What is Business Mentoring?
Traditionally, the term ‘mentor’ might conjure up for us a picture of a ‘white-haired wise man or guide’. In fact, the origins of the word mentor come from Homer’s The Odyssey. Before leaving to fight the Trojan war, Odysseus left his son and his entire estate in the care of his friend Mentor, who then guided the young Telemachus as he grew up. Mentor however, was only in his early twenties!
Within a more modern context, most of us might be familiar with the concept of a business mentor within our workplace as being someone who has more experience or wisdom and is willing to share their knowledge and insights in bringing on a younger colleague, guiding their career within the company.
It is only relatively recently however, that the term mentor has broken out of the workplace and into the marketplace and the term ‘business mentor’ is often freely bandied around to encompass a broad range of activities and services from business angels to non-executive directors.
For our part, we are absolutely clear as to what ‘business mentoring’ should be – and it begins with absolute and genuine belief in the businesses we work with and their onward success.
With anybody other than a professional business mentor, time and attention will always be divided amongst their own activities and the business mentors level of motivation.
Let us be in no doubt however, most successful entrepreneurs will attribute much of their achievement to the support and guidance they received from a business mentor – Richard Branson still cites the support and belief given to him by Sir Freddy Laker as being one of the key drivers behind his success within the airline industry.
Business Mentoring does not involve employing a consultant or employee to help run your business. Instead, it’s a relationship between you, the Business Owner, and someone with business experience that can guide you through making the difficult decisions, point out ways of improving your business, ask you the tough questions and motivate you to want to achieve higher levels of performance, all within the bounds of a trusted relationship.
Because it's lonely at the top, business mentoring can offer you a partner in the process, a sharing of views with someone who really knows the ropes. Working with a Business Mentor will help you gain fresh insights into problems and decision making, through impartial, objective discussion and feedback.
Some of the benefits of Business Mentoring include:
Reducing the level of risk in making business decisions - exploring options becomes easier when you have someone that understands and shares your concerns at the deepest levels
Focusing your energy - simply having someone else to motivate you and to share your successes with can often lead to extraordinary results
Making positive progress more quickly - taking the actions that matter can make a big difference to your profits. Business possibilities begin to open up - with your time and energy better focused, striving for new opportunities now becomes a reality
Your business mentor should be truly objective and be able to bring their unique experience of life and business to bear upon the multitude of issues any leader or someone on the way up in business encounters; from that important presentation, hiring and firing, to building a productive team and driving for growth.
In short, a business mentor is someone who is available when you want him/her and whom you can trust totally to tell it like it is.
What are the Benefits of using a Business Mentor?
Your Business Mentor will help you step back from your business - A business mentor can help you look at the “big picture”, and help you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you may have overlooked.
Your Business Mentor can offer guidance and share ideas during a growth phase - A successful, growing business brings new challenges such as hiring new staff, raising new capital and entering new markets. A business mentor can offer specific support, share best practice from other industries and sectors, caution against potential pitfalls and instil confidence in your plans.
Your Business Mentor will be a sounding board - A key role of a business mentor is to listen, stimulate and challenge your thinking. This will help you develop your own ideas and arrive at your own solutions to your business challenges at a much faster rate than doing this by yourself. This alone should lead to better decision making.
Your Business Mentor will encourage you to leverage your business networks - Your business mentor will help you develop your business network and customers within your industry, as well as other professionals. Business Mentors are coaches, not consultants, and do not take the place of accountants, lawyers or bank managers.
Your Business Mentor will hold you accountable - Having a business mentor won’t automatically fix all your business challenges. You will still have to do the work and invest the time and effort to implement changes. A mentor will help you set goals and milestones as well make you accountable for delivering on them.
Your Business Mentor will keep you focused on your goals - It is very easy to get side tracked when you run a business, your business mentor will make sure you do the high value work you should be doing and don’t get sidetracked!
Your Business Mentor will challenge you - Sometimes when we run a business we can get a little stale and start settling for things. Your Business Mentor will challenge you to go that extra mile to improve standards and to go from good to outstanding! They will help you develop your skills, increase your motivation and be there to celebrate your successes.
You need a Business Mentor if you want to be better tomorrow than you are today. Quite simply if you continue to do the same things you will continue get the same results!
Having a Business Mentor will stimulate some new thinking and give you support in trying some new ideas out. They will encourage, no, insist, on constant action and all of this can only be good for you and your business.