Finding a Mentor: 5 Top Tips

Finding a MentorDid you know a new small business is created in Australia every 100 seconds? Did you also know that approximately two thirds stop operating within 3 years?

Greg Hayes from Hayes Knight Accountants & Advisers told The Huffington Post Australia that cessation rates are largely due to a lack of strategic planning and training, as well as failure to ask for help. 

Meanwhile, data in the US shows that 70% of mentored businesses survive more than five years. The argument for finding a mentor to give your small business a better chance of success is compelling. However, it’s not always that easy to put into practice.  

Finding a Mentor: Common problems

Business mentoring was a lot easier a few decades ago. The main problem cited today is that people are time poor. The demands and pace of the digital world mean that potential mentors have precious little free time to mentor or, the ones that are happy to give their time are often already mentoring other people. 

Another issue is that entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners don’t know how to broach the subject. Asking the question, “will you be my mentor?” can be awkward and often doesn’t get the desired result.

So, how do entrepreneurs go about getting the valuable business advice and support they need?

Finding a Mentor: 5 tips to help you find the right mentorship for you

Here are 5 top tips to set you on the right path to finding great mentorship for your business.

1. Don’t limit your options geographically

You don’t need to physically meet somebody to be able to learn from them. The internet allows us to connect with anybody, anywhere. It’s a practical way to have a mentoring relationship with people outside your immediate vicinity. Online, you can access business brains and leaders, all over the world, giving you extraordinary choice so you can find the perfect mentor. 

Zoom, Skype, email, social media, WhatsApp, or the good old fashioned telephone – whatever communication method works best for you, makes mentoring across oceans and continents possible. 

2. Don’t ask for a mentor! 

Let’s return to that dreaded question for a second: “will you be my mentor?” Nobody likes that question. If you imagine someone saying it to you, what’s your initial gut reaction? Is it, “I’d love to but I have too much to do already?”

I don’t blame you. Simply put, that question implies a commitment that not everyone is going to want to make. However, if you ask somebody you admire what e-commerce platform they use and why, or what’s their number one tip for improving SEO, you’re much more likely to get a response.

In other words, ask direct questions about specific problems. They’re easier for busy, successful business people to answer. 

3. Be a genuine fan and follower

If you look up to someone and have your heart set on them mentoring you, you need to demonstrate your genuine admiration of their work. Buy their books, watch them speak, follow their social media, engage with their content, even become a customer if relevant.

Not only will this show them that you’re serious about their advice, it will also provide you with plenty of tips through the consumption of their content.  

4. Be open to multiple relationships

Be open to the fact that you can learn all the time and not just from one person. Many heads are better than one, so why put so much pressure on just the one relationship? Learn from several people. It’s about surrounding yourself with a support network of advisers and individuals whose opinions you respect and trust. 

Don’t underestimate the guidance you can receive from your peers. They may have skills you want to develop, or perhaps they recently went through what you’re tackling right now. Often, they’re in a position similar to yours, so their tips and strategies are likely to be super relevant to you.

5. Join a networking group that provides mentoring

Behind Closed Doors was established because I recognised a serious gap in peer supported networking, coaching and mentoring, designed specifically for businesswomen. Our unique model provides business owners, Executives and Managers the opportunity to openly discuss business strategies, issues & challenges and support each other to attain greater professional and personal success. It’s the ideal way to gain in person, mentoring support.

The peer networking and mentoring provided by Behind Closed Doors (BCD) delivers practical and valuable lessons, to help build your success. Entrepreneur Member, Sheree Sullivan says that through her years of attending BCD sessions, she has built the confidence to tackle difficult conversations head on. “Through the strong leadership of Donny Walford and my Facilitator Kylie Bishop – who both call a spade a spade, I have learnt to just act on difficult issues, I don’t overthink it, I just get on and do it.”

If help, support and guidance are what you’re after, there are many ways to get it. Whether you opt for a single, face-to-face mentor, a network of online advisers, or a networking group such as Behind Closed Doors; get the most out of your interactions by asking pertinent questions. Soak up the knowledge and experience offered, act on the information that resonates with you and park the advice that doesn’t feel right. 

Remember to follow your own intuition. At the end of the day, it’s your business, so it’s important that you do, what’s right for you.   

Please share with me your experiences in business mentoring and coaching and what works for you. 

Warmly, Donny

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  1. Pingback: Focus on Connecting-Up To Progress Your Career - Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors

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