01291 622598 / 07880 794127 william@williambuist.com
My Promise to You

My Promise to You


Starting and running a small business can be challenging; I know I’ve had ups and downs over the last two decades, and some variation is inevitable. It was most difficult for me when I didn’t have the proper guidance and support.

A business mentor can be valuable to any small business owner looking to grow and succeed. Read more about what a business mentor is in this post …

However, not all business mentors are created equal. In this blog post, I share the promises and commitments I make to you as your business mentor.

Clear Communication

One of the primary commitments I make to you is always to communicate clearly and effectively. Communication is critical in any relationship; a mentor-mentee relationship is no exception. I actively listen; I am trained in creating environments that give you “time to think” based on the work of Nancy Kline).

Powerful questions

I’ll ask powerful and insightful questions and provide critiques based on your answers and my experience. When you request it, and only if I have relevant experience, I will provide clear and concise instructions. Clear communication ensures we stay on the same page, working towards your goals.


I will hold you accountable for the actions and decisions you agree to without judgement. To achieve your goals, I want you to stay on track. I will ensure that the steps you need to take are understood and that you have the capacity for the work you must undertake. I also expect you to hold me accountable for any aspect of our work where I commit to you.


Our work will be undertaken in a safe and trusting space for you. We both need to discuss your business challenges and opportunities without judgment. We may consider many aspects of your life in order to understand the extent of your business challenges and opportunities. All our discussions, notes, calls and other interactions are confidential.


I don’t work to be miserable. I wouldn’t work with you if you were, either. I am choosy about who I work with (you can read more about that in this post …). I promise I’ll focus on positive outcomes. You’ll make choices that provide you with more of the time and energy that you enjoy.


I’ll always recommend that small business owners have a trusted confidant that they regularly work with, given the benefits that such a relationship brings to the business. I promise that if you work with me, I will communicate effectively, ask powerful questions, hold you accountable, keep your information confidential, and we will have fun.

If that sounds like a good fit for you, check you are ready for mentoring in this post and then let us have a conversation …

Are you ready to work with a mentor?

Are you ready to work with a mentor?

Do you have the experience you need?

As a small business owner, are you considering working with a mentor to help you grow and develop your business? I hope you are, as it is an essential step on the journey of mastery. While mentorship can be invaluable, having some business experience before you begin working with a mentor is vital. Many professions experts and masters spent years as apprentices before they sought to be mentored too; the stone masons, carpenters, organ builders and glass workers that made what you see in the image here would surely have been mentored, but only once their initial learning was over. This post explores why that is so you get the most out of your mentorship and to help you decide if now is the right time for you to seek it.

Understanding what a mentor can provide.

In nearly all cases, your mentor won’t have the expertise in your market that you have. To truly understand what a mentor can provide, you must recognise where you need their support. In most cases, these will be areas of your business where your experience is more limited. The mentor’s experience gives you a better sense of the challenges you’re likely to face and the areas where you need the most help. Your experience matters in determining whether to work with a particular mentor. That’s one reason I only work with people with enough experience for my mentoring to perform at its best. You can read more about why I am selective here…

Building Confidence and Credibility

When you have some business experience, you’re more likely to feel confident and credible when working with a mentor. The combination of knowledge and skills you and the mentor bring can uncover insights. This confidence will help you to ask better questions and engage in more meaningful conversations with your mentor. It will also help you to implement the advice and feedback you receive and make measurable progress toward your goals.

Asking Better Questions

Experience also helps you to ask better questions, which is essential for getting the most out of mentorship. When you have some practical experience, you’re better equipped to identify the areas where you need the most help and ask targeted questions to help you address those areas.

Understanding Your Strengths and Weaknesses

The self-awareness from business experience is essential for making the most of your mentorship. Knowing how your strengths and weaknesses affect your business outcomes allows you to work with your mentor to develop a plan that plays to your strengths and addresses your weaknesses. With that experience, you would both be doing little more than guessing.

Making Mentorship More Relevant and Impactful

When you have developed some expertise, most business owners find that the mentorship you receive is more relevant and impactful. Your mentor provides you with targeted advice and feedback that is tailored to your specific needs and challenges. That focuses your expertise and pushes you further on the journey of mastery.

