Posted: Sun 14th Nov 2021
Running your own business requires not only a strong vision and character, but an extensive toolkit of knowledge, experience and skill. And yet, the reality is that, to begin with, none of us has a full toolkit.
We all have weaknesses (or 'areas for improvement' if you prefer!). One of the best ways to plug the gaps is a mentoring relationship with someone who has real-life experience in the areas you lack, and subsequent wisdom to share.
How mentors add value
Generally, most successful people have people they turn to for advice, support and guidance – and sometimes for actual direction and decision-making.
Being a business owner can be challenging. We start with an idea which is usually based on our passion, knowledge or expertise, and then we face the reality of needing to be multidimensional to make it happen.
This is where a mentor adds value. Their role is to provide another dimension, and they do it through sharing lessons from their own experiences.
Because they've been there and done it and made mistakes along the way, their input into your business can prevent you from making the same ones!
In this highly competitive environment, the right mentoring relationship can give you a competitive edge. But what is the 'right mentoring relationship' for you? Let's look at three of the most typical.
Types of mentoring relationships
The role model: You model their behaviour
The role model has already achieved the level of success you aspire to achieve and ideally in a similar type of business and/or industry. They've walked a similar path to yours and have learnt and developed the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to succeed.
Much of what they've learnt has come directly as a result of the mistakes they've made, the obstacles they've encountered, and how they've overcome them to achieve the results that have occurred. And it's those experiences that allow the role model to provide specific advice and guidance.
The oracle: You seek their counsel
The oracle has extensive business experience, ideally across many different types of business and industries.
They may not have specific knowledge or experience of your industry or type of business, but that doesn't matter. What they do have is a 'bigger picture' perspective on business generally. They help you see across your entire business and avoid getting bogged down in the detail.
They advise you on your business model, pricing, systems, processes and team and they help you identify new products and markets. Because they have a lateral perspective, they naturally challenge the narrow assumptions you make about your business, which then helps with decision-making.
The boss: You report to them
The boss isn't really your boss, but someone (or a group of people) you purposely use to keep you on track – a bit like a boss would.
They don't need to understand your business in detail, or even your industry. Their purpose is to be there for you to commit to, check in with regularly and hold you accountable to the actions you've committed to taking.
Help to Grow: Management
A government programme to help 30,000 business leaders improve productivity and growth. Includes a 90% funded, 12-week training course then a period of one-to-one mentoring from experienced business leaders and mentors.