Growing up, we had parents, guardians, babysitters, teachers, professors, coaches and many others that influenced our lives. They were our mentors that helped guide and motivate us to become the people we are here today.
Without the right role models, life would be a whole lot more difficult. Much like in life, budding entrepreneurs may need a bit of guidance in the business environment as well. Business mentors can be those people that can improve the chances of your success.
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You may be wondering how exactly would a business mentor help? Let’s find out.
1. Knowledge and Information
No one out there knows everything. There will always be someone who’s more knowledgeable than you are. It’s a fact of life that you have to realize – if you haven’t already.
Many people say – “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” There is a lot of truth to that and it applies to your mentor situation. Having someone who can endow you with more wisdom and knowledge will make you a more competent entrepreneur.
There is a wealth of information that can be found in the right books and on the web, but it won’t replace a mentor.
Prior experience is an asset that cannot be easily bought. With a mentor by your side, that experience will bleed into you and your business to help reach its potential.
Working for yourself may offer up more flexibility and freedom, but for some that power can quickly go to their heads. While you may be doing things right in the beginning, you could start regressing towards the mean.
Who’s going to ask you the hard hitting questions? Who will be there to hold you accountable for your decisions? A mentor can be that voice of reason that will continue to press on for excellence.
From your point of view, you see things through rose tinted glasses. Mentor will be there by your side to tell you how things are in actuality and challenge your perspective. This often is more difficult to do yourself.
3. Scrutinize Performance In Real Time
A less seasoned entrepreneur may be timid and less inclined to critique performance of their new business. It’s not easy to tear something down you’ve built, but there may be time when this needs to be done.
Human nature leads us to overestimate our abilities. It’s a proven fact that we view our capability more favorably than they actually are. Perhaps being knocked down a peg wouldn’t be such a bad thing – get a reality check. Mentor could be that voice of reason, with the hard hitting facts.
Business mentors are typically seasoned entrepreneurs with years of experience under their belts. They are aware of various requirements a business needs to fulfill and milestones it needs to reach.
Throughout the growth of your business, a mentor will be there evaluating performance. Suggestions can be taken into account, and concerns can be addressed quickly. Often times, businesses without a proper guide go too long without addressing key discrepancies which lead to poor market performance.
4. Encouragement and Motivation
Not everything goes according to plan. Entrepreneurs are faced with ups and downs while developing a business.
The ups – good growth, improved productivity, profitability, etc are all self-esteem boosters. Seeing your business improving will keep you motivated and confident, ready for tomorrow.
On the other hand, when the ‘down’ phase comes around – things can get a bit hectic. It can impact not only your professional life but your personal life too.
A trustworthy mentor along your side can amplify your business ‘up’ phase and negate the ‘down’ phase. As previously mentioned, keeping you accountable even when things are looking great – not letting you slack off. Giving you a swift kick in the butt during the bad times too.
Mentors relate to the struggle of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. You have to take the good with the bad. They will be there by your side, guiding you out of ruts and keeping you motivated even when the sun isn’t shining so bright.
5. Evaluate Ideas
Not all ideas are created equally. Your personal bias may give merit to own ideas even if they may be undeserved. What I am trying to say is that you may over-evaluate the ideas you come up with.
Being emotionally invested in a business is great, but when making big decisions, emotion can cloud judgement.
You need to bring in an outside perspective for these things. Other employees and of course a solid mentor can give you the fresh perspective you may need.
A mentor is someone by your side who wants you to succeed. He or she is invested in you and will gauge your ideas and provide some of their own. Bounce ideas off your mentor, and listen to their input.
Constructive criticism and instant feedback from your mentor will allow you to adjust the thought process for the better.
6. Networking Opportunities
Building a solid network that will benefit your business is a time consuming process. Not everyone out there is able to or is willing to help you. Trial and error that goes into this process will turn you grey before you know it.
Bringing a qualified mentor on board is your ticket to immediate network expansion. More often than not, a mentor will be happy to share the network they have built up over the years with you.
Imagine going to a party alone, where you don’t know anyone. People in this situation would typically feel uneasy and struggle to make the initial introduction. Now imagine going to a party with a friend. He knows people there and helps grease up the introduction process.
Much like the friend at the party who helps break the ice, the mentor will do the same with business relationships. Use the connections the mentor has made to your advantage.
7. More Likely To Succeed
Many small businesses go belly-up before they reach the 5 year mark. The thing is, people have a dream of a business – a vision – but don’t have the know-how to make it all fall into place.
How does mentoring impact long-term success? 70% of startups won’t live to see their 10th birthday. That’s about double what the success rate is of non-mentored businesses.
Small business owners themselves wholeheartedly agree that a mentor has had a positive long term effect – 88% saw benefits.
“For many, starting a business can be overwhelming – it’s no longer just about exploring a passion or following a dream,” said W. Kenneth Yancy, chief executive officer of SCORE, a non-profit mentoring and business counseling organization. “A mentor can help navigate the complex challenges that often come with being a business owner, and the guidance from someone who has been there themselves can be a real asset.”
No Time Standard
There are no standards for how long one should conduct business relations with a mentor. It all depends on the parties involved and what best suits the needs of you, your businesses and the mentor’s availability. Come up with a mutual agreement on how long this arrangement will last for.
Use the time you spend with the mentor wisely. They are there to help you develop the business, so always go into meetings with an agenda in mind.