Mentors are an active guide. A mentor is a person with knowledge, skills and experience relevant to you. Mentoring is an ongoing relationship of learning, challenge, conversation, and shared experience. Its aim is for you to reach your goals more quickly and effectively.
The idea of mentorship is nothing new. Since the days of ancient Greece, apprentices have worked beside masters to learn a trade. This journeyman tradition was so strong that it even became the foundation of surnames like Carpenter, Fisher and Baker. But mentoring has changed too. It is no longer a simple transaction about passing on experience. Mentoring has become a collaborative relationship occurring between the master and their mentee.
A mentor brings their mastery to your business, but they are not an employee. They will not (usually) undertake the work that is identified, but they will hold you accountable for ensuring it gets done.
Should you consider having a mentor?
Many small businesses could not operate successfully without access to knowledge, skills and experience that a business owner doesn’t yet have but needs quickly. That provision is often best provided by a personal relationship-based business coach or mentor.
Being mentored is a strategic choice taken by a business owner, manager or director when they recognise the need for support and help. An essential element of selecting a mentor is to recognise that this is a significant and ongoing relationship; the chemistry has to be positive, supportive and mutually respectful.
To check that, it’s important to identify the key areas where mentoring is needed. This could be where your knowledge is lacking; for example, you may be strong at delivery but weak at marketing, so seek mentorship to support developing a solid marketing strategy. It could be where you have the knowledge but need support to develop and hone skills. Most often, it is to benefit from the mentor’s experience to make better decisions on your journey to mastery. Mentors should only work with those whose experience is wholly appropriate. You can read more about who I work with here…
Before working with a paid mentor, you should ask them some searching questions. Make sure they will be the right person, bring the skills and experience you need, and that you like their approach and style.