You may not remember the first time you were mentored, wobbling and taking those very first steps into your mother’s arms. You might not recall that feeling of security or warmth that enveloped you. You gained confidence in your abilities! As you got older, others mentored you, your teachers, softball coach, dance teacher, hockey coach – they all wanted to transfer their knowledge to help you enhance your knowledge and skills.
A business mentor does the same thing.
The difference between building a company that thrives or fails may lie in the quality of advice you receive. As an entrepreneur, it’s vital to gain experience and knowledge as quickly as possible. It is also essential to find someone who will offer critical insights into your struggles while encouraging you on your journey.
Having a mentor is like having an expert on hand to guide you through the obstacles in your path. You can get excellent advice, guidance and support from them as they have been where you are now. A mentor helps people grow, develop their skills and feel great about the work they do. A good mentee does the same for their mentor by being open to learning from them and being an active participant in those meetings.
The learning curve is important. The mentee contributes to their development and drives progress, while the mentor listens and provides wise instructions. If you are thinking of starting a small business, here are three things to consider when looking for your mentor.
Factors that Affect Mentorship
First, you need to know your goals and expectations ahead of time. Before starting this process, make sure that nothing stops or prevents you from achieving your goals.
Secondly, find someone who has been in your shoes. The most successful mentors bring the passion and commitment from having “been there and done that” themselves. They should be familiar with what you do. Get active digitally; look for people within your industry or speciality who may become potential mentors. These connections can yield invaluable advice and help establish rapport, which often produces more than just professional and personal growth as you develop meaningful friendships.
Lastly, what does the mentor/mentee relationship look like? Who initiates, what is the length of the mentorship, three months, six months, a year? What are the boundaries and meeting schedules – where, when, how often, how – phone, email, zoom or in person? Set clear boundaries so they don’t get lost in translation along the way.
My Mentorship Experience
I have had many mentors to help me start up my business and others to help me grow personally and in business. My first mentorship experience as a mentee changed my life. It gave me the confidence to reach out and try new things that were difficult at first but now seem like a no-brainer. Through my first mentorship, I understood the power of networking, building relationships within my community has benefitted me throughout my last 28 years in business. And yes, it is a bit scary at first to walk into a room where you know no one, but preparing for it with that business elevator pitch and walking out knowing at least three people better, is rewarding.
Being a mentor has been a rewarding and challenging experience for me. I’ve seen the value in mentees’ lives increase exponentially over time, which is beyond words. Unfortunately, some people are not open to real change.
Having a mentor is one of the most important things a person can do to enhance their business and professional life. It takes time and commitment, but it is well worth the effort. Whether you are the mentor or the mentee, it’s a win-win.
If you are considering starting a business, reach out to one of the formal mentoring programs like Futurepreneur or the Raj Manek mentoring program or contact your local Chamber of Commerce for support in finding a mentor.
I will leave you with the words from a man who doesn’t know that he mentors me every Monday morning, Roy Williams, “a smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.”