What is a Coach?

August 23, 2021

What is Coaching?

When you think of the word Coaching, what does that mean for you? What about mentoring? 

Coaching and mentoring are words that are sometimes used interchangeably. Some might define coaching within the sphere of sports and sports teams, while mentoring is someone with relevant experience offering advice. Within the startup context, we put coaching at the core of what we do, and choose to intentionally differentiate the definition of coaching from mentoring, as well as training, and managing. 

Coaching, mentoring, training and managing all have their place, benefit and purpose. As coaches working with founders, we keep in mind what those different definitions are, so that we can draw from these tools in a way that benefits the founder the most, with coaching at its core. 

Here’s how we approach these definitions:

Coaching: helping a founder from where they are to where they want to go. Non-judgemental and focusing on their startup journey. The founder is the hero of their story, and as coaches we act as a guide to help them navigate that journey, instilling focus, discipline and accountability. A coaching relationship can be a long-lasting one, built on trust and confidentiality.

Mentoring: sharing expertise and relevant experience that can help a founder navigate a particular challenge or problem they are facing. A mentor might draw on market, customer or product experience that a mentee can learn from. A mentor relationship can be one-off, ad-hoc or longer lasting.

Training: the transfer of knowledge on a specific topic area, such as fundraising, customer discovery or pitching, for example.

Managing: setting measurable targets, goals, and objectives and supporting the person on delivering against those objectives.

One of the great things about coaching is that those skills and competencies have many ways of being applied, such as doing customer discovery and conducting sales calls, as well as working with your team.

Startup life is hard and can be overwhelming, and we believe founders should not have to take this journey alone. Coaching is at the core of how we work with founders, to guide them on their startup journey. By combining coaching with the content and methodology that we use, founders make meaningful and measurable progress. 

When founders are wearing so many hats, trying to do what feels like 5 million things at once, coaching helps them to focus, coaching helps to instill a disciplined approach to validating their assumptions, and coaching holds them accountable to take action. 

How has coaching helped you?