Working with a Mentor or business coach can be one of the most valuable things a business owner can do. Running a small business can be a scary and daunting experience, riddled with so many unknowns. Working with a Mentor should be a collaborative experience amassing the learnings of someone who has already built a successful business, or businesses, and can help you move faster and avoid difficulties based on their years of experience.
A skilled Mentor can handle the myriad of topics that you may be having issues with and can probably see things a little differently. Search for a mentor who is experienced in your specific industry or the specific business problem you are having e.g. marketing.
My Experience as a Mentor and Being Mentored
Over my career, I have had the distinct pleasure of mentoring many entrepreneurs. Some of that has been via formal mentorship programs and others have been informal conversations along the way. I am happy to contribute learnings from my career to help others increase their learning curve faster and I also like giving back to the entrepreneurial community, for which I am a part.
I have always had Mentors for every business I have owned. I enjoy having someone that I can talk to that has no financial or emotional connection to my business and can look objectively at want I am doing. Also, sometimes I need tough love if I am going in a direction that isn’t conducive to my business. For one of my largest and most successful businesses I was fortunate enough to have three paid Mentors. One helped with the financials, another with HR and the third with strategy and growth. This helped to make this business one of the most successful in its industry in WA and competitive on a national level.
How Do I Find a Mentor?
Finding a Mentor can sometimes be tricky, especially if you don’t have the funds to pay for one. If you don’t have the money right now, look for someone who you admire in business, someone who you know has been successful in business, but they also need to have gone through some struggles and been able to overcome them. If you know someone like this, ask if you can buy them a cup a coffee and if it would be ok to ask some questions related to your business. Quite often people are really flattered that you want them as a Mentor.
Make sure you are prepared before each meeting and have a list of two to three specific issues that you would like advice on. This catch up can become a regular occurrence once a month or every couple of months depending on how busy your Mentor is. And if you can’t think of anyone, remember you have a wonderful array of business advisors at Business South West who can help you – for FREE!
Nikki Griffiths, Business Development Advisor, Business South West