Entrepreneurs and small business owners swear by the value of mentorship. Learn how it could improve your performance.
Business mentors aren’t just for tech entrepreneurs – although they do have a track record of helping each other through the ranks. Take, for example, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who was fortunate enough to be mentored by Steve Jobs of Apple; a man who was himself mentored by beloved business coach Bill Campbell.
These guys understood the power of personal connection for learning and growing. This is available to anyone, in any field.
While books abound in which you can glean tips from some of the smartest business minds around, there’s nothing better than speaking with someone you know, who understands where you are coming from and what your needs are.
The relationship need not be formal. An occasional catch-up with someone who is in the position you are striving for will pay dividends.
Do you need a mentor? The answer is yes, and here are the advantages.
Unlike any teacher you ever had at school, a mentor is someone you choose to spend time with and to learn from. If there is someone in your field whose work you admire, ask them to meet up for a coffee once a month.
“You will find yourself drawn to people whose working style and results you want to emulate. ”
They don’t need to be in the same industry as you, or chasing the same goals, but they do need to be astute listeners who are willing to tell you the truth - even if you might not like it.
A note of caution here: make sure you are respectful of your mentor’s time.
Networking is an essential part of running your own business, but it is often neglected by busy business owners. One of the advantages of having a mentor is that they will often be willing to share access to their contacts, and may even set up meetings with them on your behalf.
You can, by working with a generous mentor, gain access to many more potential business leads and further support than you would be able to find on your own. This will fast track your progress.
“A good mentor can help you avoid making mistakes that will cost you time and money. They can also encourage you to be more creative and to take well-judged risks. ”
Someone who is a leader in their field will not have got there by making the same moves as everyone else. They will be adept at spotting opportunities others miss. And if you pay attention, they can teach you to do the same.
Because a mentor is someone who is outside your business, and more experienced than you, they have a wider perspective. They will notice patterns and behaviours you are not even aware of and put you in touch with people who can help you out with your problems.
Successful people tend to find mentors and maintain mentoring relationships throughout their careers. Eighty per cent of the chief executives surveyed by Stanford Graduate School of Business, for example, had mentors. And 70 per cent of businesses whose leadership receives mentoring survive past five years in operation, more than twice the average.