The internet is awash with help and advice for business owners. With all this information at your fingertips, is it worth having a dedicated mentor? The short answer is yes, without a doubt.
For me, the ultimate Apprentice prize was the opportunity to receive the 1-2-1 guidance and mentorship from Lord Sugar and his wealth of experience that came with it. Working in the same office as him for the first three years of my company taught me so many invaluable lessons that couldn’t simply be gleaned from reading a book.
In the business world, the power of a good mentor is a known fact, and the statistics back this up. CNBC reported that 91 per cent of workers with a mentor are satisfied in their jobs, while SCORE found that 30 per cent of entrepreneurs reported increased growth in their business after just one interaction with a mentor, rising to 43 per cent with five or more interactions.
With the likes of Bill Gates receiving mentorship from Warren Buffet, or Mark Zuckerberg from Steve Jobs, it’s clear to see there’s direct link between solid mentoring and high performance in the corporate world.
Scaling and growing
When you consider the average lifespan of a new start-up is just 20 months, according to Saleforce, having a good mentor can be the difference between your business making it or not.
Inc.com reported that 70 per cent of mentored small businesses survived more than five years, which is staggering when you consider that it’s almost double the rate compared with non-mentored businesses over the same time period. A good mentor can anticipate the common downfalls of new businesses and offer precious guidance on how best to navigate them, so it’s unsurprising that 88 per cent of businesses owners have said that having a mentor was invaluable to them.
Mentors that have had success at scaling their own businesses can help you implement growth in a similar way, being more readily able to identify adjustments that need to be made that can have a huge impact on profit.
Circles of influence
Experience truly is the greatest teacher and working with a seasoned mentor gives you the opportunity to learn lessons through not only what they say, but also what they do.
It’s difficult to not be inspired by the achievements of a good coach or mentor, and this can be a strong motivator for achieving your own goals in business.
A mentor can also help with opening doors that might otherwise be shut to you. Their time in business will usually come with a much greater circle of influence and a long list of contacts that a mentee will benefit from. They may not have all the answers but will most likely be able to connect you with relevant and mutually beneficial contacts, service providers and investors, that will assist in expanding your own circle of influence.
Let’s face it, your business is your baby. It’s easy to become attached to a particular strategy or a way of doing things, and risk stagnation due to tunnel vision. A mentor is like a drone, they can hover above your business without being entrenched in it, offering clarity and insight in places you might otherwise overlook.
Having that objective perspective allows mentors to more readily recognise problems, opportunities and identify weaknesses. On the flip side, it also keeps you accountable, as they can challenge you on why you’re spending your time in a particular way.
Advisor and confidant
Running your own business, especially during these recent unprecedented times can be a lonely and isolating experience. It’s no secret that business is tough but having a mentor with similar experiences is invaluable in reassuring and navigating you through tougher times.
Most importantly, they can act as a sounding board that won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but can provide you with useful, experience-tested feedback. It also forces you to articulate problems and ideas clearly and concisely, stopping you from getting bogged down during particularly stressful times.
We don’t often link business with emotion, but having a high emotional intelligence is directly correlated with high performance. Being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, developing productive working relationships, and how you act under pressure are all key skills in business.
A good mentor can give you direct feedback on how you come across through your words and actions. This guidance is invaluable to effectively coach teams, collaborate and deliver constructive feedback to your team.
Put simply, having a solid mentorship is a no-brainer. No one is expected to know it all when it comes to business but having the right guidance and support from an experienced mentor doesn’t just help you on your business journey, it helps your business to truly flourish.
Mark Wright is a winner of BBC’s The Apprentice and director of digital marketing agency Climb Online