily utilize them as a form of networking. In reality, mentorships are just having a chat with someone who’s one step ahead and taking away all the knowledge they offer. Plus, mentors open up networking opportunities with other industry leaders and experts.

So, if you want to become a better business leader, engage with a mentor. If you want to grow your business, take part in coaching.

Experience-Based vs Fact-Based

With how mentorships are structured, it’s safe to say that they’re experience-based. What you gain from them is the knowledge and experience of someone who’s been in your shoes, and it’s your job to adapt and personalize these to your situation.

With coaching, though, the structure is much more strict and is primarily based on facts. Your coach will help you get on the right path with all their general expertise and give you feedback to stay on that path. 

Mentee-Led vs Coach-Led

Since coaching has a more strict structure, it’s no surprise that the sessions are coach-led. The coach takes the initiative and asks you the right questions to understand your potential and find the gaps where you’ll need to improve. All that’s left for you is to take action and then reflect on where that action has led you.

Mentorships, on the other hand, are mentee-led. You’ll be the one asking the questions, and it’ll be up to you not only to find the right questions but also to take as much as you can from the answers your mentor will give you. It’s then your responsibility to reflect on everything you’ve gathered and see how it can fit into your situation to help you achieve the goals you’ve set.

Cost and Expertise

On a more general note, coaching will come at a cost, which will vary depending on your goals. Coaches are usually generalists and experts in what they do, which is a good thing, as it means you won’t need to test out tons of different ones to find the one that fits.

The exact opposite is true for mentors. For one, you’ll need to find a mentor in your industry, who’s willing to help you out and has had a somewhat similar to yours. However, the great thing is that most mentorships are free since mentors value the relationships being built rather than the monetary compensation. 

Can a Mentor and a Coach Work Together?

working together

Now, while mentors and coaches are almost polar opposites, there are situations where you can work with both of them simultaneously. Here are some examples:

When You Want to Mix Long-Term and Short-Term Guidance

Mentoring is a more holistic, long-term approach to self-development, while coaching helps in the short term. So, by combining the two, you will have the best support and guidance to develop your skills over the long run while also setting a good foundation in the short term.

When You Transition To a Different Career

While a mentor will be your primary point of contact for help when you transition to a different career, a coach can also help you when it comes to balancing everything. With coaching, in this case, you’ll be able to cultivate a better work-life balance and reduce your stress, while you can have the mentor help you adapt to your new career or business move.

When You Want To Become a Better Leader

Coaches will help you with all the soft skills you need to be a better leader, but a mentor will provide their point of view, considering that they’ll most likely be leaders themselves.

So that way, you can have a good foundation of knowledge to improve your leadership and someone who uses these skills to help you efficiently implement them in your day-to-day.

When You Need To Balance Personal and Professional Life

We mentioned work-life balance right above, but truth be told, coaches and mentors really do wonders when you want a better balance in your life. Once again, a coach helps you improve your mindset to leave work at work, while your mentor can be considered an accountability partner who will act as a real-life example of implementing this mindset.

This all brings us to one final question.

Mentor vs Coach: Which is Best for You?

As we’ve stressed thus far, you’ll need a coach and a mentor at different times in your life. That said, there are a few ways to find out which one is the best for you right now.

Do you want someone who:

  • Will help you in the long term?
  • Take a holistic approach to your development?
  • Offer their knowledge based on their experience?
  • Focus on building a relationship instead of just skills?

Then, a mentor would be your best bet.

If, instead, you wish to work with someone who:

  • Will get you from A to B 
  • Give you actionable steps and feedback on them
  • Help you improve quickly based on facts
  • Focus on just skills

Then, you should schedule a coaching session.

Find Expert Advice Of All Kinds On Whop

Coaches and mentors are so similar, yet so different. Coaches can be mentors, mentors can be coaches, you can work with both simultaneously, or get help from just one of them. In any case, you must find someone who’s trustworthy and has a good track record of mentees or clients.

There are many marketplaces online where you’ll be able to find all types of coaches and mentors. For the latter, you can even take a look at LinkedIn or any other social media platforms to see if anyone’s offering mentorships. Another place where you can find mentors and coaches of all kinds is the Whop Marketplace.

Our marketplace has many online communities that offer educational resources, peer-to-peer learning through chats, courses, mentorships, masterminds, and everything in between. You can find mentors and coaches on pretty much anything, from trading to sports betting, to real estate investing, sailing, sneaker reselling, and YouTube content creation.

So if you're looking for guidance, have a quick look at the Whop Marketplace and join one of the thousands of communities with millions of like-minded people.