Evaluating Advice and Feedback Objectively

Experience also helps you to evaluate advice and feedback more objectively. When you have some practical experience, you’re better equipped to assess the value of the advice and feedback you receive. It helps you determine which suggestions will resonate most with your situation and working style so your choice is more likely to help you achieve your goals.

Understanding Your Learning Style

Experience also helps you to understand your learning style. This is important because it will help you to work more effectively with your mentor. Then you can communicate your needs and preferences to your mentor and work together to develop a plan tailored to your unique learning style.

Building a Stronger Professional Network

When you have some business experience, you’re more likely to have a solid professional network. This network can be a valuable resource when working with a mentor. Your mentor may also provide introductions and referrals to help you grow your business and achieve your goals.


Working with a mentor can be a precious experience, but it’s essential to have some business experience before you begin. When you have experience in your field, you’re better equipped to understand what a mentor can provide, ask better questions, evaluate advice and feedback objectively, and make meaningful progress towards your goals. By building your experience, you’ll get the most out of mentorship and achieve the success you’re looking for.

Why I won’t work with just anyone.

Why I won’t work with just anyone.

I’m often approached for mentoring support. It’s not always the right approach for the prospective client; if it isn’t, I will say no. Mentoring is a special relationship. I described what mentoring is in this post.

I wrote “Intentional Mastery” to provide ambitious and successful business leaders with the clarity they need to stretch themselves even further; to become the master of their market.

If you only started in business recently, then you may not have enough experience in running a business to benefit from my work. Unless you gained relevant experience in an earlier career, I recommend finding a start-up coach to support you as you develop the business skills you’ll need in addition to your specialism.

Even if you have relevant experience or have an established business, you’ll have to be ready to make changes, sometimes difficult ones. I won’t work with people who waste their money on advice they aren’t prepared to implement.

To ensure that we will have a productive and valuable working relationship, I’ll ask you about your business before we agree to work together. Your intentions for your business and yourself are vital; we will explore those in detail. I’ll also expect similar detailed questioning from you (I’ve suggested some questions you might ask if you seek a mentor below). We both need to be sure that your desire to become a master and my skills as a mentor are well suited.

I work with experts in their field, seeking to do the hard work to become the master of their market. You will make a significant investment of both time and money.

Questions to ask before working with a mentor?

Here are some questions you might ask of a prospective mentor:

  1. In what ways will this mentor challenge your thinking?
  2. How will this mentor leave you feeling after each session?
  3. What specific knowledge, skills and experience does this mentor bring?
  4. How will this mentor hold you accountable?

Once you have the answers to these questions, ask yourself:

  • Will this prospective mentor support me in reaching the full extent of my mastery?

What next?

If you are an established expert, willing to make the changes to become the master of your market, and know that you need a mentor to make that happen, then book a call here.

Why I won’t work with just anyone.

What is a business mentor?

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.

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 5 – Putting Mentoring into P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 5 – Putting Mentoring into P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.

Whilst it’s vital to choose the right mentor and understand how to work with them it’s also important to make sure that you give the best to the relationship so that you can get the best from it.

Being a successful protégé is more likely if you remember a few key things.

Your Mentor wants you to succeed and there’s nothing you can do to honour them more than remembering to P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E

P – Prepare well

Before each session think about your goals and aims from the session. If necessary write down a list of questions and areas for discussion and send them to your mentor in advance. That will help to make sure that the session remains focused and delivering what you need.

R – Respect your mentor’s time

Mentors have, like you, limited time and resources available, so being respectful of their needs to stick to times and stay focused on the meeting goals is important. The more that you can do this the more that trust grows and relationships strengthen. As that happens you’ll find the value of each session really accelerates.

A- Actively listen

Listen to what’s being said without preparing your response mentally as you go along. Pauses for thought are something that will develop strongly in the greatest mentoring relationships and respecting silence and giving your mentor space to think is as important as it is for them to respect your need for considered thought too. Playback what you have heard even if you think you fully understand. Your mentor will know that his information has been received when you do.

