HomeEntrepreneurshipWhat's In A Name? By John Knotts

    What’s In A Name? By John Knotts

    I’ve been improving lives and businesses for over 25 years. I recognize starting this new column with Authoritti 5.0 as a great honor. In every issue, this column will provide strategic, operational, and tactical methods to grow, scale, and improve your business.

    Authoritti 5.0 is dedicated to coaches, consultants, and business owners. However, the terms “coach” and “consultant” are sometimes confused by business owners. Who am I kidding? They’re always confused!

    What makes things more confusing is when you toss in the words “advisor” and “mentor.” I’m not even going to touch on “trainers” and “gurus.” I’ll let you suss that out on your own after reading this article.

    The terms of advisor, mentor, coach, and consultant have been thrown around for many years. Often, the discussion around these terms creates a heated debate. Also, these terms cause a great deal of confusion for the business owner who is just looking for help.

    I thought it best to start off this regular column with my level-set on how I define each of these terms. Woody Allen used to say, “Those who can’t do, teach. I believe that many times we find this true with newer practitioners of the business improvement trade. They’re really good at telling someone what they should do, but not so good at actually doing it themselves.

    Let’s dive right in and take a look at how I define each of these terms.


    An advisor is someone that will listen to what you are dealing with. Then, they give you suggestions on how you might handle the situation. An advisor typically has a lot of experience, but not necessarily in what you do or what you are dealing with. They’re really more of a “sounding board.”


    A mentor is someone with very specific experiences that you seek out for continued advice and counsel. Perhaps you’re starting a new law firm; you might seek out someone that has owned a firm for a long time to mentor you as you stand up your firm. Just because they have a lot of experience, doesn’t necessarily make them an expert on the subject you’re looking for. However, they’re advice is usually pretty helpful.


    A coach is normally someone with proven experience, education, and certification in the areas that they advise and mentor on. Also, a coach typically follows specific coaching processes or approaches and creates a more formal (contractual) relationship with their clients.

    Coaches are normally paid to help you improve in a defined manner. Whereas advisors and mentors are typically a free resource. When a coach provides advice, this is paid guidance, which, when followed, should be specific enough to solve your problems.


    A consultant takes advising, mentoring, and coaching to the next level. They not only determine what needs to be done, but they do the work to make it happen. Typically, a consultant is required when a client doesn’t possess the capability or capacity to implement what needs to be done.

    A Golf-related Analogy 

    You dream of becoming a professional golfer.

    You golf with a small group of friends on the weekend. Your buddies share tips and tricks they’ve learned while playing. These are your Advisors.

    You know a guy who’s been on the professional golfing circuit. You meet with him regularly to discuss how he got to where he is today. He is your Mentor.

    You hire the local golf pro at the country club to teach you on a regular basis. This is your Coach.

    You figure out that you’re just not good enough at golf to go pro. So, you pay someone who is good at the game to play professionally under your name. This makes you feel like you have become a professional golfer. This, my friend, is a Consultant.

    As we go forward in the coming issues, through this column, I’ll coach you on ways that you can grow, scale, and improve your business.

    John Knotts
    John Knotts
    John Knotts is the owner of Crosscutter Enterprises. He is a personal and professional business coach and consultant (coachsultant) and Fraction Chief Operating Office (COO). John has over 30 years of experience strategically starting, growing, scaling, and improving businesses. He has worked with 1,000’s of businesses in for-profit, nonprofit, and government; both manufacturing and service-oriented; and across many different industries. John started in the United States Air Force and served a solid 21 years until retirement. He started his own coaching and consulting business in 2008, upon his retirement, but then went to work with Booz | Allen | Hamilton for three years. From Booz Allen, he worked as an internal coach and consultant for United Services Automobile Association (a Fortune 100 company) for seven years. John now works full-time coaching and consulting, and as a Fractional COO, for 1,000s of small, medium, and large businesses. John is many-times published author and professional speaker and trainer. John owns several other businesses and he his wife own one of the largest equestrian businesses in south central Texas. More can be found out about John at his website at


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