August 28, 2014

Why You Need a Mentor

I know everything. Or at least, I’d like to think I do. But I have to say, running a small business has brought me down a notch or two. I realize there’s so much I don’t know. That’s where having a mentor comes in handy.

I’ve had a retired oceanographer/SCORE leader as a mentor. A business and life coach. A VP of marketing. Another marketing consultant. A leadership management expert. I’ve come across people who know more than me, and I’ve built relationships with them so that I can benefit from their knowledge and experience.

Mentors Make You Smarter

Any entrepreneur should want to be better at what she does. But there’s only so much knowledge you can glean on your own. And experience? Well, that takes time, and if you’re impatient, you want to get smarter faster. There’s something to be said about learning from people rather than books and blogs. A short conversation with a mentor can help you understand the mistakes he has made so that you can avoid them yourself.

Having access to a mentor, you can ask any question you want–an opportunity you likely won’t have with your competitors.

Mentors Have Been There

As I said, you can learn from your mentors’ past mistakes. It’s a huge boon to talk to someone who has worked in your industry and can help carve the straightest path to success for you. Any mentor worth their salt will be enthusiastic about helping you get there faster than they did.

Finding a Mentor

You might not have a clue about where to start in finding a mentor. I say, look around. Look at the people you interact with on a regular basis:

  • your client
  • the guy you always talk to at networking events
  • your neighbor
  • a woman from your church

Mentors can be found everywhere, and they don’t have to be in your industry. You might benefit from a mentor who has successfully run one or more businesses, or one who has spent decades in corporate America, or one who works in the industry you target.

Your focus here is in finding someone willing to impart wisdom to you, to spend time with you regularly (each week, month or quarter is good) to address areas you want to work on.

Determine Your Path

Before committing to a mentor/mentee relationship, outline what you hope to accomplish rather than go into it willy nilly. What areas do you consider your business weak in? Make a list of concerns and questions you have (this might also help you determine the best person to mentor you). And be ready to commit!

Having a mentor isn’t as simple as meeting in their office every few weeks. You need to be committed to listening and taking action based on their suggestions. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time – and theirs.

Having a mentor can be professionally rewarding, and can help you grow your business in ways you couldn’t otherwise grow it.

Mentor Photo via Shutterstock

16 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

16 Reactions

  1. Great post, Susan. Mentors are essential to getting to the next level in your business. It doesn’t matter if they’re mentoring you in person, by video, or by email – any type of direct connection to a mentor will help you with your business expansion. It wasn’t until I joined a virtual group coaching membership that I actually began to see measurable results in my business. Thanks for sharing your insights with our community.

    Ti

  2. Spot on. This is precisely the reason why my co-founder and I created VocalTap: to help business owners mentor each other. Great read.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. And my recent BizBest list of “8 Places to Find Your Own Free Business Mentor” might also help!
    http://www.bizbest.com/?p=1705

  4. Good thoughts. I like to exercise with other people. They spur me on and hold me accountable. It’s the same with a mentor in business. The good ones hold you accountable and spur you to action.

  5. I’m new in the real estate field and YES mentor are needed. I’m always willing to learn and meet people who have been successful.

  6. ” Learn from others mistakes because your life isn’t sufficient to learn everything ”

    a Mentor will cut the road for you making it easier to get the rewards quicker.

    I sometimes pay hard money to meet very brilliant people

  7. Your article reminds me of the ad I saw the paper where a fellow was selling a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica. The ad said, “Selling complete set of encyclopedias. Have new job, boss knows everything.”

    You make some great points and the importance of preparing to attract a mentor is essential. These days just asking someone to be a mentor without being able to be specific about what you need and expect, is evidence to the potential mentor that you may not yet be ready to receive mentoring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Seen a great marketing campaign in 2013? Nominate for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards.