Research shows small businesses with mentors are more likely to increase longevity, experience business growth and gain fresh insights into their chosen industry.
Why is mentoring important?
Mentoring is critical for business owners. It provides another perspective, someone who has walked in your shoes and can give you the benefit of their experience, and someone to hold you to account. The idea is that it can help you avoid common pitfalls other businesses may fall into, achieve success much quicker and grow your business in a smarter way.
What do you think is the most important quality for a mentor?
You need to have a good relationship with your mentor so that you can trust them. They also need to see the gaps in your business, for example: you may be visionary, but not good at executing your plan, or you may have so many ideas that you get overwhelmed, or your business may just need a small tweak to the way it’s working to make a significant difference to its success. The mentor needs to help you see your strengths and help you plug the gaps. Lastly the mentor needs to remember that it’s your business and help you execute your vision.
Where do you find a business mentor?
The stereotypical mentor is a grey-haired guru who remembers what life was like when he was in your position and wants to help you avoid some of the mistakes he made. While this undoubtedly describes some mentors, the key is that they have considerably more experience and connections than you have and have been where you are going, business-wise.
I would recommend networking as a great way to find a mentor, it’s all about the relationship and you can usually tell quite swiftly if the person is right for you when you talk to them.
For starters, just get out there and network. Make a list of the successful people in your community that you admire. Ask them to lunch, or just ask them to meet with you for 30 minutes. Go to luncheons, seminars, talks and conferences. Join your local chamber of commerce and attend their meetings. Join a local Rotary club or Toastmasters organization, meet your fellow members, introduce yourself to the guest speakers, and ask them questions.
Alternatively there are organisations such as Australian Business Mentors or Small Business Mentoring Service that both provide mentors. If you think you could mentor someone, there are lots of organisations seeking mentors now. Get in touch and ask their requirements, you may need to attend a short course, but definitely go for it: everyone has some valuable knowledge to share.
What are your responsibilities of someone being mentored, and what can you expect of your mentor?
As someone being mentored I think your responsibilities lie in being open to telling someone how you feel and what situations you are going through, without holding back. You have to be inviting of someone else’s opinions and suggestions too.
What you should be able to expect from a mentor is honesty and trustworthiness. You expect what you share with your mentor to remain between you and them. As a mentee you expect to hear helpful suggestions that the mentor honestly and genuinely believes is the best advice to their knowledge, at that time.
How can mentoring assist?
You can expect advice and suggestions from someone outside of your immediate circle. They often come up with really valuable ideas that can grow revenue streams and expand your business. Sometimes we are so fixated on a goal that we forget/lose how we plan to get there. Frequently, it simply takes someone to point out what you forgot or didn’t think of – to help guide you successfully.
You need to be willing to be honest and open up 100%, or your mentor will find it extremely difficult to steer you in the right direction.