Over the past decade there seems to have been an explosion in the number of business mentors, coaches and strategists. Driving this change has been rapid advancements within the commercial world for all – primarily powered by the ways in which technology has and continues to evolve at pace. Whilst such a significant increase in the number of business mentors provides for rich pickings for the well informed entrepreneur, it can equally present a challenge of choosing the right mentor from this hustling, bustling market. So here we take a look at just what a mentor does, and how you can make the right choice for your business and commercial goals.
The (many) benefits of a business mentor
Let’s begin by taking a look at just what a business mentor can deliver for the business person seeking a professional helping hand.
1. A mentor will be an individual that ensures you stick true to your word
Running business is hard work, no doubt about it. And amongst the many pressures that you face, as well as never ending to-dos on a day to day basis, it can become all too easy to neglect your business plans that drive growth, rather than those tasks that merely keep it operating.
2. A mentor can act as a vital sounding board, as well as someone who is not too close to the business to become emotionally influenced
A mentor is there to be an objective advisor; they are free from the emotional ties that you have to your business, and can often see business decisions and direction with far more clarity.
3. A mentor can provide tangible steps and action plans towards a goal – and guides you along the way
However good you are at running your business and crafting your offering, you may struggle to have the extensive business acumen and experience required to put together a business plan. This is a mentor’s speciality. Their strategies are built upon real world experiences with tools and techniques that, quite simply, work.
4. A mentor is always on hand to offer support and what may be essential advice at the right time
You know what it’s like – you’ve had a difficult day or a promising project that’s gone completely wrong. You’re not quite sure what to do next or how you should proceed to overcome a problem. In any event, come what may, a business mentor is there to provide advice when you need it.
5. A mentor is there to keep you focused upon your goals
Distractions are everywhere and straying off track from ‘the’ goal can be all too easy for the entrepreneur left to their own devices. A mentor will be there to ensure that you remember just what it is that you’re working towards, and perhaps more importantly, why.
Three simple steps to finding the perfect business mentor
1. Ask about their real-world business experiences
Anyone can become a business mentor, and unfortunately this is an industry that has more than a fair share of ‘wannabe’ business people. It’s then vital that you ensure any business mentor that you consider has a proven track record within the commercial world, as well as with other clients such as yourself. You should ideally speak with previous clients to find out about their experiences and the ways in which their company has been improved with the help of the mentor.
A note upon informal business mentors
Business mentors come in many forms, and you may want to consider opting for an informal mentor from a business person within your field who doesn’t operate as a professional mentor. Such relationships are generally far less ‘hands-on’ than when choosing professional mentorship services, yet they can deliver just as valuable an input.
In such an instance, you should consider what you wish to learn from your mentor, and explain to them just how you hope their very specific input can help you.
2. Focus on a mentor within your sphere
Whatever your industry, product or service it truly pays dividends to find a business mentor who specialises with businesses such as yours. They understand the marketplace, can appreciate your target market and, most importantly, can demonstrate the results that they’ve achieved previously.
3. Make the most of the business mentorship service by considering just what you want to achieve, and what you expect from a mentor
Before contacting a business mentor you should take the time to gain a full understanding of just what it is that you wish to achieve, and what guidance you may need. Of course general business advice and guidance is a given, but beyond this you should think about factors such as whether you require marketing advice, product development guidance or help with streamlining operations.
You should then set out clear expectations, such as how frequently you will communicate, when you can meet to assess the progress being made and how detailed an action plan they will be able to provide to help you achieve your business goals.
Last but not least… Choose a mentor who you gel with
You may have found a business mentor with extensive experience in your field, who comes with rave reviews from fellow companies and who clearly shows what they can do for your business, and how they will do it.
Yet something just doesn’t feel right, and for whatever reason you simply don’t feel like you can gel with the mentor in question. This may be down to their lacking personable qualities, such as empathy, understanding and approachability, or you may feel that they simply don’t ‘get’ your business vision. Whatever the reason if it doesn’t feel right, then thank the individual for their time, and source another mentor.