Mentors – Why every entrepreneur should have one…
Transforming yourself into a successful entrepreneur is like living in a thriller novel. Life is full of excitement, risk, difficult decisions and the twists and turns can leave even the most hardened business person breathless. When the hero (you!) eventually triumphs the sense of relief and achievement will be overwhelming. The protagonist in every good story needs an older, wiser and benevolent friend to guide them and your business mentor will play that role for you. Their support and guidance will be invaluable and here’s why every entrepreneur should have a business mentor:
Business mentors will understand
Your chosen mentor will have lived through the same things as you are about to experience and receiving advice from someone who understands, has literally “been there, done that” will save you from making mistakes and losing money and confidence.
A neutral and honest perspective
A mentor will be neutral and will guide from a dispassionate point of view. They are not a part of your business and they aren’t a part of the management team so will be able to take a step back and advise you from a fresh, unbiased perspective.
Your mentor will be honest with you, sometimes brutally so. They will see things that you don’t, identify faults and highlight weaknesses. Starting a new business is not the time to develop a fragile ego, accept and welcome constructive criticism as this is the most vital part of growth.
The opportunity to connect
Net-working and making valuable connections with other entrepreneurs, clients, potential staff and collaborators is an important part of developing a successful business or five. Your mentor should introduce you to their contacts and several useful relationships will hopefully blossom.
A listening ear is vital
Starting a new business is often lonely. Long hours, intense focus and financial risk will lead to your ‘baby’ becoming an all-consuming project which will probably isolate you from your friends and family for a little while. Mentors are not there to be moaned at, but they will provide a listening ear and sometimes discussing a problem out loud is all it takes to solve it. Your personal relationships will also benefit from you having someone to express your frustrations and anxiety.
Encouragement and positivity
The relationship between a mentor and mentee is a little like that of parent and child. They will be your greatest cheerleader and will see hope and opportunity in your darkest moments. You mentor has invested time and energy in you and your fledgling business and so will want you to succeed.
That said, a mentor won’t tell you to want to hear or encourage you in an endeavour that is a bad fit for your business. All the more reason to listen and believe when your mentor tells you that you’re doing great and that you should be proud of where you are.
Mentors are free
A mentoring relationship will usually grow organically from connections within your industry, community, family or friends. They will provide their knowledge, advice and support on the basis that they remember how hard it was when they first started out and want to help and share what they have learned.
In business, there is little to be had for free and having a mentor is one of the greatest gifts that the universe can provide. Cherish and appreciate the relationship and know that your fresh ideas, energy and future connections will help your mentor to develop their own business too. It’s hard to imagine but one day you will be in a position to become a mentor and that’s when you will proudly realise how much you have learnt and achieved.
The article was written by Louise Karim, Managing Director of Women@Work