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Business Improvement Group Ian Skinner

Mentoring – why is this such a good idea?

Mentorship is the oldest form of educational development and it dates back to the days of the Trojans.

As a young or new entrepreneur, a developing business person or someone that would like to expedite their business development, a good Mentor can take you to the next level and beyond far quicker than one could unaided.

Why do you need a mentor?

The Mentor of your choice has one thing that you still don’t have, experience! A good Mentor will challenge you to think in a way and about things that might have never occurred to you before.

A good mentor will have a strong network of professionals and friends who you might stand to benefit from. These can be called upon as a resource or opportunity to benefit the Mentee and their overall development.

A great Mentor will have a wealth or practical experience working in or running single or multiple businesses having built and lead teams rough difficult, challenging and successful times. In its most base form, a Mentor can act as your personal cheerleader, confident and coach. They can provide praise and support for you when nobody else will. An old quote serves true here: “Mentors are in it for what they can give, not what they can get”!

Mistakes young/new entrepreneurs commonly make when seeking mentorship:

1.They work with the first one they meet.

2.They don’t do any advance research on the Mentor.

3.They tell the Mentor what they want instead of asking what the Mentor can provide.

4.They become awestruck with the Mentor’s knowledge and experience.

5.They think that the privilege is theirs to be working with the Mentor instead of it being the Mentors privilege to be working with them.


Tips for finding the right Mentor.

1) Find someone you look up to.

Mentorship is always about the person and the relationship and not about the money or the lifestyle. Try not to earn status elevation through association but from the opportunity to learn and develop. Your Mentor should have qualities as a person that you believe are valuable to you and that you can learn from. Ask questions of yourself that you feel your Mentor could guide you with. Here are a few examples:

a) What do I need to learn that my Mentor can help me with?

b) What frequency do I think I might like to meet with my Mentor?

c) What are my weakest points that my Mentor can work with me on?

d) What strengths do I have that my Mentor can benefit from?

2) Study your new Mentor.

Take the time and opportunity to study your Mentor. Ask questions that will help you with understanding how they get things done. Understand everything you can about how they conduct business, their style and the processes they use for business transactions. It could be how they make a phone call, an actual sale, a networking event, a new agreement, etc. If they have a blog, videos or a website that they regularly comment in make sure you read them and understand everything before you meet with them and be prepared to ask questions. Nothing shows your preparation more than asking a question about a recent blog or article they wrote. Do your homework to avoid the embarrassment of not knowing.

3) Bodyguard.

Your Mentor is not your bodyguard. Don’t go into huge dept then call your Mentor for advice. If they weren’t a part of getting you into the dept situation your expectation can’t be for them to get you out of the hole you’ve dug for yourself. Ask for advice but keep the expectation at advice and not a bail out. The true value of a Mentor will be to keep you out of the dangers of growing debt.

4) Let the relationship grow.

Look for someone who you feel completely comfortable with and you can relate to. A Mentor who can easily answer an e-mail or answer a text message without treating you like an interruption will be a far better fit. Your comfort level should include the ability to sit down for a coffee or lunch with your Mentor and not feel intimidated or belittled. Your ability to get comfortable with your Mentor will actually take the pressure off the Mentor to be able to be open and completely honest with you. The closer you become to your Mentor the more likely they are to bring you into their circle and to share their vast network and resources.

5) Feedback.

Your expectation should always be for your Mentor to be brutally honest with you. Most Mentors are successful entrepreneurs or business people who run their own network of businesses. Usually they don’t have the time to sit back and sugar coat every piece of advice they give you. One of the first requests I make of Mentee’s I work with is to commit to hard work and preparation for our regular meetings with the capacity to take and give feedback.

6) Take. Give, Give, Give.

One of the best repayments for their mentorship is by witnessing your success. They want nothing more than to see you make it. Just because Mentors know how to be humble doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find ways to give. You can always find ways to add value to the relationship. Sometimes you can offer to buy lunch, sometimes you can buy coffee. Occasionally you could introduce them to someone you know – a customer or a new network. If you actually spend the time to get to know your Mentor well, you should have a good idea of how or what you can do to provide value. Gratitude is a key component to showing how much you value their Mentorship. Don’t forget, it’s not just a case of what you see is what you get. Likelihood is they will have done far more preparation than you have to provide ultimate value in your next meeting.

7) Commitment.

Be Mentor worthy! If you accept no other advice accept this one. Be Mentor worthy!. Anyone willing to help you and spend time with you surely wants to make sure they spend their time wisely. I have experienced situations before where I give advice to someone and they clearly go the opposite direction. That’s not a problem.  However, I wouldn’t expect that someone to come back and ask for more advice for the road that they travelled with an expectation for me to change my advice to fit their decision. Don’t waste anyone’s time if you’re not ready to be mentored.

8) One is great, more are greater!

Once you appoint that all important mentor, what do you do next? Like all new partnerships set out what your expectations, needs and desires are. Make sure they are in alignment with what the Mentor has identified as expectations, needs and desires. Agree a plan of action. Agree a frequency of meetings. Agree the boundaries of access. Agree how development/success will be measured. Get on with it!

There is no right or wrong time to get a Mentor and my best advice to you is to Get One Now!.  Even the most successful people continually invest in their own development and it has been proven time and time again that failure to invest is an investment in failure.

Personal development is the single most important thing you can do to help you and your business grow. Don’t look back and wish you had done it, look back and be glad that you did!

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