C – Constructively discuss

So, now that there is a better understanding of the information it’s time to hone it. Your mentor has brought their knowledge to you but in the context of their skills and experience. Your needs and experience are based on your context. Through constructive discussion you can, between you both, synthesise the best outcome.

T – Test

Take time though to reflect on what you have heard and learned. After all the decisions you are making with your mentor are important – you wouldn’t be paying for their support if their input wasn’t valuable to you. It’s important to give decisions and actions the right amount of thinking and checking the time, and remember, if questions come up when you do this, your mentor should be able to comment and support you too.

I – Implement

Implementation is the key to putting the knowledge and skills that have informed your decision to work to turn them into real outputs for you and your business. Without this step the information you have had and the knowledge gained is valueless, so make sure you know what you need to actually implement it. Implementation is also about planning and sourcing the resources you need, as well as doing the work.

C – Check

Now do an immediate check, have you done everything that you said you wanted to do? Is the work completed? Or are there elements still to do? What went as it should? What new knowledge did you gain? What problems did you encounter? How can you improve the implementation process? These checks mean you can start to document how you implement things in your business. Businesses that really understand the implementation and have the right checks in place are more scalable (and more valuable). Do this well and when you next need to implement the same thing, you’ll find it easier and more reliable.

E – Evaluate

A little time later you may want to look back and decide if the work you have done is delivering what you expected. Measure the things that you can and compare them to the expected results. When you have done that, spend time with your mentor to discuss the results and look at what worked for you and what has not.

In other words, we are back to the P of PRACTICE, it’s time to prepare well again.

Perfect PRACTICE makes perfect

Working with your mentor your main aim becomes about substantially improving the outcomes you achieve – and the more you PRACTICE the better you’ll get.

Read the whole series.

If you would like to know more about working with a mentor, book a call with William here

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 4 – What techniques does a mentor use?

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 4 – What techniques does a mentor use?

Based on the name, you may think a business mentor only uses the techniques of mentoring. Yet the best mentors use additional techniques and angles to bring out the best in their protégés (or “mentees”). A great mentor will act sometimes as a coach, and others as a mentor and occasionally in the role of consultant to you and your business. Knowing which approach to take in which context is a key mentoring skill. While at first, it may be difficult to distinguish between the approaches available in the mentoring process, it is a technique that spans the spectrum from coaching to consulting as appropriate.


Consulting is “giving advice to others in the same field,” but it also implements a fairly hands-off approach.

A mentor solely acting as a consultant may meet with you only a fraction of the time that someone putting an emphasis on coaching would. Additionally, in a consultant role they may focus more on giving you timely advice assuming your existing knowledge, a mentee with less industry experience needs more insight development that comes from a different technique.

A consultant will give statements such as, “I think you should…” as opposed to asking questions, as a coach might.

In essence, a consultant will give you an analysis of your business, provide feedback and return sometime later to see what improvements have been made — then repeat the process over again.


The coaching technique that a mentor may use is a less directive one. In many ways, it is similar to a professional sports coach watching from the sidelines. More specifically, a coach will:

  • Elicit from you the plans and strategies to implement in your business.
  • Review and evaluate which of those you did and assess actions you can improve upon.
  • Ask open questions such as “What else have you considered?”

In other words, a mentor assuming the role of a coach will often help you to define specific goals and assignments to tackle in your business, then adjust or further develop them based on how well you carry them out.


Mentoring is a thorough process that requires a hands-on approach by the mentor and attentive involvement from the mentee. This techniques often produce a close working relationship and can require more time between the mentor and mentee compared to pure consulting or pure coaching techniques.

A good mentor will make himself or herself available to you via monthly, or more frequent meetings to see how you and your business are progressing. Together, you will work to implement and solidify your company’s core values. You will also focus on other aspects of the mentor’s field of speciality. For example, a mentor with 30 years of marketing experience will be less likely focus on your balance sheet or income statement. Instead, they will probably focus on target marketing and developing a solid campaign strategy. If you are the owner of a business, and you need to be involved with many facets of the company, so you may have more than one mentor and focus on a separate key area of the business with each.

