Do you have people who regularly provide advice and guidance? Or, are you trying to figure business and life out all by yourself? If you haven’t discovered the wonderful virtues of mentorship now is the time to explore it and embrace it.
Life and business are both lonely places when we create an unnecessary reliance on ourselves for all the answers we seek. A prudent entrepreneur understands the value of leveraging other people’s experience, skills and talents to supplement or substitute for their own. Let’s explore what mentors do for you, how to select them and how you can benefit others by yourself becoming a mentor.
Most business owners are skilled in a very small number of the things they need for success, which is why they typically hire professionals for certain things. Lawyers, accounts, business analysts, marketing professionals are all examples. These people typically perform specific business functions. But, when we talk about mentorship we are referring to someone who has a broader business perspective that goes beyond merely supplying expertise.
A business mentor is someone who has experience in some aspect of business and usually overall business operations. Business mentors shorten your learning curve by giving you the benefit of what they learned from their own business mistakes and victories. Business mentors help you make better decisions without having to experience all the battle scars yourself.
Business mentors also help with the more subtle aspects of being an entrepreneur like learning how to lead others, developing solid business relationships, and engaging in good decision making.
A good business mentor can also help you make quality connections with other business owners or professionals, opening doors that may have taken you years to open on your own. And, of course, they can steer you in the right direction on selecting the other business professionals you need in your business, i.e., the lawyer, accountant, business analyst that we referenced earlier.
More times than not you’ll also find that it’s to your advantage to have more than one business mentor. Having diversity of thought in your mentorship team can be a benefit. It’s the reason you have more than one person on your board of directors too.
Business mentors often provide their support at no cost if it’s relationship based, and if they desire to take you under their wing for some reason. Mentors can also be hired for their help. You may find yourself with a combination of paid and relationship based business mentors. All of them are valuable when you know how to select them.
Selecting business mentors is based on a variety of factors some personal or specific to your circumstances, but there are some guidelines. First and foremost is know what you need advice on. If you’re brand new to business, I recommend that you get a least one relationship in place with someone who went from startup to enterprise level even if it wasn’t in the same business per se.
Get to know your mentor from a personality standpoint. It’s important for you to enjoy the person who is mentoring you because you’ll have a hard time taking advice from someone with whom your personality clashes. Choosing your mentors is like choosing a spouse or a business partner. There has to be a connection or it will be a struggle for both of you.
Finally, be open to selecting multiple mentors based on the things you have set out to do in your business. Your first mentor may recommend other subject matter specific mentors to supplement what they share with you. A good mentor won’t be intimidated by having others mentoring you because they too understand the value of multiple perspectives.
Finally, a word on being a mentor to others. One of my favorite teachers, Jim Rohn, impressed upon me the importance of studying, practicing, and teaching others. It’s a great way to make a difference and to master your own subject matter even better. You will find that by mentoring others you can make a difference in getting them off to a great start and also give yourself an opportunity to reflect on your own journey and gain deeper insights into the experiences and decisions that made it possible for you to succeed.
You’ll enjoy your entrepreneurial journey and find greater opportunity for achievement if you have a tour guide who has traveled the journey before you. That in a nutshell is the value of mentorship. Good luck!