The value of a mentor
A mentor is someone with extensive experience who can help you meet your business goals. They provide support and guidance, and a friendly ear to help you through difficult situations. Mentors provide advice in confidence, but can also help you expand your business network and industry contacts.
Your mentor doesn’t always have to come from your exact field. Good businesses all run core fundamentals, and sometimes a different perspective can help you see things you otherwise might not.
How to find a mentor
A number of organisations can hook you up with a mentor, either one-on-one or in a group environment:
- Small Business Mentoring Service.
- Government-led mentoring programs in each state.
- Female business networks, such as HerBusiness.
- Various industry associations.
Before you sign up, think about what you want in a mentor. Seek out someone who will understand the challenges you face and add value to your business, rather than a person with an impressive resume. By being honest from the outset, you will find the right fit for yourself and your business.
A potential mentor should fit these four criteria:
- Share similar values.
- Help motivate you.
- Be trustworthy and respected.
- Commit to spending time with you.
It’s also worth asking about their leadership and mentor training, and their track record with previous mentees to see if they will align with your needs.
How to work with a mentor
You should look for a small business mentor before you get started – they can even help you figure out if your business idea is viable.
Most mentors work on a volunteer basis, so it’s important you are committed and respectful of their time.
To get the most out of your relationship:
- Commit to a regular meeting time, and avoid rescheduling.
- Write down the things you want to discuss, and send notes to them ahead of time if they prefer.
- Follow through on action items and review them at the start of each session.
Be mindful that your mentor is not a business coach, and won’t tell you the answers to your problems. Rather, they act as a sounding board and can discuss similar problems they have faced to help you find a solution.
If you come to a point where one party is no longer getting value from the relationship, it’s perfectly acceptable to go your separate ways.
Whether you’re thinking about starting a small business or are already up and running, call Prospa on 1300 882 867 or apply online to see how much we can help.