Over the years I have had opportunity to own various businesses, some have been a success and some have not. On reflection, one thing I wish I had done consistently is to have a mentor.
A mentor is someone who has been there and done that. No matter what stage of business you find yourself in, whether just starting out or ready to scale, having a mentor can make a world of difference to you and your business. A common misconception is that only young people, students or professional people in jobs should have a mentor. In my experience, a mentor is just as valuable to a business owner.
Bring a different perspective
As a small business owner you may be working in the business. When times are tough, it may be difficult to extricate yourself from the situation at hand. Sometimes we are so close to the situation that we do not see the obvious.
A mentor is often an outsider who can bring a different perspective to the situation and broaden your thinking on a variety of business related issues.
Stimulate personal and business growth
Running a business is a full time role and often taking time to care for ourselves as the business owner or our personal development can be neglected. Taking care of our customers and team becomes the priority.
A mentor should be someone of similar values who has had experience in running a business, has experienced the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur and is willing to share experiences in order to stimulate your entrepreneurial journey. A mentor will ask relevant questions about yourself, your business, processes and people while sharing opportunities for new business and growth through their networks.
Offer encouragement and challenge
Being a business owner can be lonely. You are wearing many different hats and juggling different priorities. A mentor can offer encouragement through ideas on how to deal with delicate matters as well as challenge you to try new ideas. A mentor can be a sounding board when times are tough and also pat you on the back for a job well done.
Provide insights and advice
In this world of instant gratification and ready access to excesses of information, a mentor can provide a different perspective through knowledge and information gained through experience. No books, articles or workshops can come close to the insights that a business mentor will give you. With a mentor, you have the opportunity to ask questions, seek advice and gain guidance on issues that may be of concern to you.
Open new doors
As a business owner, we are always looking for new opportunities to promote our business, generate leads and opportunities to stand out from the crowd. A mentor can be a cheerleader for the business, someone who opens doors to new networks, new learnings and provides new opportunities to stimulate the growth of the business. Mentors from the same or similar industries may be well connected and can provide valuable advice on diversification and new growth opportunities.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”