Building your own business can be a lonely endeavour. It’s nice to be running our own race but we all need someone in our corner.
This is where a mentor comes in. A good mentor provides a trusted and reliable outside voice: someone to hold you accountable and offer unfiltered advice on critical decisions.
The question of course, is where do you find a “good” mentor? Or more precisely, how do you find the RIGHT mentor for you: someone with the right blend of experience, mentoring skills and personal fit.
Here are six steps to help you find the right match:
1. Make sure a mentor is what you are looking for.
Get clear about why you are seeking help. If you have a specific problem that you want to solve you may really be looking for a consultant. If you are in a rut then a professional coach might be a better choice.
2. Admit what you don’t know.
You want to find a mentor who will add to your experience and knowledge bank. It helps to be aware of your own shortcomings. Where do you lack experience? What skills are you missing? If you are a painter who has opened a new painting business for the first time, chances are you need help with business skills. If you are an experienced business person who has recently bought a painting company, you may need someone with painting skills.
3. Who do you trust?
If you don’t trust your mentor you will end up ignoring their advice – frustrating for everyone. So ask yourself what qualifications would be needed for you to really trust a mentor.
4. Set goals for the relationship.
Spell out what you want from your mentor. Be specific. This will help to ensure that mentoring sessions achieve what you are looking for. It’s also going to help you to enlist a mentor. Simply asking, “Will you be my mentor?” can be daunting for a potential mentor. It’s unclear what’s expected. “Will you act as a sounding board for my business planning?” makes it clear what’s expected and demonstrates that you have given the process some thought.
5. Get connected.
Once you are clear about who and what you are looking for, it’s important to spread the net widely to ensure you find the most appropriate match. There are plenty of places to look: trade and industry associations, networking breakfasts, your university or trade school, LinkedIn. Look for successful companies in your area and network with the founders. Ask for introductions.
6. Vet your would-be mentor.
A mentoring relationship is going to take up your time and potentially influence your future business development. Make sure you get it right. Prior to moving forward ensure you take the time to meet with a potential mentor. Do their values align with yours? Do they have the skills and experience you have identified you need? Do you like their style and approach?
Once you’ve found the right mentor, stick with it. A good mentor is going to challenge you. That’s their job! The right mentor is probably going to make you uncomfortable. Stay the course and chances are both you and your business will grow.
If you are looking for a little more than a mentor, consider MJ Accountants’ business coaching service. We provide the guidance and accountability you need to optimise your business success. Offering help in business planning, sales, marketing, process and team building, our coaches keep you at the top of your game.