Starting a business is possibly one of the biggest challenges you will ever face in your life. It is a difficult task and the difficulty increases if you struggle to ask for help. You may feel you are not able to ask help from those around you because you are the boss, and you are expected to have all the answers. However you can get advice and help elsewhere, as there are experienced individuals who are willing support and guide business owners on their entrepreneurial journey.
A mentoring culture is starting to develop in the small business sector, and this is a great movement and a step in the right direction. Getting mentoring can really change a business, shaping it for success. Even internationally renowned businessman Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) sought mentorship from another business tycoon, Steven Jobs (founder of Apple) when he started out with Facebook.
Here are some benefits of having a mentor as a small business owner, and what you should be looking for in a mentor.
If you are running a small business without the help of a partner or an investor then you should seek out mentorship. Having a mentor will mean that you can get a second opinion on business plans and ideas, as well as day-to-day operations. A mentor can help and guide you to make the right decisions with the interest of you and your business at heart. It’s important to remember that the mentor will not carry out your tasks and they will not make the decisions for you, but they can and aid you in making the right moves. Sometimes you may become fixated on small problems and issues which can make an interruption in the bigger picture of the business. Here, a mentor can help you and get you to understand the overall vision, picture and direction of your business.
Honesty is the best policy
You need to choose a mentor that you will be completely comfortable with and that you are willing to talk to about the nitty gritty of your business. You will need to openly discuss any issues that you may have with your business, and be truthful about them to gain the best and most effective advice. For example, if you are struggling to motivate your staff, yet you know that you have not made any effort to motivate them, then you need to be honest about it with your mentor. A mentor then might advise you to look at your employees and see who can be promoted, and see how all your employees make a difference to your small business. With the truth out in the open, only then will your mentor be able to actually help you.
What you require in regards to skill set of your mentor will vary for different individuals. You may want to opt for someone with complimentary skills to yours so you can really benefit from their expertise. For example, if you are particularly good at branding and you are confident you have that right, then perhaps you should look for a mentor with great marketing skills. The mentors’ skills will compliment yours and enable you to take advantage of a different skill set. You can also learn and pick up skills in marketing along the way.
As mentioned above, what you want from a mentor will vary, so alternatively you might choose a mentor with similar skills to you. So you already have marketing skills, but you might want an experienced established marketer to help you build on your skill set. You may think you have a sufficient knowledge in the field but you want to be better at it because it can really make a difference to your business, in which case you should go with a mentor that has similar skills to yours.
Grow and network
A mentor can be a great help you with growing and shaping your business. When looking for a mentor you should look carefully at what they can offer you, with your business needs in mind. If you are looking to grow and expand your business, then you will need to find a mentor that is well connected and can direct you in the art of networking. If your mentor is well connected and can help you connect to relevant people in the industry, this can bring a range of opportunities for you and your business.
You must find a mentor that is relevant to you or your business. A mentor who has knowledge on how to run a business similar to yours, or in a similar industry, could be the best choice for you. If they have the relevant knowledge then they can help you with day-to-day operations, as well as help you with the bigger goals and the direction of the business. The biggest and the best known names may not be the ideal mentor for you, if they don’t have relevant skills or experience. You should find a mentor that that has been through a similar process to you. For example if you want to develop a new product for your small business, then seek a mentor who has experience in developing new products. They can offer you tips and knowledge on how to have a smooth launch experience, and will be able to flag any potential problem you could face when developing new products.
Seeking out a mentor can be a real game changer for you as a business owner, as well as for your business. So if you are struggling and need a guidance then consider getting a mentor; you will be offered second opinions and expert advice which can go a long way in making your business a success.
More information on starting up here.