Business mentoring does not have to cost business money. At some stage in a business lifecycle some free and confidential advice from a business mentor on business or business strategy maybe the boost a company or business owner needs. Whether a business is in start-up mode or an existing business hitting some bottlenecks sitting down and using a business mentor as a sounding board away from the coalface could be invaluable.
Business mentoring is not business coaching or a business consultant looking for a day rate, it is also not someone dispensing generic management jargon with little relevance to the business. What a business mentor is about is listening and nurturing, someone with the battle scars (of success and failure) who will take the time to make an emotional investment in the business and person success.
The value of a Business Mentor.
A business mentor is someone with the entrepreneurial business experience that can be relied on as trusted sounding board, independent thinker and a sense checker who is willing to build a relationship, mostly free of charge (coffee is always appreciated). A business mentor could also fill a gap in knowledge or experience without incurring expense.
Think of business mentoring as a business helper, someone whose motivation is to take an active interest in helping the business owner or start-up succeed. The motivation for a business mentor is to keep their own saw sharp and to keep learning while they give.
Maybe this sentence sums up a business mentor, “‘a lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”
To make a business mentoring partnership work, both parties relish in leaving the ego outside the door. They are there to chat, explore, discuss, educate and enjoy the time away to think. One big mistake many new or growing businesses make is to “cocoon” themselves where they forgot to reach out when things are not working.
To help find a business mentor, maybe the guide below might help.
- What do you need mentoring on? Decide what aspects of the business or skillset a business mentor can help with? A retired CEO of a large company probably isn’t a good mentor for growth hacking a business on a small budget. So have an objective whether it is for sales, marketing, management, finance etc.
- Listen and Learn. A business mentor will always seek to understand before being understood. So if a business mentors listens is the business willing to learn?. Business mentors are passionate about helping a businessperson or company who loves to learn and grow. It also means that a good business mentor understands that on-one in business takes every bit of advice blindly, so build the relationship by being honest and open if advice is not practicably.
- Time – quality over quantity. Both sides need to invest quality time with focused sessions where the real business issues are aired and discussed in confidence. Ensure the time you need and the time the business mentor can give matches each other’s expectations.
- Driving the discussion. The businessperson or owner drives the discussion and agenda, the business mentor is there to listen, respond and offer up feedback. Business mentoring is at its most effective when the entrepreneur sets the agenda and requests specific insights while also getting broader or deeper insights from the mentor.
- Business mentor or business coach. The value of a business mentor is to tell it as it is not what a business might want to hear. A business coach or consultant is paid to focus on helping the business or person with specific actions or skills like selling, marketing, business development or presentation skills. Business mentoring is to advise on specific situations or business strategy issues. So sometimes a business needs a mentor, sometimes they need a business coach.
Do take the time to seek out a business mentor, someone who will genuinely care about the business and the person. A business mentor whose motivation is to see business success, business growth and the person flourish. A business mentor who brings passion, emotional involvement and real concern for the business are the keys to real business mentoring success.
Lastly, business mentoring is not a flippant decision for either the business person or mentor. The experience has to be a learning path for both sides. However, the fundamental reason for business mentoring is everyone needs a helping hand, no matter who the person or business. Business mentoring is about building relationships, they can’t clear all the obstacles a business or start-up faces, but a good mentor can certainly show a better route to get to where the person or business needs to get to.
Author Note: If you would like to chat about business mentoring or have a business idea or plan, I am always interested in meeting. Feel free to contact me. Brian.