Do you know that mentorship is the single most important external factor for business success? Every small business would benefit from having a trusted mentor. The role of a mentor is to offer knowledge, support, and perspective. Rule of engagement: the mentor has a sincere desire to help, and the mentee has a strong desire to learn. The best relationships are based on mutual respect. The killer benefits of a mentoring relationship: relevant perspective and advice, skill improvement, networking contacts, and encouragement. When your family and friends are tired of hearing about your business, it may be time to enlist a mentor. Ready to take the first steps?
Begin by clarifying your objectives for mentoring. What guidance are you seeking? Help with specific operational issues? Hiring your first employee? Support and encouragement? It is key to be clear what sort of help matters most to you. Write down your issues and prioritize their importance to you. This list becomes the starting point of your first discussion.
Gauge the fit of the person sitting across from you. A mentor should be someone you can relate to. If that feels like an obstacle at the first meeting, it probably will not improve over time.
Explore the skills and experience of the mentor. Most mentors have a general business knowledge. If you are seeking help with social marketing, it is critical that the mentor have the functional experience you are seeking.
Keep an open mind. The mentor should offer perspective based on experience. The analysis of the situation may result in advice that offers a different approach to solving the problem. Be open to new ways of thinking.
Are you seeking a long term mentoring relationship? If so, fear not and ask! Review meeting frequency, and time allotted for the discussion. Jointly set expectations for each face to face conversation.
A final thought before you start. You should never have to pay a mentor. If someone is asking to paid, they are a business consultant, and that relationship is a commercial one. A mentor’s motivation is an open and honest desire to help. What are you waiting for?
A great place to start is SCORE, and find a mentor for the life of your business!