A Primer to selecting Advisors, Coaches and Mentors.

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Starting up, running, growing and exiting a business are all new experiences for those on their first entrepreneurial journey. It comes to no surprise that at some point while venturing into the unknown entrepreneurs seek to learn from experienced professionals. This article clarifies the difference between advisors, coaches and mentors, and the type of help they can provide to a business and the people working within that business.

Let us start with defining each role in more detail:





  • Do you need to establish a scalable sales organisation or implement a contractual business-to-business framework quickly? Choose an advisor.
  • Do you need to change the company’s culture or improve employee cross-functional collaboration? Choose a coach.
  • Do you need to decide how to best use your company’s brand or service to positively impact people’s lives? Seek a mentor.

Having decided whether an advisor, a coach or a mentor is who you need, it is also important to consider additional “soft” factors. Our experience shows that advising, coaching and mentoring are most effective when the people involved have a basic degree of alignment in values, personality and character traits. The phrase “basic degree of alignment” is key: expecting more than that can jeopardise the positive effects of diversity and new ideas an advisor, coach or mentor can bring. If you do not know how to test for those soft factors, common sense is the best approach. At Neos Chronos, for example, we would never engage with someone — however competent — if we cannot assert their purpose, cannot sense their integrity, and do not feel we can trust them.


  • What is the difference between Advisors and Board Advisors?
    Whether a startup or a large enterprise, board advisors are commonly appointed to add credibility and industry reach to a company. Their connections can often help accelerate growth. Board advisors are commonly present at board meetings only, and have no short-term business objectives assigned beyond their active participation in those meetings. In startups, board advisors are remunerated on an equity-basis. The Founder Institute’s FAST Agreement is a great place to acquire further insights into engaging a board advisor.
  • What is the difference between Advisors and Consultants?
    There are significant differences between advisors and consultants, the most prevalent ones being that a) an advisor delivers towards a business objective, whereas a consultant delivers a work package and b) an advisor will act proactively, whereas a consultant will be directed in / tasked with the work to be performed.
  • What about Neos Chronos? Are you Advisors, Coaches, or Mentors?
    At the time Neos Chronos was founded in 2013, we chose our tagline “Advise. Demonstrate. Inspire” to document our decision to deliver in a way that would make our clients capable to leverage and further enhance the benefits of our work beyond the “delivery” date. Our journey has confirmed that advising with purpose and demonstrating integrity inspires trust. In this respect, we regard ourselves as advisors, coaches and mentors at the same time, and our sales model is fully aligned to support this way of working.



  1. Wikipedia: Advisor, Coach, Mentor, Consultant
  2. Founder Institute: FAST Agreement

Advice . Demonstrate . Inspire