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