10 Reasons You Should Consider a Business Mentor
Many entrepreneurs and senior executives ask me why they should consider having a business mentor and how doing so differs from a business coach? To some degree these terms are inter-changeable. In differentiating my service, I tend to think of coaches as being more soft-skilled focused and less prescriptive than business mentors or business advisors. In choosing a business mentor, I believe it is important that the candidate for mentor should have actually achieved what you aspire to and so their advice can be informed by practical experience. Ideally, a business mentor can help you decide both a course of action and how best to implement it. It’s not about being totally prescriptive but rather actively challenging your thoughts and ideas with both theoretical and practical insights, to help you come to better decisions.
Here are ten reasons that many entrepreneurs and senior executives might benefit from having a business mentor:
A mentor might not have all the answers but they should know the key questions to ask, from their own real-world experience. They should also be able to give suggestions to dealing with issues informed by their own experiences.
When you are looking at a problem close-up, you might not be able to ‘see the wood for the trees.’ A mentor can help you develop a perspective by being a certain distance from the issue.
Our thinking often gets stuck with the existing assumptions of an industry and our position in it. With the rate of change of modern business, we often need someone who can help us see our underlying assumptions and thereby challenge the paradigm within which you are looking for a solution. This may help you strategically pivot or to find new ways to add value.
When you are a senior executive, almost everyone you talk to has their own agenda. This means it can be difficult to talk freely without thinking about how your discussion might affect them, their aspirations, interests and careers. A business mentor should be truly independent and dispassionate with no agenda of their own.
Everyone has their own blind spots about themselves, their preferences and views of others. A good mentor will come to understand your thought processes, what is motivating you and help you to see something that you might otherwise.
Entrepreneurs and senior executives often have passion as an essential driver of success. Yet ‘falling in love with yesterday’s decisions’ can be a disastrous product of passion. Sometimes you have to ask yourself ‘Knowing what I know now, would I still make the same decision? If not, should I change course?’ This re-evaluation can be a vital reality check in the light of new information. A good business mentor or business advisor will offer you detachment to help you reflect on previous decisions and re-evaluate them.
A business mentor brings you commercial experience that other specialist professional advisers, such as lawyers and accountants, often lack. A business mentor should know how to evaluate, balance and integrate advice from different sources in the business’ best interests.
A good business mentor should help you take time away from the daily firefighting that often dominates attention. You might think ‘but I don’t have time for a regular mentoring session’ but all these small decisions and battles contribute to your strategy, for better or for worse. If you want to stay on course to achieve your goals then time with your mentor can help you see if these daily challenges are taking you closer to your strategic goals or if they are steering ‘off-course.’
As a senior executive or entrepreneur, you often have to have difficult conversations and negotiations with employees, suppliers, bank managers, customers and other stakeholders. An experienced business mentor can provide a safe place for you to rehearse these difficult conversations, understand how the other side might be thinking, appreciate the costs of winning or losing and what a compromise might look like.
Finally, an experienced mentor should give you the opportunity to learn from someone else’s mistakes. If your mentor has already achieved what you aspire to, they have probably made loads of relevant mistakes on the way. Why not learn from someone else’s mistakes and save yourself some money and anguish?
Hopefully, this shortlist has given you some food for thought about the value that a business mentor has to offer. Always remember that a good one should be able to provide a safe place for difficult, challenging yet creative conversations informed by real-world experience. If you would like to learn more, then why not arrange a short introductory ‘no obligation’ discussion with Mike Trup to find out more.