When starting a new business, you might be tempted to read all sorts of books related to the topic and attend a number of seminars and classes. While you can definitely get some great basic info using these tactics, it is hard to beat the “been there, done that” advice you can get from a business mentor.
As for what a business mentor is, and why it is so important to have one on board, please consider the following:
What is a Business Mentor, Anyway?
In a nutshell, a business mentor is an established and successful company owner who is willing to share his or her advice with a budding entrepreneur. The mentoring relationship also typically includes plenty of encouragement, as well as some honest feedback and tips as to what works and what does not. Many established companies use this as part of their business model.
For example, with Amway’s direct selling business model there is no one-size-fits-all way to be successful. In order for Independent Business Owners to learn how to supplement their income, balance work and family, and even address facts about Amway pyramid scheme rumors, they are paired with mentors within the company. In this way, mentorship can not only improve their chances for success, but also help entrepreneurs network and build strong relationships.
Benefit #1: A Great Sounding Board
People who want to launch their own business are often chock full of ideas and questions. While you may have plenty of friends and relatives who are more than happy to share their thoughts and feelings with you about your new company, they may not have the business experience to back up these opinions. A mentor can help you weed through all of the advice you have received so far, as well as advise you on important business related issues that the most well-meaning friend probably does not understand. A mentor can also answer your many questions—everything ranging from where to order supplies and how to handle social media.
Benefit #2: Grow Your Network
A good business mentor can also help connect you with others who can help your company succeed. For example, if you need help with marketing, your mentor may introduce you to her personal public relations and marketing representative. If you need to hire some staff, your mentor may connect you with some of his other mentees, including some college grads who are chomping at the bit to get a job in a start-up business like yours. Your mentor might also have connections with website developers, social media assistants and others who can help you get your company off the ground.
Benefit #3: Learn from their Wisdom
While you might be certain that your business strategy will be successful, your mentor may have already tried the same idea—and failed. Working with a mentor can prevent you from figuratively stumbling and falling in certain areas of your company. Ask him about the challenges and mistakes he made as a new business owner and you might then avoid doing the same thing.
One Day, You Can Be a Mentor Too
As your business grows and becomes more successful, you and your mentor will probably stay in touch, but she may have less advice to offer you. This is when you can transform from mentee to mentor, and help other budding entrepreneurs to get their new companies off the ground by offering support, advice and networking opportunities.