Six Things You Will Learn from a Mentor

by Wendy Mayhew

3 min read

Having your own small business, whether you work from home or you are the CEO of your company, can be lonely and stressful. As a startup founder or CEO, you often have the responsibility of all the company’s decisions resting solely on your shoulders. With this weight, how can you know if you are making the right decisions? And more importantly, how do you find the time to actually work on your business? You are basically at a standstill.

Entrepreneurs are known to be stubborn and think they can do everything on their own. Many have the opinion that if they ask somebody a question that means that they are struggling and need help. God forgive – asking for help!

If you are a business owner but have never had a mentor, then it is time you understand the importance of having one. A mentor can help you through the difficult and time consuming decisions you are trying to make on your own.

What a mentor can teach you:

  1. They don’t give you the answers. Instead, they ask you the right questions to make you think long and hard about what you want to achieve. After all, it is your business and you must take responsibility for your actions.
  1. The importance of patience. As entrepreneurs, we are always in a hurry and we often criticize large corporations and government for taking so long to make decisions. Sometimes, if we slowed down and thought longer, we might make the right decision the first time. But, don’t take too long!
  1. When to stop flogging a dead horse. When you started your business, you probably thought your idea was the best thing since sliced bread. So, have you made any sales? If not, it is probably time to go in a different direction. You may have to make some adjustments to your product or even go after a different market. Don’t be afraid of this. Change is good.
  1. You don’t have to do it alone. Mentors remind you that help is there to guide you through the tough decisions.
  1. Be picky about who you work with. Before choosing a mentor, have an initial meeting to see if you feel comfortable with each other. Not everyone is a fit so don’t make a quick decision. Take your time and find someone who you feel you can work with.
  1. Accountability. Don’t waste your money or your mentor’s time by not following through on what you and the mentor have discussed and agreed upon.

 

Everyone Has Experience to Share

I mentor entrepreneurs on a regular basis, however, I’ve never had a mentor myself. Having said that, I’ve always had someone to talk to, not necessarily a mentor, but someone who would listen and help me think things through. I do most of my thinking while relaxing on vacation. This past winter I started putting all my plans in place for 2015. I thought I had everything sorted out but when I got home and started taking action, I kept going in circles. I knew it was time to reach out to a full-time mentor who I would be able to work with on a regular basis.

After some research, I interviewed a potential mentor to see if there was a synergy and fit between the two of us. We had a good meeting and although this person didn’t have the exact background I was looking for, I did learn a lot from our time together.

This experience builds on Tip #5 above, regarding being picky about who you work with. Holding out for a compatible match means it might take a few attempts to find the right mentor. Although you might not meet the perfect fit right away, you should still take advantage of what the mentors you interview have to offer. Noting the pros and cons of each candidate can also help you refine what you’re looking for as you continue your search.

 

Photo copyright: Jeanette Dietl

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