Getting a Business Mentor Brings Accountability
Research and surveys prove that having a mentor is important to success. 80 percent of CEOs said they received some form of mentorship and 93 percent of successful start-ups said that mentorship was instrumental to success. The business failure rate is surprisingly high, with 30 percent of new businesses do not survive 2 years, and less than half make it past five years.
With a business mentor involved around 70 percent of businesses break through the 5 year anniversary.
At the start-up phase of most companies, the Founder has the idea and usually the skill in a specific area, but they have no idea what’s involved in running a business. Just getting a business off the ground can be made a lot easier with a mentor in place from the start.
Tapping into the knowledge and experience of someone who has been there and done it before gets you up to speed, learning faster and reducing potential mistakes.
You get exposed to issues that you may not see because you are so close to the business. Mentors can be brutally honest with you – they become your “critical friend”, helping you learn, grow and develop without falling flat on your face!
When a business is still in its early stages, the business owner can end up doing everything and losing sight of the big picture. Even as team members come aboard they are often more junior roles and not privy to the pressures of the CEO / MD.
It can feel like a lonely and empty existence. On one-hand no one tells you what to do, where to be and whether you are doing it right. On the other-hand you don’t know what you don’t know, it can be hard not having someone to bounce ideas off and when it’s all getting really challenging, it can help to have a sympathetic and unjudging ear to listen.
When a business mentor is involved, the feeling of isolation is usually the first thing that disappears.
The definition of a mentor is “an experienced and trusted adviser” – and this is why they are so valuable to not just the business owner but to the business as a whole. Mentors can become a bit like a priest in confessional, equally they can give some tough love when needed! In the role of trusted advisor, a mentor helps you by giving valuable knowledge and insight. They help keep you focused and on track with your plans.
It’s probably worth mentioning what you can expect from your mentor and, more importantly, what mentors do NOT do.
Mentors provide support, advise and listening – they are facilitators and engage in knowledge transfer.
Effective mentors do not take over or DO things in your business but help you become the better business owner quicker than you could ever do it by yourself!
"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." Benjamin Franklin
Your chances of success in life and in business are statistically improved by having the RIGHT mentor, where valuable connections, timely advice and moral guidance can accelerate your journey to success.
The main benefits of having a business mentor are:
- Access to impartial advice and encouragement
- A supportive relationship from outside the business
- Help with seeing problems and solution more clearly
- Improves self-confidence
- Builds on experience and enhances professional development
- Encourages reflection
- Motivates and relieves the feeling of isolation
A good mentor has been there and done it already – they know your pain!
Impartial Advice and Support
Inspirational entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey says, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
Having access to someone who has walked in your shoes, who has an impartial view of both your personal life and your business and gives encouragement is worth their weight in gold. From personal experience I would have quit on more than one occasion without the support and guidance of my mentors in the past. They gave me moral support, hope and improved confidence that I could continue.
In one business they supported me exiting my company when it was right for me even though it was earlier than originally planned, allowing in me to avoid major burn out.
“My mentors are my heroes” – Christine Nicholson.
A Supportive External Relationship
Having been in exactly the same situation at the start and through the various crisis points in a rapidly growing business, a mentor knows when to give “tough love” and when to be more empathic. Being an entrepreneur exposes you to a huge variety of challenges not just in the mechanics of running the business but in personal motivation and self-discipline.
Mentors can clearly identify your strengths and knowledge gaps. A great mentor holds up a mirror to your productivity, how you work and what habits you have. Holding you to account helps you get focused on the right things at the right time and making the appropriate commitments that get your business speeding towards your goals.
It can be hard to know who to trust, especially with proprietary information or intellectual property. Mentors are impartial – with nothing to gain except the reflective glory of your success and nothing to lose except their own time – they can safely be exposed to confidential information and ideas without fear of loss.
Clarity on Problems and Solutions
Mentors are often peer level sounding boards that allow you to bounce ideas off them without fear of judgement. Being able to express views, ideas and explore options with someone who has nothing to gain or lose can be very liberating.
Equally, in partnerships, an external person who is unbiased will give a balanced opinion and ask challenging questions. In my own businesses I have worked with my mentors to test ideas to destruction before getting them implemented – often one idea has turned into something completely different as a result of mentors being involved.
A good mentor will get you to stand back from the coal face and get some perspective on your business and the decisions you need to make.
Having someone who guides you and can placate your fears is reassuring when all around you it may appear chaos! When the doubts start to creep in, a mentor often bolsters your confidence and shows you that things are not a bad as they might appear.
Self-confidence is very important to success and having a high self-confidence contributes to career success more than talent and competence.
Mentors have the capacity to help their mentees boost their self-confidence. The right mentor helps to show how challenges can become opportunities, that can be exploited.
Experience and Professional Development
No one is an expert in all areas of business so having a mentor can fill the gaps! A lot of business success comes from WHO you know, and a mentor often has an extended network of people who can benefit your business.
They become invested in your success, so they give you access to all the tools, connections and knowledge you need. Their circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances are able to add value to your business and your own personal development.
Experience is crucial to business success, yet it’s also expensive and time consuming. Whilst in the Age of the Internet, there is nothing you cannot learn on-line, there’s only so much you can gain from books and courses. Having a Mentor is a guaranteed way to gain experience in less time.
If you do not have a mentor, you miss out on this rich source of support.
Mentors are typically paying it forward by sharing their experience, mistakes and successes. They share opinion but let you get on with making the decisions you need to make. If you make a mistake they don’t tell you “Told you so”, they pick you up, dust you down and let you get on with the next step.
Emotional intelligence is a crucial factor in entrepreneurial success. Having control over your emotions makes for better decision making and a more consistent management style.
With inexperienced founders, the advice of a mentor who has already been through the business roller coaster brings a level of maturity to the table that allows proper reflection rather than emotional reaction.
If you are REACTING you aren’t LEADING!
Eric Schmidt, an experience business man and software engineer, worked with then inexperienced Larry Page to run Google starting in 2001. By 2007 Schmidt was listed as Number 1 of the 50 most important people on the Web, along with Google co-founders Page and Brin. Both Page and Brin were able to overcome major business and investment hurdles by making smart judgments in partnership with Schmidt. They became much great than the sum of their parts!
Motivation and Reduced Isolation
Even the most successful entrepreneurs have mentors – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs. Jobs was mentored by Mike Markkula – an early investor and executive at Apple. Eric Schmidt, as mentioned earlier, mentored Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google.
Having the back up of someone who has been there and done it takes away the feelings of isolation, loneliness and being unsupported.
Often entrepreneurs can be paralysed by thoughts of the consequences of failure, impacting productivity and the attitudes of your entire staff. Having a mentor takes some of the pressure off, giving you a sounding board as well as advice and encouragement.
When entrepreneurs fail to meet their goals and expectations, they often get depressed, and downhearted. It’s easier to pick yourself back up when you have a mentor keeping an eye on your progress.