A good mentor continuously implements the three major facets of consulting, coaching and mentoring at various times. Each when needed by the mentee for best results throughout the process. In the beginning, you may need the hands-on approach of a mentor, later you will need to use coaching for the elements where you are confident and consulting for areas where you have knowledge gaps.

Once you really start to flourish, you may only need periodic engagement to ensure your business development continues to progress toward your goals.

If you would like to know more about working with a mentor, arrange a call with me here…

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 3 – Business Clarity through mentoring.

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 3 – Business Clarity through mentoring.

Achieving business clarity is substantially easier with a knowledgeable and understanding mentor. In a business mentoring relationship there is generally an emphasis on the business owner and their role as leader. At the same time, the mentor is faced with the challenge of questioning, understanding, challenging, and ultimately elevating the mentee’s business clarity.

Yale University School of Management senior faculty fellow, Bruce Judson, says a good mentor should ask questions about the mentee’s end result, their idea of success, the ultimate objective of the business, and both business and personal financial goals. Judson makes a vital point, as these questions lead to a better understanding of the business, and provide foundations and direction.
(Source: http://www.inc.com/guides/how-to-find-a-business-mentor.html)


For a mentor, being curious, questioning the mentee is a vital part of the process. It is questioning to gain insight into the core values, as well as, many other facets of the business. Through the questioning process, both the mentee and mentor will be unlocking clarity.


On the path to business clarity, your mentor will undoubtedly challenge you. Without challenging the basis of your current business model, ideals, and subsequent results, it would not be possible to make change stick.


Your mentor should work by questioning in order to gain understanding of the many facets of your business, including operations, core values, marketing strategy and approach, sales processes, and other aspects like its target market, and collaborative business relationships. Lois Zachary, author of The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work For You, says the ideal mentor should listen, be well connected in the industry, have expertise in a specific field, and perhaps most importantly, be accessible to the mentee. Zachary goes on to say that while it may be unlikely to find all of these things in a mentor, you should prioritise which matter most, and then seek out someone that fits the bill. Working with your mentor can then lead you to figure how to improve your business moving forward.


Taking your business to the next level is the obvious outcome of working successfully with a mentor, their questioning, understanding, and insight, should allow your company to flourish and to further progress as a leader. Whether you have a mentor in mind, or not yet, your main objective should be to create greater clarity.

A mentors view

A mentor is there to challenge, but not accuse, to support not judge, to guide not direct, all with a focus of making your business better. They seek protégés who view their curiosity and in depth discussions as a sign of good things to come. Some methodologies employed will be based on proven processes and every good mentor has a mental infrastructure of how to help a mentee. Keep in mind that they have almost certainty been in the same position as you. Every mentor has likely also been a mentee at various points in his or her career. Openness and trust are key.

Read more in Part 1 here… and understand more about working with a mentor in Part 2 here…

If these thoughts here resonate with you, then you can book in a call with me here… to explore the topic further.

Credits: Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 2 – The Role and Benefits of Mentoring.

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 2 – The Role and Benefits of Mentoring.

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.

Yet mentoring has changed too. It is no longer a simple father/son or master/student relationship. In more recent years, more people have learned their trades in educational settings, rather than from a mentor. But now mentoring is returning to a more modern, cooperative relationship occurring between the mentor and the protégé.

The role of mentoring in small business

Mentoring is recognised as an important component of small business development. Many see a market gap and want to fill that void. Yet, they don’t have the confidence and expertise to succeed without experienced assistance. That strategic issue is where mentors work best.

Benefits for the mentor

New business owners benefit from working with those whose experience and skill is relevant. Veteran business owners also yield their own set of benefits from serving as a mentor. Many are passionate about their business and embrace passing on their knowledge. A good mentor is more than a friend in the business; they offer honest, sometimes critical, insight that a protégé (often called a “mentee”) can apply to their own business.

