Business Mentors: A Track Record Of Success

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Your idea is great. You’re excited, and ready to kick-off a new business venture. One thing stands in your way though – you don’t know where to begin. Where do you turn? Turn to a business mentor.

A business mentor is a person who’s willing to help an entrepreneur with a start-up project, or an established businessperson wanting to expand or reinvent the company or organisation. The mentor essentially serves as a role model, confidant and/or advisor.

There are volunteer mentors or fee-based mentoring programmes. A mentor might be a family member, friend or even a stranger, initially. Mentors can be often be found online or in-person at business conferences and in business commerce organisations. As you investigate your options, consider what it takes to be a successful mentor…

Mentors should be very knowledgeable about the general industry or business the mentee is attempting to enter. For instance, a manager of a coffee shop wouldn’t be an appropriate mentor for someone starting a fabrication company. In most cases there would be too many stark differences in the types of business for such an attempt to be successful.

The ideal mentor has a track record of success and corresponding experiences. He/She has knowledge of the challenges facing the new venture that only many years in the business can provide insight into. He/She is also willing to share this experience and knowledge with others.

Anyone agreeing to serve as a business mentor must be willing to be available to the mentee. They may be in the next town, or across the globe. Regular interactions with the mentee are vital though, whether by email, telephone, video conference or face-to-face. If it takes many days or even weeks for the mentor to respond to a telephone call or email that’s a good sign the mentor, no matter how sincere in the offering, doesn’t have the time to properly help. The mentor must be open to maintaining the mentor/mentee relationship for months, and sometimes for years. It’s not unusual for these relationships to evolve into long-term business friendships.

Not only must the mentee be willing to accept constructive criticism, the mentor must be willing to provide it. No one’s helped if honesty is discouraged. Criticism doesn’t have to be cruelly delivered, but should be presented in a manner that helps the mentee understand how change is beneficial and potentially necessary.

Every new or evolving venture will face a slowing of motivation at times. Perhaps there’s been a minor setback in reaching various goals on the path to success. The mentor must encourage and challenge the mentee to push through the loss of momentum, and continue toward the goals without being phased. In much the same way a personal trainer pushes someone in the gym, the mentor must push the mentee.

Mentors must be ethical. A mentor may be privy to proprietary information, strategic plans, research and other types of potentially confidential information. They must also share/discuss potential ethical conflicts that may arise from involvement, however limited, in the mentoring relationship.

Whether your venture is brick-and-mortar, online, or a combination of both, a business mentor is an experienced guide who’s willing to help you set and reach business goals, make quality connections and grow your business.

What’s your experience of a mentor if you have worked with one in the past?