Recently, I’ve been asked a number of times if I could be a business mentor to people who are starting out or new to business and looking for business advice. I always feel extremely grateful to be asked and take it as a huge compliment and a testament that people feel I’ve done an ‘ok’ job in my twenty years as a business owner.
The businesses are diverse, people are at varying levels in their unique journeys and my priority is usually talk to them about whether or not, I am a good fit for them. To me this is crucial, as being avidly passionate about small business and women in business, my first inclination is to jump in boots ‘n all to say ‘yes’; but over time, I’ve realised that a few things do need to be considered first, on both sides.
We live in a world where ‘business mentors’ and ‘entrepreneur experts’ are a dime a dozen, especially if you take interest in this sort of thing on social media. Some of these people, if you scratch below the surface, have had minimal real hands on business experience or success in business. They decide to become a ‘business coach’ or ‘mentor’ because it’s not only a trend but potentially a great way to earn a living. It frightens me that people don’t do their homework or really do their research into whether a person is the right fit for them before jumping in. Just because a person is a coach or expert it doesn’t mean they are the right person for the individual in question and this is something that should be top of mind, for both parties and it’s vital that you ask the right questions.
Over the past couple of weeks, and one of the very reasons I am writing this blog, people have told me they’ve signed up to programs for significant investments of time and money, but the ‘mentors’ have either not delivered or have given them advice that doesn’t resonate to their core values, their desired direction and one said that “It just didn’t feel right…”. This is such a shame, as the right person can turn your life and/or business around and push you forward in leaps and bounds, but if not the right person, unfortunately the reverse can also be true.
So please people, do your homework, do your research and actually spend time with the person you have in mind before committing your hard-earned cash for advice that might not suit your purpose. Ask yourself whether they have the right experience for the areas you wish to delve into, do they have a proven track record of success, and how do they react to change? When you start to think about it, there are lots of questions that should be asked before any commitment is given.
A good mentor will often be happy to share initial advice for no charge as they will assess if they can help you, and work out whether they can truly add value. A good mentor will feel invested in you and/or your business and want to ensure that you do succeed. They will take their role and responsibility to you very seriously. In return, they will ask you to do the work, be committed and be focused on the way forward, which is more than fair enough.
Before you engage a mentor, make sure they share the same core values as you. They don’t have to be perfectly aligned but you need to be comfortable, on the same page and you need to feel that you can be honest, communicate well together and ensure that there is complete trust. You will want to be pushed, guided and challenged but you do not want to be bullied or pushed to do things that make you feel uncomfortable.
Ensure your mentor does have relevant experience, that they are seen as a positive role model and that they are committed to their own personal growth and development. Also ensure they do give support, offer suggestions and guidance whilst challenging you to progress. Most importantly make sure they are enthusiastic, interested in what you are doing and not just interested in being paid.
In a true mentor and mentee relationship, both parties will be learning, growing and working on things that they both want to see come to fruition. The mentor will be happy to share and offer advice, and the mentee will gain confidence, grow, develop and be challenged to progress.
Being a mentor is an immense privilege and a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The whole process should also be an experience that is mutually rewarding for both parties. And no matter how great the relationship, there will come a point when you know you’ve achieved all that you can together, and don’t be afraid or worried to recognise this. It’s how everyone grows, progresses and develops.
If you’re considering looking for a mentor, I hope this helps you with the process of selection or the benefits of working out the type of person you wish to work with and the relationships that you wish to embrace.
Choose wisely and enjoy the journey of success together, as you will often also become friends for life!