The importance of having a business mentor cannot be underestimated. Most successful businessmen and women will readily admit they would not have got where they are today without good advice and support. A mentor provides more than just helpful tips. They get to know you deep down and can guide you through difficult times to profitable success.
As American businessman, Zig Ziglar, so succinctly puts it:
“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”
Access to Experience
Business wisdom doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It comes from hard earned, and often hard fought, experience. Any entrepreneur worth their salt will tell you about the times they failed, the mistakes they made and the keys they found to ultimate success. A good business mentor will also have a deep understanding of what makes the world tick. They can often see in an individual what that person cannot see in themselves.
Getting access to all this life and business experience can give any budding start-up a critical boost. It may not stop mistakes from being made – they are part of the fabric of running a business – but they will provide the safety net that can make the difference between success and failure. There’s an old Sir Isaac Newton quote about ‘sitting on the shoulders of giants’ and a similar thing can be said for the use of mentors.
Most businesses nowadays who want to develop staff on-site will provide an individual with a business mentor, someone with whom they can build a significant relationship and get the advice and guidance they need to move forward.
A business mentor can look in from the outside and see your world more objectively. While you might be scrabbling around for ideas, they may be able to spot what you can’t because you are too focused on one thing or another. Being able to bounce ideas off the wall with someone who knows where you are coming from is also invaluable. It can lead to fresh approaches and great new strategies that can propel your business forward.
You may think you have the most brilliant new concept in the world and you might even believe that you’re the smartest entrepreneur that ever walked the planet, but you’d be wrong. There will be times when you can’t see the woods for the trees, to quote another business cliché. At those times, a mentor can help you focus, refocus and even move in a different, more profitable direction.
Running a business is hard. Developing a relationship with a mentor is not just about getting good advice. It’s about building a friendship on the foundation of mutual trust and can provide you with the emotional support you need to get through those difficult periods. Every business encounters them and it’s rare to find an entrepreneur who hasn’t been kept awake at night by one problem or another. Don’t underestimate the value of a shoulder to lean on even if you are a typical Type A go-getter who thinks they can take on the world.
Finding the Right Business Mentor
While finding a mentor is generally easy, finding the right one for you is a little more complicated. If you can count your true friends on one hand, the same is probably going to be said for mentors. You need to have a connection to the person you choose and there needs to be a high level of mutual respect. That doesn’t come along every day.
If you are just starting out as a business owner, then one place to find help and advice, including a potential mentor, is to join networking events. Don’t be in a rush though. You need to build up a relationship, get to know your potential, pick their brains and make sure they are the right person for you.
Successful business men and women are normally more than happy to pass on their knowledge and experience to the right person. They see a bright new talent and want to get involved, it’s often as simple as that. While industries and sectors can be competitive, you’d be surprised how altruistic some people at the top of the business tree can be.
Here’s some advice from Richard Branson:
“Try going to industry events like lunches, seminars, talks and conferences. Join community groups – your local chamber of commerce is a great place to start. Chambers of commerce often host networking events and meetings that bring beginning entrepreneurs and successful business-people together.”