Research in both educational settings and in the world of business indicates that students, employees, and CEOs are more likely to succeed if they had a mentor. Fortune 500 CEOs were asked what contributed most to their success. Many listed an effective mentor as one of the key factors. As a result, more and more entrepreneurs and business owners are following the lead of their corporate counterparts by engaging the services of professional business mentors.
Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which a more experienced person, referred to as the mentor, assists another person less experienced, referred to as the mentee, in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less experienced person’s professional and personal growth. Successful mentoring programs do not just happen; they are the result of careful planning and implementation.
Working with your own mentor can have a tremendous positive impact on your business. Whether you are an established company or just starting up, your mentor can teach you how to increase your confidence, develop vital business skills, and implement effective strategies to transition your business to the next level.
Even if you consider yourself to be an expert in your field, a recognizable knowledge or experience gap may still exist or be present. You may have a great idea for a new business, but you feel like you need to verify the feasibility of your new venture or to confirm the strategies that you are considering using. Seeking the guidance of an experienced mentor who has had similar experiences is the best way to get your question answered with valuable professional advice.
What does a professional business mentor do?
Your mentor serves as a trusted counselor, a guide, a source of information, a provider of perspective, and the voice of experience in addition to performing a number of different functions:
• Teaching you about specific business practices and functions.
• Coaching you on specific business skills.
• Facilitating your growth by providing resources and contacts.
• Challenging you to move beyond your comfort zone.
• Creating a safe learning environment for expanding your horizons.
• Focusing on your total development, both professional and personal.
What benefits will you realize from working with a professional business mentor?
• You will gain from your mentor’s expertise.
• You will receive critical feedback in key skill and knowledge areas.
• You will develop a sharper focus on what steps are needed to develop professionally.
• You will learn specific skills and knowledge that are relevant to your personal goals.
• You will gain knowledge about business tactics that are critical for success.
• You will adapt more quickly to changes in the marketplace.
• You will have a ‘friendly ear’ to share your frustrations, as well as, successes.
Professional business mentors are a valuable asset to any business organization.
When you struggle all alone in your business, it can lead to costly and demoralizing mistakes. Having an experienced mentor spares you the trouble of having to crack the business success code on your own. A seasoned, professional mentor is the perfect person to offer help and advice, especially if you are just starting out or facing difficult challenges. An experienced mentor has been there and done that! He/she knows what works and what doesn’t work.
By tapping into the wealth of knowledge and experience of a mentor, you can fast-track your business success by minimizing the mistakes most entrepreneurs make… Why try to re-invent the proverbial wheel, when you can engage the services of a seasoned, professional mentor to help you navigate the minefields associated with growing your business.
Don’t be trapped into thinking you don’t need a business mentor simply because you think know your business. Just like sports, running a business is highly competitive. So, if top athletes employ coaches/mentors, then it makes perfect sense to follow in the footsteps of these top athletes and employ your very own mentor!
Just like a good sports coach, the right professional business mentor will not play the game for you. They will simply assist you in determining the most effectively strategies in order to maximize your rewards and minimize your risks!
How to find a professional business mentor
Choosing a mentor is a serious decision. It is important that you select a business mentor who is competent, experienced, and has both integrity and expertise—an individual that you can trust in this newly formed fiduciary relationship.
There are a couple of avenues you can use to find a good professional business mentor… First, you can reach out to your local sphere of contacts. Talk to your existing advisors — your CPA, your attorney, your banker, and your insurance agent. Second, you can use the Internet. Fortunately, with the Internet you are not just limited to your local geographic area when seeking a business mentor. Many professional mentors provide their mentoring services via the telephone or Skype. This is often more convenient and more flexible than having to personally meet with a business mentor.
When evaluating your business mentor candidates it’s important to consider
· Confidentiality: Sensitivity to the importance of confidentiality is critical. Since a business mentor will be privy to highly confidential information about you and your business, it is very important for you to discuss bonds of confidentiality with him. A signed confidentiality agreement is recommended.
· Non-compete: Make sure that the business mentor candidate is willing to sign a non-compete agreement and to refrain them from advising/mentoring any of your direct competitors, not only during the course of the engagement, but also for a certain period of time thereafter.
· Chemistry: It’s not just for romantic relationships! There has to be certain chemistry with your business mentor. This is someone you are going to work closely to grow your business. You have to feel a connection and a sense of trust with this person. To gauge your level of comfort with your prospective business mentor, arrange to have a couple of pre-engagement discussions with him/her.
· Learning: Some experts believe that what you will learn from a particular mentor is far more important than the chemistry you have with that particular mentor. The critical question you must answer is, “exactly what I’m I going to learn from this particular business mentor that I can apply to overcoming my current issues and challenges.”