Being an entrepreneur can feel quite lonely, which is why you should surround yourself with a supportive network. Crucial to that network is a mentor. Ideally a mentor is someone who has walked a similar path, to allow you to benefit from their experience. However, as long as you trust their business acumen, they can come from all walks of life.
The important thing to remember is that they are not your fairy godmother. However they can help in the following five critical ways.
Time to take stock
Time is a premium. We know how easy it is to give in to day-to-day demands rather than take time to give your business a health check. It takes discipline and courage to allow yourself the time out of the business.
It’s an investment though. Meeting with a mentor will encourage you to think about the bigger picture. It’s only by taking that time to scrutinise what you’re doing and where you’re going that you will develop strategies to ensure you are constantly moving forward.
A chance to interrogate
Mentors are great at asking questions. Primarily, because they need to understand your business as their knowledge of it will be quite superficial. However, because they are experts in their field, they will know the right questions to ask, and have the power to help you tease out solutions. A good mentor will be able to help you put aspects of your business, and the decisions you’ve made, under the spotlight. This will help you to understand the areas that require attention before starting to resolve the issues they may be causing.
Saying it out loud
Being exposed to someone else’s view is incredibly useful. That said, no one knows your business as well as you do, so they won’t have all the answers. They will however, be coming from an informed point of view as a fellow entrepreneur, so they will be great to bounce ideas off. More than that though, just having the opportunity to articulate the issue is a good way to solve a problem. By voicing it aloud, you can often find the answer.
Tap into a network
Two heads are better than one, right? Yes, but three heads are even better. If your mentor can’t help you with a specific area of your business, such as online retailing or managing a call centres, they probably know someone who can. People’s natural instinct is to help and talented business leaders know the importance of having a strong network.
There are times when running a business is tough. In fact, success is often measurable on how much pain you can endure and bounce back from! Choosing a mentor with similar experiences will ensure you benefit from their been-there-done-that-and-survived mentality. Sometimes, you just need to hear that you will come back to live another day.
Ian Cowley is managing director of Cartridgesave.co.uk.