A business mentor can help you develop your skills, refine your ideas, and determine the direction you want to take your business.
Whether you’re just starting out or already an established business, here’s our guide to how a business mentor can help you achieve your goals.
Business mentors are experienced professionals who want to share their knowledge with someone who could learn from them.
They’ll have extensive experience within an area of business or entrepreneurship and it’s their job to be a good listener and a positive role model.
Mentors usually give up their time for free. This time commitment can often be open-ended but should be organised on a regular basis to build trust and consistency.
Before you start looking for a small business coach or mentor, it’s important to understand the difference. While they both aim to help entrepreneurs and business owners grow their skills and confidence, there are some key differences.
A business coach – uses coaching skills to give guidance and advice based on discussions. This is usually a professional role that you’ll pay for as a service. For example, you could use a small business marketing coach to help you clarify your advertising strategy.
A business mentor – shares experience and knowledge to inspire and support someone with their goals and direction. This is usually unpaid and can focus on both personal development and business growth.
Both mentoring and coaching relationships should have clear boundaries, expectations, and goals.
Working with a business mentor should help you feel supported, challenged, and inspired. What’s more, our research shows that 38 per cent of female small business owners would find working with a mentor helpful.
Here are just some of the benefits of working with a business mentor in the UK.
You probably have a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses (if not, have a go at doing a SWOT analysis). Working with a business mentor can take this a step further by helping you hone in on specific skills that’ll transform your business. For example if you struggle with late invoice payments, a mentor may be able to offer advice for managing difficult clients or help to boost your confidence.
Being self-employed can be lonely, particularly if you’re a sole trader. A business mentor can help you stay motivated and focused. They’ll help by holding you accountable to things you say you’re going to do and celebrating your successes as you grow.
If it’s just you and your business, making decisions can be challenging. Maybe you’re running a side business and can’t decide if it’s the right time to take the leap and run your business full time. It’s easy to overthink even the smallest decisions sometimes. A mentor is someone who can offer a listening ear and help you explore your options.
A good mentor is someone you can bounce ideas off about your business. Maybe you’re thinking of developing a new product or service and you don’t know where to start. Or perhaps you want to try a different marketing approach. Working with a mentor who’s on a similar journey to you (just a few steps ahead) can be helpful as they can share their successes and setbacks.
A business mentor can also help by introducing you to people in their network who might relate to a specific challenge you’re having. Knowing where to go and who to speak to about business challenges can help build your confidence, knowledge, and community.
If you’re looking for a business mentor, first make sure you’re clear on your goals so you find the right person to support you.
It’s worthwhile taking a look at some of these resources to get started:
Yet mentoring doesn’t have to come in such a formalised way.
You might already know someone in your network who you trust and admire. They could be another founder like you, just with a bit more experience you’d like to learn from.
Get talking to people. Whether that’s by going to networking events in your industry or joining an online community, it can be a great way to connect with people on similar journeys to you and seek out a mentor.
Regardless of how you find your mentor, it’s important to remember that mentoring is a two-way relationship – both you and your mentor can learn a lot from each other.
Have you worked with a small business mentor or professional business coach? Let us know your experience in the comments below.
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