Sometimes, if not, most of the time, the only way to advance is to learn directly from someone who knows—a Mentor.
A simple, broad definition of a mentor is “an experienced and trusted advisor.”
BusinessDictionary defines mentoring as an “Employee training system under which a senior or more experienced individual (the mentor) is assigned to act as an advisor, counsellor, or guide to a junior or trainee. The mentor is responsible for providing support to, and feedback on, the individual in his or her charge.”
One note of clarification:
While many organisations offer in-house mentoring programs, often as part of a leadership training program, it is common for mentees to work with mentors outside their organisation.
In recent times and in the past, there has been a huge surge or demand in support for business owners, with many now recognising that seeking help is not a sign of failure but a sign of caring and improving the overall success of the business. There are many ways business owners can get the help they need, from business support groups to seeking advice online. Today, we are going to explore business mentoring, what it means, the benefits associated with it and how you can find one.
What is a business mentor?
Business mentoring is a relationship between an entrepreneur and another individual with more entrepreneurial experience, who acts as a support network to combat challenges faced by the mentee on their entrepreneurial journey, typically over a long-term period.
The role of a business mentor is to:
- assist and offer direction to their mentees
- helping them run and grow their business
- encouraging them to develop the skills they need to be successful.
The advice comes from the mentor’s knowledge and experience, which is extremely valuable.
A good business mentor is prepared to share their expertise with their mentees, often having faced the same challenges in their lifetime, making them empathetic, trustworthy and reliable.
Business mentoring is not just advantageous for the mentee, with the mentors benefiting by exchanging rich conversations, learning new perspectives and tactics from their mentees, and such a mentoring relationship can take place remotely or through face-to-face meetings, whichever is most convenient for both parties involved.
Often people perceive business mentees as juniors or upcoming entrepreneurs, but this is not always the case, with more experienced entrepreneurs seeking out the advice and guidance of someone in a similar industry.
There are endless possibilities with (business) mentoring, there is no downside to finding a mentor for both personal and professional development.
Benefits of business mentoring
With mentoring the possibilities are endless, there is no downside to finding a mentor for both personal and professional development. Growing a business is every entrepreneur’s goal, so let’s address the top 5 advantages of having a business mentor help you on your journey.
1. They have walked the walk
One of the most notable and obvious benefits of getting a business mentor is that they have been there and done that. By having a business mentor who shares their knowledge and advice, you’ll be able to learn from not only their past successes but also their mistakes. Learning from previous experiences means that they can relate to the problems you’re facing, whilst working with you to create effective solutions.
2. A business mentor is a sounding board
One of the key responsibilities of a business mentor is being there to listen. A great mentor is there to challenge you and encourage you to come up with resolutions to any difficulties you face. By being there to listen to your ideas, you’ll be able to think of new ideas whilst developing new solutions, at a much faster rate than doing it by yourself.
3. Opens networking opportunities
Networking is imperative to any business, no matter the size or industry. A business mentor usually has a wide network of connections, which grants you the opportunity to network with individuals you previously wouldn’t have had access to. Business mentors have relationships with numerous CEOs and leaders within your industry, which means you can leverage your mentoring relationship to help you develop potential opportunities in the future.
4. They hold you accountable
Just because you have a business mentor doesn’t mean all your problems will be magically solved. Having a thriving business requires hard work and determination, however, having a business mentor means you have someone to speak to about your goals, whilst being held accountable to ensure you meet them. Having someone hold you accountable for your own success is important because it motivates you, even on the days you don’t want to face the world.
5. They challenge you
When running a business, it’s easy to get sidetracked and settle. A business mentor is there to challenge you on your journey, giving you that boost needed to go the extra mile both personally and professionally. They challenge you to develop new skills that will be valuable for the journey, make you feel motivated and make sure you are on the right track.
Where to find a business mentor
So, you have read through this article and decided a business mentor is a good choice for you. But how do you even find one? Where do you even start? Listed below, are our 5 top ways to find a business mentor:
- Networking events are excellent ways to find a business mentor because they are intended to put individuals in contact with one another, typically people who work in the same industry.
- One can find local networking events nearby with a quick google search.
- Do not forget to talk to as many people as possible, there is no doubt a mentor will be found.
- LinkedIn is a social networking platform for professionals and usage is free.
- LinkedIn is one of the most popular ways to reach professionals in any industry.
- The platform allows searching for people and connecting with other professionals based on their careers and even location.
- Here is a piece of (mentoring) advice: It is not recommended to just ask Toms Dicks or Harrys on LinkedIn to be mentors, so establish a professional relationship and rapport first and foremost.
Friends, family, and colleagues
- The people in your life know you better than anyone, so simply asking them if they know anyone who could help you on your journey is a great start.
- Oftentimes, they know someone who they feel would be a great fit. Maybe their old colleague went on to run a multi-million-pound business, you never know who their connections are.
- Professional connections are important.
In conclusion, a brief clarification between a business mentor and a business advisor:
- Many can advise, but few can mentor. That is because an advisor is one who directs and a mentor, on the other hand, guides.
- An advisor will direct you without regard to your specific personal situation, needs, or passions.
- A mentor will allow you and even encourage you, to choose your own direction, offering guidance that does take into consideration your personal situation, needs, and passions.
- A mentor is often more analogous to a coach
- True mentors know what motivates their mentees.
- An advisor is more like a director: Advisors may or may not know what motivates their advisees. This information is not relevant to this type of relationship, because the advisor simply provides the direction that the advisee “should” follow.
Last but not least, a mentor is someone that inspires and has a relative wealth of life/work experiences and knows a great deal about the things mentees want to learn. They have been there and done that. Mentors are interested in your personal development, but also know it is a long game, a long bumpy entrepreneurial journey.
As mentors, no doubt, we would love to know that we have inspired and motivated but also hear our mentees ring loudly Sir Isaac Newton’s quote, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
~ John Crosby.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”
~ Bob Proctor.
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