By embracing the role of a mentor:

  • Develop a relationship that becomes a professional networking contact
  • Rekindle the excitement that comes with contributing to a new and budding company
  • Improve their own confidence and abilities by collaborating and sharing ideas
  • See their ideas from a new angle, and use the insight gained to improve their own business.
  • Make an extra contribution to developing their field in a way that makes a positive difference

Expectations of the protégé / mentee

There is also a responsibility when an entrepreneur begins working with a mentor. No-one can expect to simply follow a mentor around and hope to absorb knowledge. The protégé must also bring their own ideas and questions to the table. They should provide respectful feedback too. Someone new to a venture will always have some misconceptions about the way things work. Even so, it is important to offer those ideas that act as a starting point from which to build better ideas and new innovation.

While collaboration exists in today’s mentor/protégé relationship, there are still times when mentors will give special guidance that the mentee needs in their own business. Good communication skills come into play. The relationship also benefits from keeping their mentor informed on progress and being held accountable.

What to expect from a mentor

Individual mentoring styles can vary considerably depending on the mentor and whatever ideas are presented. There should always be an environment of mutual respect and a desire to succeed at the forefront of the relationship. Even when a business is not in a competitive market, it is in its best interest to encourage the highest-quality products and efficient and effective operations and marketing.

Our approach

I am a mentor to business owners that I like and who like me. For both of us that is critical to the ongoing relationship. Anyone choosing a mentor should be sure that there is a healthy respect for each others knowledge and a passion to see success delivered. I approach the work from a collaborative viewpoint; a partnership built on:

  • A business model rooted in helping other businesses discover and embrace their strengths and individuality.
  • Proven strategies have helped many businesses improve their operations, marketing, and product and service initiatives.
  • Never losing sight of our core values of collaboration, objectivity and empowerment.

At the end of the day, no two businesses are exactly alike., which is why mentoring is akin to exploring with the insight of a seasoned traveller; a journey always worth taking.

Part one of this series is here…

This blog: 615 words Read time: 3m 15s

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 1 – How to choose the right mentor for your business

Mentoring for Business Success – Part 1 – How to choose the right mentor for your business

Mentoring involves sharing knowledge. Transferring skills and going on experience to bring success to business to better, faster, decisions. It’s a relationship that exists in the business context as a personal development relationship. One in which a person with knowledge, skills and experience helps to guide another using that knowledge that skills, or that experience.

Mentoring is about an ongoing relationship of learning of challenge in, and challenging, conversations. It is a shared experience. Many small businesses cannot operate successfully without access to knowledge, skills and experience that the business doesn’t currently have, but needs to access quickly.

One way to achieve that, often the best way, is through a personal relationship based business coach or mentor.

How to choose the right mentor for your business?

Mentoring is a strategic choice taken by a business owner, manager or director when they recognise the need for support .

The first important point in relation to selecting a mentor is that the relationship is a two-way relationship. Just as it is important to find a great mentor it’s equally important to be a good protégé. To do that, it’s important to identify the key areas where you recognise your need for mentoring. This could be an area of the business where your knowledge is lacking. Whilst you will be strong at delivering your product and service, you may, for example, be weak at marketing. Therefore you might seek mentorship in developing a strong marketing strategy.

Whilst a mentor can provide additional skills to the business, they are not an employee. They should not be directed to perform work within the business (unless that makes sense within the mentoring relationship). Mentoring is a way of accessing experience and knowledge about what needs to be done and ensuring that the work is planned effectively and efficiently.

You may also seek a mentor who has specific experience related to a project, target market, or operational issue that is challenging to your business. Challenging in the positive sense, of course, of ensuring that the decisions taken are robust, resilient and reliable.

What should you ask a prospective mentor?

In our opinion there are four key questions to ask a prospective mentor and those are:

  1. In what ways will the mentor challenge the thinking of the business owner?
  2. How will the mentor leave their protégé feeling after each mentoring session?
  3. What specific knowledge, skills and experience do they bring, and why do you need that?
  4. Will they hold the protégé accountable and feeling motivated to perform more effectively as a result of the engagement?

If you would like to know more about working with a mentor let’s have a conversation – Click here to book a call.

Blog: 461 Words – Read time: 2min 27s – [Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash ]