The world is awash with coaches, professional advisory services and business mentors. It’s worth understanding what role each plays in the fledgling start-up company.
It’s worth qualifying these potential business relationships and not listening to relentless name dropping (a common tactic to draw you in).
Anyone of any substance will be able to introduce you to a quality contact in their network without being pushed. The best people to know are those who are most generous with their connections and who start thinking about your business when they meet new people.
Advisors can call themselves consultants, non-executive directors (though this has specific legal connotations) and industry experts. What’s important is what they will deliver for your business and what experience they can show that will be of value to your business. Consultants are well known for telling you something you already know for a fee but then not sticking around to implement any of the actions required to solve the problems.
When VC/PE house funding is bought into a new company, often it comes with a few strings attached in terms of advisory fees taken out of the future profits, as well as future fund-raising fees. It’s important to read the small print and decide if the overall costs of investment funds are worth the “costs”.
The terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ are often used interchangeably. They are very different things.
A Coach does not offer advice or opinion but guides the individual to find their own solution to problems with questioning. A coach does not need to have been in your position, have the experience or even be qualified for the role. There are many excellent business coaches who do have the experience and qualifications – but there are many more who have simply hung out their “shingle” with nothing of substance to back it up.
Equally there are people who call themselves mentors, on the basis that it sounds better than being a coach! Sadly, I have heard this directly from someone working as a business coach who re-branded themselves as a Business Mentor with no change of experience or qualification.
A great business coach can allow you to see things with a fresh set of eyes. They make observations about your behaviour and life, they ask intuitive questions and allow you to see solutions emerging. A great coach helps you see all your options and make the decisions necessary for you to perform better.
A good coach exposes fresh insight makes you think differently and therefore behave differently. This improves your confidence, expands your skills, focuses on your goals, and gets you performing with excellence.
True Mentors have been there and done it – they have walked in your shoes and have the scars to show for it. Mentors are able to be more ‘directive’ and provide specific advice when needed and provide direct solutions. 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 (that’s consultancy) but help you become the better business owner quicker than you could ever do it by yourself!
An on-going mentoring relationship can last for long periods of time, with an openness, honesty and rapport developing between the mentor and mentee. Meetings are often informal and may appear to be chats over coffee – but serious work gets done. There are objectives and the business is kept moving forward. The mentee leads the agenda – it’s all about them, their needs and requirements.
Research and surveys prove that having a mentor is important to success. 93% of successful start-ups said that mentorship was instrumental to success. The overall business failure rate is surprisingly high, with 30% of new businesses do not survive 2 years, and less than half make it past five years.
With a mentor involved around 70% of businesses celebrate their 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 gets 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.
Are you ready to sell? Click here to contact Christine by email alternatively you can book a call with the Business Mentor of the Year 2020, author and speaker. Who helps business founders get their businesses exit ready so they can enjoy a happier, richer future. She saves them THOUSANDS and increases the value of their businesses by MILLIONS.